As noted on the syllabus, you'll need to read pages 45 through 62 in the second chapter of The Code Book for class on Thursday. In case you'd like a little guidance for your reading or would like to prepare for discussion tomorrow, here are a few questions about the first part of the chapter you might consider. I'm not expecting you to answer these questions (on the blog or in writing), I'm just providing them as a resource.
- For some time before the development of the Vigenère cipher, “anybody sending an encrypted message had to accept that an expert enemy codebreaker might intercept and decipher their most precious secrets.” (Singh, p. 45) How is this environment different from the one that Mary Queen of Scots experienced, where one didn’t know how likely it was that one’s encrypted message was secure?
- Why do you think that the advent of the telegraph motivated the use of a more secure cipher like the Vigenère cipher? What are some examples of modern communication technologies that have changed the ways in which we communicate? Do these technologies have implications for secrecy and privacy?
- Can you think of any ways to improve the security of the Vigenère cipher?