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Science Encryption and the Secret

Science

Mike Sterling Canadian Community News

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The recent surge in terrorist attacks has brought back into focus the whole area of encryption. 

Public Key Encryption software is readily available and some social media sites offer it as an option.

The worry is that it will be used by the wrong people and detailed orders and plans will be transmitted in the dark.  This is being done now.

Codes/Decodes and those that make them and break them have ancient origins.  It is said that Cesar used a primitive form of them to communicate back to Rome on some of his campaigns.

Now the bad guys are using the Internet and encryption to recruit, plan and inform.

The standard way to do that is Public Key Encryption.  The essence of this is to create a code that requires the factoring of a very large number into two prime components.  In practice this is very hard to do, so it is used as an encode method.

Recalling the Enigma Machine, whose secret was exposed by a clever few at Bletchley Park during World War II, we can get some idea of what effort it takes to break really good codes.

Now a person does not need an Enigma Machine to encrypt, but only a humble PC. 

It is not that public key encryption cannot be broken, it just takes a long, long time with lots of resources.  By the time the messages have been decoded, the people and events concerned have moved on to another safe haven and new messages are sent in the dark.

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My question is this:

Is there a lab somewhere which has made the breaking of messages quick and efficient or at least manageable?

If this is true, it is the greatest secret of our time.  It will have only a few knowing it and using it.

Like Enigma messages, sometimes acting on them exposes the decoder.  That is, if the message is acted upon, it shows that the sender and receiver have been exposed.  This produces a 'Sophie's Choice'.  Winston Churchill had to endure this in the Nazi bombing of Manchester we are told.

If I had to bet on it, I would think that there are people doing just that now.


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Wednesday, December 16, 2015