Whitfield Diffie

WhitfieldDiffieBBCBefore what we did, you could not have supported cryptography outside a fairly integrated organisation. If you look at the US Department of Defense, it’s very large, but very centralised; everybody knows the chain of command.
They can have a trusted entity run by the National Security Agency (NSA) to manage the keys used by the military and government. If you were in the military, and it was part of your assignment to talk to somebody securely in another part of the military, they would supply you with a key, and every morning you come out and put one in your teletype machine or phone or whatever.
But the internet is not just meant for friends to talk to friends, it’s for everybody to talk to everybody. Until you have public key cryptography you have no way of arranging the keys on demand at a moment’s notice for these secure communications.
That’s what browsers do with websites all the time. Amazon, eBay, all of the merchants on the internet encrypt at least some of the traffic you have with them, at the very least the payment portion of it.
At the time the NSA reacted like any other enterprise that has had a monopoly in a market for a long period of time. Suddenly somebody was treading on its turf, and it made several attempts to recapture its market.

This entry was posted in information. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Whitfield Diffie

  1. shinichi says:

    The revolution begins

    by Whitfield Diffie

    In 1975, cryptographer Whitfield Diffie devised “public key cryptography”, which revolutionised encryption.
    “The basic techniques we used until public key cryptography come from around 1500 in the western world, and were known from about 800 in the Middle East.

    _________________________

    How did governments lose control of encryption?

    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-35659152

    The clash between Apple and the FBI over whether the company should provide access to encrypted data on a locked iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers highlights debates about privacy and data security which have raged for decades.

    Cryptography was once controlled by the state and deployed only for military and diplomatic ends. But in the 1970s, cryptographer Whitfield Diffie devised a system which took encryption keys away from the state and marked the start of the so-called “Crypto Wars”.

    Whitfield Diffie and three other experts spoke to the BBC World Service Inquiry programme about the tensions at the heart of the spat between Apple and the FBI.

    _________________________

    “They are basically arithmetic. Not ordinary integer arithmetic, but something like clock arithmetic – it’s 11 o’clock and you wait three hours and you get 2 o’clock – and table lookups. What’s the 5th element in the table? What’s the 20th element?

    “The trouble is you can’t do them very well without some kind of mechanical computation. A human being can’t do enough of those calculations to produce a secure system without making too many mistakes.

    “Before what we did, you could not have supported cryptography outside a fairly integrated organisation. If you look at the US Department of Defense, it’s very large, but very centralised; everybody knows the chain of command.

    “They can have a trusted entity run by the National Security Agency (NSA) to manage the keys [used by the military and government]. If you were in the military, and it was part of your assignment to talk to somebody securely in another part of the military, they would supply you with a key, and every morning you come out and put one in your teletype machine or phone or whatever.

    “But the internet is not just meant for friends to talk to friends, it’s for everybody to talk to everybody. Until you have public key cryptography you have no way of arranging the keys on demand at a moment’s notice for these secure communications.

    “That’s what browsers do with websites all the time. Amazon, eBay, all of the merchants on the internet encrypt at least some of the traffic you have with them, at the very least the payment portion of it.

    “[At the time] the NSA reacted like any other enterprise that has had a monopoly in a market for a long period of time. Suddenly somebody was treading on its turf, and it made several attempts to recapture its market.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.