The Eighth Movie-Plot Threat Contest

It's April 1, and time for another Movie-Plot Threat Contest. This year, the theme is Crypto Wars II. Strong encryption is evil, because it prevents the police from solving crimes. (No, really -- that's the argument.) FBI Director James Comey is going to be hard to beat with his heartfelt litany of movie-plot threats:

"We're drifting toward a place where a whole lot of people are going to be looking at us with tears in their eyes," Comey argued, "and say 'What do you mean you can't? My daughter is missing. You have her phone. What do you mean you can't tell me who she was texting with before she disappeared?"

[...]

"I've heard tech executives say privacy should be the paramount virtue," Comey said. "When I hear that, I close my eyes and say, 'Try to imagine what that world looks like where pedophiles can't be seen, kidnappers can't be seen, drug dealers can't be seen.'"

(More Comey here.)

Come on, Comey. You might be able to scare noobs like Rep. John Carter with that talk, but you're going to have to do better if you want to win this contest. We heard this same sort of stuff out of then-FBI director Louis Freeh in 1996 and 1997.

This is the contest: I want a movie-plot threat that shows the evils of encryption. (For those who don't know, a movie-plot threat is a scary-threat story that would make a great movie, but is much too specific to build security policies around. Contest history here.) We've long heard about the evils of the Four Horsemen of the Internet Apocalypse -- terrorists, drug dealers, kidnappers, and child pornographers. (Or maybe they're terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, and money launderers; I can never remember.) Try to be more original than that. And nothing too science fictional; today's technology or presumed technology only.

Entries are limited to 500 words -- I check -- and should be posted in the comments. At the end of the month, I'll choose five or so semifinalists, and we can all vote and pick the winner.

The prize will be signed copies of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the 2nd Edition of Applied Cryptography, and the 15th Anniversary Edition of Secrets and Lies, both being published by Wiley this year in an attempt to ride the Data and Goliath bandwagon.

Good luck.

Posted on April 1, 2015 at 6:33 AM • 126 Comments

Comments

Doctor you know whoApril 1, 2015 7:21 AM

Terrorists encrypt the white house, locking all staff inside so that they can't figure a way out (although they have a few geeks who figured out that since they're on the inside, the attack surface is concave, so they keep programming their phones and wrist-watches to break the encryption while conserving batteries, because all power stations is are outside the encrypted zone and electrons can't figure out how to get in).

The terrorists demand all the BTC that were stolen from "the people", but it's pretty obvious DPR is behing this.

Philip WrightApril 1, 2015 8:14 AM

The year is 2035. The earth has been taken over by self-aware machines. They communicate using the satellites put in place by the humans in the years before the human vs machine war. A hand full of human resistance are our only hope, they attempt to break the quantum encryption used by the robots so they can take back the earth by uploading a virus to every machine at once.
Each time they try the machines are able to determine their location and hunt them down. The resistance and humanity will die if they do not succeed.

On top of the challenge of running and hiding from the Machines, while attempting to crack the breakable encryption, the resistance is also fighting against a splinter group of rebels, Who do not support the use of technology at all, As it is what created the machines. These rebels are more of an annoyance then a threat to the resistance and provide comic relief during the movie, as they have the IQ of apps.

aikimarkApril 1, 2015 8:17 AM

A shadow organization of Anonymous infiltrates the IT infrastructure of the oligarchs now 'running' the US government. They infect the backup systems with a long-running double-encrypter. After two years, the infection encrypts the file systems and invalidates the token that allowed the back-ups to restore properly. An email is sent to the oligarchs stating that the oligarchs are now victims of a randsom-ware attack on both their files and their backups. The oligarchs are tasked with redistributing their wealth to the people (middle class and lower class Americans) from whom it was taken. They have 48 hours to publicly publish their plan, both actions and timetable.

On hour 50, the press/media are sent a list of the affected oligarchs that have not responded. Almost immediately, these companies' stock plummets.

The oligarchs have been trying to mitigate their plight, but the encryption algorithm was strong and the keys were long. They enlist the help of industry security experts, the FBI, and NSA, but each file will have to be brute-force decrypted. There were a few copies of some of the files on mobile devices, but not enough to run the business.

One by one, they capitulate. Their wealth is distributed back to the 'people'. The people turn out to support and vote for independent politicians, who change the laws to prevent poor-to-wealthy distribution and influence-peddling. And we all lived happily ever after. The end.

KevApril 1, 2015 8:35 AM

The battle between codemakers and codebreakers has been waging for centuries. It’s not surprising. Breaking a code can help you win a war.

Sometimes in history, the codemakers have the upper hand. Then clever people find the tiniest of flaws, and the tables are turned yet again.

At the beginning of the 21st Century, the codemakers have the upper hand. Advances in mathematics have led to powerful symmetrical and asymmetrical encryption algorithms that simply have no flaws. Only brute force computer power can defeat them. But there’s not enough time in the universe.

The clandestine powers-that-be are in a panic. Intelligence is dwindling. Power is being eroded. What is the answer? Legislation? Men with iron bars? The wholesale sabotage of computational technology?

A decision is made. The algorithms cannot be broken. Brute force takes eons. Legislation is pointless.. Which leaves but one option. Take the tools of mankind and smash them on the floor. Deny the wonders of technology to everyone.

It starts slowly at first. But then cunningly, stealthily, and insipidly, the powers-that-be set out to compromise all computational technology. They put in backdoors. Flaws. Little logic errors here and there. Anything to bypass or break streams of cyphertext.

It takes years but, inevitably, all trust in technology breaks down. Without the tools to sustain us, society degenerates. Governments fall. Anarchy reigns. But, curiously, it was all for the best. Before the end credits roll, people of the future can be seen living peaceful, simple and humble lives, unencumbered by the gadgets of yesteryear, strolling through the grass without a care in the world.

DeimosApril 1, 2015 8:37 AM

The NSA reveals secretly to the FBI director that, with the help of the CIA, it has successfully blackmailed the developers of every available data encryption tool, and those tools now all contain backdoors providing the NSA with access to all encrypted communications.

To prevent knowledge of their total information access (using a tool code-named TOTALACC) from being suspected, the NSA urges the FBI director to continue demanding that backdoors be required in cryptographic software. Meanwhile, the NSA is unwilling to share information that it has gathered with any law-enforcement agencies, for fear that doing so will reveal the existence of TOTALACC.

So high is the value of keeping TOTALACC secret, that no terrorist plot can be foiled by its use. Paralyzed by its total success, the NSA must watch helplessly as terrorist plots that it was fully aware of are carried out.

Over time, the NSA devotes less and less of its resources to gathering intelligence about terrorist threats and more and more of those resources to ensuring that the existince of TOTALACC not be revealed to the world.

Investigative journalists working for The Intercept uncover encrypted NSA communications describing TOTALACC, but because they cannot crack the encryption, the world is unable to learn the truth. If only they could crack the NSA's encryption, the world would be a much safer place!

bcsApril 1, 2015 8:37 AM

The President gets locked out of the situation room during an international indecent because the 6 digit access code is on his phone (with strong encryption) and he has forgotten the 12 digit pass-code!

Spaceman SpiffApril 1, 2015 8:53 AM

@bcs - "international indecent"? What? The president was video recorded having sex with his intern (personal sex doll) and is being blackmailed?

vas pupApril 1, 2015 8:59 AM

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/FBI-Must-Urgently-Upgrade-Intelligence-Terror-Threats.html
"While commending the bureau for using drones in kidnappings, manhunts and search-and-rescue operations, the IG report said all 17 of the FBI’s operational drones are “at a single location and had only one pilot team on staff adequately trained to fly all models” of the aircraft.

The FBI said, however, that its drone operation was “capable of deploying to multiple locations quickly.” And the bureau said it is developing a five-year plan to relocate drone operations around the nation."

LEA/Intel got set of drones assigned to monitor 24/7 each politician (their family members, lovers, etc.) who could affect/ban any surveillance program to get total control over them through blackmail. Hackers break into election system and declared winner of the next POTUS election Ed Snowden (or N.Korean Kim or Cuban Castro or Vladimir Putin - make your own selection). :)

mesApril 1, 2015 9:01 AM

The police have suspected Kevin Barker of being the Worthington Wight, a serial killer whose victims disappear without a trace. The police have traced many of the victims back to Barker in some way, but he seems to have covered his tracks well. They can't find the bodies, aren't sure how he's killing the victims, and the only DNA evidence they've got can be explained away by Barker's familiarity with those victims. FBI Profiler Jane Munroe thinks Barker probably keeps trophies of his victims. She convinces a judge to issue a search warrant. They go in while Barker is at work. All they can find is a 2048-bit-encrypted laptop, which they clone. Barker notices things in his home were moved around. He heads for the Mexican border to disappear in South America. Can the FBI's team of cryptographic experts crack Barker's encryption before he flees the country? Will the encrypted drive have the evidence they need to convict him?

chrisApril 1, 2015 9:40 AM

@Bruce: The prize will be signed copies of ...

Piddle. The prize will be the admiration of fellow Schneierphiles. There will also be signed copies of ...

Massimo GentiliniApril 1, 2015 9:46 AM

A group of anonymous hacker release a new virus that, thanks to the discovery of a very powerful algorithm by its genius leader Gig, is capable to decrypt any existing coded information and then send the decoded data via email to some random email addresses found on the victim PC (obviously with the Virus attached).

The Virus then start adapting, spreading and mutating in a very fast way and it's impossible to stop, detect or analyze (remember, Gig is a Real Genius, or maybe an extraterrestrial alien!).

Unluckily Gig dies on a plane trip (or fly back to home in his flying saucer) together with the source code of the Virus, meanwhile the Virus continue spreading decoding everything and mails arrives to a lot of people, that cannot resist opening them because they contains very useful information (like the real story behind the death of public figures, the coca cola recipe, real nude picture of Taylor Swift and the final chapter of the Games of Thrones books), spreading the Virus more and more.

Will be the world really capable to survive the overload of sensitive information that will result? Will it collapse? Or everything will continue to work as before because, in the end, knowing everything means knowing nothing?

No Such AgencyApril 1, 2015 10:06 AM

When is irrelevant. The events that are about to take place could have happened in the past, the future, or now.

What could be considered the ultimate hack is under way. For some time now, foreign agents have been carefully placed within the largest software companies and organizations that produce operating systems.

It is not personal information these attackers are after. In fact, the systems do not require an internet connection. Something much more sinister is in motion. On December 26th 2018, a malicious payload will be triggered on any system that runs the affected software, that encrypts the contents of every drive accessible to the system. To speed up the process, only specific files and folders will be targeted, along with core operating systems files, in order to render the system unusable and critical files lost.

Once the encryption is completed, no message will display, no demand for ransom will be made. The system will simply malfunction, then fail to start if rebooted. In many cases, hardware failure will be assumed, though companies with multiple systems will suffer simultaneous system failure across large parts of their organizations. The modern information age will be history.

[insert office buildings where the lights flicker then go out]

The technology world will collapse, and with it, economies. This isn't a war for data, but a war for world domination.

John MacdonaldApril 1, 2015 10:16 AM

(not an entry) Sometimes there are advantages to having blurry vision. I read the link in the story as "More Corney here.". It seemed to fit so well, it didn't realize I'd mis-read it for a few moments.

parabarbarianApril 1, 2015 10:51 AM

A news reporter writes an expose of the gritty underworld that supports high-end child pornography. This article implies that high-ranking officials in several governments are involved in kidnapping children to make these movies. He kept voluminous notes including names, dates and places on an encrypted laptop.

A crusading FBI agent, believing the data will help solve several kidnappings and murders, gets a warrant to seize the reporter's laptop and a SWAT team is dispatched to retrieve it. Unfortunately the reporter, awakened from a sound sleep and fearing his home is being invaded, reaches for his cell phone and is shot dead by the police.

The combined capacity of the FBI and NSA cannot break the encryption and the only person who knew the passphrase is dead. The intrepid agent is stymied at every turn by the lack of information and arrives too late to save several recently kidnapped, young girls. That last failure pushes him over the edge and, in frustration, he murders some of his prime suspects and then kills himself leaving an impassioned note about the impossibility of catching criminals in a world where they can hide behind strong encryption.

His superior testifies before Congress that the tragedies could have been avoided if a law enforcement only backdoor was mandatory in all encryption.

BillKApril 1, 2015 11:07 AM

Wepichle= Cyber-Weapon + Vehicle

A twelve year-old hacker shows an interest in cracking techniques and mobility. That motivation evolves over eight years into WEPICHLE. Crowd sourcing the funds fuels that growth. Little does the now 20 year-old hacker realize that the funding for that assemblage comes from Bad Actors. The Wepichle has become a functional device. To keep the funding sources engaged, progress reports are delivered on each project.
One day in 2015 the Wepichle is driven out of the garage to start the adventure

Using a vehicle as a cyber-weapon to break and map encryption in various systems.

Crowd Sourced funding from Bad actors to Unsuspecting Hacking Enthusiast
An experiment to combine as many cyber technologies into a vehicle.
Use low power parallel processing platforms in vehicle wherever possible.
Have instances/situations of roving/mobile combinations actively being used as Wepichle scenes in the movie.

Wepichle Attributes

1.)Cellphone
a.Hardware
i.Software Defined Cellphone/s (SDC)
b.Scanner/Sniffer
c.Spoofer
d.Controller
2.)UHF spread spectrum Government/Public Service
a.Hardware
i.Software Defined Radio (SDR)
b.Scanner/Sniffer
c.Spoofer
d.Controller
3.)WIFI
a.Hardware
i. Software Defined WIFI (SDWIFI)
b.Scanner/Sniffer
c.Spoofer
d.Controller
4.)Industrial Control Systems (ISC)
a.Hardware
i.Software Defined Controller (SDCON)
b.Scanner/Sniffer
c.Spoofer
d.Controller
5.)Vehicle
a.Hardware
i. Power Self sufficiency
1.Solar electricity
2.Heat to electric
3.Portable Generator
4.Power Backup (UPS)
b.Camouflage
i.Darkened windows
ii.Collection magnet signage for external surfaces
iii.Roll down graphics inside windows based on external signage
c.Fiberglass roof extension for antennas
6.) And MORE

XavierApril 1, 2015 11:44 AM

The 28th amendment banning cryptography for criminal use is ratified. But due to a typo in the amendment, using or writing cryptographic or security software becomes a federal crime. The main task of the FBI is now to track anyone with encrypted documents.

Soon, the Supreme Court rules that the amendment apply to the federal government and it's agencies. NSA is closed, and the major defense contractors, having all heavely invested in the security business are bankrupt.

The silicon valley is no more : the entire IT industry moves to Canada, Mexico and Europe. With all there data now in clear, the major US corporation see all there secrets stolen by foreign compagnies. The spike of online theft is short : soon there is nothing to steal at all.
The banking sector is annihilated since the US banking system can no more exchange information with the outside world : cryptography is mandatory but illegal at the same time.

Since the US military can't anymore use encrypted communications, drones are decommissioned and all troops are sent back to the US to help prevent riots in the collapsing economy. After a while, the US accept economic help from Mexico and Cuba and are back to a rural society. The first Amish US president is elected.

Without the US creating new war zones, the world is soon at peace. China find a way to reduce it's carbon emmissions, and since the US are no more using any fossile energy, the climate change is less important than anticipated.

The illegal immigration is no more an issue in the US, and since the Mexican border is closed with a giant wall, emigration is limited.
Drug trafic is less important too, as most Americans can't afford drugs anymore.

Pedophilia and kidnapping are still present but at least, since the USA have no more internet access, cyber crime is annihilated : no more online pedophiles, no more identity theft.

The crypto wars have been won is the USA, and most of the world population benefits from it.

JonKnowsNothingApril 1, 2015 11:48 AM

Mise-en-scène:

"We're drifting toward a place where a whole lot of people are going to be looking at us with tears in their eyes," Comey argued, "and say 'What do you mean you can't? My daughter is missing. You have her phone. What do you mean you can't tell me who she was texting with before she disappeared?"
http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/emergencies/missing.html

Under America's Privacy Act, the state department cannot reveal any information related to a US citizen's "location, welfare, intentions, or problems" to anyone without that person's permission — this includes relatives and members of Congress.

Distraught family and friends of missing US Citizen kidnapped in foreign country and held in an unnamed location, locked in a blacked out basement for more than a year, appeals to the US State Department and other US Government Agencies for assistance in extracting their loved one from the hands of a violent and war torn country.

NSA uses all their encryption and decryption capability to find the US Citizen only to discover that the person is held by the CIA, their cousin organization. The NSA sends a super secret message via their massive Supercomputer Network (scene pans to stock images of whirling tape drives) to US State Department: (START CODE) WHAT DO WE DO NOW? (END CODE)

US State Department replies with accidently unencrypted plain text (images shows they forgot to click the encrypt tick box) (start plain text) "NO WORRIES: WE CANT DO ANYTHING WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE HAHAHAHA MISSING PERSON. NO CHANCE OF THAT!" (end plain text).

Scene action of pressing SEND button and then pans to the "TO: LINE" where line is auto-filled out not to the NSA but to National HQ of the Salvation Army.

(* all true except the last bit. The Aussies really sent the information on G20 visa and passport details of all G20 leaders (Obama, Putin, Merkel etc) to some other group but decided it wasn't important enough to tell the G20 leaders their private passport and travel details had been compromised.)

Nathan FritzApril 1, 2015 11:53 AM

Bioterrorists launch an attack by contaminating food destined for a worldwide chain restaurant (How about naming it something like Smackdonalds and putting a big S out front) with a potent form of the flu virus.

In a completely unrelated attack, a crypto-blackmail scheme gone awry causes a virus to spread worldwide that locks down phones and computers by enabling whole disk encryption or rekeying existing encryption.

Authorities are unable to trace the contaminated food or people who may have had contracted the virus and spread it because communications world wide are being hampered by the virus. 'cause, you know, that's how computers work in movies.

At the end, standing in his shredded biocontainment suit staring at his newly infected phone the lead scientist exclaims "We were so HELLbent on securing our privacy through encryption that we sent OURSELVES to HELL!"

jggimiApril 1, 2015 11:58 AM

L/S of Downtown Pyongyang, from the Taedong riverfront on a sunny day.
L/S ext. partially-completed office block and entrance to Kaeson subway. Rack focus to M/S of two men exiting subway and entering building.
Dissolve to C/S of same men entering board room facing a mix of seated suits and KPA uniforms, entering men remain standing at table-head. After paying obeisance to the prominent photos of KIS and KJI on the wall, they turn and face the table together.
Man1: “Once again, the Great Enemy self-destructs. Their weakness for individualism and profits has produced a self-deluded decision to permit strong encryption to thrive.” [Pause and smile, then] “We exploit it.”
Man2: “The fools have hamstrung themselves. Counter-intelligence reports they flounder in ignorance, collecting only domestic information about themselves, and the other four in their ‘five eyes alliance’. They are blind to all but each other.”
Man1: “Our technology transfers with Tehran are on schedule. Our information takes thousands of separate routes every minute, and due to the Enemy’s own short-sightedness, our transfers are indistinguishable from noise.”
Man2: “They treat us with scorn, and constantly seek to undermine our society. But they and their southern puppets will soon both be destroyed. Juche will always prevail!!”
F/O as the audience leaps to their feet with applause and cheers.
---
F/I L/S of CIA HQ, Langley. Cut to C/S of closed office door, Deputy Director, Operations. Door opens with T/S of aide entering, carrying sealed folder marked “TS Ultra – Rush -- DDO Eyes Only – LAUGHINGSTOCK
C/S of Aide handing photo across desk to DDO
Aide: “Ma’am, this was transmitted less than eight minutes ago. We’ve only just decoded …”
DDO [interrupting, breaking seal and opening folder] “Thank you, George, I’ve been expecting it.”
C/U of contents now on DDO desk. grainy photo of office building in opening shots, grainier telephoto shots of Man1/Man2 with various KPA officers and other men and women, maps of cities covered with red dots, phone call logs, etc. DDO selects one document labeled LAUGHINGSTOCK / TRAMPOLINE and smiles.
DDO: “Finally! We’ve got them where we want ‘em. After so many years.”
Aide: Ma’am? This is need to know, and I don’t….”
DDO [interrupting, and with a big grin]: “… you’re right. But this is good news. Please arrange a secure call to Comey and Rogers. (repeating) After so many years…"
Aide: [hesitating]Ma’am, they’re both long retired. I wouldn’t know how to …"
DDO: [waving the aide away]: “They’ll come in to local field offices for this. They’ll want to know how successful they’ve been. that we finally have the long payoff.
Aide [departing]: Right away, Ma’am”
DDO: [chuckling to herself]: “We showed ‘em, guys. Your years of misdirection pays off. Everyone, friend and enemy both, believes we don’t have backdoors.

Graeme RoyApril 1, 2015 12:21 PM

Martin Bishop is the head of a group of experts who specialize in testing security systems. When he is blackmailed by Government agents into stealing a top secret black box, the team find themselves embroiled in a game of danger and intrigue. After they recover the box, they discover that it has the capability to decode all existing encryption systems around the world, and that the agents who hired them didn't work for the Government after all...

Nick PApril 1, 2015 12:26 PM

@ Bruce Schneier

The plots are usually how the FBI can't stop civilians due to commercial encryption. Then, the FBI and NSA use high grade, government stuff for themselves. Let's think about how *that* might be a bigger problem. Far as security policy aspect, you'd have to implement a method to ensure privileged personnel in DOD never collaborated to abuse privileges. Good luck. My plot weighs in at 499 words. Starts with next paragraph:

In rural countryside, a silo door begins to open with smoke pouring out of it. The men inside were trained well by the U.S. government to make sure nothing interrupts the process. It was easier than before thanks to nuclear “modernization” and extra automation.

(In war room)

Operator: “The demand came in from a drop over Tor: ‘shutdown NSA’s attacks on U.S. infrastructure or we’ll shutdown Ft. Meade’. FBI can’t trace because Tor uses crypto in layers. They can’t do layers yet.”

General: “Get a tap on their Internet lines.”

Analyst: “They don’t use Internet: foreign governments get in too easily. They use private lines instead per DOD security guidelines.”

General: “Their site-to-site communications are encrypted with NSA’s COMSEC gear. It sends NSA backup keys. Get them to send the keys.”

Analyst: “That’s not possible. NSA says that, post-9/11, sites can delay the escrow process to coordinate and move on terrorists faster. Plus, TAO said they’re using NSA’s Type 1 certified equipment: it’s unbreakable encryption.”

General: “The smart grid initiative connected many of those old buildings to the Internet to save on maintenance costs. Can’t we just connect and shut down the power?”

Analyst: “Unfortunately, they followed Boeing’s advice to put their high assurance guard in front of the sensitive systems. Unlike commercial firewalls, there’s no backdoor in these because the U.S. uses them for defense systems. Long passwords, 4,096 bit crypto, only three guesses allowed per day... it’s a brick wall.”

Hacker: “Just got here. What if Nuclear Command tells us where the private lines are, we dig them up, manually Telnet into the command system, and send in the override code?”

Analyst: “It could work. One problem: it’s a VAX minicomputer. Still around because upgrade money was diverted to the mass collection programs. Nobody knows how it works except the people in the facility and the guy who installed it. He’s retired. You gotta get him on the phone.”

Hacker: “My messages are being blocked. He uses the whitelisting feature of iMessage that the FBI warned us about. No spam, no snoops, nobody but people you trust are allowed to message you! Paranoid fools!”

General: “His file says he lives on base. Have someone pick him up and a bird waiting to take him to the cables.”

(on phone)

Technician: “What’s this all about!? Why’d you have my equipment and I thrown into a chopper?”

General: “We need you to remotely override a nuclear silo’s controls before it launches.”

(soldier gives him his laptop)

Technician: “Oh God, what have you all done?”

General: “Come again?”

Technician: “My contract required me to protect overrides with 256-bit AES encryption with keys stored in DOD’s tamperproof smartcards. If its environment changes, it wipes the key. Keeps Chinese hackers out.”

General: “So?”

Technician: “The tamper switch tripped the second my laptop went above 100ft. The key to the encrypted files is gone. There... is no other override.”

(Room went silent. Fifteen minutes later, Ft. Meade wasn’t.)

Daniel GApril 1, 2015 12:34 PM

After a successful close to the SAFeCHECC (Stopping Abuse and Fear by Conspirators Hackers Exploiters and Cyber Criminals) treaty negotiations the President has returned to Washington with the text of the treaty to present to congress. This multinational treaty will allow world governments to monitor and decrypt all civilian electronic communication and is expected to quickly pass with a bipartisan majority. The bill, however, is not without its opponents. A well organized and armed right-wing militia group attacks as the president is arriving at congress. In a highly coordinated attack they set off bombs, cut the power, and kidnap the president. The terrorist group demands congress kills the treaty and threaten to hold the president hostage indefinitely to prevent him from signing the treaty into law*.

One of the attackers is killed by the secret service and an investigation turns up a smartphone rigged with state of the art military-grade encryption software and an untraceable AR-15 assault rifle. Purchased using Bitcoin** from a darknet website. Like the software on his phone the man is a complete cipher. A background check by the FBI revels that all of the man’s communication, aside from emails to his mother, for the past ten years have been encrypted. The Vice President assumes office and orders all of the nation's surveillance turned inward in search of the President but every step forward is thwarted by a new wall of encryption***.

Enter our hero, grizzled DC detective James O’Hara. Taking it upon himself to pursue the terrorists he is at first ignored by the FBI. However, his persistent use of good old fashion police work pays off. Turning up the first usable lead Detective O’Hara earns the respect of the lead FBI investigator and unlikely love interest Susan Dallas. Together they track down the terrorist group but will they find the president before it is too late?


*Sure the Vice President could sign the treaty in place of the President but that will go unmentioned in the movie.
**The movie will annoyingly refer to Bitcoin as "encrypted currency."
***Easter Egg: One of the screens in the VP's situation room will display Bruce Schneier's PGP public key.

MartinApril 1, 2015 12:41 PM

"Okay", said the Congressman to the Agent, "explain this idea of yours again. Sith Lord McGuffin is dead."
"I'm afraid so."
"And we didn't know who or when would do it?"
"Well, no. We suspected a member of the gang for a long time. We inspected his computer when he came into the country, and we managed access to all his data. It contained all details for the assassination – names, places, weapons, you name it."
"I don't understand, I... how come you didn't stop him? And how is this related to..."
"You see, Congressman, his hard drive was encrypted, so we put all our weight into decrypting it. We did it, but we found hundreds upon hundreds of plots, some of them ridiculous, some of them plausible. And the man is... well, was a writer. He convinced the judge that they were book ideas, and thus we couldn't keep him jailed."
"But you still had the data! How come you didn't stop him?"
"Well, you see... we had to check all of those plots anyway, and that strained our resources. And even though we had the plot, it turned out not to be in the encrypted data, but within the rest of the files. We didn't think he'd be so careless, so our personnel missed that one. And so did our systems"
"...sigh... And why did your systems miss it, Agent?"
"Well, we usually check for keywords in several languages. This file was written in a variation of Pig Latin, and thus our systems could not pick it up. We only realized afterwards."
"And now you want me to move this bill forward, to include Pig Latin in the US Munitions list?"
"Yes, sir. We understand that it's complicated, but we count on you. Your country counts on you. There is no way we can check for Pig Latin in all existing languages."

Epilogue:

"Look, this... I'll give it a try, but it will be tough. No one wants to put their 9 years old niece in an NSA list. But I'll try. Now, about your second bill..."
“Yes?”
"You also want me to make it a crime not to encrypt information about a possible crime?"
“We are confident it will convince criminals to put all their info together. And some will get paranoid and stop encrypting. Either way, it's a win-win.”

MartinApril 1, 2015 12:51 PM

Oooooops... forgot to turn off my "auto-replace" plugin. Where it says "Sith Lord McGuffin" it should say "Senator McGuffin". Although it's funnier that way.

Daniel G (the second)April 1, 2015 12:51 PM

What will YOU do when your Internet-of-Things enabled house is hacked...automatically unlocking the doors and repeatedly flashing an encrypted message via Morse code on the kitchen light?

And what blinking message is being broadcast to the bands of pedophiles that are roaming the streets?!?! The PIN to your house alarm? How many children under seven who live there? The fact that your water heater is set 3 degrees higher than it needs to be and that you’re a profligate waster of energy?

With this archaic, impenetrable encryption scheme WE JUST DON’T KNOW!!

pilchardApril 1, 2015 12:53 PM

It is 2016, the post-Snowden era has emerged as a dark cyberpunk world
where governments in collaboration with large corporations want controlling
information. We knew for sure information was a powerful resource, but
anything ranging from personal communications up to worldwide economy
depends on truly secure communication channels more than we would have
imagined just five years ago. Privacy, liberty, freedom of spech, all
depends on the ability of talking freely without being monitored.

Officially, FBI position is that strong cryptography endangers people.
This official speech is largely supported by society, who either does
not care about privacy value or fears the consequences of a
cryptorevolution while wearing tracking devices in the form of
mobile devices, watches and glasses whose hypothetical security
has been weakened by goverment laws. Something has gone really wrong
when privacy is a luxury only a few people can afford.

A small team of hackers works on the development of an operating system
and tools that protect privacy by means of strong encryption. They
had been suspecting for years from the movements on Wall Street, the
fact that the United States seems to sistematically know any decision
that European governments will take and the way large U.S. based
corporations are ahead of technology developed in the old continent
clearly shows that there is something wrong in the way information is
transmitted over supposedly secure communication channels.

When this team starts investigating the facts behind the ability of
the U.S. government to foretell any movement from foreign governments
they become the target of the FBI, these ones that are american
citizens, or the CIA, if they are foreigners, under false accusations
of being terrorists. They are under siege while a large PSYOP shows
them as criminals to the rest of the society. Only the use of their
mathematically strong encryption tools provide some privacy while
evading the unwanted surveillance.

What can they do? Only using the weaknesses introduced by government
on commercial products to reveal the true intentions of the rogue
government forces in an intent to awakening a deeply numb society.

Can this gloomy world be properly named a conspiracy? No more, you know.
Today we have woken up in a cyberpunk world that has silently arrived
over the last thirty years.

John FremlinApril 1, 2015 12:59 PM

Keyloss

Xani, teenage daughter of absentee father, multibillionaire Thomas Scharp, leads a precociously dissolute life happily profiting from anonymity provided by cryptocurrencies to rent tropical islands for drug soaked celebrity bacchanalia with incredible pyrotechnics.

Wakening in the chaos of a despoiled site of natural beauty from the excesses of another party, she looks round to survey a devastated scene of semi-conscious guests, and checks her curved bracelet phone: her wealthy father has disappeared. Without him, she has only access to two thirds of the keys to unlock the family wealth and despite finding his phone and laptop she cannot break the passcode.

Desperate, out of resources, shunned by her party set, she turns to the friend-zoned shy nerdy Edwin, who introduces her to a darknet contact claiming a Chinese decryption botnet. Drawn into a series of shady meetings she hands over her father's equipment but suddenly suspicious conceals a cryptodongle. All the while rumours of invisible cyber robberies of bank after bank are impinging on our consciousness. Finally her sloppy darknet access leads to her being captured by blacksuited NSA agents, while Edwin is swept up by darknet goons furious about the concealed dongle. Flashing back to Xani's interrogation it's clear that the trumped up drug charges and darknet usage violations are a pretext to force her to give up the dongle.

Kept without sleep Guantanamo style, Xani starts to lose hope. Edwin however manages to elude his captors and flee - but without phone, he has no network and cannot buy anything, he scrabbles to retrieve the dongle.

The NSA show Xani an (obviously to the audience faked) video of her father, begging her to surrender the dongle. Broken, she relents. Just before the convoy reaches, Edwin manages to snatch it and observes the agents ransacking the neighborhood.

After stealing a laptop from a rude woman at Starbuck's, he uses it to discover accidental pocket pics on the dongle filesystem, geotagged with a ranch in Venezuela. He double encrypts the key material on it with his own key and another key held on a server that will destroy itself if not contacted by him regularly.

Edwin sends a darknet message to demand a ransom for the dongle from the NSA as well as free passage and the release of Xani. The NSA agree but try to renege on the deal. Stymied because of the second key, they reluctantly follow through after much bluster.

Going to the geotagged location, Xani and Edwin are swept up by an automated car and suddenly Thomas, Xani's father appears on its screen. He was the bank robber all along and needs their help against the Chinese darknet agents that tortured Edwin - he is vainly trying to DDoS their botnet. About to be overrun, they realise the agents are controlled by the botnet not vice versa, and impersonate one of them to discover its payment details, and then use Thomas's cryptoexploit to rob it - deactivating its power.

Billy BobApril 1, 2015 1:02 PM

We've long heard about the evils of the Four Horsemen of the Internet Apocalypse -- terrorists, drug dealers, kidnappers, and child pornographers. (Or maybe they're terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, and money launderers; I can never remember.)

"The Four Horsemen of the Internet Apocalypse -- terrorists, drug dealers, kidnappers, and child pornographers. And money launderers. The Five Horsemen of the Internet Apocalypse -- terrorists, drug dealers, kidnappers, child pornographers, and money launderers. And pedophiles. Er, among the Horsemen of the Internet Apocalypse are... Umm. I'll come in again..."

K.S.April 1, 2015 1:52 PM

In a not so distant future the device to store human memories ‘in the cloud’ was developed. Soon, everyone had a perfect memory and video-replay-like recall. Antisocial Dr. Encrypto PhD, was exposed by a conservative reporter Ms. Lovely as a fraud for trying to disprove accepted Young Earth Theory. Now he wants everyone to forget his evil and ignorant ways and have another go at it. He finds a way to infiltrate the building labeled “the cloud” and encrypt everyone’s favorite memories. Vigilant Ms. Lovely realizes his dastardly plan, parachutes into “the cloud” and unplugs the device labeled “encryptorizor” freeing everyone’s cherished memories.

Ted GoransonApril 1, 2015 1:57 PM

In the early seventies, a senior science advisor to the Nuclear Weapons Complex and a Nobel Laureate, meet with a friend from Israel and another from Japan. They are worried that another faction of physicists (advising Los Alamos) have the political upper hand with funding the Sante Fe Institute, promoting a metaphysics they deem unproductive. They decide to demonstrate how flawed Complexity Theory is by proving a conjecture on Bayes’ Theorem using Complexity-related results.

They know this to be wrong, but the senior scientist dies before revealing the prank.

His work at Sandia was in part with Section 41, a joint lab funded by Durkee entrepreneurs within NSA, and the young leader of this lab knows the extremely subtle foundational flaw. Bayes’ theorem becomes a mainstay of map-reduce, used by all big data projects. Our young scientist goes on to lead a key metaontology project for the Community.

When the torture and lies of Bush/Cheney become known to Agency insiders, our man resigns, but only after removing some code that corrects for the Bayesian dissonance he knows exists. Map-reduce continues to work, but is limited in ontological reach, achieving the desired effect (by our now disenfranchised research manager.) He wants the larger Community foundationally hobbled.

But in writing a movie plot for a relatively trivial contest, he attracts the attention of a former colleague from 41 who recalls the original, privately nasty scuffle among the Standard Theory physicists. He is able to get the attention of some senior and retired NSA folks, all working for contractors.

They form a volunteer group, known to NSA senior staff, to plumb the issue. The problem is not just to correct Bayes’ inversion (a row in the matrix was half dualed), but to adjust all the many (10 to the twentieth) inferences that have been made without introducing panic.

It turns out that key control infrastructure, and much of financial management uses these results. The solution is to introduce new, subtle errors that are larger, but that correct the old ones with no one noticing, based on an egg placed in the order of the changed entries in the column. Without this egg, no correction is made. The errors are introduced through transformative encryption/decryption channels that are widely used. In time, everything should be adjusted.

The ticking clock in the film is to hide these larger anomalies from detection before panic ensues, first in the financial community, and then to everyone’s dismay, all the narrative-building infrastructure used by commercial social network-based megacompanies.

Can any narrative be trusted, fearmongering cable news asks? Congress mishandles this profoundly. Raised to the level of the White House, a film industry think tank is enlisted to incentivize films that adjust the narrative system top-down while the crypto guys furiously work for mitigated perturbations in their corrective methods.

The think tank uses an obscure narrative theory devised by… our disenfranchised researcher. The current film is the silver bullet.

DGApril 1, 2015 2:06 PM

In these times of economic austerity and belt-tightening, cryptography is a luxury that we can ill-afford. Ask yourself "should I really be using the overhead of those extra CPU cycles to ensure that only *I* can see my collection of cat pictures?".

If everyone adopts it then we will only see a further transfer of wealth to the 1%, as the lower and middle classes waste their limited computing energy.

The most vivid example of this is, of course, Hitler’s Germany who, after dabbling with their Enigma machines, went on to lose the war.

Do we want Western Civilization to go the same way?

Joe DoeApril 1, 2015 2:10 PM

The government arrests a suspected islamic terrorist in the US. They are pretty sure that his terror plot of epic proportions is detailed on his laptop. However the laptop is encrypted, and despite the best efforts of NSA, getting their best hackers on it, using impressive looking supercomputers, they cannot crack it. Even experts analyzing how much each keyboard key was touched cannot provide any useful information. Meanwhile the chatter on the darknet of the upcoming attack grows more sinister.

The agents decide to release the terrorist, after they have installed secret cameras everywhere in his house, and have inserted hardware key loggers into his laptop. The hope is that once back home, the suspect will use his laptop and then the password obtained by camera or keylogger can be used to access a copy of the harddrive the government agency made.

We see footage of the security cameras from the house, the suspect acts very suspiciously. More terror threats are received. Finally, suspect sits down and opens his laptop. However, as everybody is excitedly waiting for the password entry, the suspect decides against it and throws the laptop into the trash.

The agents are very upset, they realize they should have placed the cameras etc. before the arrest to get the password. The agent's supervisor tells them that it is over, they blew their chance and there is nothing they can do about it now. A cut shows sinister people placing a sinister looking device somewhere in the US.

One Agent cannot take this and decides to go rogue. He disables the cameras at the suspect's house and drives over there with a lead pipe. He grabs the man and tortures him extensively, initially to no avail. At that time, the younger, westernized, sister of the suspect arrives for a surprise visit. The rogue agent grabs her and is about to begin to torture her as well in front of the suspect.

At this point, the suspect finally breaks down and reveals the password. The rogue agent immediately phones in the password, and the agency can finally access their copy of the hard drive. They immediately identify the nature of the threat (a dirty bomb) and the location of the device. Swat teams and bomb squats rush in, kill all the terrorists, and in the last second disarm the device that would have rendered all of New York uninhabitable for the next few centuries and would have killed ten thousands.

Epilogue: The supervisor is upset at the actions of the rogue agent (torture) and wants to bring him to justice. At that moment, the president calls, issues a presidential pardon for all actions performed and strongly recommends promotion of the rogue agent.


Moral of the story: Encryption works, but helps primarily evil terrorists. In such situations only torture, which surprisingly also works, can save the day.
Executive producers: DOD, DHS

Mike KrafinskiApril 1, 2015 3:09 PM

The future has purged technological sabotage by filtering all internet traffic through an omnipotent quantum computer that controls routing and shreds encryption. It makes it impossible for the masses to communicate privately, while securely steering information for the controlling world government to its intended recipients.
A frustrated dysfunctional student captivated by the history of groups like “Anonymous” uses the available quantum entanglement technology to send information across time. He sends an electronic message in a bottle to a historic blog sight. The file language contains a hidden code breaking program that would render current day encryption useless. Hoping someone will eventually discover this program file and capitalize on the technology to wreak havoc on governments, banks, and individuals. The student is convinced that his actions will change the reality in which he lives. He considers his efforts a failure when nothing changes, while never discovering that his actions were successful in creating his dystopian world.
A modern day hacker stumbles across the program and unleashes it upon the web rendering every computer system and network defenseless. Greed instantly becomes the initial motivation of all individuals that realized no doors are locked anymore. Finances are transferred, stolen, and eventually scrambled into oblivion because no one can protect electronic fund data. Corporations and individuals are bankrupted as back-up data is erased or irrevocably corrupted. Anarchy and chaos reign as national secrets are revealed eventually forcing nations to war. The ensuing international instability crushes the current Global Market Economy. Eventually governments are forced to merge and invest their joint efforts into an innovative quantum technology to rebuild the economic and social stability of the planet.

EvanApril 1, 2015 4:01 PM

Iran (or some other enemy) is preparing to invade Israel (or some other ally); this sets up a "ticking time bomb" scenario. The US is sending in troops to support, but in the run up to zero hour, analysts notice that attack forces have already taken countermeasures before the Americans even arrive at their dispositions. Someone is leaking information. Heroically, everyone in the intelligence community pulls together to fight this before the looming battle turns into a rout and good American lives are lost. The CIA figures out where the data recipient is based on the time lag between the orders being distributed in the DoD and the enemy's movements. The NSA scans all traffic to there and determines that it's being sent via email using strong encryption, which they trace to a popular webmail service. The FBI subpoenas the email provider for account data, but it's a dummy account tied to a burner phone, bought with cash. Treasury can trace the transactions to find where the money came from but it will take time and might be useless. The DIA lead suggests something else: they know which set of orders the Iranians have gotten hold of based on their own troop movements. If the NGIA guys patch them into raw satellite feeds, they can start giving everyone in the DoD slightly different orders and narrow down who the leak is by following the Iranian troops' movements. This will reduce the Americans' preparedness and therefore result in casualties, but it's the only way to prevent the front from collapsing immediately. By process of elimination they manage to figure out the culprit just minutes before the attack begins, but since he's already gotten rid of the phone it looks like there won't be enough evidence to prosecute even under military law. Just then Treasury bursts in and with proof that the bill used to pay for the now-missing phone was withdrawn five minutes prior from his account via ATM.

Amber ReyApril 1, 2015 4:59 PM

A crisis is looming.

Michael Rogers had just received a report that his best crack team still hadn't been able to pry open the secrets of the new cryptosystem developed by those damned Open Sourcers. After the fool Snowden had disclosed the purposeful vulnerabilities his agency had spent so much time and money lobbying to mandate in consumer hardware/software, a team called the Open Sourcers had put their heads together and actually come up with a decent cryptosystem (which thankfully was still in beta phase and hadn't been widely released yet). Clapper had mentioned that Zimmerman, Boneh, and perhaps even that thorn-in-his-side Schneier were involved; Rogers had promptly ordered one of his teams to covertly capture the source material for this cryptosystem and immediately begin cryptanalysis. For now, the math seemed to be solid and holding under the team's quantum assault; however, Rogers had every faith that they would break it given enough time.

That was the problem: time. A new problem had arisen recently due to the secret backdoors in a certain brand of consumer routers. Well, -formerly- secret. The Chinese had somehow broken in through one of those backdoors--how they had gotten wind of it or the Open Sourcers, he'd never know--and gotten their hands on this new cryptosystem. Reports were already trickling in that the Chinese were rapidly using this new crypto to encode mass quantities of sensitive database files that TAO had been working so hard to keep their hands in. If it worked, he knew the Chinese would share this with the Russians, North Koreans, even the Iranians. The NSA and FBI would completely lose their visibility into foreign intelligence; he'd already had a long conversation with Comey and Clapper about this.

Now, somehow he had to convince the public that this was the result of the true evil of strong encryption; Comey had already inadvertently damaged their cause by crying 'pedophilia' and 'think of the children'. Almost immediately, waves of rampant distrust had rippled through the public; that effort had backfired hard on Comey. Rogers cursed Snowden's name mightily, adding Poitras and Greenwald as an afterthought; if it hadn't been for those pesky kids, they'd have gotten away with it too. If only the public hadn't seen that the NSA was building backdoors into hardware, those Open Sourcers gadflies wouldn't have circumvented their carefully-built plans with that god-forsaken cryptosystem that was causing his team so much headache--both figuratively and literally.

Calling for another cup of coffee, the director turned back to his computer and began typing furiously, tapping out a press release to feed the media. He had to clean up this mess before things literally went nuclear.

[I hope that doesn't sound too out-of-this-world; I admit my knowledge of crypto is rather weak.]

Mmm crypto donutApril 1, 2015 5:12 PM

Tinker, Tailor, Donut, Barbie

Somewhere in Brooklyn an enemy operative goes into an unassuming donut shop. The man asks the shopkeeper for two chocolate glazed and one "Sun and moon, sprinkled". The shopkeeper pauses and asks the man to repeat his order gazing into his eyes to see who the man is and gauge his demeanor. The operative repeats the order, the shopkeeper steps into the back and returns with a bag. He places two chocolate glazed donuts in another bag and tells the man it will be $5 for the donuts. The man gives him the money and leaves with the pastries.
Upon returning home the operative proceeds to place the sprinkled donut under a desk lamp. He realigns the position of the donut and picks up a pad and pen. He begins transcribing the yellow and pink sprinkles into binary. He finishes and types the binary code into a program on his laptop. He applies a crypto key to the data and the true message is displayed on the screen. The operative is instructed to go to a toy store and purchase any "Engineer Barbie" stamped with a manufacturing code greater than 4690.

The operative purchases the Barbie, returns home and opens the doll. From within the doll he retrieves a micro SD card. You see, the criminals had infiltrated the Taiwanese toy factory and implanted an encrypted message they could easily distribute to all their operatives within US major metro areas. The operative extracts the message using the same crypto key used to decipher the crypto donut, then destroys the hard drive of his computer and eats the crypto donut.

The operative slips away and moments later the FBI raids his residence. The operative was suspected of criminal activity and he was being watched. The agents find the SD card and know that this evidence holds the key to unlocking this criminal conspiracy. If only the encryption algorithm had a back door, but it didn't and there was nothing to be done to stop their evil plan.

boogApril 1, 2015 6:09 PM

In a top secret research lab, a working vaccine for a deadly, contained virus is discovered. However, at that moment, the lab is hit by terrorists, who steal live samples of the virus, download intel from the lab onto a flash drive, escape with several hostages, and leave a time bomb to wipe out the facility. After a high speed chase, the national guard closes in, the terrorists are taken out, and the hostages and samples are saved. Unfortunately, it is discovered weeks later that one of the samples had leaked, and the virus had infected the hostages and several military personnel. The virus was now in the wild, and it was also airborne.

As the hostages and exposed military began dying in quarantine, one of the hostages, a technician, tells FBI Agent Roberts about the flash drive with the intel. With his final words, he suggests that the vaccine schematics may have been among the information stolen. She searches the terrorists' van, and finds the flash drive, only to discover that it is encrypted!

As the FBI works to decrypt the flash drive, the country is in a panic as the virus spreads and begins taking lives. The White House, feeling the pressure as millions are being quarantined across the country, deploys troops in the middle-east to search for clues on the terrorist organization. The NSA scours all communications it can, looking for hints about the encryption key. But stubborn hackers, who favor encryption, work against the NSA and government officials, despite the millions dying.

One day, a hacker named XORweiL, who had previously favored encryption, sees "the error of his ways" when his elderly neighbor (who was previously nice to him) dies in quarantine. So he calls Agent Roberts (who investigated him previously) and offers to help. With his help, they hack into a terrorist network and get information about the encryption key. The key is stored on a matching flash drive, which is in the possession of the terrorist leader.

After determining where the terrorist leader is hiding, a special ops team is sent to capture him. He is killed in the fight, but the flash drive is secured. They send the encryption key via satellite to XORweiL and Agent Roberts, who promptly decrypt the research document and feed the data into a vaccine-creating machine.

Weeks later, after the last victim is released from quarantine, the director of the FBI gives a speech lamenting the loss of so many lives. At many points, he gratuitously blames encryption as the only thing that was holding them back, and says he is hopeful for the day when no information is kept from the good guys.

And of course, XORweiL and Agent Roberts fall in love.

LeonMApril 1, 2015 7:08 PM

In its continuing quest to "collect it all," the NSA stumbles on an encrypted file originating from the Vatican. Unable to break the encryption, the NSA grows suspicious and begins to consider why and how the Vatican would generate such a file. The NSA comes to the realization that the Vatican is a serious threat to the continued existence of the NSA--and to US national security, of course.

* The influential Vatican, with centuries of experience shaping the hearts and minds of millions of Catholics--including many elected officials in the US! (as opposed to the NSA's mere 60 years of history and ongoing failure to get much intel out of children before said children learn to spell and type)

* The elusive Vatican, practicing arcane rituals and gracefully obtaining and keeping the confessed secrets of millions over generations! (as opposed to the cumbersome mass surveillance and awkward confessional bugging that had been taking place over a far, far shorter duration--and why don't those pesky activists ever complain about churches making people confess stuff? "confess your sins or go to hell" sounds menacing and has to be illegal somehow, since the NSA isn't doing it)

* The independent Vatican, a sovereign state readily respected by other sovereign states--including US allies! (whereas the NSA was had no choice but to forcefully convince its ignorant international counterparts to do what was right and in their best interest)

* The beloved Vatican, a part of Catholic lives from birth to death and in eternity! (with the NSA, unfortunately, not having much success getting intel out of dead people either)

The NSA grows increasingly fearful that it will be overshadowed [a pun?] and, via a grand false flag operation, arranges the bombing of the Vatican. Anti-Confessionalist children are blamed. The loss of life and faith is sad, but this outcome could have been avoided if the Vatican hadn't encrypted that file so deviously.

What was on the encrypted Vatican file? Nobody will ever know...

Dirk PraetApril 1, 2015 7:45 PM

@ Evan

Heroically, everyone in the intelligence community pulls together to fight this ...

That doesn't even sound remotely plausible. Can you change that to "they get assistance from a team of analysts just arrived from Alpha Centauri" to make the story line more realistic ?

NateApril 1, 2015 7:58 PM

We are all interested in the future, as it is where we will spend the rest of our lives. Imagine, then, if you will, that it is now the far future year AD 2015.

A CYBERWAR wages across the DARK FIBER of the GLOBAL INTER-NET. Corrupt FEDERAL DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENT CARL MARK FORCE IV (Editor: seriously?) is on trial for his triple-cross of the underground DARKNET BITCOIN site 'THE SILK ROAD' and its secretive administrator DREAD PIRATE ROBERTS, who hides behind the seven proxies of his impenetrable ONION ROUTER (Ed: the what now?).

During cross-examination, a digital FLASH DRIVE (Ed: not bad!) - only the size of a fingertip but containing an unimaginable 32 GIGABYTES of data - is inserted into the WINDOWED GRAPHICAL MOUSE WORKSTATION (Ed: ooh!) running the software called WINDOWS (Ed: you'll fix that in the rewrite, right?) that all future-courts are equipped with. Unbeknownst to the authorities, CARL MARK FORCE IV (Ed: haha!) has programmed this tiny technological terror with the deadly LIGHT-EATER VIRUS developed by the BLACK HAT PROGRAMMERS (Ed: really?) known only as the EQUATION GROUP (Ed: ... Better names needed).

The virus immediately infects the workstation! All the lights in the courtroom go out! It escapes into the power grid! The postal system! The cameras on everyone's phones light up! (Editor: People in this far future era hold pocket video-data-communicator consoles but they still call them 'phones'? )

A STEEL MILL EXPLODES in Germany! Nuclear CENTRIFUGES explode in Iran! CRIMINAL GANGS run wild across the WORLD OF WARCRAFT (Ed: just a placeholder name now I guess?) stealing VIRTUAL GOLD from CHINESE GOLD FARMERS (Ed: ??? huh ???)

HACKERS across the world race to fight the LIGHT-EATER VIRUS! The lead hacker group, an anonymous group of anonymous hackers calling themselves ANONYMOUS (Ed: You're not even trying now, are you?) and their gangs FOUR CHAN and EIGHT CHAN (Ed: ?? Who is this Chan guy?) prepare to breach the GREAT FIREWALL OF CHINA in order to stop the starving PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF NORTH KOREA from attacking SONY PICTURES (Ed: ???) and dumping naked pictures of celebrities on the INTER-NET, which provokes a UNITED STATES MILITARY RESPONSE (Ed: ------ Please call me.)

(Editor: Look, none of this is making any sense. This isn't even a coherent fantasy, it's just a wild stew of crazy. Are you okay there?)

Doug PetersonApril 1, 2015 8:31 PM

Encryption Warfare

Day 1
At first, no one, outside the bank, really paid any attention.  After all it was just a small rural bank in Kentucky.  The bank CFO informed the Federal Reserve they were having an issue. There servers started throwing errors shortly around 6:00 pm.  The contract admins were called and they couldn't remotely access the servers.  When they arrived it looked like all the disks had failed.  They tried restoring from backups (60 day retention policy) and none of them worked.  The tapes just had random garbage on them.
Day 2
Now they called the vendors, after all, they used the same equipment and software 70% of the banking industry used. There was 4:00 am, only five hours till the bank opened. The admin’s worked to rebuild the systems from scratch, but without the data…. Vendor reps began showing up in 9:00 pm. Typical, they were all pointing at each other. The server vendor began looking at the disks and made the observation that the disks appeared to have random garbage on them. Not failed, the data would still be in the sectors. Not formatted, that would be obvious. They appeared to be overwritten with random data. The tape vendor examined the tapes. Same…random data on them. 8:00 am., one hour till the bank was supposed to open.
The bank CEO called the Federal Reserve and reported what they knew. He put the bank into manual mode but the lack of data, passbooks, and hard records of accounts would make this very hard, but people needed there money to live. He was livid. He was hammering the vendors and his CFO for the cause. “This will be a disaster for us!” he shouted at them. No records. No ATM access for their customers. No EFT transactions in or out.
The Kentucky bank opened on time. They were apologetic to their customers and explained they were having an issue with their computers but they would process their transactions manually. The local paper wanted an interview as did one of the four TV stations from Lexington.
In the dark, smoke filled room the man at the keyboard turned and announced it had worked. He had made all the bank’s assets disappear. Their plan would work. With no way to recover the key, the data was gone forever.
The Federal Reserve representative passed the information on up his chain. As per their protocols he dispatched a representative to the bank. Two hours later they called the FBI. Somebody finally realize the risk.
8:45 am. EST. The Federal Reserve began getting calls from banks on the east coast. Their computer systems had failed. The FBI agents hadn’t even arrived at the Kentucky bank yet.
8:50 am. EST. Banks across the country were calling the Federal Reserve. Same story…their computer systems had failed. ATMs were unable to process transactions. Credit cards and Debit cards won’t process.
8:51 am. EST. The President of the United States got a call from the Federal Reserve Chairman.

Evan HarperApril 1, 2015 8:41 PM

"We're drifting toward a place where a whole lot of people are going to be looking at us with tears in their eyes," Comey argued, "and say 'What do you mean you can't? My daughter is missing. You have her phone. What do you mean you can't tell me who she was texting with before she disappeared?"

Excuse me, what on earth is supposed to qualify this as a "movie-plot threat?" It is just immediately obvious that the information on people's phones and computers will sometimes be very relevant if they disappear suspiciously, and that if people secure their phones and computers with locks that can't be bypassed under these kinds of circumstances, information that could help bring them back may not be available.

Like, I get that this isn't a serious cost-benefit analysis, but the scenario given is not unrealistic or even unlikely; I think it's quite a reasonable concern and anyone who advocates for strong crypto needs to have good responses to it, not lazy stuff about it being a "movie plot."

Nick PApril 1, 2015 10:07 PM

@ Evan Harper

He does. He did it here. Short story: it's a routine lie by an agency that's virtually never hampered by encryption but wants power to use on arbitrary people. On contrary, even our judges gripe about how rigged things are in their favor.

Since it's off-topic for this thread, I'll just let you read Bruce's essay and see the actual data vs nonsense FBI director says. The other one puts in perspective how important privacy is given their level of leverage and power. And deceit, as he shows.

Alien Truth WhistleblowerApril 1, 2015 10:43 PM

Obama, Cameron, Abbott, Harper, Key, NSA, FBI, CIA, GCHQ, MI6, MI5, ASD, AFP, ASIS, CSE, CSIS, GCSB, NZSIS... ALIENS!!! ALIENS!!! ALIENS!!! ALIENS!!! ALIENS!!! ALIENS!!! ALIENS!!! ALIENS!!! ALIENS!!! ALIENS!!! They are all aliens! I'm telling you the truth! They are reading your thoughts!! Make sure your thoughts are encrypted!!!! Oh no, here they co

Patrick CoyleApril 1, 2015 11:12 PM

It is January 20th, 2017 and the Presidential limousine is carrying President-Elect John Carter down the Inaugural Parade route when all of a sudden the car accelerates and swerves into a crowd of school children watching the parade, killing 7 and injuring 10 others. One of the injured children is the granddaughter of the new Democratic Speaker of the House.

The car’s computer system had been hacked a week previously through the diagnostic computer system in the Secret Service garage. That computer had been infected by a phishing email that supposedly included an update file for the diagnostic system. The FBI traces that email back to the same laptop computer found near the scene of the accident, the laptop that apparently took control of the limousine.

The FBI and the NSA scramble to decrypt the computer to determine if the attack had been an attempt on the President’s life, an attack against the new Speaker or just a random act of cyber-violence. As the investigation continues, new attacks using limousines of important people around the country occur to kill apparently random children on the streets.

Political chaos builds as the government scientists are unable to crack the encryption on the lap top. The political and economic elite are forced to give up their chauffeured rides as the public starts to take matters into their own hands. The populous revolution begins.

Wesley ParishApril 1, 2015 11:18 PM

The evil encryptobots have infested the Fully Automatic Nuclear Powered Self Propelled Nosepickers much used by US Congresscritters to keep their noses clean in spite of having them inserted deep into various troughs, orifices, and whatnots. Perfectly gratuitous shots of congresscritters and congresscrittifers with noses inserted deep within troughs, orifices, and whatnots.

Unknown messages are being passed back and forth between the encryptobots and their evil masters, detailing all and every scandalous detail of congresscritters' lives.

Young Skeptical is our dashing hero, with a square jaw you could sharpen an axe on: we see young Skeptical sharpening his axe on his jaw, so we know it's genuine. He is an agent with several agencies such as the NSA, CIA, FBI, and the NIC, and can crack encryption with his teeth, just like Paul Bunyan or Daniel Boone.

Eek! the world is going to end, with very much a whimper, not with a virile bang. At least for the congresscrittifers.

But the evil masters of the encryptobots have encrypted everything about themselves in 16,777,216bit encryption. And behind them shelters all the antisocial deviants, including the psychos who don't appreciate M.A.S.H. How is our virile young Skeptical going to crack that?

We interrupt him recreationally waterboarding the family dog to get it to say its name, with the latest terrifying news about all the privacy information leaked from where the NSA was taking good care of it for its owners, through unsanctioned backdoors; it seems the evil encryptobots have leapt species to infect servers.

Cut to scene, where our hero is being tortured by the evil encryptobots' masters. But all they do is knock the Special K out of his name, so henceforth, in token of the sacrifices he has made for his country, he is known as Septical.

Young Septical escapes by waterboarding the evil encryptobot masters' pet wolves and forcing them to divulge the key to the 16,777,216bit encryption, and shouts as he blows up the evil encryptobot masters' lair, "Freddled Gruntbuggly!"

We see Septical ride off into the sunset with a perfectly gratuitous damsel in distress on a perfectly gratuitous horse. No explanation is given; none required.

Troy LaurinApril 2, 2015 1:58 AM

@Nate,

I like what you did there.

@Evan Harper,

If they can't find your daughter without looking through her cell phone, they can't find your daughter.

ErroneousApril 2, 2015 7:12 AM

In a not so distant future the USA has succeeded in banning anything deemed dangerous enough to be harmful to law enforcement--except within the US government. Now the only ones allowed to use encryption, guns, 3D printers, and bitcoins are the very people that pushed to ban them. Knowing this, all government documents are encrypted and Freedom of Information Act requests return gibberish that is illegal to translate. Poverty abounds as crime rings have taken over all digital forms of transferring money. Technology has mostly reverted mid-nineteenth century technology since the Internet, cell phones, and most digital communication has been rendered useless or illegal. Without the threat of public oversight and rampant poverty law enforcement now protects the highest bidder which is usually the crime syndicates.

We follow a man recently inducted into group of rebels trying to take back their metropolis from the mob. They use industrial equipment as weapons and a new form of cryptography that encrypts into something that appears plain-text. After one of their busts go awry, fingers are pointed at our hero and we're left wondering whose side he is really on.

DoubleReedApril 2, 2015 8:30 AM

The FBI has become so dependent on technological abilities that they have forgotten how to do regular investigative police work. Meanwhile, a veteran cop who is ideologically distrusting of technology realizes his dream and becomes an FBI agent. His distrust of technology makes him an invaluable asset to the FBI agency because a recent privacy protection laws have been strengthened. Many agents now have to relearn how to do police work.

As our intrepid hero rises through the ranks of the FBI, he discovers by happenstance an instance of money laundering within the FBI. Soon, he realizes it's a mass FBI conspiracy of child pornography, terrorists, drug dealers, and money launderers. However, he has no proof. So he enlists his trusted tech-savvy friend to help him.

They manage to uncover the plot through the use of their complementary abilities, but they violate the privacy protection laws in the process. The FBI throws them in jail and the conspiracy continues.

BJPApril 2, 2015 11:23 AM

January 21, 2017.

The American culture wars of 2015 took a severe toll, leaving all but the most antisocial identifying more strongly as a member of a group than as individuals. Corporations, emboldened by government submission to their boycott and counter-boycott fueled demands, sense an opportunity and implement strong encryption across all consumer devices to capitalize on the citizenry's distrust for one another. Politicians jump on this and both major parties make efforts to outcompete the other in
pandering to those demanding New Anonymity.

Every societal interaction with even a hint of controversy is depersonalized, with full government support, even encouragement. Your choice of coffee bean is protected with all the vigor that medical records were once assumed to be. Records exist only long enough to facilitate billing through disposable multifactor challenge-response protocols. Comcast's consumer-homed wifi hotspots have been seized through eminent domain to support a national peer-to-peer mesh network, constantly reforming itself to evade even the potential for compromise.

Then it hits. A massive coronal mass ejection from the sun. Everything electronic shorts out immediately, unusable. Everything else metallic that attenuates electromagnetic waves quickly overheats, melts, and fuses. The entire societal infrastructure is lost.

Hardened by 2015's vicious disputes and coddled by a year of New Anonymity, citizens factionalize as a defense mechanism against the horrors that they know their evil opponents can't wait to unleash on them. Since people can no longer acquire the necessities of daily life anonymously, they are forced to reveal their identities, needs, and resources to trade for sustenance. This unmasking, sharing, this shameful "nakedness" before others is inimical to the paranoid way of life
politicians and citizens enjoyed for a year, and with no infrastructure left to go back to the old ways, society degrades. The larger factions break up as members realize others disagreed on some litmus test issue from the past, and familial tribalism takes hold.

Fast forward two generations. The young, out of a need to survive, eschew privacy and discard anonymity. They build a new agricultural society where everyone knows your name and your business. Everyone carries "credit books", like the bank passbooks of long ago, tracking to whom debts of service or provisions are owed or due. Death is frequent and not unusual as life expectancies plummet from malnutrition. The population has decreased by about 90%.

The remaining old folks, who still yearn for New Anonymity after scraping together enough food to survive for 40 years have had enough. They recall stories of "pen and paper ciphers" from the before time, before they needed the machines to protect them. One strikes out on a quest to learn the old ways, discovering an old book describing "the Caesar Cipher", and sees an opportunity.

Confident in their secure communications, the Caesarpunks walk openly in the new world, while conspiring secretly. On the appointed day, they salt the fields, raze the communal living areas, and exterminate the shameful young.

Fade to black as they realize they can no longer breed.

Thomas_HApril 2, 2015 12:32 PM

Crypto(k)night

The year is 2020. Following calls to ban all encryption in 2015 and 2016 and the subsequent realization that this would severely damage the global economy in 2017, a massive internet crash was caused by malevolent North Korean hackers exploiting the newly found 0-day vulnerability dubbed “SNEAKSEIZURE”, requiring the whole internet to be rebooted and North Korea to be nuked by China, a huge loss of face for the communist turned capitalist state.

Under the new Nine Eyes (the Five Eyes plus Russia, South Africa, China, and Germany) Consortium’s supervision, special software has been made mandatory for everyone. Baked into the EFI BIOS of every new computer, it allows access to the revitalised internet. Older systems are unable to access this new internet, lacking support for the new ultra high speed tech supporting IPv.7 standard. This software supports special cryptographic techniques developed by MICIVES (Military Intelligence against Cyber Insurgency Vying for Extreme Secrecy - the replacement for the NSA) that allow denizens to securely access only those services that are deemed acceptable by the authorities and the major technology companies, while also providing access to all personal data desired by the authorities. Now and then, MICIVES sentences an evil cryptographer to forced labor in the data centers of Amazon, with TV reports showing the evils of cryptography (child abuse, drug abuse, murder, sexual deviancy, and facial features typical of a criminal - beard, wonky, looks tired and bleak) to the aprehensive public, likening the effects of cryptography to that of Kryptonite on Superman.

Then (s)he appears: A mysterious stranger randomly manifesting from inside the mandatory software. Appearing as a 1990s sprite of a white knight riding on a equally white but rather hideous digital horse, it holds a lance in one hand and a bag of gold in the other. To the weak, it gives gold coins that magically upgrades their mandatory internet access software to include unbreakable encryption and access to the whole internet, not only the government-approved part. Of the powerful, it reveals embarassing and illegal things to the public, apparently leading to escalating violence against politicians and the rich, perpetrated by new cryptographers using unbreakable encryption.

Dubbed the “CryptoKnight of Anonymoose” by the general public (after its ride, which is more moose-like than horse-like, and which inexplicably features the old Anonymous logo for a head), it hits the powers that be harder and harder, eventually threatening the very fabric of the IPv.7 internet created by the Nine Eyes by dropping hints that “SNEAKSEIZURE” was not the act of a rogue nation state, but that of overconfident NSA hackers to bring on the banning of as much encryption as possible, just like the crime spree against politicians and the rich is actually meant to shut up influential people discovering that they too are subject to the invasive tentacles of MICIVES.

Will MICIVES be able to stop the devastating Kryptonite spread by the CryptoKnight? Or will evil cryptographers prevail and the world fall into debilitating anarchy?

SadewApril 2, 2015 12:33 PM

The year is 2016, Stephen Haffick, a depressed teenage computer-genius faces the trials and tribulations of teenage life. The constant torment at the hands of unrelenting cyberbullies finally flips an emotional switch. He decides that he will show them all! He will become rich and successful and create the next “killer” app. He is patient, because revenge IS a dish best served cold.
He quietly develops his app in private without collaboration. He doesn’t need any help. He knows what it needs to do. He spends all of his time developing it. His grades suffer, his app doesn’t. After 8 month he releases his app to the world. His killer app gives the masses what they want...instant connectivity to all their friends, security for their contact list, the ease of being able to instantly add connections to new people you meet. Soon his market penetration surpasses Facebooks two billion users. Almost everyone in North America, Europe, Central and South America, Asia and Africa are using the App. Almost everyone’s IPhone and Android Phone has this app installed. What they don’t know won’t hurt them…yet.

But what no one knows about Stephen is that he has devoted the last year of his life to studying human nature. He wanted to know why he was being tormented. He understands that it is easy to cyberbully because you can do it from afar. Technology brought this on. The hurtful name calling on the playground could never be as bad as the constant reminder on a social media page. The Internet is forever after all. He would do something about that, so that no one else could do this to another young boy or girl. He also knows that people are sloppy about their mobile devices. They will install anything that others rave about. They almost never back them up and if they do, the app now owns it. And when they sync their phone to their computer, it owns their computer too. He also knows that all Iphones once they have a pin are encrypted by default and that Google has reversed its decision about Encryption on Lollipop and now all Android phones are encrypted. Those that aren’t, can easily be remedied. After all his app owns their phones.

After two years of total market domination, he hatches his Easter egg. At Midnight Greenwich Meant Time on December 31st 2018, his app changes the password and email address on all cloud backups the phone is connected to. It then changes the pin on the phone and powers down. Any computer that was on and connected to the internet does the same thing. At first people don’t know what is going on. Why did their phone turn off? So they turn them back on. But their pin doesn’t work. Close to 750 million phones no longer work because they are encrypted without a known key. Backups are unavailable because their recovery information has been changed. The world’s economy goes dark.

Thomas_HApril 2, 2015 12:42 PM

My movie plot summary above comes down to 498 words in my copy of Microsoft Word. Perhaps a little too scifi-y, but then whenever I watch a US TV series that is supposed to happen in these days and science happens in it, it often is so ridiculously inaccurate that it is laughably unbelievable to anyone with a clue.

So, IMHO this movie hits the right amount of nonsense (technobabble, halfway believable plot, stupid stereotypes, and of course it would have flashy graphics that make no sense...). I imagine it as the kind of B-movie where we're supposed to root for the government-controlled good guys, but they are so unlikable that it backfires and we end up rooting for the anti-hero hacker who tries to set things right (probably with the power of Open Source), even though the movie likely ends badly for them.

Robert_OakleyApril 2, 2015 2:03 PM

It's 2016 and digital crime is rife. Evil hackers using the encrypted and anonymous 'Darknet' are using the Internet to attack utilities, destabilise the stockmarkets and deny 'ordinary' people the use of their own computers using unbreakable 'crypto bombs'.

The Government, run by technophobic plutocrats decides to act and gives one man (casting...Gary Busey) the power to form a unit of maverick hackers (think Dirty Dozen) known as the Lords of Light to counter the growing hacking menace. This results in a Unit comprising hackers and crackers who start pursuing these black hats, using crypto and tech type techniques (changing traffic lights to cause RTC etc) to eliminate them.

At first, they are lauded for their efforts, but pretty quickly the Unit realises that the very political lords and masters that hired them are corrupt and surreptitiously in league with the very black hats they are hunting. Queue Gary going rogue and lots of hand wringing by the token female coder who regularly questions the team on whether they are 'doing the right thing'.

End = team digitally erase wealth of corrupt politicians, removing their sources of power and giving them all arrest warrants. See swat teams attempting to raid their base of operations to find that using pesky crypto, they've remoted their entire operation to the Bahamas. See the team drinking Long Island ice teas whilst cops arrest politicians and a new world order emerges. Leave room for sequel as news shows blank matrix screen with the words 'We shall be watching'...

NSAIApril 2, 2015 2:27 PM

It's 2029 and you better have good sunscreen. You're dead, I'm dead, we're all dead because SkyNet sensed too many threats and NSAI has shut things down. The only thing growing is the temperature. The only secure earthlings are on Mars. After programming NSAI the programmers were no longer needed and were a threat.

wwIIIApril 2, 2015 2:41 PM

but...
some computers are saved, they are in the back room of a walmart warezhouse still in the boxes from the factory in bangladesh never been online
and a second hand store in bloomington minnesota has all the old computer games from the 1990's that run without internet connections the geeks go back to the basement and happily play games against the cdroms Woo HOO,the world is saved!!!

HAMSOMEApril 2, 2015 3:29 PM

Hearing about this contest, a Hollywood exec decides to seriously shop around the idea for a new movie based on the unbreakable crypto gimmick.

Naturally, the idea of a plot itself is too abstract to begin with, so he has several movie posters drawn up for focus group testing.

Lacking any originality himself, he randomly combines elements of existing plots using a hardware based true random generator.

A scientific survey of actual American viewers reveals that the image of Gary Busey with the movie title "NO IT'S BECKY" flattens all the other candidates by such a large margin that the executive decides to get the money men involved to raise funds for a screenwriter.

The resulting movie doesn't have a plot, just a series emotional impressions laden with subliminal motivators.

The last scene with the dying child leaves the audience in tears with the grim determination to outlaw encryption by any means necessary.

When the final credits roll for the film Robert_Oakley is given a kind mention in the credits, right after the part about no animals having been harmed in the making of the movie.

FernandoApril 2, 2015 4:07 PM

The year is 2016 and cryptography is in the headlines. The movie opens to the life of Drew Nance, an aging arthritic FBI investigator now assigned to a desk. As we begin to learn about Drew’s life as an investigator we interact with the futuristic political climate.

Government officials from the left and right criticize strong cryptography and its potential for abuse. Spurred by the release of the new iCrime 7, encrypted phone, Congress passes the “Bipartisan Act Defending People from Evil Dangerous Operating Systems”. The act criminalizes the use of cryptography “when the government says so. . .you know, for the baddies when they do stuff.”

Yet, due to the lack of detailed summaries and descriptive subject lines appended to all cryptographic files and communication, the bill requires the NSA to collect and decrypt all communications using newly developed energy-intensive quantum computers. Dubbed the “Hyper Active Machine Storage and Theoretical Encryption-Reversal though Walking Hopping and Educing Exhaustion Liberally” these computers requires so much manpower (heh heh) that the intelligence agencies are forced to pool their resources to simply power the machine.

As the agencies redirect manpower to this project, their investigative competency deteriorates. Only the exemplars of an earlier time like Nance are left to reminisce and continue with the heap of investigative work that was once the “meat and potatoes” of the agency.

Soon thereafter, Nance notices that child kidnapping rings are flourishing. He hears reports with alarming frequency of youth kidnappings in the streets and neighborhoods of America. Nance begins to discover that, instead of using encrypted email to manage their child snatching, kidnappers are resorting to in-person communication.

As thousands of children continue to disappear, and Nance’s superiors grow desperate, the agencies’ remaining discretionary funding is funneled into a program to convince kidnappers to come forward and snitch on their peers in exchange for large sums of cash and full immunity. Unfortunately, the program turns up only a few leads and the prospects look grim.

Nance is assigned to a snitch who claims he was a ‘deliveryman’ shipping youth from Denver to Utah. As he follows the lead, Nance uncovers directions to a drop off point within Utah where the driver claims he has been shipping children regularly for the past months. With this exciting lead in hand he rushes to his superiors and asks for the resources for a sting.

Word moves through the agency fast, and as Nance lays a trap to follow the kidnappers back to their destination he receives a call to call off the entire operation. Stubborn relic that he is, Nance refuses. He follows his lead into an underground facility and discovers the horrendous truth.

As the need to power decryption machines grew so did the willingness of the agency to find alternate energy sources. Nance discovers the children, force-fed pixie sticks and birthday cake unleashing their energy into the task of decryption.

The next day, The Intercept publishes a scathing expose and several days later the scandal blows over.

BlueLightMemoryApril 2, 2015 6:19 PM

The Caped Crusader Comey:

He arrives on wings of encryption to remove all other forms of encrytion. He has sworn to himself, YES, he has sworn to himself to keep the sheeple, rather the people safe, free, and observable. With his flock in the open, in plain text, he's able to fend off all terrorrrisstss, boogeymen, Evile hackers, and the likes. His reward is great, YES, in his own mind his reward is great. He can hear the sheeple, he can hear them as they BAAAAHHH and say thank you Mr. Comey, Thank youuuuu for keeping us safe and free....BAAAAHHH BAAAAHHH.

Doc HopperApril 2, 2015 6:39 PM

Washington D.C. - In what senior officials are calling a “near miss” with terrorism. It was uncovered earlier today that sometime last month the US Congress House of Representatives floor was nearly the site of an “unprecedented” terror attack.

According to a source who only spoke on the condition of anonymity, as they are not authorized to speak to the press, a terror attack was planned to be carried out by members of the house cleaning staff. Two individuals had been trained in improvised explosives, smuggled IEDs into the capitol building via a routine delivery of supplies. These explosives where then ultimately moved to the floor via staff cleaning trolleys, before being spotted. The exact motivation for the attack was not clear, but it is speculated that it was in relation to US reactions to ISIS/ISIL.

The attack was only uncovered due to “dumb luck” as monitoring of this particular terror network had recently gone dark as a suspected result of the Snowden leaks. “We really dodged a bullet on this one.”, said the official. “If it hadn’t been for a visiting, sharp eyed TSA agent,” [This agent had recently been through the ‘Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques’ (SPOT) training.] “I hate to think what might have happened.” Once the TSA agent alerted Capitol Police, the would be terrorists where quickly subdued and a bomb disposal unit was able to disarm the devices.

“The main problem is the use of unbreakable encryption, whose use has seen a marked increase after those illegal Snowden leaks. We simply need to be able to see into these conversations. Look, everybody recognizes that privacy is important. That’s not what we’re talking about here. All we want is to be able to have a way to see what’s going on with these guys that would do us harm. In this case, it turns out these folks where using something called PGP for months before this attempted attack. We would have been able to catch this if they hadn’t been using this stuff.”

The official went on to say that we need to pass proposed legislation, currently in committee, that would mandate encryption programs have methods for allowing authorized government agents the ability to spot chatter, before it moves to late stage planning. Critics are quick to point out privacy concerns, however according to our in house legal corespondent, most of the points commonly brought up are covered in existing, well regulated, court processes.

MatApril 2, 2015 7:39 PM

In a small room, hunched over his Linux laptop, a bearded man clicked on the computer. He was in the iCloud account of a female celebrity. He clicked "download" and all the pictures were installed in his special encrypted folder. Satisfied with his last theft, he closed his laptop. This man was the infamous hacker known as 4chan.

He looked at all the photos he had accumulated. All in all, there were a few hundred photos from 146 accounts, mostly female celebrities. He looked at his watch, it was 9:00 PM. He cleaned up the desk and left the telecommunications community he worked for as a systems administrator and left for home. This time, upon the arrival at his house, this criminal was too happy about his accomplishments. All of these photos he had, he had to share them. So he loaded up his browser made for criminals: Tor. He went to a special website and shared all the photos, and got away with it.

The results were devastating: over 100 women had their privacy violated. Ten ended up having a severe depression and their careers never really recovered. He was under high suspicion so the police came to his house. They examined the web logs, but because he used Tor, a web browser with strong encryption, it was all hidden. They examined his illegal photos folder but found nothing, because it was encrypted.

4chan went insane and could not control his desires. He looked up instructions on Tor on how to make a gas chamber. It took 6 months and was extremely sturdy and fully functional. He then kidnapped four women and forced them in there. He still looked up illegal information and talked to other crooks, but because of encryption tools for criminals like Tor and GPG the cops could not see what he was doing.

Suddenly, the police bursts into his house with a warrant. They see the man and order him to turn off the encryption (so they can see the files). But 4chan shoots one cop, injuring him. He runs to the gas chamber and turns it on, destabilizing the cops, and gets away in his car. With one guy injured and the women to take care of, they could not chase him. The women are screaming, pleading to get out. But the chamber is made with solid metal and the lock to the door is military grade. Stressed out, the cops check his computer. They see the file they need: chamber_lock_combination.gpg. But they can't decrypt it. They try, and try, but they just can't. The women are screaming so loud, but the encryption is unbreakable. Thankfully unlike encryption the cops have a special key that only they can use to unlock it. They unlock the padlock, the women are safe, thanks to a backdoor. But imagine how many lives they could have saved if encryption had a backdoor too.

Bobby Joe SnyderApril 2, 2015 9:28 PM

PNP = 3163007


NSolve[((PNP^4/x + 2* (PNP^2 * x^2) + x^5) / PNP^3)== ((PNP^2/x)+x^2)/PNP + 0.287159517,x]

3163007

{{x->10766.8 +18673. I},{x->10766.8 -18673. I},{x->-21533.6},{x->-953.082},{x->953.}}


After an amateur discovers that factoring is found by a set of polynomials in Mathematica, RSA encryption is rendered useless and all encrypted messages using RSA, past and present, are unsecure to the public as they are the NSA.

After most digital certificates are rendered useless the NSA must step in offering its own cryptography standard. Only this time the public has no choice but to use it.

In order to save private citizens use of cryptography a new method of finding where decimals terminate or equal a whole number before using a base of 10. This new standard is not proven and creates “cryptography barrens” who offer an unstable encryption and costs more than bandwidth on the Internet.

Private citizen based cryptography becomes illegal and using it is a 15 year prison sentence. Only those who have “access” to cryptography are allowed to know how it works and ration it. It starts a battle between governments and freedom fighters.

FlouserApril 3, 2015 12:04 AM

The government has just discovered a way to measure the randomness of numbers. If your numbers are more random than 80 bits, than it is illegal.

Robert_OakleyApril 3, 2015 5:38 AM

Crippled by the apathy generated by continual fear and warmongering in the media, a man decides to build a bunker containing all of the world's current knowledge in digital format but encrypted by the strongest encryption known to humans. He then breaks into Porton Down and over the course of 6-months distributes lethal communicable viruses to the major capital cities.

All humans die. Queue 2000 years later, an alien civilisation visits earth and colonises it. Aliens find knowledge in encrypted form and using quantum techniques, learn the secrets of human plight. They also learn about DNA and using the vast library of human DNA that the FBI have, begin repopulating the earth with humans. Not realising that the criminal genes inherent in the database leads to their destruction as the humans violently wipe out all traces of beneficent alien life.

Final scene is HAMSOME due to his inability to read and understand sarcasm getting beaten to death by a marauding horde of Jimmy Carr clones.

DaveApril 3, 2015 10:58 AM

The Ayatollah Khamenei has sat down with a chat with Iranian President Rouhani:
"So, the gullible Westerners bought that 'sure, send in the inspectors' nonsense! Nicely done! Heck, they're even supporting our efforts against Daesh, they probably think we're buddies now."
"Well, yes, but you know we still have to get those bombs built without getting caught."
"Don't worry, I already have the plan in place. The courier with the necessary encryption keys went to the nice folks at Hezbollah while you were busy yakking with John Kerry."
"What are they going to do this time?"
"Well, let's pull them up to chat."
"We can do that?"
"Absolutely - with this new algorithm that Mossad and the NSA don't know about, and the keys that they never saw, we're in great shape. We use their own networks against them."
(He walks over to a clunky-looking computer.)
"Wait, that? We have much nicer machines available."
"Yes, but we wanted this one manufactured from scratch by our teams to make sure there aren't any hardware backdoors. Our top intelligence guys were very clear about that. Now, to get the plan into action."
Hassan Nasrallah's face comes on the screen.
"Hey Ali, what can I do for you?"
"Hassan, are your people in place for Plan N?"
"Yes, of course. We'll get it."
"Quietly, Hassan, quietly."
"Sure, no problem. The sleeper cell in Israel has the right keys for your brilliant communications network, we'll get that warhead no problem."

The next day, a group of what appear to be military contractors drive away from an Israeli base in their large work truck. The truck makes a perilous journey through a war-torn landscape. The Israeli military takes a full week before realizing that one of their prized nuclear warheads is missing.

Bibi Netenyahu holds an emergency council with Tamir Pardo, head of Mossad:
"Ok, so what do we know?"
"Our surveillance systems saw nothing unusual. You know sir, we would have caught this in advance, if only we had been able to intercept those communications."
"Well, then, we'll just have to guess. I've always wanted an excuse to do this anyways - launch the planes, our target is Iran!"

By sheer happenstance, a bomb lands right on the truck carrying the nuke.

Bernie ZApril 3, 2015 11:49 AM

"Hi, I'm Fred."

"Hi, Fred."

"I used encryption on my phone... and my computer. Strong encryption. And now I'm in this prison with all of you. I never gave it a second thought. Everyone said, 'The better the encryption, the less likely you'll get caught.' Now I'm facing 5-7 for trafficking."

Fred's story is typical. He believed what law enforcement had been saying for years. He took to heart what those bastard cryptologists claimed. Being a major criminal is not easy and strong encryption seemed like a winning solution. Never did he dream that his large, random encryption key would be creating such a unique signature in his "secure" communications. That signature -- and thousands like it -- have been the downfall of many a lawbreaker.

The keys being used today are so large that the signature is like digital DNA. Courts love it. Prosecutors look for it first. It is undeniable proof that the message is yours. It doesn't matter that you could have been talking about laundry with your business partners. The Ignorable Content law means they don't have to break the encryption; all they need to do is catch your associates in the act and you are an automatic accomplice by virtue of using such strong encryption with them.

We here at Encryption Anonymous believe the key to recovery is NOT a large prime number. We believe that healing comes through eduction and action. Weak encryption is as stupid as no encryption. Moderate encryption is as easily breakable today as weak encryption. And all strong encryption does is reveal your digital DNA signature.

The next step is turn-about. Everyone from the President down to local police departments uses strong encryption. We too can identify their signatures. Privacy researchers around the world have developed many methods of analyzing metadata and determining valuable bits of information. Those tools are freely available. For example, there are over a dozen ways to track a cop, depending on his gear and his vehicle. Hell, those license plate readers connect to the network so frequently that you can track many squad cars in near real-time. And, as we all know, those readers became mandatory on all police vehicles six years ago.

It is time to act. It is time to use their technological weapons against those that would see all of us thrown in prison. It is time to spread the word. (Just don't email it!) It is time for EA to stand for Evil Anonymous again. Down with Encryption; Up with Evil!

EarlApril 3, 2015 12:58 PM

*queue narrator*

The world has turned into a nightmare for law enforcement and those who keep everyone safe. Encryption has been deployed widely being utilized for almost all facets of an individual’s life. Mobile devices, social communications, you name it, it is encrypted. And I am terrified.

*flash to stock market scene*

The encryption awakening occurred after private companies pushed it to almost all consumers after many of our law enforcement programs were discovered. These programs allowed us full access to private companies and individual lives. We had access to any and every one. After it was discovered that we had placed ourselves in the private affairs of big business, our ability to oversee the lives of others was over. All the major players rolled out encryption for almost all services and products, against our wishes and they wouldn’t even install backdoors... Encryption has cut us off, the fear is growing in law enforcement about what we don’t know.

*random explosion*

As I walk down the road, I see so many individuals. These individuals have secrets which we can’t access. What is it that they are thinking up? What is it that they are hiding? That baker on the side corner store who is adored by the community, could he be a terrorist? Could he be a sexual predator? The woman in the red dress, a possible secret agent? A political radical or socialist? Before encryption was wide-spread, I could spend days watching them. Every little detail of their lives could be scrutinized to make sure they weren’t doing anything wrong. And now, we don’t know.

*individual on roof looking over the city with a cape*

I must dig into the lives of everyone for the safety of everyone. I must find a way to make everyone safer even at the cost of freedom. The Four Horseman are coming, I know it and nothing will stand in their way. Except me.
The laws only prevent me from making everyone safe. I will find a way to circumvent the encryption, privacy, and freedom. It is the only way to be safe. I am the hero that America deserves. I am the Panopticon Man!

Panopticon Man! Coming to a theater everywhere. If you don’t go see it, he will know.

ShaftwayApril 3, 2015 2:06 PM

Set in the not-so-distance future...

World governments have banned personal encryption. Several fortunately (and suspiciously) timed events have convinced the majority of the population that cryptography is a shield for crime, and the people demand a ban without understanding the implications. Transport-layer crypto is grandfathered in, but personal encryption is considered admission of guilt for nearly any information-based crime, with mandatory prison sentencing.

This gives rise to a vast black market dealing in stolen information, and crypto tools with gaping security flaws. It's widely known that government agencies plant deliberately flawed crypto to find and prosecute crypto users, often with trumped-up other charges (again, crypto is seen as admission of guilt). Because the black market has so much information available at such a low cost, people assume that all personal information is public.

In the midst of this a loosely knit group of technology radicals fights back against the government, secretly distributing combined steganography and crypto tools to try to evade detection. Early attempts to infiltrate the group fail; capability losses by the government due to lack of crypto research hamper their abilities to break into the network. The government portrays the radicals as enemies of the state, but a few students and progressives see them as freedom fighters, fighting for personal security.

Meanwhile, a series of high-profile international disasters involving complicated plans with extreme precision start occurring: plane hijackings, industrial accidents, infrastructure disasters. Footage later shows individuals coming together as a group unique to each attack, executing the attack, and dispersing never to be found. But the government can not determine how these crimes are organized. With the ban on cryptography having been touted as the solution to preventing these problems, and no insight as to how plans are being organized, the government has no choice but to suppress the news.

When the news ultimately leaks, the radicals realize that the terrorists are using their steganograpy tools to organize and commit these crimes, internal strife begins. Accusations fly rampant that individuals in the group are working for various organizations, attempting to sabotage the efforts, or turn the tools for their own nefarious purposes. This is compounded by the discovery that the stego tools being distributed are themselves cover for stego messages, though those messages can not be decrypted.

Ultimately the team has to decide. Who is working for the enemy? Who is the enemy? Should they continue distributing tools that can be used by friend and foe alike? And are these tools really a cover for something even more nefarious?

LorenzoApril 3, 2015 3:34 PM

Following a major terroristic attack, in 2019 strong encryption is
declared illegal in the Five Eyes nations: Australia, Canada, New
Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Government-mandated
encryption contains backdoors allowing spy agencies to read the content
of all communications and can be clearly identified in a network stream.
The only people allowed stronger encryption were the military and
politicians. Spy agencies monitor internet connections and
deliberately inject drop packets to terminate unauthorised encrypted
connections or messages containing strong crypto, then automatically
issue arrest warrants for the originators.

Despite the public understanding that cryptography is evil and allows
criminals to thrive, it turns out that in an interconnected world where
trade and economy are based on the security of communications if
everyone uses crypto but you, your economy is pretty much doomed.

This is the story of how society in the Five Nations collapsed due to
the Crypto ban of 2019.

After the ban companies tried to profit from "government-friendly"
encryption schemes but the cost of marketing and developing them plus
the added red tape of getting a government approval seal made them too
expensive. Most of these companies closed down by 2021. Open source
tools disappeared earlier than that as it was trivial to break their
'security' once the code was visible. Security-by-obscurity became the
new mantra but its price tag made it less viable than the cheaper option
of simply using "old" software with weaker ciphers.

Although experts warned strongly against the use of weak security, from
the point of view of regular citizens nothing changed: online banking
and e-commerce continued with weaker ciphers. Most mobile apps still
used libraries that theoretically supported strong encryption, but no
CTO allowed its use for fear of legal prosecution.

Then the cyber attacks started. The lack of proper encryption, the
out of date security of most websites in the FVEY and the fact that the
Five Nations were still rich countries made every one of their citizens not
only easy prey but also an obvious target for the rest of the world's
cyber crooks. By 2024 online banking was dead. E-commerce sank shortly
afterwards.

Furthermore, the lack of proper channel encryption made ad-injection and
social-media hijacking so easy that nobody knew what was actually
happening; news corporation had the news but could not deliver them
safely to their viewers online. Ad-injection became so popular that in
2025 Google stopped offering their free services as no longer
profitable. The Internet in the Five Eyes nations reverted to 1998.

In the mean time the rest of the had world moved forward. E-commerce
sites from outside FVEY started refusing connections. Packets were
simply routed around Five Eyes routers. Banks inter-loan terms and
agreements lost credibility; a subsequent dip in the growth rate of UK,
Canada and the USA caused unstoppable inflation. Australia decided to
close its "internet border" and became a China-like nation with a Great
Firewall. New Zealand back-pedalled and re-introduced strong crypto, but
the horses had already left the barn.

Operation DUMBODROPApril 4, 2015 1:11 AM

[Scene set - 7/11/1991 - somewhere nondescript]

The eminent dissolution of the Soviet Union was all too obvious to our unlikely band of heroes. However, their demands for a shift in priorities were met only with scorn; thanks in large part to a massive influx of disinformation from every direction...

Fed up with the upper-echelons of their military & political systems being subverted time and time again by corrupt politicians, foreign infiltrators, and well-connected idiots -- a trusting bunch of top-notch analysts, engineers, and mathematicians decide to take matters into their own hands!

These spooks were all pretty smart and more than well aware of the fact that SIGINT alone would not be enough to tackle their perceived problems. They'd also been highly involved with the 'war on drugs' and most had come to realize that the devastating consequences came without any real benefit to humanity. Yet, others still thought that some certain ingestible substances were indeed the scrounge of the Earth. Regardless, they decided to settle their differences and focus on the more pressing matters at hand.

After much debate, all players eventually came to the conclusion that the only solution to their woes can be found by surreptitiously capturing the hopes, dreams, and desires of every man, woman, and child on the face of the planet. With the eventual goal of broadly distributing this collation of information to all citizens of the world near and far, they could forge a bold new transparent society - the hope being that future generations will be empowered to choose leaders with true integrity.

In a serendipitous moment of foresight, our agents realize that strong encryption might eventually find its way into use by the general public. Knowing such schemes could unnecessarily discount plenty of potentially worthy individuals from consideration for future leadership roles, widespread encryption is seen as unacceptable in this circle.

Trusting the math (and not having infinite resources to brute force every encrypted message), our heroic agents hatch an ingenious plan to instead subvert the very much vulnerable crypto-implementations & key-distribution methods across the board. Of course, those in charge would never appropriate the necessary resources for such a proposal... Thus, the idea of the 'Four Horsemen of the Internet Apocalypse' is born! Once in a while, useful fools like Clapper/Comey are trotted out to make such ridiculous claims to an unsuspecting citizenry & congress. This small act of deception ensures a continuous flow of public support and funding; especially when it's most needed.

Through a series of seemingly disparate flashbacks, we learn that the CMC, DSGE, GES, and MOIS have developed quite similar programs... Although it's clear there's no telling if this is the result of independent thought processes or acts of international espionage.

[Fast-forward to 4/25/2013]

The final phase of the plan is nearly complete - just in time to seriously impact the 2016 elections. In fact, it's been working better than any of the initial conspirators could have ever expected - mainly due to the rise in popularity of social media, and all sorts of people voluntarily documenting every single thought that occurs to them. Just then, an unexpected snag catches our heros off guard! An uninitiated & disgruntled whistleblower is threatening to hit the press... With all the bad publicity, will anyone actually believe our heroes..? Were their collection methods even reliable and useful to begin with!? Only time will tell...

FridzApril 4, 2015 7:08 AM

Alice’s Scheme

FBI and NSA have together succeeded in making the world a safer place. FBI takes care of US, NSA secures the rest of the world. Total control of the internet means nothing is hidden from them. The agencies have had to expand a little, more than 20 million people now work directly for the FBI/NSA in analyzing ALL of the worlds electronic communications. Countless terrorists, pedophiles, drugdealers and money laundering kidnappers have been apprehended as a result of the agencies efforts.

Alice Andrews is a middle aged librarian that has secretly harboured some anti-social beliefs. Among them is the notion that ordinary people should have the ability to keep things secret from the government. At the annual American Library Association conference in San Fransisco, she met a like minded librarian, Robert Tables, who shared her dangerous convictions. Together they come up with a scheme that gives ordinary citizens the ability to communicate secretly.

Their scheme is totally paper based, in fact all electronic involvement is actively discouraged as they believe any electronic method to be insecure. To communicate with Bob, Alice takes her message and encrypts it using the novel 1984 by George Orwell as a one time pad. She then sends the encrypted message to another friend of her, Charlie that works at another library. With her encrypted message, she sends Charlie (differently) encrypted instructions on the details of where the message should indirectly be delivered. Charlie takes Alice’s encrypted message and encrypts it again using his favourite work of fiction as a one-time pad...

The full details of Alice’s scheme are a little too complicated to describe here in less than 500 words. But in many ways it is reminiscent of the TOR anonymity network. FBI/NSA of course have total control of TOR and can freely decrypt anything sent over that network. As a matter of fact all terrorist, drug-dealing, pedophiling and money-laundering kidnapping activity has been eliminated from TOR because of FBI/NSA efforts.

Alice and Bob build a network of like minded, anti-social people that fail to grasp the importance of keeping the government informed. Their network is a success, people that participate in the network can freely communicate securely from the government.

When the FBI/NSA learns of Alice’s scheme they are terrified of the consequences. Terrorists, drug-dealers, pedophilers and money laundering kidnappers now have ways of communicating without being detected by FBI/NSA.

The FBI/NSA pressures the US congress and the rest of the world to pass a law requiring all libraries to scan all books and be fully digitized. All access to electronic books is monitored and reported to the FBI/NSA. As a result of this, FBI/NSA can now crack Alice’s network. Countless terrorists, drug-dealers, pedophiles and money laundering kidnappers are caught red-handed with their encrypted communications.

Because all books have been digitized, the paper versions have no longer any function. In honour of the FBI and NSA, a world wide book burning day is celebrated. The End.

SkepticalApril 4, 2015 1:00 PM


21 August 2017.

The story begins on a cold November night, three years earlier, in the main room of a very wealthy individual's vacation lodge near Vancouver. A small group of men and women were gathered - the 1% of the 1% of the 1% - the richest owners of the major technology, media, and other companies. A comfortably but well dressed man of middle age stood before them, summing up the conclusions they had all agreed to over the last week of intense discussion.

Then it is agreed.

Unbreakable encryption binds the power of government, but not our power. We do not need to steal patents or the plans of potentially "disruptive" competitors - we just buy them. We do not need to steal the information of our customers - they give it to us freely, with a moment of unease followed by the tell-tale click of consent.

But unbreakable encryption can hinder the power of government to investigate us, to limit us, and to punish us. An idiotic prosecutor who does not understand the grandly transformative nature of our work, a small-time politician who wants to make a name for herself - we are at their mercy, even though they are undeserving of their power and prone to abuse. One overzealous antitrust unit, one bombastic fool with old-fashioned ideas about constraining global enterprises with national tax laws, and some of our greatest efforts might come to nothing. We owe it to each other, and to humanity as a whole really, not to let that happen.

He went on to discuss their lobbying plans, and their need to leverage the genuine efforts of civil liberties groups and advocates, to pressure business-friendly politicians, to simultaneously win both sides of the aisle.

It was a hard fight, but they won. And very quickly, as one suspicious of power might have predicted, secure from the interference of a less enlightened elected government, ten individuals from this elite group began to amass sensitive, useful information on those with political power, while simultaneously refining their abilities to manipulate mass opinion. And very rapidly, and very quietly, the power of the Group of Ten grew.

But all human enterprises contain within them the seeds of their own destruction. A disgruntled worker from the dark side of the Group of Ten's operations has turned informant for a (deliberately) underfunded section of the FBI's counterintelligence division. Or rather, had briefly turned informant before dying in a traffic accident caused by a malfunctioning stop light.

With their own communications open to the scrutiny of other government agencies and Congressional committees by law, the FBI unit finds its investigation sabotaged from within at every turn. On the brink of being completely shut down, however, they find an unlikely ally in the form of a wealthy, private benefactor - a woman known as among the most ruthless of competitors in the hedge fund world.

She offers to provide them with highly expensive, but secure, communications, facilities, and a highly skilled if morally questionable cadre to supplement their operations. Pushed to the point where the unit believes it must break the law in order to preserve it, they accept her help, but at her well-guarded home near Boston question her closely as to her motives. She glances briefly at them with hard eyes, then walks to the window to watch two of her grandchildren playing.

"A technologically advanced world ruled by laws written by private companies is one in which more power, and more money, increasingly aggregates to fewer and fewer people. It is a world in which massive inequality becomes impossible to escape; in which the select few remain forever beyond the reach of any organized and informed democratic efforts at improvement. It is a world where democratic self-government is quickly being replaced by a libertarian dystopia of little true self-government at all. What those drunk on the writings of the 18th century forget is that less government power does not necessarily mean more freedom. This is not a choice between gentlemen farmers of Virginia and power-hungry Federalists. It is easier, in this age, to maintain a government that acts within the law than it is to trust private industry to do the same. I will not be a party to the replacement of the ballot-box with the shareholder-proxy. I will not allow the hands of democracy to be tied, and its officials corrupted, while loosening those whose primary ethos is that of the marketplace. This world is not some techno-fairyland where each special snowflake is going to be cherished and nurtured. In reality, beneath the babble of the silicon evangelist, this is quite simply a war for power. But unlike such wars in the past, one side can win this without appearing to win, or indeed to fight at all. They can even preach the virtues of individual freedom, warning us of an Orwellian future should we not accede to them, all the while slowly eroding the power of those institutions most necessary to our actual freedom and actual self-determination."

She turned back towards them. Behind her, high in the afternoon sky, the dark disc of the moon slowly crept over the sun. A total solar eclipse, the covering of a star by a much smaller, but well connected and well positioned sphere, had begun.

BuckApril 4, 2015 1:44 PM

@Skeptical

Love it! :-D

@Moderator

Was my earlier submission MITM'd or deleted for some reason? If the latter, I did use an assumed name but figured the regulars would know it was me... I also didn't feel like counting all the words, but I can edit down if that was the case.

AC2April 4, 2015 11:45 PM

The US president's daughter, Laura Romley, is vacationing in Paris when she gives her Secret Service handlers the slip to meet up with someone she has been interacting with using the latest instant messaging hit - Wossup. But she doesn't return, her phone is not reachable and a kidnap message is sent via Wossup to the White House account. Secret Service agent Tracy Napolitano is teamed up with retired NSA analyst Clive Robinson, who is vacationing in Paris, to find her.

But Wossup, created by a shadowy Ukrainian security software team, provides end to end encrypted messaging that the NSA is unable to crack - despite access to all internet traffic from/ to Laura's phone. Tracy and Clive are left with no option but to travel to Ukraine to enlist the Wossup team in their efforts. On reaching Kiev, their task of locating the Wossup developers is complicated by the civil conflict that threatens the region - which seems to have caused the Wossup team to abandon all their usual haunts.

Meanwhile, the kidnappers send their demands - the US must remove all their personnel and equipment, official and unofficial, from Ukraine and stay out. US satellites start monitoring an increase in Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border.

The Wossup team, holed up in an abandoned WWII bunker in Donetsk, are monitoring the "end to end encrypted" messages with growing concern. Built as a way for their leader, Viktor Poroshenko, to fulfil his deviant sexual appetites and blackmail women to act as drug mules, the app has now attracted the unwanted attention of a major geopolitical conflict.

Russian security forces based in Ukraine are tasked with locating the Wossup team and destroying them so that no proof, linking Laura's disapperance to them, can be unearthed. They reach the bunker and have killed most of the Wossup team when Tracy and Clive arrive, kill the Russian team and take Viktor and his laptop to a secret NATO safehouse in Kiev. But Kiev is now controlled by forces sympathetic to Russia and they have no way to leave the safehouse safely.

Laura is taken by the Russian agent who exchanged sexy texts and selfies with her to a warehouse outside Marseilles. After her initial attempts to beg and reason with her captors fail, she turns the tables on them and escapes with her cellphone. Her talktime and battery have been exhausted so she is only able to send one Wossup message to Tracy before it shuts down.

Tracy applies enhanced interrogation techniques on Viktor while Clive hacks his laptop and Wossup's nefarious scheme is laid bare. Laura's message then gives them all the information they need to save her and expose Russia's hand. But Russian security forces find the NATO safehouse and they are under siege.

Can Tracy and Clive save Laura and stop a major geopolitical conflict in time? Their only hope is to use Wossup.

David LevineApril 4, 2015 11:57 PM

[Setting, the Oval Office. The president is with his national security adviser.]

The President [standing up, clearly agitated]: When Nixon’s little girl fell in love, it was a national love-fest. And everyone hated that jackass Nixon. Now my little girl’s fallen in love, and you cannot even tell me who her goddamn boyfriend is?

National Security Adviser: I’m sorry sir. They both use strongly encrypted communication.

POTUS: What the f--- are we paying the NSA for? Can’t they crack it!

NS: I agree it is terrible, sir. But your daughter and her young man are using a strong form of encryption--the type we tried to ban last Congress.

POTUS: I remember. That damn Electronic Free-love Foundation has destroyed the authority of parents everywhere! It was bad enough when the crypto-fanatics were just protecting pedophiles and money launderers. Now they are protecting some scum who is sending love letters to my only daughter!

NS: I fear we have more bad news, sir.

POTUS: What? Are you going to tell me her boyfriend is a terrorist? Or maybe a drug dealer?

NS: Neither of those sir. Even worse...

_____________________________________

Don’t miss this gripping tale of how well-meaning “privacy advocates” and an innocent teenage girl together bring the free world to its knees. America survived Pearl Harbor, the Cold War, and 9/11. Can we – or any nation – survive strong encryption?

AC2April 5, 2015 12:10 AM

@David Levine - holy crap - have you been monitoring my keystrokes or what?

But.. but... I have implemented 3DES encryption between my keyboard and the desktop!

gabrieleApril 5, 2015 2:41 AM

The cryptothief

Mary is our protagonist, she is young and just want to defend her privacy against parents and the principal, which seems such a weirdo. She heard that he spies on his students to make sure every student behaves well. She heard from a friend that she can use “crypto” to make sure nobody knows what she does. So they go to this place where a mysterious young adult give them a “usb key”[1] that they can insert in a computer, or mobile phone, to protect their communications from the people that want to control them.
Things go well, at first.
So much that it becomes fashionable to protect your data, and since the place where this dude gives the keys it's a basement they call it… “going crypt”.

The principal is angry, and so are their parents, but they can't do anything because they can't just admit to their kids that they were spying them. The one that do that are hated by their own children. And parents want to be cool nowadays.

The kids are happy. For a while.
Then the rumors start. It seems that somebody it's stealing the usb keys and then blackmailing people, for money or worse… In fact without the key nobody can read the data, not even their rightful owner. The children are so scared. Their lives are all digital.

We now found that the principal is so protective of his students because he has lost one to the gangs, or something like that. The key point is that he does spies on everybody, but just because he want to check that the students are well.

Her best friend is distracted and distraught lately, she is failing at school and always fearful. After a tense moment she reveal to Mary that she has been hit by the crypto-thief, who is forcing here to do unmentionable things[2].
Mary is so worried than one day breaks her usb key and discover that there are Chinese characters inside[3]. She now understand that the guy that sell the crypto usb-keys and the crypto-thief are the same person. What a shocking discovery!

She race to her friend's house, but she is too late. The friend has disappeared. Mary can only reveal what she has found to the FBI. They stop the cryptothief, but the friend is not found. The good agent can only say sadly to the camera: «when the people will understand that we can't protect them if we don't know what they are doing?».

Now Mary understand it: Crypto kills. Only bad people need secrets. But for her friend it's already too late.

Now criminals can even steal your dreams and memories... Be safe, don't protect your data!

The cryptothief: teens and cryptography. It can only end badly.

1. We need something physical to steal. Numbers don't look cool.
2. We don't say what it is, so the parents are even more scared.
3. Russians are so passé. The Chinese are the new scary people.

Pascal SartorettiApril 5, 2015 4:26 AM

The NSA is furious at Apple, because the iPhone security scheme makes it NSA-proof : they can't design a scalable solution to overcome its encryption and (unlike the CIA) they don't like to have to resort to techniques involving social engineering or waterboarding.

The NSA once again tries to solve this by attacking the XCode compiler (see https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2015/03/how_the_cia_mig.html) , but this time they send an undercover agent to be hired by Apple in their compiler team. The agent applies well-known methods (see http://cm.bell-labs.com/who/ken/trust.html) to insert an invisible backdoor into iOS, which is widely deployed in the next OS update.

In 3 months, 600 millions iPhones are infected and the NSA has access to the desired information (SMS, e-mails, WhatsApp, phone logs,...). Project IPHOWN is a deemed a huge success and the NSA sleeps better. FBI Director James Comey is happy too, even if a bit jealous.

There is however a small problem : the NSA agent has also inserted another backdoor, which is as invisible as the "official" NSA one. The second backdoor has access to the "secure enclave" portion of the iPhone, which happens to contain minor data like fingerprints, payment information or health-related data; the demographics of iPhone users makes this even more interesting, with its higher rate of high-profile people.

The rogue NSA agent then tries to imagine how he could profit from all this information; but the possibilities are so vast that he just sits there smiling and stroking his Angora cat. He owns the world.

Where to start ? By slowly siphoning the bank account of this mistress of a Mexican drug warlord ? The happy owner of a $17000 18-Karat Apple Watch probably doesn't check her credit card bill, it seems too easy.

Or maybe by blackmailing this European Prime Minister with early stage Alzheimer ?

Or why not start big : the ability to brick 600 millions iPhones certainly has a value, Apple would surely pay a 1 billion ransom for this... But maybe Samsung might pay more ? Let the auction begin !

Max GarciaApril 5, 2015 4:56 AM

The following is a shameless rip off of the twilight zone episode: Time
Enough at Last

Henry Bemis was a rather unassuming mathematician, who had a penchant for
cryptography, as well as the collected works of Justin Bieber, whom Henry felt
was the Mozart of our era.

As a supporter of the widespread use of strong Cryptosystems, Henry would tirelessly advocate to his friends about the importance of securing their data. Alas, Henry's friends felt that encryption was only used to hide the dark deeds of pedophiles or terrorist, or even worse, pedophilic terrorists, whom should not be confused with the non profit charity, terrorist for pedophiles.

Trying to convince the world of the importance of cryptography was stressful work, so Henry would unwind by listening to the music of his favorite artist, which frequently brought about the ire of any person or small woodland creature within earshot. Thus Henry would have to seek shelter in a cave in order to safely enjoy the music.

Then one day, a massive war broke out, forcing Henry to flee from his home with nothing but the clothes on his back. He sought refuge in the cave and stayed there until he felt the fighting had ceased. When he emerged from the cave, Henry was shocked to find that his home, including his 1tb external hard drive of Justin Bieber related material, was utterly destroyed.

Still in shock from the sheer scale of destruction, Henry wandered the
burnt out remains of the city, eventually happening upon the public library, which was miraculously undamaged. Realizing that the library kept a massive digital archive of pop music, and that no living creature was around for miles, Henry rushed inside, excited by the prospect of finally being able to enjoy the works of Justin Bieber without persecution.

To Henry's lament, all the music files, with the exception of the collected works of Allan Sherman, had been encrypted, and were thus useless to him. As the haunting melody of "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" played in the background, Henry was overcome by the realization that he would never hear the sweet voice of Justin Bieber again. Henry fell to his knees and cried out, "Only now do I see how foolish I was to support the use of cryptography."

ModeratorApril 5, 2015 9:03 AM

I don't know why one contest submission posted yesterday got held up in moderation; I've just approved it.

KevApril 5, 2015 5:52 PM

Shaving Private Ryan

A terrorist mastermind commits suicide moments after tattooing the password to the secret file (revealing the plan for an attack on the US) onto the shaved head of a brainwashed US army private. The police have the soldier's DNA from the shaved hair and tattooing needles, but to find out who he is, they need to break the encrypted US Healthcare Database. The US Vice President refuses to allow this, as it will reveal his early Parkinson's Disease.

WaelApril 5, 2015 9:12 PM

I wanted to keep my word but I'm having a writer's block. Ummm: My way out

Snowden and the seven spooks -- a movie script
Twice upon a time there were seven spooks who worked for seven international agencies. There was a fair looking guy named Snowden and the magic mirror gave him away. Flashback to the start...

ashundiApril 6, 2015 10:37 AM

EFF and civil libertarians win the debate and there's no key escrow. Strong crypto is widely used. FBI's agent predicting unsolvable or unpreventable crimes is defeated.

A mentally disturbed young pilot keeps a secret diary keeping track of his problems and imaginary enemies, including his airline's head pilot. The diary is encrypted, his private messages to therapists and family members are routed securely and not indexed by NSA or Google. Doctors note his mental problems on his records, girlfriend complains to her mom, friends talk behind his back but nobody connects the dots because, of course, the encrypted and secure communications prevent such analysis.

Girlfriend threats she'll move out, her unbearable parents announce they're coming to visit next week and they'll make things worse with the girlfriend. To top it off the airline's head pilot is flying as a passenger on his flight LAX-Singapore. In the middle of the flight, when the plane is out of radars and over the Pacific, the other pilot excuses himself to go to the bathroom (some additive on his coffee allows for perfect timing). A flight attendant takes his seat. The deranged pilot knocks out the flight attendant, disconnects the satellite links for the cabin WiFi, locks the cockpit door from inside, and crashes the plane directly into the Mariana Trench. Because of its depth the plane is located by chance only a decade later.

No distress call or passengers tweets were sent out so the disappearance of the plane is a mystery. They start connecting the dots but can't decrypt the secret diary. As it happens, FBI agent's loved neighbor lost her life in that flight. He vows revenge by way of key escrow.

RSaundersApril 6, 2015 1:50 PM

It started with a farm salesman. A new farmer picked up 2500 pounds of ammonium nitrate from the P&C Farm Supply in Salma, Kansas, Tim saw a business opportunity to pitch his GPS guided fertilizer application control system. He drove to the address listed on his invoice; a fallow field with no farmhouse. The address was fake.

Tim disconcertedly arrived at his office he wondered if this might be some Islamic Terrorist planning a McVey-style truck bomb. The “See Something – Say Something” card he had folded up to level the copy machine table had the FBI’s number.

Special Agent Avery LaBell investigated. Aside from the fake address he got a debit card and phone number. The debit card wasn’t from a bank, but from a shady company in Palo Alto, California, that pays transactions with Bitcoins. LaBell knew Bitcoin was untraceable money used by evildoers to launder money and buy drugs or kiddie porn on the dark web. The phone was another fake, not a real phone but Google Voice. Another California company, LaBell was connecting the dots.

After coordination with the DHS and NSA, LaBell was deeply saddened by the help they provided. After reading about Snowden on the FBI network, he expected a whole box of dots to connect. The FISA warrant to Google got him a name, Shady Smith, which even Avery presumed was a fake. The number had been activated for only $10 and just used twice to call P&C; it seemed electronic burner phones were easier to get and use than actual ones. DHS gave him a list of targets between Kansas and California, the list of attractions he could have gotten for free from AAA. The only “dots” he got out of the deal were two files called pickup.tc and grow.tc found on Smith’s Google Drive. The NSA said .tc told them the files were encrypted with a powerful tool called TrueCrypt. Without more national security connection, the NSA agent told LaBell that decrypting them was on the NSA’s list of things to do, but not to hold his breath.

What more of a smoking gun did these Washington bureaucrats need? Pickup could be talking about a kidnapping and grow certainly seemed like a marijuana reference to LaBell. With a truck bomb in the balance, LaBell dug into decrypting the files himself. Not finding anything with Google, who he considered unindicted co-conspirators; he went to /r/crypto on reddit.com to ask for suggestions. They all suggested he was an idiot.

Shady crawled out from under his F150 pickup, pleased that the new transmission hadn’t been as hard as he expected to put in. He had time to make another run over to P&C for fertilizer, since the growing analysis of the soil indicated he might need to move up to 180 pounds of nitrogen per acre. He opened his laptop to call in his order, and fix the clerk’s dyslexia on his address, there was a scream and the phone hung up. That seemed odd.

TheBittermanApril 6, 2015 2:29 PM

Sinister hackers encrypt the Pentagon's computers with ransomware. The encryption is a 239-bit rotational key cipher* which was developed by the NSA and stolen by a disgruntled employee who sold the technology (on a USB drive, only one in existence*) to the highest bidder. The code (a password of no more than 8 digits) cannot be broken even by the NSA's new quantum-entangled supercomputer*. The hackers demand several things like releasing prisoners and having Wall Street declare their actual earnings, etc. At the same time, the US is being threatened by [bad country] with [weapon(s) of mass destruction] and cannot scramble [military stuff] to defend [major city] from attack before [countdown].

[Possibly semi-disgraced] [Government agency] Agent CLAYTON BRECKER happens to be logged in during the attack while on assignment in [dangerous place]. By employing a laddering reverse transform on the packets*, he avoids getting locked out and has the only open connection to the server*. He tracks down the IP address* of the hackers in [European place] and confiscates their laptop post- gun/fisticuffs battle/chase.

It turns out the hackers are actually using the ransomware as a distraction, and have somehow provoked/tricked [bad country] into attacking the US. Their plan is really to take over a military base to steal [valuables] while communications are down by using the encrypted server to forge orders to the base. This allows the hacker organization to infiltrate and secure the installation so as to load the [valuables] onto a truck convoy.

The plot is thwarted by CLAYTON BRECKER via [agent techniques]. He stops the convoy and deals with the hacker leaders, who are adept at hand to hand combat*, and then manages to upload the algorithm* to the server seconds before [countdown] expires, unencrypting the server* and allowing the President to launch [military stuff] and save [major city].

Also at least one of following must be true: 1) [female interest of CLAYTON BRECKER] in target zone; 2) satellite connection to server running low on batteries; 3) USB key has several LEDs; 4) something something social media; 5) after the server is encrypted, the screen must show a laughing skull/vampire/cartoon cat; or 5) betrayal by key government insider revealed during final act.

*b/c movie

Ninja DriverApril 7, 2015 6:16 AM

The “Islamic state” or ISIS has grown into a modern military power. Well funded by some deep-pocket oil states it expanded into middle east and is now directly threatening Turkey, the last secular state in the region, and Israel. NATO is beefing up its presence in Anatolia, but it can do nothing against a well-oiled propaganda machine which depicts western culture as evil, and opens another internal front with a new intifada in Israel. ISIS is sending out coded messages on various media, using strong encryption thanks to a widely known open source tool. Right-wing politicians across USA, Europe and Israel are screaming, and laws are being pushed in Congress, European Parliament and Knesset to make encryption illegal. After all, what is privacy against the menace of an Islamic state at the doors of Europe?
Alì is a humble garbage collector working for the municipality of Hamburg, Germany. Muslim, from a Turkish family, he spends his spare time studying ancient Islamic culture, which is now threatened by the barbaric ISIS, hoping to get an university degree to continue his studies. One day, emptying the paper bins from a large apartment building, he finds a rare copy of the Quran with Arab and Latin text, as translated in the 12th century; he saves the book form the scrap and brings it home. A few days later, he notices long sentences highlighted in the Latin version. Puzzled, he discusses this with a friend at the local university, who suspects that this could be a type of code. His girlfriend Anita, an activist for the pirate party, tries to use the text to decrypt some of the ISIS messages, which are routinely circulated on the Internet, and – bingo! – the key is found.
Now the problem is how to inform authorities. The attempts to contact local intelligence, German government, NATO and CIA do not work – professional spooks will not listen what normal citizens want to say, even more if the “normal citizen” is an activist of a party fighting against copyright and the business models of large corporations. Finally, Anita contacts an MP from the party, who can pass the information to the German authorities. The code is broken, and ISIS communication is decrypted easily, but this information is not made public. As a result, the military attacks towards Turkey and Israel are easily stopped, the anonymous transfers of funds to ISIS are blocked, and the decline of the Islamic state starts. After years under the domination of those barbarians, people realizes that Islam is something very different, and a new era starts for Middle East.
And by the way, all the laws to make cryptography illegal are rejected with a small majority – small, but enough to make privacy matter again.

LarsApril 7, 2015 12:52 PM

Last year's report on HIV/AIDs prevalence was disastrous, showing increased incidence of the disease in every demographic. Safe sex campaigns and re-education attempts have failed, and doomsday fears about the growing epidemic lead to emergency political meetings being called. Representatives hate to appear responsible for diseases so closely linked in the media's mind to rising public immorality. Furthermore, extrapolations of current rates of growth are terrifying: by 2040, _everyone in America_ will have an STI.

A radical new solution is proposed. Senators realize that they could completely stamp out the disease if only they knew exactly who was jumping into bed with who. Then, every time somebeody reported to hospital with an STI, a reliable, central list of their past partners could be consulted, and all of them would be sent for automatic checkup. If anybody in the list is sent for checkup and discovered to be infected, then they are quarantined from having any more sex on pain of being fined and/or imprisoned. Politicians reason that they would soon be able to discover the most infectious 'nodes' spreading AIDs across the whole tree, and could punish them accordingly. The nation's health would quickly be assessed and cleaned up by breakthrough technology.

The new law is formalized: everyone is required to enter every new person they have sex with onto an 'encrypted' government database. The ACLU immediately attacks the policy for its awful implications on the privacy of citizens, but politicians decide that the AIDs threat is so big that the compromise is worth making. Amazingly, both sides of the political spectrum agree about the importance of the policy and ignore protests against it. Democrats love the centralising imperative, whilst Republicans believe that if they can make casual sex far more of an inconvenience, then people will be disincentivized from doing it.

...

Three weeks after implementation, the sex database is hacked and leaked, causing widespread uproar and hilarity. News channels and academics are delighted: this is most information we have had on sex since the Kinsey report. Everybody else is aghast: secret extramarital affairs, nymphomaniacs, prostitutes, closet gays and far more are all outed, leading to a whole new lack of trust in relationships, society, and the government's ability to keep anything safely under lock and key.

LarsApril 7, 2015 1:08 PM

And I forgot to add: the government blames the whole debacle on 'encryption', not the stupidity of the idea of centralizing people's sex lives.

AmgineApril 7, 2015 1:40 PM

1940 Second World War is going pretty well for the Germans.

An American Fascists comes up with the idea of public key encryption. Since there is no export prohibition on strong cryptography he manages to transfer his knowledge to Nazi-Germany easily.
A close cooperation of Konrad Zuse in and the Hollerith Machinen GmbH manages to implement his cryptosystem in a small Enigma-sized package using fancy glowing tubes. The now outdated Enigmas ar scrapped. Bletchley Park cannot decrypt the Wehrmachts communication any more. 1941 The Nazis invade Britain. 1942 in a secret highly coordinated blow the Germans and Japanes bring the US to it's knees.
In a world with just blonde-haired, blue-eyed people, Adolf Hitler (last living non-blonde person) dies satisfied and of old age. On his deathbed promoting the Hollerith Maschinen GmbH to be the International Bester Militärzulieferungsbetrieb (or short IBM) for being essential in the success for The Nazis reach to world domination.

Plot summary: In a world where you allow strong encryption for everybody Adolf Hitler wins.


TonyKApril 8, 2015 10:21 AM

November 6 2020, the morning of the presidential election. This will be the first election where votes can be cast from smart phones and laptops. A record turnout is expected.

There is much excitement as live results are being displayed all over the place. Twitter, television, apps and websites are all displaying the vote counts. It is a close race between the leading candidates until about 9 am when a third candidate starts to rapidly close the gap. He was an unknown independent that had suspected ties to multiple terrorist organizations. There was outrage when he got on to the ballot, but it had quickly died down when he put forth no campaign effort.

By 11 am the independent was predicted to win, and the software called it for him at 3:22 pm.

At 4 the CEO of the software maker was being interviewed on CNN. There were accusations of everything from bribery to bugs to hackers being responsible for the results. Demands were made for audits and recounts. Some were even asking for the data to be made publicly available. The CEO calmly explained that there could be no audit or recount. The system was encrypted end to end and all the votes were cryptographically anonymized.

The interviewer was stunned and sat there in silence. When he eventually spoke, he said "We just elected a terrorist as the President of the United States".

Peter E RetepApril 9, 2015 3:46 AM

Here's a movie plot based on today's tech:
The Chinese attempt to outlaw multiple meanings to eliminate deception and corruption.
They begin extending the Great Firewall of China to other countries by invitation of statist regimes. Russia tries to compete but its programmers are too corrupt.
Free Market sysadmins use humint cues to evade Chinese censor-bots.
Several info cabals emerge into secret power, some self-funded by on-line rackets, others seeking only to implode and sublimate huge bank currency blocks, as in Argentina and American and European based investment derivatives, while other countries are held in economic deprivation in retaliation for their criminals have shunted funds into illicit pockets. One small state bravely resists this policy, while subsisting at a Nash Equilibrium based on bartering goods for hundreds of years in preference to market currencies.
Meanwhile terrorist groups simply help drug cartels launder moneys, for a percentage, everything touch-matter based.
Reacting to this, statists continue to hold unreadable sequences are criminal, despite both evidence to the contrary, about innocent unreadables (baby cat keys), and evidence that they are thereby missing the strongest encryptions which passes for mundane yet earnest transmissions.
Ordinary persons do not understand the vanity or necessity for defensive crypto. They're denied their own keyboard protection from cryptoes.

Our hero through this totentanz is a young inventor of a new daily puzzle in the west. While the rest of the world benefits from FaceSpace Masks, which mask from face keying programs, he is hounded, then hunted, by enemy and 'friend' alike, until he finds anony-refuge, and disappears into the crypto underground.

Patrick O'ConnellApril 9, 2015 11:04 AM

When Edward Snowden helped release the intelligence information he had collected, one selection was held back. This contained the source code for the NSA's password cracking software, built specifically for the hardware they had spent decades building. This technology had allowed them to decrypt data thought impenetrable. Unfortunately, it was about to be turned against them.

After years of fuzzing the software, they had found an attack surface. Even better, it was exposed if it attempted to decrypt a specific input. It would find itself executing code written by the attackers, who would have one of the most powerful computing devices in the world, along with access to some of its most sensitive data.

Their attack was sprung by merely buying time from an email spammer and sending their encrypted text to a few million people, along with a few keywords to increase the speed that it was analyzed. This weaponized encryption did its job remarkably well.

As the NSA's computers began analyzing the spam, it suddenly began acting strangely. Databases containing decades of intelligence were suddenly being attacked from within. The data was quickly offloaded given the NSA's network to less than friendly countries, and then wiped from the servers. It was the cyber Pearl Harbor that the government had warned about for years, and it left the USA unprepared for everything that happened next...

MtRtMkApril 15, 2015 6:14 AM

With spy agencies like NSA undermining existing encryption tools, public backlash intensifies. A number of disturbing scandals occur, involving information which supposedly was not being collected.
An initiative. A secret one. A select group of leading cryptographers committed to reclaiming the privacy rights of ordinary people. They work clandestinely on a new encryption with each member working on a separate module to ensure no single member has total knowledge of all the features of the encryption. The finished product is a super-effective encryption. To break the encryption, almost all the modules must be compromised (no mean task given the expertise of the creators). As added security, a number of the creators have added in special features – evolving encryptions. Every failed attempt morphs the encryption such that already hacked modules are reconfigured in opaque ways landing potential hackers/NSA back at square zero.
The encryption is launched spectacularly across the internet and goes viral with the users feeling in control. NSA is blind sighted and desperately tries to block the application by colluding with search engines, taking down websites and servers. But, the application has spread too far and too well. Secret courts and NSA go into full gear via blackmail, arrests and other 'dark' methods to break the experts. The NSA technical experts work tirelessly throwing everything they can at the problem. Their experts launch exponential automated hacking attempts at a copy (housed at the NSA headquarters) of the encryption application. This exaggerated and unusually powerful assault causes the program to perceive this new enemy as an existential threat causing it to evolve in ways unexpected even to the creators. It decides that the 'threat' needs to be neutralized to ensure any unauthorized decryption is not allowed. The application carries out this evolved neutralization by encrypting the NSA supercomputers. The NSA systems cascade into failure. So deeply ingrained is the NSA surveillance apparatus into devices and networks all across the globe, the cascade doesn't just stop at the super-computers. It perceives every node, every device, every network as a “potential” existential threat. Everyone being surveilled is compromised. Instead of encrypting files where every end user has key for decryption, now this encryption is encrypting whole devices and the key to this evolved outer layer doesn't reside with the users. The key to this layer is with the NSA agent who was working on the copy at the headquarters. Unfortunately, in their desperation to stop the propagation of the outbreak, NSA security protocols and fail-safes had continued to attack the encryption at every node and network. The end result being that now there are layers upon layers of varied encryption with unknown keys blocking access to the copy that can respond favorably to the NSA agent's user decryption key. Attack and the encryption will evolve even further. Do nothing and everything stays inaccessible. Global meltdown beckons. Conspiracy theories, confusion, anger, chaos thrives. Welcome to a world of encryption. Enter password:

John CoxenApril 15, 2015 7:51 AM

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

As a major step in the war against terrorists, drug dealers, kidnappers, child pornographers and money launderers, the newly elected hard-line, conservative President announces that the US, at the recommendation of the Director of the NSA, is requiring front-door access into all encryption software of any type. Furthermore, anyone wanting to do business with any US Company will be required to comply as well. Governments around the world jump on the band wagon passing their own encryption laws based on the US law.

Four years pass with no measurable drop in any of the targeted criminal activities but with massive moves by tech-based businesses in anti-encryption countries to the few remaining encryption friendly havens. There have also been massive divestitures by investors in businesses in all of the anti-encryption countries. The resulting world-wide economic depression is blamed on cyber-criminals who are not complying with the new encryption laws. This leads to massive arrests of computer hackers, cryptographers and so-called computer security and privacy specialists.

Then, just days before the next US Presidential Election, the world wakes to find that all data networks are down, all bank accounts are empty, all broadcast transmissions are silent, all power grids are black. Airlines can’t fly, cars won’t start and cell phones won’t work. Law Enforcement and Military world-wide are powerless since their data and communications nets are also down.

48 hours later, an ultimatum is on broadcast simultaneously on all television, radio and data networks – “If you want your world back, you will bow down and accept me as your one, true King.” The lights come up on the shadowy figure making the announcement revealing the Director of the NSA.

Now it’s up to a team of geniuses, led by a man with the 4th highest IQ ever recorded – 197 (Einstein’s was 160), to hack into the most secure network on earth, topple a would-be Tyrant and turn the lights back on!

John M. AckenApril 15, 2015 10:39 AM

All of the international banking system adopts strong encryption for the back up files. Each bank allows only one clerk to know the password. An international terrorist organization hacks the main computer systems for many banks and deletes many financial records. The mafia identifies and kidnaps a few of the clerks and holds them for ransom. The governments balk at the ransom, the clerks are killed, and the entire financial infrastructure collapse and the CIA director keeps yelling "See I told you now give us the keys to everything!" Of course, it turns out the CIA has given the mafia the names of the clerks to kidnap!

Michael KennedyApril 15, 2015 10:57 AM

Bruce! I've been working on this since last year's contest and I'm so pumped that I get to finally share it. I was so afraid that it might get leaked so I only kept the one copy. I'll paste it below.

The filenames are a bit weird for some reason, but here we go...

-------- DECRYPT INSTRUCTIONS.TXT --------
What happened to your files ?
All of your files were protected by a strong encryption with RSA-2048 using CryptoWall 3.0.
More information about the encryption keys using RSA-2048 can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSA_(cryptosystem)

What does this mean ?
This means that the structure and data within your files have been irrevocably changed, you will not be able to work with them, read them or see them,
it is the same thing as losing them forever, but with our help, you can restore them.

How did this happen ?
Especially for you, on our server was generated the secret key pair RSA-2048 - public and private.
All your files were encrypted with the public key, which has been transferred to your computer via the Internet.
Decrypting of your files is only possible with the help of the private key and decrypt program, which is on our secret server.

What do I do ?
Alas, if you do not take the necessary measures for the specified time then the conditions for obtaining the private key will be changed.
If you really value your data, then we suggest you do not waste valuable time searching for other solutions because they do not exist.

For more specific instructions, please visit your personal home page, there are a few different addresses pointing to your page below:


...

Shit.

Nick PApril 15, 2015 11:39 AM

@ Michael

Open/type it in Notepad, cut n paste it into Schneier's comment form, use Preview to find/fix any formatting issues, and then submit. Shouldn't have this problem if you do it that way.

David robinsonApril 15, 2015 7:05 PM

Movie plot:
The world is a very dark place. Few countries can afford electricity. Not due to the price of coal or gas. All computers at the power stations have been compromised and encrypted. Each computer States " please pay 100 BTC to run plant for 24 hours. " With the majority of power stations compromised, the price of BTC has quickly outgrown supply. And without major power stations, very few can generate BTC. Only those on solar and wind have the ability to light their homes. But they have no interest in selling power to the grid when generating BTC is extremely rewarding.
Companies that had already installed solar power before the darkness are extremely powerful and the only businesses operating. Any space power in their cloud computing goes to generating BTC as the return from selling BTC to the government is higher than offering cloud computing to consumers.
A team must try and locate where the BTC is going to find the encrypting private keys. In addition, the team hears that a country has full power. And must convince the government to pay for power to nasa to connect to the satellites and see who has power and why. A sub plot exists of men in nsa who may know of a back door. But to give it out means everyone will know and American companies will loose their BTC generating advantage.
The team must find the owners of the private keys with NSA helping to try and fix the situation with giving away the secrets.
Will the team succed or will the NSA break their silence?

Gary ChewApril 15, 2015 7:07 PM

The Last Cryptographer

Prolog
Another senseless campus killing. The victim is a young brilliant cryptographer. He was to publish his work on a new family of unbreakable crypto-algorithms, inspired by Rubik’s cube. Later the police finds his room ransacked, his laptop stolen. Since the G20 agreement to outlaw encryption, he would have been the last cryptographer.

2 years later…..

Another day, another DDoS attack on the internet. To the X-force security team at IBM, it feels different, although it is coming from behind the Great firewall and using Great Cannon techniques. Github is prevailing nicely when suddenly the attack goes viral, like a million Great Cannons firing at the internet simultaneously. Google is the first to crash, then Microsoft and Facebook. A final lonesome tweet from China claims that Baidu is down. When the last site crashes, the internet is eerily silent. Someone swears he can hear a ping drop. When the internet comes back on, everyone knows that something fundamental has just changed.

Kaspersky are the first to publish the forensics results. Every computer is infected with same virus. Its internals are encrypted by some new unbreakable crypto and they don’t know how to contain it. Since the whole internet is infected, the virus cannot be removed. It is also communicates massively on secure peer-to-peer, morphing over and over again. Although its intent is not clear, what is certain is that a fully encrypted internet inside the internet is being built and no one could stop it.
The organization behind the attack calls themselves the Pool. Rumors has it that the major organized crime syndicates pooled their resources together for the job. Their business plan is simple. Sell unbreakable encryption as a service. Since the e-internet is now on every connected device terrorists can now communicate securely, drug dealers transact anonymous, kidnappers’ identity be hidden, child pornographers can gleefully exchange encrypted photos and videos. As a side effect money laundering becomes cheaper. Even nation states and big corporations are now buying their services. One more thing, their services are free for NGOs and whistle blowers, no doubt a duty to their conscience.

The repercussions are swift and merciless. Criminality sky rockets, politicians bolder, businesses more vicious and ransom-ware is rampant. It is easy to commit a cyber-crime and not get caught. It becomes a trend. A fabric of un-trust permeates every society. The police and justice system becomes worthless and ordinary citizens helpless.
An international group of former security experts decides to secretly work together to break the virus encryption. Progress is dangerous and slow – sharing their work difficult. One fine day they have a breakthrough – the Rubik cube inspired crypto-algorithms had a flaw and could be broken. When they met to celebrate their victory, a bomb explodes leaving bodies scattered everywhere.

Epilog
A young peasant boy is walking up a hill with his grandmother. He sees a Rubik’s cube and picks it up. And before his grandmothers incredulous eyes – he just starts rearranging it back.

BooApril 15, 2015 7:49 PM

Air Heads

GENERAL:

Leaps tall buildings in a single bound.

More powerful than a locomotive.

Faster than a speeding bullet.

Walks on water.

Gives policy to GOD.

COLONEL:

Leaps short buildings with a single bound.

More powerful than a switch engine.

Just as fast as a speeding bullet.

Walks on water if the sea is calm.

Talks to GOD.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL:

Leaps short buildings with a running start and favorable winds.

Just as powerful as a switch engine.

Faster than a BB.

Walks on indoor swimming pools.

Talks to GOD if special request is granted.

MAJOR:

Barely clears small buildings.

Loses tug of war with a switch engine.

Can fire a speeding bullet (sometimes.)

Occasionally appeased by GOD.

CAPTAIN:

Makes high marks on fences when attempting a leap.

Is often run over by locomotives.

Sometimes handles a weapon without inflicting self injury.

Dog paddles.

Talks to himself.

FIRST LIEUTENANT:

Runs into buildings.

Recognizes locomotives two out of three times.

Never issued ammunition.

Can stay afloat if instructed in the use of a life jacket.

Mumbles to himself.

SECOND LIEUTENANT:

Falls over doorsteps when entering buildings.

Says "Look at the choo-choo" when he sees a locomotive.

Owns at least one cap pistol.

Plays with a rubber duck in the bathtub.

Talks to animals.

"Chief Master Sergeant:

Lifts buildings and walks under them.

Kicks locomotives off their tracks.

Catches bullets in his teeth and eats them.

Freezes water with a single stare.

Talks to no one...HE IS GOD"
http://isme.tamu.edu/JSCOPE00/Kaurin00.html

Operation Sentry Duck

Put the pilot in the rubber room and feed the ducks and ducklings.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2015/04/14/make-way-for-ducklings-downtown/

Russell C. ThomasApril 15, 2015 11:07 PM

Ring of Gyges

A new smart phone — the “Bright Red Phone”— is issued to all national/homeland security forces. For years cyber criminals and nation states have been able to hack the communications of security forces. “Bright Red Phone” is supposed to win the arms race.

It’s not rocket science, just a clever combination of existing technologies. The key is the “Gyges Chip” in each phone. It does audio speech recognition-to-encrypted text on chip, and the reverse. It also does face recognition-to-encrypted-avatar-animation on chip, and the reverse. What users hear are synthesized voices and what they see are animated avatars. Nothing unencrypted is buffered or stored on the phone. It uses one-time symmetric key encryption where the secret keys are “hidden” in plain sight among the public keys in the PKI. This makes it appear that they use public key encryption -- maybe side-tracking attackers.

A few younger members of the Capital Police -- low on the totem pole and gamerz/h4ck3rs from way back – decide to phreak the system. Instead of using their real voice and real face to train the Bright Red Phone during setup, they “sock puppet” with video and recordings of their un-favorite politicians, including POTUS. It starts as a joke, but ramps up when they find that the Official Monitoring System doesn’t flag a fake setup as fake. This gives them a “cloak of invisibility” of sorts. The pranks escalate from lulz to “chaotic good” actions against “evil doers” among the political class. It doesn’t take long before some of the victims – anti-Federal politicians – to find out about the Bright Red Phone and it’s cloaking capability. They want some new weapons in their fight against “Executive Tyranny”, as they call it. They use their official clout to get some of their “pals” hired as Capital Police. They were former mercenary contractors. They set up their Bright Red Phones for maximum phreak potential: go anywhere, do anything, and nobody knows who you really are.

Then comes another “constitutional crisis”. The anti-Feds decide to stop this “tyranny” at all costs. Several “pals” were instructed to get into the White House for “maximum intel”. “Stop him if he’s close to pulling the trigger”. They get inside with laughable ease. They are giddy. One -- nicknamed “Glow Kone” thanks to his shaved head that’s orange-ish from too much “tan in a can” -- decides to “mess with the Prez” with a “your daughters have been kidnapped” prank stolen from the “West Wing” TV series. The prank goes wrong and POTUS ends up unprotected in a gun-toting anti-Fed mob. Shots ring out and the President falls dead.

Meanwhile, the First Lady gets a message from an aide that the President is actually back in the White House, wounded but not seriously. She rushes upstairs to the residence toward the Master Bedroom. Once inside, the door closes behind her and the lock clicks. It’s Glow Kone. Smiling, he plans to get his groove on, Presidential style. Who will ever know?

Mario MartinezApril 16, 2015 9:20 AM

A Real Election

In early 2015, the people, realizing that governments have become to big and corrupt, decide to come up with new encryption schemes and standards. They are sick and tired of groups like the NSA and GCHQ forcing them to weaken their standards or produce master keys. This new encryption standard along with privatization of the voting system removes all elements of government control and places accountability with the people.

Fearful, parliament and congress try to enact laws quickly to ban all non-government available encryption before the next set of elections to no avail. The new encryption is used in the voting machines and people are able to vote and have their voice actually heard without the threat of recounts, missing or trashed ballots, and interference during counts from elected officials who sway votes in a direction that benefits themselves or their party. Congress is nearly completely changed. Only those few who supported their constituents and fought against the tyranny of the previous government survive to serve another term.

How will the presidential race turn out?

Chris HelveyApril 17, 2015 1:56 AM

Chris Helvey
Movie Plot:

The premise is:
Water
Natural resource control
Oil conglomerate's participation with seemingly unlimited money and a vulnerable encryption scheme.

Overview:
-The intent for oil conglomerates to control Lake Superior WATER through the Keystone Pipeline (eventually to California and the southwest after the oil is not profitable anymore and aquifers are dry due to over-pumping.) Water is as expensive as oil.
-Internal communication within the company/cartel is encrypted using an “Open encryption method” purportedly “unbreakable.” Created by one very talented and quirky cryptographer. This option was preferred over methods that could be uncovered by "agencies."
-This inventor unveils the plot. (She/he is the only one in the world currently capable of doing so.)
-Regular local and national authorities are ill-equipped for the task.
-The brilliant mind behind the encryption technique is actually, personally, financially broke. (Not difficult to comprehend, considering budgets everywhere – she/he lacked the “personal skills” to blend in with regular society-type jobs.)
-A quick transaction takes place that is too hard to refuse between the inventor and a hard-lined, well-funded environmental organization to reveal a hidden (and secretly unknown-only-to-the-inventor, de-cipher - after all, it could take a very long, time for anyone to discover the secret. Why let anyone KNOW it exists?)
-The inventor certainly doesn't want to see Lake Superior drained – she/he DOES have morals. (California citizens on the other hand, who are insatiable with watering their lawns, don't seem to care a bit.)
-The company/cartel finds out before the secret cipher is transferred.
-The NSA finds out before the secret cipher is transferred.
-Lastly, the inventor finds that she/he is the target by everyone involved. (In a thrilling and lucky escape for her/his life.)
-Police haven't a clue.
-She/He releases the secret to the public-at-large over social networks and the hacker underground to “do the right thing before she/he is killed.”
-An underground hacking organization takes her/him in to save their life and undermine the plot for “the-greater-good.”
-The hacking organization is so well funded that it manages to suppress every single person involved in the plot to take over the water supply. (Bribes, conspiracy, threats, “financial hardship.”)
-Secret public organizations win.
-Cut to credits.....

Of course, character development is crucial. At least 5 characters exist for developing complex personalities. (Inventor, Environmental Activist, NSA spook, Police authority, company/cartel information manager (who makes a LOT of money.)

If nothing else, it's fun and creative thinking about it. Thanks.

Steve BurtApril 17, 2015 11:16 AM

Someone develops a way of using Twitter for spread-spectrum steganography.
A message is split into individual characters and spread across thousands of hacked twitter feeds according to some known algorithm.
It can only be reconstructed if you know both the algorithm, and the twitter feeds you needs to subscribe to. Only the bad guys know that, so only they can decrypt the secret messages.

AC2April 18, 2015 3:19 AM

I don't know if multiple entries are allowed in the contest but here is my second attempt...

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A germ epidemic destroys all grain crops and the world is on the brink of disaster as limited grain stores are hoarded, rationed and fought over. A respected agriculture research company, Moncando, develops new strains of grains that can withstand the epidemic and distributes them freely. All countries start vigorous agricultural programs using the Moncando strains and soon re-establish their food security.

But after the first harvest, Moncando informs the world that the DNA in all the grain produced is encrypted and will not germinate without a key enzyme. Everyone is left with no choice but to buy the key enzyme from Moncando to start their second crop. But Moncando has a demand - countries must shut down all genetic research programs. A gene research non-proliferation and key enzyme end-use inspection regime is established and enforced by a co-opted US government.

Germany and France secretly start research but discover that cross-pollinating Moncando grains with local grains is unworkable - the Moncando strains alter the DNA of the local crop and encrypt the resulting grains. Also, the key enzyme supplied to each country is different and only works with the grain supplied to that country. Germany and France are able to reproduce their enzymes and at the next season inform Moncando that they won't purchase the enzyme. When their third crop fails, Moncando reveals that the DNA encryption is polymorphic and changes with each generation. To set an example, Moncando refuses to supply new key enzymes to France and Germany leading to a mass emigration which engulfs Europe in a civil war.

Undeterred, India and China establish a research lab in the depths of the Kaziranga National Park. Researchers launch known-plaintext attacks by cross-pollinating the Moncando strains with their precious supplies of local grain. They almost deplete their local grain stock before they break the encryption and create open source germ-resistant grains. They also discover striking similarities with the germ DNA which reveal Moncando's hand in the epidemic.

But the Chinese don't trust the Indians and their agent, planted at the lab, copies all the research onto an encrypted USB stick and heads for the border. He sends a signal to his handlers before being attacked and killed by a short-sighted rhinoceros.

But his signal is intercepted by the NSA and passed to Moncando - who dispatch a strike drone under the terms of the non-proliferation regime. The drone finds and destroys the lab, killing all researchers except for an Indian scientist out on a chai break who sees the Chinese agent leaving. She follows his trail, retrieves the USB stick and evades the drone by disguising herself as a baby rhino. She flies to Mumbai to seek help from her college sweetheart who is now a famous Android app developer.

But with Indian, Chinese and Moncando agents on their heels can the duo decrypt the USB stick, decrypt the grain DNA and save the world using just their smartphones?

haloApril 18, 2015 1:39 PM

A few months after Greece left the European Union, Spain and England follow. It doesn’t take long for the Euro to crash, a world-wide economic struggle begins.

Amidst all of this, chalkboard.now is released. A service popular among school kids, for publishing everyday messages and videos. But with parents, teachers, and politicians being busy maneuvering the recession around social instability, things start getting nasty on chalkboard.

Nobody pays attention to the fact that chalkboard apps use a decentralized, delay-tolerant mesh, using the wireless interfaces of the devices. One school after the other, turns into a bee-hive of encrypted and anonymized messages flowing freely from one pupil to the other. All it takes is enough battery on the phone for sending some radio waves to the nearest device.

Journalist Jennifer Phelps is sent to New York to follow up on the stock exchange. At a newspaper stand she overhears a conversation about five school children who committed suicide yesterday, but doesn’t pay much attention to it. On the evening that day, Jenn suddenly notices someone filming her through the window. Jenn runs after the girl and a wild car chase begins. To Jenn’s distress, the girl drives down a bridge rather than letting herself be caught.

Jenn starts investigating at the local high-school and soon makes a connection to the other suicide cases. Only because of her persevering questioning, the journalist eventually discovers that these poor young adults took their lives because they had been filmed in the locker room and the video was posted on chalkboard. The digital ransom would have caused a deletion of the material, but the victims didn’t have enough chalkcoins to pay.

Chalkboard users are awarded these coins for the nastiness of shaming exposure. A digital currency, worth real goods, in a time where physical money devaluates. Some kids pride themselves in coming home with vegetables or bread, but they wouldn’t tell their parents that they exchanged them for chalkcoins they received by shaming on the mesh. Either as ransom, or as reward. The girl filming Jenn desperately tried to retrieve chalkcoins to pay for a ransom herself.

What first seemed like an exception, began to happen more frequently. Tens of thousands of disillusioned children and teenagers harming each other in the digital realm, thousands taking their lives. While the suicidal death tolls go up, the economy continues to plummet. News agencies, to the degree they still can operate, are so concerned with coverage around economy, that the voices of these “suicide kids” are silenced forever.

Some schools try to forbid phones and block radio traffic but to no avail. The most fervent students only see this as a challenge to expose even more on chalkboard. They volunteer to travel from one school to another, just to synchronize the latest gossip around.

Little did anyone know that the actual death toll amounted to millions of children world-wide, and that chalkboard was created - just for that purpose.

Joshua BruléApril 22, 2015 2:07 PM

Assassination Market

"Are you familiar with cryptocurrency, Johnson?" Sanders half-asked, half-yelled over the whirring helicopter blades.

Johnson looked up from securing his gear. "It's that digital hacker-money, right?

Sanders nodded. "They use military-grade encryption to conduct transactions. Stolen goods, drugs, weapons." Johnson shook his head. "We don't have a damn clue where it's coming from or who's paying for it. We tried to stop crypto from proliferating, but ever since the damn politicians forced us to take it off the export restriction list there wasn't much we could do."

"I didn't realize it was so bad. But," Johnson frowned, "You told me this was a rescue op. What the hell does..."

"Cryptocurrency has gotten a lot worse recently. Some... genius", Sanders spat the word like it was an expletive, "figured out how to embed complex contracts in what hackers call The Blockchain. They're using it to run a gambling service where anyone can anonymously offer odds and place bets. No regulation. No oversight. No responsibility."

Johnson just looked confused. He still didn't get it.

Sanders gave him a hard look. "Think about it, Johnson. If you had money and wanted someone dead, then..."

Johnson sucked in a deep breath. "You'd offer a bet that they would still be alive next week," he continued. "At something like 100 to 1 odds. Whoever killed them could really clean up. You'd lose your bet, but you'd get exactly what you wanted."

Johnson's expression started to approach outright horror. "Someone could anonymously hire an assassin, hell, they wouldn't even have to know who the assassin was."

"Assassins. Plural," Johnson corrected. "All working together since they're all getting paid, regardless of who does the actual killing."

"My God," Johnson shook his head. "What is the world coming to?"

"We just found out about a bet on Aaronson's life - he's our top quantum physicist. Quantum computing is the only chance we've got of cracking crypto and finding out who's behind all of this. We need to get to him before anyone else does and get him somewhere safe."

An alarm sounded in the helicopter.

"Sir!" the pilot yelled. "Someone has locked a missile onto us. Ground-to-air."

"Trace the location!" Sanders ordered. "If we can figure out where they are tracking us from..."

"Sir, I can't." There was bitterness in that voice mixed with despair. "The telemetry is encrypted. I'm sorry."

The helicopter lurched downwards as the pilot attempted evasive maneuvers that he knew were hopeless.

Sanders and Johnson could see a flash as the missile was launched and bored in on their helicopter.

"Not like this." Sanders whispered. "Not like this."

Colin JeanneApril 22, 2015 3:45 PM

Election day. Partisan politics continues to deepen and divide the US on the issues of the economy, foreign policy, and the continuing war on terror. As many Americans have become disillusioned with Democrats and Republicans a third party, The Dawn, has emerged preaching an end to political deadlock.

Since the NSA had been reformed into a pro-encryption cyber-defense administration voters and politicians have finally become convinced on the security of electronic and online voting and DemocroDyne has brought widespread use of its electronic voting systems to nearly all voting districts. With easy access to voting in the hands of all Americans this tense election year promises high turnouts.

Military grade encryption powers DemocroDyne’s products as well as all communication. Foreign hacks of US interests has ceased. Information security is a solved problem and the democracy is safe – as the belief goes. Although DemocroDyne’s financing flows from government contracts it’s true backers have remained hidden and its communications with The Dawn and Islamist organizations in the Middle East have gone unnoticed protected by encryption schemes developed by the reformed NSA. DemocroDyne’s source code, being proprietary, was hidden from the public – no one could have noticed the methods it used to decide who was being voted for. Encryption prevented tampering with data coming from their systems but at the same time hide the fact that the data didn’t reflect the real votes.

Americans wake up to reports of landslide victories across the nation for The Dawn. City councils, judges, state representatives, congressmen, even the presidency has been won and many take to the streets cheering for a new era in American democracy, that the people have spoken, that it is time for change.

As the new year begins and the party is sworn in the change becomes devastatingly apparent. Under the guise of reform, top military commanders are removed and replaced with Dawn sympathizers. Police officers are disarmed to promote non-lethal tactics. Girls are segregated into their own classrooms supposedly to prevent sexual harassment. As protesters claimed betrayal to campaign promises and to the Constitution curfews are instituted and the right to assembly is curtailed for public safety. Finally, nine months after their landslide victory, Sharia is imposed.

Al Qaeda’s visible and sensational terrorism was nothing more than a Beer Hall Putsch. It is impossible to destroy America from the outside. In the wake of Al Qaeda’s failure, the originators of The Dawn had decided that they must destroy America from the inside and that their efforts must, for all purposes, appear legal. Election day approaches again and the usual discussion of insurgents continues but this time Americans find themselves insurgents within their own borders.

Erling KristiansenApril 23, 2015 12:08 PM

The high-security bio-warfare lab on Lump Island created a genetically modified super-bug, based on a fairly benign bacteria. Once inside a human, the bug quickly migrates to central parts of the brain, where it causes dementia, closely mimicking Alzheimer's and other neurological disorders.
Any known tests will match the harmless parent bug, with no hint that a modified version is at play.

The bug spreads to humans via cat fleas.

The project is aborted because it is considered too dangerous and might spread out of control. It is decided to destroy all remaining stock of the bug, as well as all lab documentation. However, a copy of the documentation is stored in an archive, encrypted with the strongest available crypto, just in case. The key is stored in a memory card that is kept in a safe in the president's office.

Unknown to everybody, however, on a Sunday morning, a lab assistant with a hang-over fails to close a cage properly, and a cat escapes, including its infected fleas, sneaks on-board the ferry to the mainland and thus releases the bug into the wild. There is a small outbreak in the nearby village Old Myle, but nobody really notices anything serious.

The bug spreads slowly (how many cats does a cat meet and exchange fleas with?), and for a long time, nobody notices. But after decades, a puzzling increase worldwide in "atypical Alzheimer's" is starting to be noticed, and it affects all age groups, including children, for whom Alzheimer's was all but non-existent in the past. But because the bug hides so well, deep in the brain, and mimics a known, harmless bug in tests, nobody knows what is going on.

After several decades, the IT technician who created the encrypted archive, and who is now old and terminally ill, decides to break the silence he was sworn to. The encrypted archive has faithfully been migrated through several generations of storage devices, and is still accessible. The memory card is finally, after a lot of searching, located and retrieved. It is brought by courier to the secure facility where the archive is stored.

However, the courier has to pass a security scanner before entering the facility. This is a novel scanner, using an extremely powerful, ultra-short magnetic pulse that renders a high-quality image of the person and all he carries, without harming the person.
What the scanner also does is erase the memory card in his briefcase. This decades-old card was not designed for such a high field.

Without the key, there is no hope of recovering the super-strongly encrypted archive, even with the very powerful computers of the time.
The epidemic continues to ravage the world.

The message: Strong encryption may prevent you from accessing your own data, if the key is lost or corrupted. The consequences may be devastating.

(Any similarity to real diseases and places is not entirely coincidental)

BobApril 25, 2015 11:56 PM

All strong crypto has been banned from private use. This combined with pervasive surveillance and strong AI has brought about a near utopia. Opens with a shot of police work today - the criminal slips a wallet from an attractive woman's purse. The AI alerts local officers and tracks the criminal via public and private cameras. Upon apprehending the criminal, his smart phone is decrypted and a pickpocket ring revealed.

However, the upper echelons of government preserves its right to use strong crypto, and its secrets. Officer Smith responds to a shooting, and the victim removes a nano SD card from her mouth, explains the FBI needs the information to stop the Secretary of the Interior from assassinating the eight people between him and the Presidency, but is shot halfway through revealing the passphrase.

A tragedy, the movie follows Officer Smith and her AI avatar's futile attempt to work in a world they aren't used to, a world where secrets are kept through physical violence and strong crypto.

SupermonkeyApril 26, 2015 11:21 AM


Who Smells John Gault?

Act one:
A cop sees a man shoot and kill a woman, then stand over the body and laugh. He rushes over and demands the murderer identify himself. The killer pulls out his cellphone and says, "My ID is encrypted! Good luck, piggy!" and laughs like a muppet on meth. The cop shakes his head. He pleads with bystanders who filmed the murder on their cell phones, but they just show him their encrypted folders and walk away. The cop goes into a bar to drink away his sorrow. He formulates a plan.

Act two:
A utopic society in a beautiful green valley. The cop is now a John Gault-type who has created a society with no encryption and no secrets. Everyone walks around happily naked and we see one old man sniff the air and say, "Who farted?" and several people raise their hands contentedly. A young couple walks past the cop and says, “I hope your erection problems get better.” The cop smiles and nods.

Smash cut to act three:
Back in encrypted society, we see that everything has ground to a halt. People cant purchase things with credit cards since the companies have encrypted their databases and no one can access them. Phone calls, emails are all useless because people encrypted everything. One small child sits on the curb and cries because they wanted to be become a doctor when they grew up, but all the information that they wanted to learn in school is encrypted. The scene fades out on Mad Max-types working on home made armoured cars and sharpening chainsaw blades.

Epilogue:
After the credits, we see the cop, now an old man, stepping out from the walls of his free-information Shangri-la with his naked followers into the blasted landscape to bring hope back to the world. As they spread out across the land, the final scene is an old, naked lady who finds a ragged, savage survivor huddled in a pile of cellphones, desperately trying to remember her password and failing. The utopian savior bends down, and whispers to the barely-human survivor “Shaved assholes turn me on….”

MattApril 27, 2015 4:11 AM

A university professor doing research for government nuclear projects was found fatally stabbed in his home and his laptop had been stolen. The culprit was arrested in a FBI dragnet and the laptop was recovered. Unfortunately the spy who was working for China had copied the contents of the laptop onto an usb drive and passed to another spy who had already left USA. From FBI investigation, the spy working undercover in the university had overheard the professor chatting with his colleagues about a big discovery which the spy assumed was about nuclear weapons. The FBI was unable to discover what the secret was because the laptop was shut down when recovered and the hard disk was encrypted.

Meanwhile the usb drive had reached China government. It had been encrypted to prevent enemies from accessing the data inside in case their agents were caught with the drives. They were shocked when none of the passwords given to agents worked. It seems the captured spy had mistyped the password.

In the US, CIA had intel that China had trouble recovering the usb drive contents. Search of the professor’s home and office had yielded no backups so the government ordered NSA to crack the hard disk encryption. Initial dictionary attacks including attempts to guess the password using personal details of the professor failed. NSA took charge of all the supercomputers in US to guess the password by brute-force.

The Chinese too had no luck in guessing the password. After lamenting about using strong encryption to prevent NSA snoops, they put their most powerful supercomputer to use brute-force to crack the encryption. Knowing their existing computational power was no match to all supercomputers of the US, they used all computers manufactured by their factories to build more powerful supercomputers to crack the encryption.

The US was alarmed by CIA’s intel that China’s total computational power will surpass US by ten-fold in two years due to their enormous manufacturing ability. US quickly request assistance from their allies’ supercomputers. Because it takes too long to ramp up their factories to match China, Congress pass into law for NSA to collect all existing stock of servers, PCs and smartphones from private business and citizens.

The computational encryption arms race quickly accelerated between US and China and their allies. Soon all computers, network equipment, anything with CPUs are collected by the government. Because all existing CPUs and new chip by silicon fabs were used to decrypt the dead professor’s secret, society regressed to the time before the Internet and personal computers. People were bored without computer games and web surfing. Kids were depressed because they lost contact from their friends without social media. The economy stopped growing because business transactions took days instead of seconds. Security experts who preached encryption were reviled by everyone.

Brian WrozekApril 27, 2015 11:18 AM

(Roll trailer) Opening Thursday evening at theaters across the country is Tom’s latest novel turned thriller movie "Keys to the White House".

(Newsroom) Ladies and gentlemen, we go now to John for the latest update on one of the most controversial and divisive elections in decades. Thanks Brian. It is almost certain now that Yu Nguyen, no Brian you personally didn’t win but Yu the candidate. No I’m not saying you’re a candidate I’m talking about the candidate Yu. Look the next President of the United States in 2060 will be Yu Nguyen whose grandfather, a former Chinese military commander, immigrated to the United States seeking political asylum. I’m shocked by this stunning turn of events. Other than the rising Asian population or Fortune 100 CEOs, nobody supported his controversial stance on free trade agreements and corporate tax breaks with China. This guy was trailing in just about every poll by double digit percentage points. So either most people lied when surveyed or they changed their mind once they entered the voting station. Or dare I say it, perhaps the controversial new digital election process was somehow compromised? Let the conspiracy theories begin! Regardless, calls for recounts have begun.

(White House) How could this happen? Was the system hacked? Sir, that’s impossible. The encryption key and algorithm were fabricated directly into the electronics of the voting machines. Our engineers say the solution is foolproof. There is no way to tamper with the software after the machines have been manufactured or modify the vote once it has been cast. All traffic is encrypted from start to finish. Even the source code itself is encrypted. Heck, we can’t even positively associate a given vote back to the original citizen. The best we can do is know that they voted. So you’re telling me there is no way to verify who you voted for? That is correct sir. To satisfy privacy concerns, no user information is ever captured in readable text thanks to the latest innovation in cryptography called “Ghidorah” which is based on quantum mechanics where a public-private-token key tuple is used. Since we trust the underlying encryption, we by default must trust that the results are accurate. We can’t call for a revote since that risks undermining the entire democratic principles our Country was founded.

(Factory) Chinese workers install various electronic components into voting machines that bear a striking resemblance to the ones used across the USA.

(Compute lab) A spectacled youth wearing a badge with the name “Holmes” frantically wiggles his fingers in a three dimensional hologram of a keyboard as simulation data flashes across multiple computer screens with “Watson the 13th” stamped across the monitors. Behind him, “Weaknesses of Ghidorah” is scrawled across a white board along with various formulas.

(National Mall) An image of a fading Chinese dragon floats across the screen.

Jesse JenkinsApril 28, 2015 3:52 PM

Whistling in the Dark

"Hide something truly evil inside something totally boring." J. Oliver

"A cryptosystem should be secure even if everything about the system, except the key, is public knowledge." A. Kerchoff

Fall 2011

Wind blew through my apartment as I viewed satellite videos of the Arizona desert. ATF agents were in gunplay with Mexican narcotrafficers. As one ATF agent fell, a large Humvee and truck bulldozed their way through the melee capturing most of the guns and vanishing into the night. CIA? Iran-Contra? No internet or phone traffic followed. Morning headlines suggested an ATF gun tracking sting broke bad.

Fall 2012

Another evening, I watched satellite video over Benghazi. A seriously upset U.S. team attempted to protect the embassy from angry Libyan rebels. NOT getting the promised guns? Email intercepts said the ambassador needed help, but believed the CIA supplied weapons werre to ship to Syria, not Libyan rebels. Broken promised? A truck and Humvee arrived earlier by freighter at the Benghazi port. What to do? Send help, ASAP. Email response? Nope. Requested air support from Italian based U.S. troops. Nope. It's all on film. CIA trucks heading to the Libyan docks. Muslim spring? Really?

Spring 2013

Meantime, Assange contacted me about my material and suggested I contact Greenwald. His team could collect all and make it publilc. CIA intercepted the email, so I headed for the Honolulu airport and a ticket to Hong Kong. Barely making it to Hong Kong, when the CIA arrived at my Oahu appartment, I quickly cleared customs. Contacted Greenwald as all hell broke loose. No idea where to go. Did know one thing. Home was no longer.

Spring 2015

Brief stay in Hong Kong. Greenwald setup my transfer to Moscow. Months on end being in isolation, out of work and frustrated. Decided to look deeper into the 'other side' and take online language classes - arabic. After several months I could read imam's tweets and watch them on Al-Jazeera. The Syrian struggle could be correlated with the imam tweets and an interesting coincidence suggested a relation.

As ISIS evolved, they communicated both in secret and in public. They employed the obvious methods. Had'nt occurred to anyone at DHS? The well known 'One Time Pad' is cryptographically secure, but inherently simple. The main dilemma was 'key' transmission. Key transmission was handled by simply using the Q'ran, which every brother had, and exploited the multiple versions that evolved over time. Knowledge of which verses to 'become' the key was transmitted by tweet and television from various imam's that spouted off frequently. Knowing which keywords and their decoding to select Q'ran passages gave the key. The struggle was figuring out where the message was.

Now, sitting in my Moscow abode, I await agrement from my partners, to reveal this last little tidbit, or risk dying before it gets out . . .

Jim FoxApril 29, 2015 12:26 PM

Press release

Yesterday, Susannah Martin, the last of the infamous Grannies for Greater Good to stand trial, received a life sentence for terrorism from Judge Roy Bean. "Some may question the severity of the sentence. I will remind them that extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice," declared Judge Bean, "These people created the diabolical IPECAC encryption system, knowing full well the havoc it would bring to the Homeland." Martin will serve her time at the SuperMax prison in Salem.

IPECAC, short for 'In the Plain Encryption Cifer Abetting Collusion,' uses unusual wordings and phrasings in otherwise unencrypted email and text to convey clandestine information. "Our entire effort was directed toward standard, properly encrypted terrorist communications," explains Will Wormwood, NSA spokesman, "The Granny emails fell completely off our radar. That's why their coordinated street corner sit-ins were so successful."

Senator Ann Derthal (R-Bedlam), chair of the Intellegence Committee and author of the Accepted Phrases Act of 2018, called the sentence a victory for all Americans, "Free people understand that the development of strong encryption software directly abets our enemies."

The Accepted Phrases Act, passed in response to the Granny Attacks, mandates all email and text communications to consist only of phrases found in the authorized list of accepted phrases. "There are several thousand of these phrases, all available on the NSA's website, where the list is maintained," explains Derthal. She added that, "Americans will be pleased to know that only the use of a phrase is logged. No one is reading their emails."

[ Editors note: Attempts to access the web site resulted in the cryptic message: 403 Forbidden. ]

In a surprising twist the Act does not proscribe standard message encryption. "That was necessary to bring the Democrats on board," explained Derthal, "It does require AES-256," using the technical name for the permitted encryption method. "AES-256 is important because the NSA has installed a 'rear screen door' in it, allowing them to decrypt any message. They have assured our committee that no one else has access to the screen door. Americans can continue to use the highest calibre of encryption, knowing their communications are safe from the prying eyes of terrorists."

[ Editor's note: Wormwood has informed us that no such back door exists. "Furthermore," he protested, "Its existance is confidential and the Senator was not authorized to reveal its existance or non-existance." "We went to a lot of trouble getting AES-256 adopted and we don't need some Nan Derthal ruining this for us," he added, off the record. ]

Senator Derthal expects wide acceptance of the Act, "It helps that any violation brings immediate imprisonment without benefit of trial. We know that cost conscious Americans will appreciate the efficacy of this provision."

David DlrewApril 30, 2015 2:11 AM

It is 9am on a Monday morning, in a major office building in a major city. Unnoticed at first, the elevators only let people off on their floors, but don't pick people up and don't return to ground. Then they start travelling up and down the building, very quickly, and in unison.

At the same time, building management and the local FBI office receive a ransom demand: Unless $20M is paid, the building will be destroyed with everyone inside. If anyone attempts to leave via the fire exits, the building will be destroyed. It is signed by an engineer who used to work in the building.

Plucky FBI agent happens to be visiting their partner in the building at the same time, when she receives a call from her boss, informing her of the issue. She gathers together various experts from throughout the building to attempt to solve it from inside.

At first they think there must be bombs in / on the lifts, which is why they are moving quickly, to prevent defusing. Then they notice that the building is swaying, more and more. Another engineer who works in the building works out that the heavy lifts are being used to induce a resonance cascade (a la Tacoma Narrows) into the building. However, there must be some kind of feedback mechanism to adjust the frequency, to gradually increase it, to adjust for wind, and to keep it near the critical point.

They can't cut the power, the backup generators are in a sealed room, with more than enough fuel to keep the elevators running for long enough to complete their task, so they start looking for the feedback mechanism. They find a series of iPhones glued to the central core of the building, using their accelerometers to measure the swaying.

The team plans to hack into the phones, to introduce dummy data into the monitoring program and nullify the swaying. They are stopped however, by the FBI's nemesis - whole disk encryption was enabled on the iPhones. Unable to progress further, they pay the ransom.

Felipe CaiadoApril 30, 2015 3:40 PM

This New War

There is a country where every one of its citizens steps are measured; where all info is ultimately controlled by government and a huge diversity of agencies; in which discourses are crafted to create illusion, fear and make it possible for the corporate state to get away with the most inhumane criminal actions; a country where no space for any kind of privacy is given, since a diversity of technological innovations is used to observe all discrepancies; a capitalist country; a capitalist country that resembles Orwell’s nightmare 1984.

The national intelligence of this country which is founded on the principle of freedom and liberty, sells delusion and profits from war. Since World War II it has known the importance of foreign destruction and reconstruction to its most militaristic economy. The politic has create much anger and hatred amongst individuals, ethnicities, groups and nations that seem to not grasp the great humanitarian progresses brought to them. This same intelligence decided that it has come to a time in which the international community, which has extensively digitalized, should be cyber pillaged. No other way would bring as much profits to the elites of its decaying economy than an attack in the digital stock market and banks of the rising countries, mainly attacking those already known for corruption and weak defensive and police forces.

In its national headquarters the army designed a virus to break the flaws of their own advanced encryption standard which they had previously disposed freely to the world.

The attack took place as swiftly as possible. The targeted countries, which were being heavily observed, had no idea of what hit them. Their economies were collapsing, rise ups almost instantly started happening, as fast as people found out their retirement savings and the rest of their money had disappeared. Nonetheless, the war industry was happy with another great possibility for the sale of weapons. Nothing could be done; presidents of the target countries, with minds full of fears, could only pronounce ecclesiastical discourses and fill the media with worthless information.

The numbers had moved around accordingly, using a diversity of steps, which made it impossible for the origins to be ever traced back, from their endings in fiscal paradise bank accounts of the aristocracies.

The chiefs of intelligence celebrated; they had met their goals. With bottles of champagne in the room another dream was coming true.

Until delicate devastating information was pronounced, the greatest country on earth had also been attacked and was under collapse! None of the official seemed to believe that. The only logical explanation was treason, treason and use of their own weapon against them.

The movie ends with the saying: We thought we had managed to destroy love for humanity! For how long will we have still to endure it, here, in the greatest country ever seen? (Or have we already reached the utopian state that even for our own people we have none?)

Mike BegleyApril 30, 2015 9:52 PM

Too many of these entries are technothrillers. We need some variety - how about a drug-fueled roadtrip bro comedy? I give you:

HAROLD AND KUMAR AND THE STORAGE LOCKER FULL OF WEED

Kumar opens his email and finds a message from a long-lost friend. The email says he's fleeing the country, and gives Kumar contents of his storage unit, containing a grow-op of full of primo weed. Kumar realizes the sensitive nature of the email and promptly encrypts. To celebrate, he gets throughly baked.

Meanwhile, Agent Ron Fox, played by Rob Corddry, sees the email via some government surveilance program, but doesn't make a copy of the email before it's encrypted (hey, it's Hollywood computer tech. It probably dissolves into a bunch of bits on the screen).

Kumar wakes up the next morning but cannot remember the encryption password. Oh no, where's the storage unit? He goes to Harold for help, to no avail. Harold suggests they visit a couple of computer wiz friends, Alice and Bob, setting up a hilarious road trip story, involving stories like:

  • Alice and Bob are chatting over IM about how to decrypt the password. Meanwhile, their neighbor Eve steals the messages and joins the chase. Eventually, Alice and Bob give up, and Harold and Kumar go to head home, only to discover:
  • Harold has locked his keys in the car. A hot young female locksmith arrives to help, and she left them know how she really likes the long keys.
  • Caught trying to break into their own car, the boys are thrown in a hick jail, and need to sneak a message past the guards to Neil Patrick Harris. Harold devises a process that exactly mirrors public key encryption.

    Kumar: "That was really cool!"
    Harold: "Yeah, but I can't imagine any practical use for it".

  • They contact their friend George W Bush, whom they met escaping from Gitmo, for government help cracking the password. After several tries with government software, he gives up, exclaiming "Boys, this is why uncrackable encryption sucks!"
  • Agent Fox is in constant pursuit, always one step behind because he can't get the access he needs. Eventually he joins forces with Eve.
  • More hijinks and adventures.


  • Finally, they realize the way to recover the code is to get Kumar really high, to use instinctive muscle memory to remember the password he typed. Success! They read the email, get the location, and drive there. Agent Fox and Eve are in pursuit, but on reaching the storage facility, they sneak through a back door which locks behind them and traps them in an empty room.

    Reaching the locker, they find it's locked. Now what? Kumar says "sometimes you need a really long key", grabs a crowbar, and pries the lock off. The storage locker opens, revealing in the brilliant glow of growlights a treasure trove of plants. The boys head in, and fade out in a huge puff of smoke.

    AlanApril 30, 2015 11:19 PM

    Despite the dire warnings from the NSA, FBI, CIA and other government agencies, support for more widespread encryption continues to grow. Proposals for backdoors and golden keys are rejected, and the newly launched Let's Encrypt certificate authority establishes partnerships with most major CDNs. Overnight, encrypted connections become the norm. and that's when all hell breaks loose.

    What we realize only too late is that the CDNs were hacked by various bad actors (the Chinese government, the Brazilian mafia, Russian script kiddies) long ago, and have been sending out nothing but viruses and spam. The reason no one has noticed this before is that the tireless defenders of freedom at the NSA have been using QUANTUMINSERT to serve Internet users their intended webpages before the viruses can arrive from the CDNs!

    Unfortunately, a mistake in the way the new cryptography has been set up has locked the sysadmins out of their websites, and no one is able to turn it off. Can the Internet be restored now that the NSA is unable to sidestep all the malware spewing from the CDNs? Can a crack squad of TAO employees restore the balance by enabling QUANTUM to perform man-on-the-side defense (it's not an attack) even over encrypted connections? Only the good people at the NSA stand between us and an Internet overrun with malware. It's a job they've been doing for years in secret, fighting the good fight to keep us safe. All they ask is that we help them by keeping everything unencrypted.

    d33tMay 1, 2015 1:52 AM

    A small group of friends bent on having civil rights that are more than just smoke and paper in their life times build a silly plugin for a web browser that encrypts
    pseudo-random data with a pseudo-randomly chosen encryption algorithm and sends the data back and forth across web socket based P2P dork nets in plain sight. Senders and recipients are automatically chosen due to their diverse geographical locations with a focus on data being sent back and forth to and from US users to users in countries that are considered enemies of the US. Eventually the plugin forks and real encrypted messages are exchanged between parties on the same network. This network activity forces the NSA as well as multiple other world governments to store all of the dork net traffic for future analysis which builds up rapidly causing further and deeper financial crisis around the globe. Eventually it becomes so costly and so taxing on global nation states, that the people rise up and demand a stop to mass surveillance once and for all.

    Not you againMay 7, 2015 5:32 PM

    All major intelligence agencies (China, Russia, USA, Israel, SA) have succeeded in pressuring software companies to build back doors into all communication links to comply with wiretap orders. In the US this is known as the key escrow act.

    The agencies' resources now go into hacking what is left. Encryption based on OSS but running on centralized servers is under constant attack from the agencies, who are trying to DDoS servers or steal their keys. Decentralized networks are being kept under close surveillance, their users being hunt down when they make the slightest mistake and uncover themselves. Specifically designed malware spreads across devices, e.g. by infecting a victim's phone with a virus that uses a vulnerability. Once the phone is plugged into the computer to charge, the virus infects the victim's computer as well as all other computers on the network. Operating systems have become highly insecure due to back doors, making the agencies' lifes even easier. The race is now about who gets the user data first.

    Al Quaeda has managed to build their own reliable distributed communication network: their IT teams consist of young computer scientists from around the world, that were drugged to believe they are actually building a network for peace loving activists, whistleblowers and journalists. The team makes use of existing infrastructure that lacks basic security (internet.org et al), captures their servers, masks all traffic so that it disappears in the big pond of data, uses strong encryption forked from existing open source projects, and gives strict security advise, that forbids cell phones and enforces all forms of encrypted chat and anonymization tools, both on the server structure and on the OS side. This form of communication makes AL Quaeda invincible.

    The intelligence community's call for backdoors in all cryptography has lead to the paradoxical situation, that all software is either backdoored by design, or hacked by the agencies. The side effect is, that spy work has become completely obsolete, because secure channels of digital communication built and used over the years by the military constantly get sabotaged by its users' OPSEC failures.

    At the same time, large corporations have enforced the internet of things, and all critical infrastructure is operated through the internet and gives a large attack surface to lunatics. The FBI show off their capabilities in set up cases, where they catch „lone wolfs“ that do not have the know-how to mask their attacks well enough or were given the technical details to carry out their evil deeds by well paid informants.

    Al Quaeda performs a number of attacks before an investigative journalist at pando.com blows the IT team's (involuntary) cover and reveals the evil terrorist acts, and we all live happily ever after without encryption in a completely transparent, government-ruled, economy-driven world.

    Dirk 1May 16, 2015 2:50 PM

    A young physics major, Brian, is a part time pizza delivery boy in an quiet upstate New York college town. During the day he works in the computer lab trying to come up with a fool proof cryptography algorithm while at night he delivers piping hot pizzas. One night he is making a delivery to a sorority house and Muffy, the most beautiful girl he has ever seen, answers the door. He tries to hide his excitement with his pizza warming bag as he accepts payment. Muffy thanks him, kisses him on the cheek and goes inside. Brian heads back to the lab but can't get Muffy out of his mind.

    Fast forward 30 years. Brian finally creates the greatest cryptology software the world has ever seen. A billion dollar prize was offered for anyone who can break it, but no one could ever crack it. Brian is now rich and has his own blog. With all of this success, he can't get Muffy out of his mind after all of these years. He is feeling hungry and orders a pizza. The door bell rings and it is Muffy. She looks the same as she did in college. Muffy hugs him in a passionate embrace. After getting all worked up, Muffy tells Brian she wants him. Brian peels off her pants only to find she is wearing a newly released HairPi secure chastity belt. Muffy says she forgot the code and it encrypted with Brian's software. This is one time Brian was hoping for a back door entry method. Muffy, the daughter of the NSA chief, just sits back and laughs.

    Giovanni BianchiniMay 19, 2015 6:30 AM

    Location One NSA Headquarters

    The scene opens with a busy office bullpen at the NSA. There is a lot of talk
    about a supposed leak of information but all security advisors and
    engineers have verified that no firewall has been breached and no
    documents have been transmitted without proper approval. All encryption breaking
    software has been reviewed. The results are that all the major infiltration software employed by
    the NSA has been compromised and re-encrypted so it can't be cleaned.

    Senior Officer "Keep looking gentlemen, there is a leak here and I wan't
    to know who, when, where and how this happened. Drop everything you are doing. I want our best hackers
    working around the clock to get this place secured. If it is not cleaned within 48 hours will have to shut this facility down.
    For now kill all connections to the internet until we find it"

    Camera pans an air duct and zooms in to show several robotic flies perched
    on the louvers.

    Camera follows the senior officer down the corridor and camera pans all
    airducts, each showing several robotic flies perched on the louvers.

    Previous Day
    Man in a van parked a block away from the NSA headquarters, opens the side
    door and a swarm of small insects take flight. Man in van drives a few
    blocks further away and parks. Communications team in back has moving
    views of terrain and then inside air ducts and then overlooking many
    offices. Transmission of data, screen shots, keystrokes and conversations is
    picked up and recorded by the team in the van.

    Location Two Plaza de Revolucion La Habana Cuba
    Senior Intelligence Officer on the phone "Yes Raul, the flies are in the
    ointment"

    Next Day
    YouTube and all social media sites are bombarded with photos, videos and
    conversations recorded by the robotic flies. Headlines reading "Latest Leak is a Dam Burst"
    All major news media can no longer feed the American public any more lies.

    The American public are outraged and demands the POTUS shut down the
    NSA and recall all American assets illegally in other countries or be impeached.

    Location Three Russian KGB Headquarters Three Months Later
    Encrypted phone conversations between Raul Castro and Putin. "Congratulations Raul, the world
    will forever be in your debt"


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