The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: terrorists

Privacy VS Terrorism

At the beginning of the book, when Marcus skips the school with his friends, a terrorist attack happens and the Department of the Homeland Security “arrest” them since they doubt the Marcus and their friends may take part in this serious event. Without any strong evidences, DHS asked them to provide all of their privacy in order to find out the wirepuller of this event and the methods of committing the crime. In order to gain freedom, Marcus and his friends tell all of their passwords to DHS. Finally, they (without Darryl, one of Marcus’s friends) are released by DHS, but they are under the surveillance of DHS, especially for Marcus.

This series of events that DHS has done to Marcus’s friends catches my attention. I have heard of the interrogations of some departments catches people and ask them same question over and over again even though the they are innocent. I know what the department has done is trying to reduce the terrorists and build a safer country for other citizens, but they should do these when they have enough evidences. What they are trying to solve is good for the country, but the way of approaching their goals is wrong. The secret department of every country should investigate more before suspecting. At some serious situation, catching any people that may be the terrorists as soon as possible is seemed to be efficient of not letting go the true terrorists and is easy to implement, but these secret departments can improve their way of investigating and data-mining to reduce the possibility of catching the wrong person. By improving this, there will be less complaints about their actions and more benefits to the citizens.

Oh What a Tangled Web

A Tricky Web of Trust

The passage in Little Brother that really intrigued me was the passage about “a web of trust” found on pages 153 and 154. The previous passage talked about public keys versus private keys and the risks associated with these keys. It is very difficult to make the public key incredibly public and a middle man can easily confuse the two people trying to communicate by secretly intercepting, reading and changing messages. The only way to ensure that communication is secure is to meet in person and swap keys, thus creating a secure web of trust limited by the pure number of people you can meet up with in person. However, if people keep passing on all of their keys to people they trust the ring grows and encompasses a larger group where secure communication is possible.

I think this is incredibly interesting since it seems then that any terrorist or criminal group would use this to communicate. Most partners in crime meet in person and would be able to devise such a plan to evade any potential middle men trying to intercept their communications. The passage seems to say that if you trust someone enough and see him or her in person, you can absolutely ensure safe communication with him or her. This ties into our discussions on whether the cryptographers or decrypters are winning and if such strong cryptos should even be allowed. In this case, the passage seems to be claiming that cryptographers will always win if they employ this strategy. This leads to questioning whether these encrypted messages are truly protecting innocent people or if they are masking and hiding criminals and terrorists. The argument could beOh What a Tangled Web made that cryptography that is unbreakable unless trust is broken is considered too strong and can be used too easily for harm. While this cryptography method may be used to protect individual’s privacy, I assume it would also be used to enable dangerous communication and activity.


Image: Oh What a Tangled Web by Jenny Downing, Flickr (CC)

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