Mathematics > NSA + GCHQ

Peter Trei trei at
Mon Aug 25 08:00:50 PDT 1997

Lucky Green <shamrock at> writes:

> At 12:12 PM 8/23/97 -0400, nospam-seesignature at wrote:
> >DEScrack was only done on a relatively few computers.  If a really big
> >prize was offered (In this lotto, you just run this screen saver which
> >uses less bandwidth than pointcast... The chinese radio lottery via the
> >internet), you could get almost every computer into the act.

The number of machines working on DESCrack was probably in the 20-30,000 
> This is a good point. It took $10,000 (plus some hope for fame) to motivate
> thousands of computer users to participate in DESCHALL.  But $10k is not
> all that much money. Few people will go to extraordinary measures to get a
> long shot chance at winning this relatively small sum. Note that there were
> few DESCHALL participants from China, India, and other countries where
> there is a substantial numbers of computers.

Actually, most participants worked without any expectation of getting 
the full $10k. DESChall gave the finder of the magic key $4k, the 
organizers $2k, with the rest going to charity. In the European 
effort, aside from a few hundred dollars to cover expenses, the 
entire amount would have gone to Project Gutenburg (as it did in the
48 bit RC5 crack). Only people running uncoordinated searches, such
as Mikkelsen's Bryddes or my Deskr, could look forward to receiving
the entire prize.

Interestingly, many of the European workers looked on the monetary 
award with disdain - they participated 'to show Internet user 
solidarity', and other such reasons. Also, many were using university
owned machines, and were legally constrained from accepting money 
earned from their use.

This came as quite a suprise to me. I had picked the $10k figure in my
proposal to RSA because it fell in the range of other prizes they had
offered, and seemed high enough to motivate people with no emotional
or ideological interest in the issues to run free software.

>BTW, I am thinking about organizing corporate sponsorships to beef up
>the reward for the RC5-64 crack. I am quite certain that at a $1M
>prize offering, I would be cracked faster than DES.

I think the effort would be better spent on a factoring challenge.

> --Lucky Green <shamrock at>

Peter Trei
trei at

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