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nil.enroll(aetheric_username, quantum_class_id)
yljatlhQo'! QIch lo'laltbebej!
a snarky but informative post to dc404
There were some interesting opinions expressed about recent news events at the meeting Saturday but when I asked if anyone had done the reading I got a lot of blank stares. This distresses me quite a bit since hackers and security "people" should be more educated and informed on these issues than the general public -- not less. This is our history, frankly, even if you don't work for a government and you should know it.

I'm carefully not taking any sides in the debate about surveillance and oversight here. I do encourage anyone interested in these topics, and especially those outraged by events or revelations to study the history of intelligence and cryptography to hone their opinions. The nation should debate these issues publicly and informed debate is the only way to try and find a balanced answer to such a complex problem

In the meeting I asked how many people had read "The American Black Chamber" and no one said they had. That's unfortunate because that book and the results of its publication represent one of the previous times there was a national debate on this very topic. The Secretary of War at the time , one Stimson, was heard to famously declare: "Gentlemen do not read other gentlemen's mail." The results of his attitude and actions are worth noting. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Chamber

To understand more broadly the questions about government, secrecy, intelligence, and so on and the previous answers you should certainly read David Kahn's tome "The Codebreakers" which is arguably the most thorough publicly available account of the history of secret writing. He starts with the ancient civilizations and moves forward through to the late 20C. At the time of writing he wasn't able to include much information about Bletchley or computers, from which all modern computer science as well as most modern cryptanalysis stems along with the outcome of WWII and thereby the history of the second half of the 20C and most of the current geopolitical mess.**

An easier read , and perhaps a bit more fun, is Simon Singh's "The Code Book". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Code_Book. Wiki says:
"The Code Book covers a diverse set of historical topics including the Man in the Iron Mask, Arabic cryptography, Charles Babbage, the mechanisation of cryptography, the Enigma Machine, and the decipherment of Linear B and other ancient writing systems. Later sections cover the development of public key cryptography and some of this material is based on interviews with the participants, including those who worked in secret at GCHQ. The book concludes with a discussion of PGP, quantum computing, and quantum cryptography. "

Oh and you should know about the "equity debate" inside NSA, referred to recently by Schneier in his blog by back reference to one of his old posts:
"America's Dilemma: Close Security Holes, or Exploit Them Ourselves" By Bruce Schneier Wired News May 01, 2008

If you want more food for thought or have other remarks, please share.

Hope this helps,
Adric Net
adric at adric.net

PS Hey let's all sign our emails and see how that goes?

** If you believe this statement to be hyperbolic or exaggerated then you likely have a lot of history to catch up on. Also, Bletchley is a very cool place to visit. Do go out there some time if you have the chance

Current Location: home office
Current Music: ef

2 comments or Leave a comment
jessica_fae From: jessica_fae Date: June 19th, 2013 10:55 am (UTC) (Link)
So whole heatedly agree that people need to be doing their reading. I cannot comment on certain aspects of the particular topic at hand for many more years to come, but I can speak to the fact that what outraged everyone from the recent events were all foreseeable. As a nation, we voted in laws without actually reading them, and we continue to vote to keep them around without reading them. The general public doesn't read the laws they vote on, instead relying on propaganda that is spun to match the agenda of the political party pushing it.

The actions of the so called "Whistle Blower" do not expose some grand crime, rather simply expose that the government is operating within the currently allowed parameters of the laws we have voted on in the name of security. I find his actions a bit unconscionable, but that may be related in part to my time working in that field. There are many better ways to handle the situation. Starting a campaign to raise awareness of the laws, like the Patriot Act, for example. </p>

I will not get into my personal views on how I feel about the activities themselves, but I would add the Patriot Act to the list of suggested reading material. Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.

adric From: adric Date: June 19th, 2013 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks for commenting!

I do appreciate you taking the time.

The difference in the tone and emotions of these debates had with people of different backgrounds is astonishing and perhaps more interesting in some ways that the terribly important issues at hand. Schneier, you, my retired Army Intelligence dad, my various civilian coworkers, or my ex-CyberCommand bosses versus that found at the hacker meeting ...
and y'know random comments on Internet news stories.

I did think about including the "You @#$%#@%^ didn't read the PATRIOT Act, did you?" in my screed but decided to leave it out.
It's a important point lost on many and I'm glad you called it out here.

Definitely going to be interesting to see how this plays out and i think it will be to everyone's benefit if it plays out mostly in public.

Thanks and hope you and yours are well!
2 comments or Leave a comment