Saturday, July 29, 2006

Danger of weak cryptography

Joel Schultz pointed me to an interesting article. A jury in Santa Ana convicted two leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang of racketeering and murder. They were found guilty of ordering attacks and murders on black inmates within the maximum security cellblocks. To communicate in the high security cells they wrote their "execution orders" with invisible ink and used a system of codes and cryptograms, some of them based on a 400-years old system of Sir Francis Bacon!

This is a nice example of how not very smart people think they are smart and therefore believe their system is waterproof. Not being that smart, they forget there are indeed smarter people who can break their codes. And that's just what happened! That's the problem with new crypto algorithms and encryption software. People think a system is unbreakable because they can't break it themselves, but unfortunately there are always smarter people. This conviction is a nice example showing us we always have to be careful with encryption systems. And for those who are against the use of crypto by the public "because criminals could misuse it" (mainly governments are opponents) this is a nice example of we-always-get-the-bad-guys-encryption.

More on the story here and there.

1 comment:

Joel said...

Good summary of the story. Thanks.