News: 2000 Archives
Contestant would do it again 'in a second'
Last month we reported the triumph of two Belgian academics in the US encryption standard contest. But how was the contest organised? If you’re not interested, stop reading now.
In the early seventies the US government put out a call for an encryption algorithm. It had no response. A year later in 1973 they tried again and got one response, from IBM. Then followed a bit of politicking, but by 1975 DES was born.
DES was initially a FIPS (Federal Information Procurement Standard), but was quickly adopted around the world as the de facto standard for encryption…
Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World.
By Bruce Schneier.
John Wiley & Sons; 432 pages; $29.99 and £19.50
WHEN an acknowledged expert suddenly announces that his previous views are completely wrong, it is time to take notice. That is exactly what Bruce Schneier, an authority on computer security, has just done in “Secrets and Lies”. Like many in his field, he used to be beguiled by the mathematics of cryptography, and believed that, with enough fancy encryption and authentication, it was possible to build a totally secure system—a mathematical utopia he described in a previous book, “Applied Cryptography”, which became a standard work. But Mr Schneier now believes that he was wrong, and “Secrets and Lies” is his bid to correct this mistake…
Secrets and Lies by Bruce Schneier, John Wiley, £19.50, ISBN 0471253111
An exceptional amount of disinformation plagues the world of information security. For decades spies obstructed the “proliferation” of cryptographic and security know-how. This made their job of snooping far easier.
When in 1993 I tried to organise a research programme in computer security, cryptography and coding theory, a spook in a suit approached the institute involved. He told the director that “There’s nothing interesting happening in cryptography, and Her Majesty’s government would like this state of affairs to continue.” To his great credit, the director spilled the beans; the institute’s reaction guaranteed our funding…
Bruce Schneier’s book Secrets and Lies won a Productivity Award in the 13th Annual Software Development Magazine Product Excellence Awards.
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.