Tags related to tag privacy
Tuesday, April 11. 2006
Wednesday, October 19. 2005
About this Entry
This entry is written as a piece of Godel Ecsher Bach fan-fic (by Douglas Hofstadter). If you have a copy, you should read the " Aria with Diverse Variations" chapter first to give some context. The story continues at the 'false end' of the chapter, which is to say, just before the next chapter begins, rather then the 'true end' of the chapter which is hidden in the middle of the chapter.
Okay, I don't have the book, and that just hurt my brain!The book will hurt your brain too, so buy it and start hurting. It's a good hurt, like the warm feeling on your bum after a good whack with a tawse.
That being said, you do not have to have read the book to read my piece of fan-fic. You will probably find it quite interesting, however there are some in-jokes that will zoom right past you.
In 'Godel, Escher, Bach an Eternal Golden Braid', (or GEB as it's known) the book follows a pattern of one chapter of dialog between Achilles and the Tortoise about a particular topic, and then a chapter containing a more in-depth technical explanation of the topic.
Who are the other characters?The Warden is a character of my own invention. Silva and Gould are characters in the "Aria with Diverse Variations" dialog.
Achilles: Why... why... Mr Tortoise! How did you get in here?
Tortoise: Easy, I walked through the front door you see.
Achilles: Now thats now what I mean!
Tortoise: You're quite right. The warden let me in to talk to you. But have a care, he has cameras and microphones set up everywhere! So we shouldn't talk about why you are in here.
Achilles: Ooohhh that Warden Hoff Dougstadter, he is so horribly oppressive! Why every night...
The Tortoise stares up and the ceiling significantly
Achilles: But... ah... what ever shall we talk about?
Tortoise: Well, when we last had a chat, we were having a conversation about the Goldbach Conjecture, where Mr. Goldbach said "at least it seems that every number that is greater than 2 is the sum of three primes". I think today we're going to talk about something else we can do with primes. Encryption!
Achilles: My, this seems rather out of character for you Mr. Tortoise. Very cloak and Dagger!
Tortoise: Ah, but my dear Achilles, we have been trotted out my a writer of far less calibre then our beloved Hofstadter or Mr. Carrol. So be prepared for much shenanigans.
Achilles: Speaking of shenanigans, your grammar seems to have gotten a lot worse!
Achilles: You were saying about cryptography?
Tortoise: Yes. Right. Well then. Cryptography.
Achilles: But why would anyone like your or I need cryptography? I mean, I have nothing to hide. In fact, I maintain that any lawful and productive member of society really has no reason to hide anything from anyone! Except that nasty Warden. Why I...
Tortoise: Ahh Achilles?
Achilles: And by nasty, i mean that purely in the homo-erotic sense...
Tortoise: I always knew there was something about you Greeks. But the question of why anyone, especially law abiding and productive citizens would need cryptography is a good one, and it can only be answered by another question: How much do you value your privacy, and how much will you do so in the future?
Achilles: Oh pshaw. I value my privacy very much in fact, but my mail just isn't worth reading, present circumstances excepted of course.
Tortoise: Ah, but therein lies the rub! We never truly know what kind of circumstances we are going to be in, and then we're well and truly stuck. Why, imagine if we were to exchange details on a cryptosystem, then we would be showing the beloved Warden that we do in fact have something to hide.
Achilles: Which we don't.
Achilles: But couldn't we just use the power of our minds, and talk about a cryptosystem in code, and that way we wouldn't get found out?
Tortoise: Well, not anymore. But that kind of cryptography has been known to work. You will remember that the Romans used a system similar to that, were messages were passed back and forth between Ceaser and his generals by slips of paper hidden in a walking stick. The messages are said to be sent through the 'subliminal channel', it is also called steganography. No a days there are ways to encode text inside of images, or other similar things.
Achilles: Ahh yes, I remember! Just like we used the Skytale to send messages back and forth!
Tortoise: Right, we could use steganography to hide messages, to one another, but they could easily be found out, and it is hard not to arrouse suspicion.
The Tortoise leans in and starts whispering to Achilles
Tortoise: Another method might be disinformation. I might tell you that I am going to break you out of the jail tonight at 3:00 AM, knowing that the Warden Doug is listening, and come at 4:30 instead, or maybe 2:00!
Achilles: Are you really going to break me out?
Tortoise: Don't be silly!
The Tortoise straightens up, and resumes talking
Tortoise: I find steganography to be rather crude however. It is like depending on just the lock of the jail door to keep you locked away in this cell, when the key could be anywhere, why even hung up on a hook next to us! It lacks grace. I prefer the sweet company of numbers to keep my secrets safe!
Achilles: But surely numbers can be figured out, especially by competent mathematicians.
Tortoise: As sure as the sun rises my friend! However, as I alluded to earlier, the numbers we are talking about are not small. No, not small in deed! Most modern cryptosystems deal with astronomically huge numbers.
Achilles: But how does it all work?
Tortoise: Well, public key encryption, which is one of the easiest and best methods found so far, works by finding things called One Way Functions. A function is simply a mathematical recipe to bake a number. A one way function is a recipe that one you bake, you can't un-bake it.
Achilles: So when you bake a cake, you can't really turn it back into sugar, flower, almonds...
Tortoise: Exactly! Mmmm.. Almonds.
Achilles: So what is an example of our cryptographic cake?
Tortoise: Well, one way is to take a very large composite number—the product of 2 or more prime numbers, so 16 is a composite number with 2, 4 and 8 being its prime factors because 2 x 8 is 16, and 4 x 4 is also 16. Anyway, This composite number becomes your 'public key' that you can share with the world. Now, if I want to send you a sekrut message, I just encrypt the message using your public key. Now to read the message, you would need to decrypt the message using your 'private key'.
Achilles: But what is my private key?
Tortoise: Well, the private key is a prime number that makes up the composite number of your public key. In our example, it is either 2, 4 or 8. But real cryptosystems use much larger composites.
Achilles: How big?
Tortoise: Oh, 340,282,367....
Achilles: Oh pshaw thats not very big at all!
Tortoise: with 30 zeros after it.
Tortoise: And that is just to store credit cards. Cryptographers use a short hand when talking about such big keys, they call it 128 bit encryption, because 2 to the power of 128 equals that very big number. There is one set of cryptographic tools called Gnu Privacy Guard that suggests using a 1024 bits for the key..
Achilles: I am afraid to ask, but just how big is that?
Tortoise: To tell you the truth, I don't know the exact number, but my estimate would be 1-with-308-zeros-after-it. To give you a sense of scale, the observable universe has approximately 1-with-79-zeros number of atoms.
Tortoise: So you see, your messages are quite safe for the time being.
Achilles: Oh you tricky Tortoise, you aren't going to get me this time! The time being? What is that supposed to mean?
Tortoise: well, you see, once Quantum Computers hit the scene, then dealing with such large numbers won't be as big a deal. But there is still time for that to happen yet. And while quantum computers will make the process easier, it probably wont make it easy. But the rumor is that the biggest and strongest spy orginizations can't even break that kind of encryption!
At this point, the Warden bursts through the door to stop this conversation, only to find both Achilles and The Tortoise gone, replaced with animatronic versions of themselves
Hoff Dougstadter yelling over the animatronic voices: Silva! Gould! Where is that Achilles! And that turtle! I know he is up to something!
Silva: I'm sorry sir, but I didn't see anyone leave except the turtle.
Hoff Dougstadter: Well, AFTER HIM!
Gould: But sir, we could never catch up to him.
Hoff Dougstadter: What?!? He is a turtle!
Gould: Well, there is this bloke Zeno, right?
Wednesday, June 30. 2004
"By interpreting the Wiretap Act's privacy protections very narrowly, this court has effectively given Internet communications providers free rein to invade the privacy of their users for any reason and at any time," says our own Kevin Bankston. "This decision makes clear that the law has failed to adapt to the realities of Internet communications and must be updated to protect online privacy."
[Via EFF: Deep Links]
Episode 221 - Fore Father.avi - Family Guy (22:29)
Sunday, April 4. 2004
Woody Norris has a way of getting inside your head. No, we don't mean his overpowering handshake or Barnumesque penchant for self-promotion ("This is the biggest thing in audio in 77 years"). We mean HyperSonic Sound, his latest creation. (A prolific inventor, Norris, 64, also won a Best of What's New for a personal flying machine.)
Unlike traditional speakers, which scatter sound, Norris' device streams it in a precise, laser-like beam for up to 150 yards with almost no degradation in quality or volume. If that seems incredible, trust me, it is.
So we will have billboards and coke machines screaming at us all day, every day. Supermarkets and Department stores will have sonic advertizement that sound like they are coming from our own heads.
Yes kids, the sonic environment is going to get a lot more polluted. It is going to taste worse than Uni from the floor of the New York Harbor.
Yes, as a musician, I am not lost on the possibilities of this thing.
Tuesday, March 30. 2004
Saturday, March 27. 2004
Wednesday, March 24. 2004
Note the date change
Where: #13, 2323 Oakmoor Dr. S.W.
When: 7:00PM Friday 26th March, 2003
I've decided to hold a small, semi-impromptu KeySigning Party At my house Friday night (26th of March). This is my first time ever doing this, and I am something of a Crypto-newbie, so if you have any suggetions, make a comment or two. Read more for details.
- If you're coming, here is what you need to do:
- If you haven't already, generate a keypair, using Gnu Privacy Guard (gpg)
- Send your public key to a public key server
- Send me your Key-Id, and your Key Fingerprint so I can compile a list of attendees
- Actually show up on Thursday
- Sign everyones keys when you get home
- When you do come, here is what you should bring:
- Hard copy of your Key-ID and Fingerprint
- 2 Pieces of ID, at least one of them picture ID
I Don't care if you bring a computer
Unless any of the participants object (and they should by creating a comment) I don't particularly care if people bring Laptops or PDA's. (In fact, if they bring their PDA's, that would be cool, cause we could trade apps and stuff.) The important thing is that the actual Signing of the Keys is going to happen on paper.
The actual signing of the keys is gonna be pretty mello, Each person holds up their ID, Reads out their ID and fingerprint, and everyone else checks their copy of the keylist. No problem. Then we all go home and sign our respective keys. Horray.