Cryptography

The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Author: edwardsc

From Voxcoder to SIGSALY

The Voxcoder was one of the most interesting things I have ever heard of. The origin of the machine, being just a voice changer/imitator, really made me wonder what the creator had in mind when he made the machine. Being able to replicate a human or animal voice opens up so many pathways such as deception, manipulation, and somewhat discretion. I was extremely surprised when the machine was able to replicate the cow noise almost perfectly. It is also kind of scary considering that a machine can produce convincing human and animal noises. All I could imagine was hearing a a series of growls while walking through the house. After the Voxcoder was evolved into the Sigsaly the organization and complexity of the system used for conferences was baffling. There were so many steps to a single conference that it was sometimes hard to keep up with what part of the process the podcast was explaining. I think its cool but also limited that the conferences functioned by mixing and masking human voices with random noise. Its an incredible feat but if the Germans were able to figure out what was happening and develop a method of decoding it, the Allies would be screwed. It would be a more incredible feat if the Allies were able to completely scramble and distort the messages without having to mask it behind random noise.

Navajo Code Talkers -- Beyond Encryption

Though German Overconfidence in Enigma was a key factor to their loss, another major impact was the Navajo Code Talkers. The Navajo Code Talkers success can be considered just as important and the code breaking of the Enigma. Without secure communications it is hard for the Allies to fight back in an organised manor. With the Navajo Code Talkers, the Allies were able to have some of the most secure communications in the war. What made the Navajo Code Talkers so important is the language they spoke and the amount of people who spoke it. The Navajo language is extremely rare as well as the people who speak it. With a rare unrecognizable language being introduced in the war the Allies had a huge advantage. This, in my opinion, can be considered a type of double encryption. The first layer being the Navajo language and the second being the encryption of it. The language had two flaws, the military jargon translations and its weakness to frequency analysis. These weaknesses were serious yet the code was still not broken. Considering how successful the Navajo Code Talkers were, the method as well as the encryption of the code must have been very secure. Thanks to the Navajo Code Talkers, the Allies were able to establish a secure line of communication.

Feeling Safe is not Being Safe

I value my privacy greatly but I also value my own security. If I were to give up a little of one to get a lot of the other, I would obviously choose privacy in terms of what to sacrifice but the post does not talk about security but the “feeling” of being secure. Depending on how much privacy I would have to sacrifice to feel secure would alter my choice. The feeling of being secure is important when it comes to fear and paranoia but in the long run it’s just a feeling. If you aren't actually protected then you have the right to always be worried no matter what the
circumstances. I think it’s extremely significant that the post did not say “what would you give up to be safe?” I think that the Newseum knew that giving up privacy does not guarantee safety. When presented with this question I thought about a scenario where all my rights were taken in order to be protected and yet I am still exposed. The scenario was unsettling knowing that no matter what I will never truly be safe. Though there can be precautions put in place, at a certain point, exposing yourself and sacrificing your rights does not contribute to your own security.

Technologies Effect on Cryptography

The advent of the telegraph was a major factor in the use of the Vigenère Cipher. Due to the Vigenère Cipher having 60 cipher alphabets, the methods of encrypted methods not only increased but became ideal for technology such as the telegraph.  What makes the telegraph go well with the Vigenère cipher is that it brought more security to the encoded message. It did this by eliminating the people who are knowledgeable about the message. An example of this is two people wanting to send a message to eachother via morse code. To do this they would have to have two middle men who were trained to use the telegraph send the message. Without the Vigenère cipher, those two middle men would be aware of the message thus exposing the information. Cellphones have changed the way we communicate greatly, especially in terms of making a transaction or giving away credit cart information. Personally, though I know it might be safer but is still at risk, when I exchange credit card information with my family, I do it over the phone rather than text. Cellphones have a major effect on secrecy in society today. Many people have codes on their phones and every ones' phone is encoded in some type of way. Implications arise when or if someone is able to break the basic encryption for a chain device such as the iPhone. If this happened then everyone with an iPhone will be at risk of a security breach.

Security vs Privacy: The Dangers of too much Authority

Chapter four of Little Brother really made me mad due to the abuse of basic human rights the American government was willing to surpass in order to receive more legalized power. Expanding on this problem, I am going to address how the governments abuse of Marcus and other captives basic human rights directly relate to the government trying to get more legal power through the public's fear. When Marcus was captured, bagged, and brought to an interrogation facility, nicked named Gintmo-On-The-Bay, his fourth amendment right was violated. The fourth amendment states "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized (Cornell Law School)." Marcus' personal digital activity and information was searched unreasonably, he was seized illegally, and he was forced to sign a paper saying he was voluntarily seized and interrogated which I would consider a violation of the fifth amendment which protects people from self incrimination. Because of the government trying to "secure" it violated peoples rights. The governments concern with security, in this case, was false making their actions even worse. The American government in Little Brother had a goal of taking advantage of a terrorist attack and blaming it on the lack of security. From there the government would expand on its power by persuading citizens to support laws that give the government more surveillance control over the citizens themselves. This is dangerous because as the government receives more surveillance power, it becomes easier to label a protester as terrorist. Once this happens, innocent people such as Marcus, will be captured and interrogated based on faulty information.

Data Mining or Privacy Invasion?

In this essay, the author Micheal Morris argues that universities should have the ability to access students personal information, via data mining, in order to prevent violent actions from occurring such as school shootings. Personally I do not agree with Morris' argument. I think that if a university had the ability to look at personal files and data then it would be abused at some point. For example: if there is a professor who is not on good terms with one of their students and the professor uses data mining to find out the student has been talking badly about the professor through text or email, then that professor could give the student a bad grade even if their work is of A+ quality. Data mining could also be exploited through outside hackers. If there is a system that can gain access to a whole campus of students, then there are multiple people who can hack that system and gain the same access. This becomes very problematic considering what the hacker does with the information such as blackmailing or stalking. Another reason I do not agree with Morris is if the person evaluating the data mining algorithms misinterprets the meaning behind someones personal messages. Everyone gets extremely emotional and some people vent through the internet. Just because they are venting through the internet does not mean that they are an automatic threat to the university. I think that a person looking at this using data mining would not understand what level the venting is at and would look immediately towards the worse case scenario rather than looking at it as something basic. Though Morris does mention that no system can "100-percent effective, 100 percent of the time," I still think it is wrong for anyone to have that type of access to someones personal information regardless of the efficiency of a system.

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