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What's the matter with PGP?

If your cryptography predates The Fresh Prince, you need better cryptography. With recognition of the need for secure communication standards finally going mainstream, crypto researcher and Johns Hopkins University professor Matthew Green takes a hard look at the de facto standard everyone is jumping on, and suggests that we can and should do a lot better. [more inside]
posted by George_Spiggott on Aug 25, 2014 - 23 comments

[spoon icon] [glass of milk icon] [ Ovaltine jar icon]

Someone is leaving what appear to be coded messages in the stacks of Weldon Library at the University of Western Ontario. (via)
posted by Horace Rumpole on Mar 25, 2014 - 63 comments

30c3

While Jacob Appelbaum grabbed headlines with his NSA revelations at this year's Chaos Communication Congress, other presentations provided equally fascinating insight into how the world works. Learn how data mining is bringing perpetrators of genocide to justice (alt), how an artist uses different concepts of secrecy landscapes (alt) to keep tabs on clandestine activities, and how India's surveillance state continues to grow (alt). previously [more inside]
posted by antonymous on Jan 4, 2014 - 23 comments

RSA Paid by the NSA to screw the USA

"Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year, securities filings show." Previous
posted by stoneweaver on Dec 20, 2013 - 74 comments

What is Cicada 3301?

On January 5th 2012, an image was uploaded to various image boards. It contained two messages. One was obvious & easy to read. In white letters on a black background it said:
Hello. We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test. There is a message hidden in this image. Find it, and it will lead you on the road to finding us. We look forward to meeting the few that will make it all the way through. Good luck. 3301
As promised there was another message hidden inside the image. It was the start of a bizarre, as yet unexplained chain of complex hidden messages leading those who could solve them on a journey across the Internet and around the world towards a destination none of them could predict with certainty. Is it a highly evolved ARG? Is it a recruitment campaign for the NSA? Welcome to the mystery of Cicada 3301.
posted by scalefree on Nov 25, 2013 - 44 comments

zk8NJgAOqc4

The Greatest Crossword Puzzle In The History Of The World is now playable: Adobe Crossword
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 21, 2013 - 37 comments

Possible FBI infiltration of TOR

In a crackdown that FBI claims to be about hunting down pedophiles, half of the onion sites in the TOR network has been compromised, including the e-mail counterpart of TOR deep web, TORmail. FreedomWeb, an Irish company known for providing hosting for Tor "hidden services" -- services reached over the Tor anonymized/encrypted network -- has shut down after its owner, Eric Eoin Marques, was arrested over allegations that he had facilitated the spread of child pornography. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Aug 4, 2013 - 126 comments

Alan Turing today. Oscar Wilde tomorrow?

Enigma breaker Alan Turing will be posthumously pardoned. Turing helped the Allies win WWII by developing the methods that broke the German Enigma code -- which didn't stop Britain from convicting him of gross indecency under anti-homosexuality legislation in 1951 and subjecting him to chemical castration. Two years later, he committed suicide by swallowing cianide. The British government has now "signalled that it is prepared to support a backbench bill that would pardon Turing."
posted by Annie Savoy on Jul 21, 2013 - 56 comments

Cypherpunk Rising

Cypherpunk rising: WikiLeaks, encryption, and the coming surveillance dystopia by R. U. Sirius. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Mar 9, 2013 - 40 comments

The Hunt For "Red October"

An advanced and well-orchestrated computer spy operation that targeted diplomats, governments and research institutions for at least five years has been uncovered by security researchers in Russia.
The highly targeted campaign, which focuses primarily on victims in Eastern Europe and Central Asia based on existing data, is still live, harvesting documents and data from computers, smartphones and removable storage devices, such as USB sticks, according to Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based antivirus firm that uncovered the campaign. Kaspersky has dubbed the operation “Red October.”
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 15, 2013 - 26 comments

Dan Brown Must Love Germans

Wired tells the story of an old encoded manuscript, the effort to crack it, and the secret occult society that it revealed.
posted by Ipsifendus on Nov 17, 2012 - 27 comments

Gay Byrne says hello to his fanclub

In Which The Irish Invent Twitter, 1984 (via Broadsheet.ie) Back in 1984 on the Late Late Show Gay Byrne shows off a new invention, a machine that allows you to send text over the phonelines. Among the uses to which this invention was put was securely communicating with Nelson Mandela in prison. Although, unfortunately, it didn't work reliably with South African phone lines. [more inside]
posted by Fence on Aug 9, 2012 - 15 comments

Turing's 100th Birthday

Happy 100th birthday, Alan Turing! 2012 is the Alan Turing Year, with celebratory academic events around the world all year. BBC News has a set of (brief) appreciations, including one in which two of Turing's colleagues share memories. Google has an interactive Doodle of a Turing Machine today (that article has some explanation and links to a useful video if the doodle's confusing). [more inside]
posted by LobsterMitten on Jun 22, 2012 - 27 comments

TorChat

TorChat is an instant messaging protocol based upon Tor hidden services, making it perhaps the only instant messaging protocol with any substantive resistance to traffic analysis. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jun 18, 2012 - 19 comments

Your LinkedIn Password

LinkedIn has spilled 6.5 million unsalted SHA-1 password hashes. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jun 6, 2012 - 266 comments

An Introduction to Cryptography

Journey into Cryptography is a multipart video introduction to the subject for beginners, created by Brit Cruise and hosted by Khan Academy. There are several interactive tools to help explain some key concepts. Also, a recent lecture entitled "Principles of Security" was given by noted Javascript curmudgeon Douglas Crockford, focusing on security and the web, with a detour into Volapük.
posted by gwint on May 30, 2012 - 11 comments

My best known work is in game theory

"I hope my handwriting, etc. do not give the impression I am just a crank or circle-squarer."
posted by vidur on Feb 22, 2012 - 22 comments

Encrypted database queries

CryptDB executes database queries over encrypted data without ever decrypting it. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Dec 20, 2011 - 37 comments

Codebreakers Of The World Unite!

Can You Crack It?
posted by veedubya on Dec 1, 2011 - 55 comments

Shakespeare in Code

The forthcoming film Anonymous, which posits the Earl of Oxford as the true author of Shakespeare's plays, has scholars bemoaning the immense effort wasted over the years (NYT) pursuing bogus theories of Shakespearean authorship. On the other hand, one of the 20th century's greatest cryptographers got his start searching for secret messages from Francis Bacon in Shakespeare's plays.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Oct 24, 2011 - 122 comments

Homomorphic Encryption

Described as 'cryptography's holy grail', Homomorphic Encryption/Computation is a form of encryption where specific algebraic operations on the plaintext translate into different algebraic operations on the ciphertext, allowing the plaintext's owner to 'outsource' computations to untrusted machines. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Aug 9, 2011 - 17 comments

Robert Morris, 1932-2011

Robert Morris, a pioneer in the field of computer security, early major contributor to the UNIX operating system, and father of Robert Tappan Morris (author of the Morris Worm), has died at 78. NYT [more inside]
posted by fireoyster on Jun 29, 2011 - 23 comments

Paging cstross to the white courtesy phone

Bitcoin is growing up: early adopters lost money due to bad backups; the US Senate wants to crack down due to possible illegal drug purchases with the digital coins; it had its Black Friday, losing 30% of its value in one day (after a 5,600% increase in the first year); the Economist weighs in; and now an alledged heist of 25k bitcoins (original forum post), valued between $250k and $750k on the Mt. Gox exchange. Currently 154 petaflops of CPU and GPUs are computing SHA256 hashes in tight loops, easily beating the #1 on the top500, the Tiahne-1A with 2.56 petaflops. (Previously and more previously)
posted by autopilot on Jun 15, 2011 - 113 comments

Money doesn't grow on trees.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer digital currency. Trading at eight dollars this week—and being used to pay for everything from freelance programming jobs to magic mushrooms—it has been described as “the most dangerous open-source project ever created” and “an unambiguous challenge to the government monopoly on the power to print money.” Estimated at over 20 petaFLOPS the Bitcoin network is currently the fastest virtual supercomputer in the world. [more inside]
posted by howlingmonkey on May 18, 2011 - 296 comments

...your brain power might help bring a killer to justice.

On June 30, 1999, sheriff’s officers in St. Louis, Missouri discovered the body of 41-year-old Ricky McCormick. He had been murdered and dumped in a field. The only clues regarding the homicide were two encrypted notes found in the victim’s pants pockets. The FBI is now asking the public to help them solve the murder.
posted by iamkimiam on Mar 30, 2011 - 93 comments

The Man Who Broke Purple

How To Make Anything Signify Anything "By the time he retired from the National Security Agency in 1955, Friedman had served for more than thirty years as his government’s chief cryptographer, and—as leader of the team that broke the Japanese PURPLE code in World War II, co-inventor of the US Army’s best cipher machine, author of the papers that gave the field its mathematical foundations, and coiner of the very term cryptanalysis—he had arguably become the most important code-breaker in modern history."
posted by puny human on Feb 4, 2011 - 10 comments

"Few false ideas have more firmly gripped the minds of so many intelligent men than the one that, if they just tried, they could invent a cipher that no one could break."

An animated Flash demonstration of the Advanced Encryption Standard. [more inside]
posted by grouse on Oct 11, 2010 - 20 comments

The plot thickens...

The CIA is watching him. He's been addressed directly by powerful people all across the United States government. And earlier today on his website and across the internet, the same man has placed a 1.4 gigabyte encrypted file labeled "insurance."
posted by atypicalguy on Jul 30, 2010 - 308 comments

AES à la XKCD

A stick figure guide to the Advanced Encryption Standard. [via Bruce Schneier]
posted by Electric Dragon on Sep 26, 2009 - 21 comments

The XKCD Puzzle

XKCD author Randall Munroe appears to have left a neat little cryptographic puzzle for Reddit users in his new book. They're trying to decipher it.
posted by zarq on Sep 21, 2009 - 44 comments

Thomas and the cipher

Thomas Jefferson's cipher message from Robert Patterson For more than 200 years, buried deep within Thomas Jefferson's correspondence and papers, there lay a mysterious cipher -- a coded message that appears to have remained unsolved. Until now.... To Mr. Patterson's view, a perfect code had four properties: It should be adaptable to all languages; it should be simple to learn and memorize; it should be easy to write and to read; and most important of all, "it should be absolutely inscrutable to all unacquainted with the particular key or secret for decyphering." [more inside]
posted by caddis on Jul 2, 2009 - 22 comments

"It was beautiful, kind of like abstract art"

In March 2007, the FermiLab Office of Public Affairs in Batavia, IL "received a curious message in code" via USPS. In May 2008, scientists posted a facsimile image of the letter to their blog in the hopes of soliciting cryptologists to decipher the letter. [more inside]
posted by subbes on Jul 16, 2008 - 45 comments

¡Atención!", "1234567890"

Find a short wave radio and before long you should be able to tune into The Lincolnshire Poacher - the station plays an introduction comprising part of the eponymous folk tune followed by a robotic female voice reading strings of numbers: listen! So called Numbers Stations have been a mysterious constant of short wave radio for several decades. The Conet Project [previously 1, 2, 3] has made a collection of the recordings available allowing you to listen to "Ready! Ready! 15728", "The Buzzer" (especially mysterious), "Gong Station Chimes", "Magnetic Fields" and many others.... [more inside]
posted by rongorongo on Jun 30, 2008 - 71 comments

15 bits of crypto should be enough for anybody

On May 13, security advisories published by Debian and Ubuntu revealed that, for over a year, their OpenSSL libraries have had a major flaw in their CSPRNG, which is used by key generation functions in many widely-used applications, which caused the "random" numbers produced to be extremely predictable. [lolcat summary] [more inside]
posted by finite on May 16, 2008 - 81 comments

Amazing discoveries in plain-text Tor exit traffic.

This is an ironic tale of the consequences of inept application of cryptographic tools. Or is it? Dan Egerstad, a Swedish hacker, gained access to hundreds of computer network accounts around the world, belonging to various embassies, corporations and other organizations. How did he do it? Very easily: by sniffing exit traffic on his Tor nodes. [more inside]
posted by Anything on Dec 4, 2007 - 27 comments

Cryptome Shutdown

Cryptome Shutdown by Verio/NTT. Who Killed Cryptome.org?
posted by homunculus on May 1, 2007 - 28 comments

BETWEEN SUBTLE SHADING AND THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT LIES THE NUANCE OF IQLUSION

If you work at Langley and you need a break from actual intelligence gathering, you can always try to crack the code to the sculpture right outside the cafeteria window. Kryptos is a sculpture by James Sanborn located on the CIA grounds which contains a four-part coded message: sections 1-3 have been solved (with Sanborn admitting he made a typo in section 2). Perhaps you'd like to join Elonka (and the hive mind) in having a go at section 4.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Dec 3, 2006 - 14 comments

Things you didn't know about Bruce Schneier. They are on the internet, so they must be true.

"Most people use passwords. Some people use passphrases. Bruce Schneier uses an epic passpoem, detailing the life and works of seven mythical Norse heroes."
posted by chunking express on Aug 16, 2006 - 46 comments

Number stations

Project Evil - Number stations appear on VoIP and it just seems very mysterious. Slashdot picks up the story. Now all is revealed.
posted by caddis on Aug 9, 2006 - 19 comments

Englandspiel - or 'Germany Game'

Secret agent Huub Lauwers was parachuted into occupied Holland in 1941 to relay intelligence back to London. His capture by the Germans marked the beginning of the Englandspiel, a deadly game of cat-and-mouse intelligence that cost the lives of over fifty agents. Lauwers frantically tried to inform the SOE that he had been caught, but the Baker Street Irregulars just didn't get it. Or did they? [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Aug 6, 2006 - 16 comments

Enigma no more!

A previously unbroken Enigma code has been solved by a group of hackers. After just over a month of effort, the M4 group, using distributed computing, cracked a 60 year-old German naval code. The message: "Forced to submerge during attack." There are lots of other interesting historical codes that still remain mysteries, however. Lots of Enigma goodness in an earlier post.
posted by blahblahblah on Feb 27, 2006 - 16 comments

Handwritten Real-World Cryptogram?

Linda Rayburn and her son Michael Berry were brutally murdered by her husband, David Rayburn, on February 3rd, 2004. Rayburn then hanged himself in the basement of their home, leaving behind a handwritten cryptogram.
posted by tranquileye on Feb 11, 2006 - 11 comments

Le chiffre indéchiffrable

Plgjoekz xh jiw lwe zqsd meecebefi aqxaxgw xb pzchiottazlq (pbq kvqetnpavckxg) fqrut fegqeifrm nvednsvu ix xzt 9hu kifiuea, efijn dnzx gu tug Vskwcsem gaehrt ic qahogbvaquggd. Lpsxgr li Nxgrpebi vxr awx acvrpt dlw rwcpij (we qgvopgesq i wlgoaieb tgamnttzpbrvim gaevrz), Kadvnp Bkxahhn Jidpsb jan hgcs fw gwcthtiow wpfyqij, xn 1553. Oglkwg'h wzxpwbeavadmgc vnzrwhsrf tri hdkrz sx ihr valydp frkxs ihnv wkw kfinvhwgeq dy dlw dpiqsmh kra pbsygsfamgc os vhyww ivnb gsbe ogfyvw wwz, irv uoe vho jaggg bmet ia uefif wialvws yrcrc, ef jboziszaone msvt qbcpv qe huen. Gzpfymw Tpbocgo wmrqrawxjlya cbeuzsq Dmytnrte psj ivr Jvaiifj devacu gpi Ugizgax Asg, phb ml laf mezx ktqemx mctvn Fbmwsfvkl Cpsvpsum jtjripws hvu moxzdr n liupdr nadij, xb 1863. Gpi hdllclzlsqsgqg uxpugrc, wmrv na xzxs bpe, biepwa wrw df gje veki qblik qrrckkfdt pl i psnprtsyr oxhuwyl p cbopexwg.
posted by Plutor on Jul 5, 2005 - 69 comments

Herbert O. Yardley and the Birth of American Codebreaking

The Reader of Gentlemen's Mail In the spring of 1919, when the father of American cryptography, Herbert O. Yardley, drew up a plan for a permanent State Department codebreaking organization — a "black chamber — he estimated that a modest $100,000 a year would buy a chief (Yardley) and fifty clerks and cryptanalysts. Yardley rented a three-story building in New York City: on East 38th Street just off Fifth Avenue, he put two dozen people to work under civilian cover—as the Code Compiling Company. His summary dismissal happened in 1929 at the hand of incoming Secretary of State Henry Stimson, who closed down the Cipher Bureau with the casual observation that "gentlemen do not read each other's mail". The son of a railroad telegrapher, a man with a lively Jazz Age interest in money, good-looking women, and drinks at five, Yardley not only taught his country how to read other people's mail but wrote two of the enduring American books—the memoir The American Black Chamber (1931), and The Education of a Poker Player (1957).
posted by matteo on Apr 22, 2005 - 6 comments

Get out your stethoscopes!

Learn to Safecrack! [pdf] Last year, computer scientist and cryptologist Matt Blaze drew ire from the locksmithing community for publically revealing information on how to create the master key to a lock (previous MetaFilter discussion). He's back with a paper on cracking safes. Once again, locksmiths are up in arms over Blaze's disregard of trade secrets. Apparently, safes adhere to the principle of security through obscurity rather than Kerckhoff's Law. [via]
posted by painquale on Jan 27, 2005 - 9 comments

Rongorongo!

Rongorongo! Say it twice -- don't it feel nice? Most people think of the enigmatic maoi when they think of Easter Island but an equally vexing mystery is found in twenty-six wooden objects which contain pictographic symbols comprising...what? A language? A mnemomic system for recording stories now long forgotten? A resource for modern primitives' tribal tatoos? We could ask, but the authors are long-gone -- the victims of hard times -- leaving only a few tablets and a bunch of carved stone to puzzle over.
posted by Ogre Lawless on Jan 19, 2004 - 5 comments

It was just a matter of time...

26 year old student finds largest known prime number. The number is 6,320,430 digits long and would need 1,400 to 1,500 pages to write out. It is more than 2 million digits larger than the previous largest known prime number. Why? What use is it? How can knowing the next highest prime number be of any benefit?

One word: Cryptography.
Prime numbers are essential in producing keys for cryptography.
posted by DailyBread on Dec 10, 2003 - 14 comments

The Alice and Bob After Dinner Speech

There comes a time when people at a technical conference like this need something more relaxing. A change of pace. A shift of style. To put aside all that work stuff and think of something refreshingly different. So let's talk about coding theory.
posted by thebabelfish on Oct 25, 2003 - 7 comments

Navajo Code Talkers

You've probably heard of the WWII Navajo "code talkers" who managed to baffle crack Japanese cryptanalysts and were credited with enabling US success at Iwo Jima. Civil engineer, journalist and photographer Philip Johnston was the determined mind behind the "windtalkers". The son of missionaries, Johnston grew up on a Navajo reservation and was one of only a handful of outsiders fluent in the Navajo language. A bit of his background is included this article, and you can read a complete history of his plan, view an archive of photos by Johnston, and see copies of his enlistment application letter to the Marine Corps commandant, as well as a recommendation letter from the Commanding General. (more inside...)
posted by taz on Jan 22, 2003 - 13 comments

AES may have been broken. The new standard in crypto, AES, and other algorithms, appear to be vulnerable to xsl. This is not a practical attack, yet, but if you're interested in crypto it's fascinating (and shocking) news.
posted by andrew cooke on Sep 16, 2002 - 7 comments

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