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In case you wondered whether the Internet was safe …

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From Peter Woit, not a fan of ours, more like the accidental creationist, here:

If there is a backdoor, as most experts believe and the Snowden documents indicate, this was a fairly outrageous use of the AMS to mislead the math community and the public. At the time I argued with some at the AMS that they should insist that George address explicitly the question of the existence of the backdoor, but didn’t get anywhere with that. One of their arguments was that George was speaking for himself, not the NSA.

The question of fact here is a very simple and straightforward mathematical one: how was the choice used in the standard of points P and Q on an elliptic curve made? There is a known way to do this that provides a backdoor. Did the NSA use this method, or some other one for which no backdoor is known? The NSA refused to cooperate with the NIST investigation into this question. The only record of what happened when the NIST asked about how P and Q were chosen early on in the development of the standard is this, which indicates that people were told by the NSA that they were not allowed to publicly discuss the question.

This all reminds me of something I never followed up seriously,but maybe should have: Mathematicians’ role in flawed security cryptography Using their expertise to subvert the group tasked with producing high quality cryptography?

Could be a factor in continuing to provide high quality news services here. Thoughts?

Also: *Accidental creationist: Someone who suddenly gets the naturalist program, whose job does not strictly depend on supporting it.

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One Reply to “In case you wondered whether the Internet was safe …

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Look, details are unnecessary. Just two facts and a bit of logic.

    1. NSA was one of the charter nodes of the Net.

    2. All existing digital crypto methods use algorithms invented by NSA.

    Therefore: All communication via the Net, and all coding that uses digital crypto methods, is read by NSA.

    Nothing new about any of this. No sane coder, from Roman times through WW2, would have used channels owned by the enemy and a code invented by the enemy. I don’t know why so many people continue to do these obviously stupid things.

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