understandable cypher software

FutureNerd Steve Witham fnerd at smds.com
Thu Dec 3 15:36:23 PST 1992


A paragraph of philosophy and then some technical PGP questions.

I should be able to verify with my own eyes how cypher technology works.  
Otherwise I'm trusting my security to somebody's black box.
I should be able to write my own and test that it interacts with someone 
else's the way it's supposed to.  I should be able to monitor the 
communications between my copy of a cypher product and some other, and 
verify that they're doing the things people say they are. 
Besides, I'd like to carry the crypto basics in my head "just in case."
To these ends, I'd like cypher software that is as easy to read and
understand and trust as possible.  I'd like to start with a distilled PGP.  

Does this list cover the heart chambers of PGP? (Not to devalue the rest):
        The signature algorithm (MD5?)
                128 bits?
                Is that based on RSA?
        A cryptostrong pseudorandom # generator?
                Is this based on RSA?
        Something that takes keystroke delays (real, but not so good, 
                random numbers) and makes real good random numbers?
                Is this based on RSA?
        A data compression algorithm (some variation of LZW?)
        A binary<-->ascii translator

RSA seems to depend on doing modulo-multiply on big integers.  What are the 
relative speeds of the different modmults in PGP (modulo processor speed)...
        the simplest C version
        the fastest C version
        the fastest assembler version on the processor where it matters least
        the fastest assembler version on the processor where it matters most?

Given the time to do modmult, couldn't all the rest (including modexp) be
done in an interpreter that had big ints and modmult as a primitive?

What's the formula for RSA again?
        out = in * something ^ somethingelse mod yetanother??
        I know it can't be, because the key is only one number.

What is/are the basic primitive(s) for IDEA?

"Computer software must not only work, it must also appear to work."
                           --Carl Hewitt
fnerd at smds.com (FutureNerd Steve Witham)

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