The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: security Page 3 of 9

Protect your personal information from the criminals

Basic on the developing of the network all over the world, all of the personal information you posted or you searched is not as safe as past. In the beginning, people think that the information of themselves are very safe until the hacker exists.

Not only you can’t make your information safe, but it also very difficult for the country. In every second, the countries are in the information war. Everyone has asked themselves, “just how good is my password” and this is just the first step. Although you may think you have created a secure password, the likelihood is
that it’s not as secure as you anticipate.

Although we have the password, for some criminals, break your password as easy as using a knife to cut a piece of paper. So you should change your password every 60-90 days to maximize the security of your personal information on the net. Never use the same password for all of your social media, e-mail and financial accounts and always keep your passwords separate.

Protect your personal information is a very important thing to keep your survival on the network if not the criminals and the terrorists can easily use your information to commit a crime. That will not only unbeneficial for you, also it will risk for other net users.

“The Assault on Intelligence”

General Michael Hayden, the former NSA and CIA director for the United States, was interviewed by Professor Jon Meacham and Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos. Questions regarding national security and the current direction of the U.S. were proposed to Gen. Hayden.

To kick off the interview, Meacham proposed the question, “Does political partisanship and national security have a relationship?” This is when I realized that the debate was entirely a critique of Donald Trump’s presidency. I was hoping to gain more insight into some actual non-biased perceptions of national security and their current relationship with the public. Nonetheless, I did find his answer to this question to be interesting. Gen. Hayden likes to classify political figures into groups such as the Hamiltons, Jacksonians, Wilsonians, or Jeffersonians. This allows him to align current political figures with a person that best represents them from history. For instance, according to him, Trump is a Jacksonian; he is not fully for isolation, but most of Trump’s policy reflects separation from other nations. Later, he also states that Trump is trying to execute industrial policy in a post-industrial era. He contrasts Trump’s Jacksonian characteristics with Obama’s Jeffersonian views of nation-building. Whether his portrayal of these two figures is accurate or not, I do like the concept of pairing iconic historical figures with those of the present. It allows me to create a frame of reference for current politics and connect them to the past and see how they worked then and can be translated to the present.

Another interesting point Gen. Hayden made was that the three most important aspects that make the United States what it is are: immigration, trade, and alliances. He then states that since Donald Trump has taken office each one of these areas has seen a sharp decline and citizens will eventually see the effects of their decline. I do not claim to be a master of foreign or domestic policy. I do not even claim to be extremely knowledgeable in the subject. However, after doing some base-level research, such as viewing graphs and reading some statistics, I could not find any solid grounds to which this claim could be absolutely true. Trade, for instance, had a slight increase in the trade deficit. However, in the grand scheme of things, it was really not anything critical based on current and past trends. Also, with the current state of employment in the United States, I believe that this increase makes sense. This was very rushed research though, and to make a more sound counter, I would need to do far more research.

I am sure General Hayden is able to provide wonderful insight into the surveillance versus privacy debate, however, this interview missed that mark. While it may have been his intention to focus only on President Trump, I feel like there was much more to be said on the topic of “The Assault on Intelligence.”

The Hidden Meaning Behind Words

The display in Newseum raised the matter of privacy v. security, with a special focus on FBI and its increased security measures after the 9/11 attack. The issue posed striking similarities with the story of the Little Brother, as the DHS increased the scale of its surveillance after a terrorist attack on the Bay bridge.

What I found interesting is the link people drew between words. For instance, surveillance means security and privacy means liberty. On the other hand, increased surveillance measures doesn’t necessarily mean that safety is ensured. The loss of privacy to social media and websites such as Google/Amazon might not have such a strong connection to liberty.

If we discuss the terms surveillance and security at face value, they are both neutral words. Although there is a negative connotation associated with the word itself, surveillance without further action on the information obtained can seem harmless at times. However, as we discussed about the podcast, surveillance acts like a Panopticon, altering people’s behaviors as they know they’re being watched.

The wording on the display board itself is also interesting. It uses the words privacy and security instead of privacy and surveillance. On the other hand, on the bottom it raises the question: what would you give up to “feel” safer, this time using the word “feel” instead of “be”.

Security vs Privacy: The Level of Surveillance Divides Advocates of Pro Security

When I looked closely at the various responses on the whiteboard I noticed that the people who advocated for surveillance held different opinions about the intensity that our surveillance has on people’s data. Some people in this pro surveillance group believed in a strong surveillance systems and wrote things such as “text messages and phone records” and “as much as necessary to feel safe.” I usually argue pro privacy on these debates and what I believe is that the government may define one aspect as a flaw and deem it dangerous to the public, while the public who is being watched by the government may have a different opinion about what is flawed and needs to be addressed in order to stay safe. By comparing these two ideas from the whiteboard you can see that this idea holds true between advocates of surveillance. While one person may feel comfortable with donating their privacy of their text messages to keep the country safe, another person may see that watching our texts is not necessary to keep us safe. Realistically I do not think that the government will continue to increase the level at which they monitor the public because people have strong opinions and are willing to speak up if they experience that think is wrong. In our country, people stand on every point of the spectrum just how the whiteboard illustrates. It would be very difficult to convince a large enough portion of the country to support surveillance to a certain extent.

America on Privacy vs Security: Give up Everything?

The Newseum’s “Voice your Opinion” poster on privacy versus security definitely drew some interesting opinions. While some chose not to take the activity seriously, some of the insight was actually very constructive.

On the security side, most people did not elaborate on their statement. I read a few that were essentially, “Give up privacy for security.” There were also several hipster comments that were about spreading love and not evil/hate. Two particular comments stood out to me, however. One stated to “take away as much as necessary to feel safe,” and the other stated, “Everything, we have nothing to hide.” The first thing that I would love to know is, who made the comment? What background do they come from? Have they always lived in the United States? I feel like one’s upbringing has much to do with formulating an opinion on this matter. Regardless though, these two comments really shocked me because I find it very hard to believe anyone would be okay with the government having total control. In my opinion, the first comment is very nieve. There is literally a part of our brain, called the amygdala, that processes emotions such as fear. I wonder if this person would next suggest that we sever this part of our brain until we do not “feel” at all. There is no way to totally prevent uncertain/unfavorable emotions such as safety – even in a Utopia.

The privacy comments on the poster were equally as interesting. For instance, one person said, “Living life is an honor, don’t take our freedom away.” I appreciated this quote for its simplicity. Life really is a privilege, but one can only take advantage of it if they are free to do so. Which ties into Benjamin Franklin quote: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” This quote is very interesting because he had no way of knowing anything about technology, yet he created such an iconic phrase that can be applied to it.

The High Price of Safety

I believe that the whiteboard exhibition at the Newseum was nothing less than a work of art. While it appears to be a forum for people to share their viewpoints, it also shows the array of opinions held by different people with different mindsets. Just in the given display, we see one person uncomfortable with sharing his location and personal texts while another finds it reasonable for the government to go through his phone records and texts. Another still uses a quote to imply that giving up your privacy for security makes you unworthy of both privacy and security. Such conflicting viewpoints serve to be an illustration of just how difficult it can be to find a reasonable compromise.

To answer the question asked by the display, I feel that I am comfortable with giving the government as much information as they need as long as it bears no repercussion in my day to day life. If the the government can guarantee that the information will remain confidential, I don’t see why I should be bothered about a stranger going through my phone records. The only flaw I see in adopting the aforementioned approach is the implications of the false positives. Given the current state of technology and surveillance, the number of false positives generated would cause a majority of people to face intervention by the government even when they are innocent. This can be problematic as it directly counters the ideas of safety and security since these victims can feel targeted by the very government they chose to protect them.



What Would I Give Up To Feel Safer

To be honest, I am not good with the USA Patriot Act, because it means I have no right to hide any secrets. If somebody could look over all my private staffs without my approvement or even without my acknowledgment, I will feel invaded. However, I have to admit that there is terrorism in this world and our safety needs to be protected. The USA Patriot Act is useful to protect the country. The “watchdog” role played by news media and improved power of FBI did protect us after the 9/11 attacks. Therefore, I would like to sacrifice part of my privacy, but not all of it.

What I agree to give up, is the information on everything I’ve done and anything I’ve told to others, like the purchasing record, messages on social media, and all of my identity. In my opinion, these pieces of information are enough for the government to assess my possibility to do some violent behaviors as well as every individual. For example, if someone is going to make a terrorist attack, he has to purchase items like guns or bombs, reach out to terrorist organizations, and leave messages to his partners. One cannot finish a terrorist attack without any clues before in front of the public. To investigate related information is enough to prevent a possible violent behavior.

What I disagree to give up, is what I regard as real privacy. I used to write my diary in the memories of my cell phone. I have never shown it to others because I usually hide my secrets in it. How could it harm others if I let nobody see it? In this case, if the company of cell phone has a monitored plug-in and inspect my memories, I would be annoyed. The same, the pictures in my phone are also my privacy. If you suspect that I’ve hidden terrorist information in my pictures, you could find what I’ve sent to others without inspecting my phone directly. It is my right to hide some secrets in my own cell phone, so I would not give up this to feel safe.

Why Are People Concerned About The Security of Their Secrets

In the time of the Mary Queen of Scots, people were confident with their encrypted messages and did not concern the privacy of their messages. However, for some time after that, people started to find a way to create more and more complicated ciphers, for the reason that they realized there are experts who could decipher their messages.

Why people suddenly concerned about this? Because in time of the Mary Queen of Scots, people did not know the existence of cipher experts who could decipher their codes. People were blind overconfident with their encrypted message to hide their secrets. However, there were experts showed out to deciphered their codes suddenly. Their privacy was threatened again and they could not hide their secrets if their ciphers were broken. To deal with this situation, they must create new kinds of ciphers to protect their secrets.

This is actually a phenomenon that cryptography is gradually formed at that time. It generated from some simple ciphers to hide some messages, then some people tried to decode the message and succeeded. To protect their privacy again, people who created ciphers put effort to improve the complicity of their ciphers with their creativity. Then people who decrypted ciphers learn more ways to make sure that they could decrypt more complicated ciphers. A virtuous cycle formed during this process that cipher makers and cryptanalysts improve themselves. Cryptography then improved as well.

The Vigenère cipher is a significant achievement in this process of improvement of cryptography. After hundreds of years of exploring, cipher makers this time created a cipher complicated enough to protect their secrets for a lifetime.

Security vs. Privacy Debate Map

For your reference, here’s a photo of the security vs. privacy debate map we constructed in class on Monday. Click on the image for a better view.

Can Technology Truly Give a Feeling of Privacy?

In Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, the passage that caught my attention was in Chapter 5 when Marcus talked about how technology made him feel. He said that technology made him feel like he had control, and that technology works for, serves and protects him when it is used the right way. He says the when technology is used right, it could give “power and a sense of privacy”.

I believe that technology has so many good attributes, but with the good there is bad. Even if technology was used in a good way, that does not mean that everyone else would not misuse it. Technology can give a feeling of privacy and protection, but that can be easily violated by hackers or people that mean to do harm. Many people think that they are protected by their technology, and by thinking this they let their guard down. Technology does not work for a single person, it works for anyone who has access to it. While people may think that they are safe and whatever they put online is protected, that is not always the case.

In the beginning of the novel, Marcus abuses his power over technology. He used technology to discover everything there was to know about his vice principal including his social security number, birthday, hometown, and even his mother’s maiden name. Marcus did not use technology in the right way. Even though he wants to use technology for the better, he succumbed to the things he could discover and do with the power of technology. In my opinion, Marcus is very hypocritical. Marcus violated the privacy of his vice principal even though he says that he loves technology because of the feeling of privacy that it gives.


Page 3 of 9

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén