On what the NSA does with its tech

Thomas Shaddack shaddack at ns.arachne.cz
Wed Aug 4 17:23:27 PDT 2004

On Wed, 4 Aug 2004, Hal Finney wrote:

> As you can see, breaking 128 bit keys is certainly not a task which is
> so impossible that it would fail even if every atom were a computer.
> If we really needed to do it, it's not outside the realm of possibility
> that it could be accomplished within 50 years, using nanotech and robotics
> to move and reassemble asteroids into the necessary disk.

There are easier targets than the symmetric cipher algorithm itself.

You may aim at RSA, try to break through the factorization problem, or 
find another weakness in it. Same for other algorithms of this class.

You may aim at the passphrase, as several other people suggested.

You may use nanotech to compromise the hardware, and/or to intercept the 
data. This includes "eating and duplicating" chips, including key storage 
tokens; just go layer after layer and rebuild it (or create its "virtual" 
image) including the levels of electric charge in the memory cells. How to 
design a token that would be resistant to nanoprobes? (Perhaps by 
equipping it with an "immune system" of nanoprobes of its own?)

Quantum computers may be the way to break factoring-related algorithms.

Nanotechnology can bring many ways for physical compromising of the 
targets and their vicinity (the "fly on the wall" attack).

The impracticability of breaking symmetric ciphers is only a comparatively 
small part of the overall problem.

More information about the cypherpunks-legacy mailing list