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2 Content-Disposition: form-data; name="uploaded_file"; filename="C:\Documents and Settings\jmcatche\Desktop\msgs\crypto-review.txt"
3 Content-Type: text/plain
6 Author: Steven Levy
7 Publisher: Viking
8 ISBN: 0-670-85950-6
9 Rating: Excellent
10 Reviewer: topeka <email@example.com>
12 Synopsis: This January, Steven Levy will make the next installment in
13 his history of the technological events of the past quarter century.
14 <b>Crypto: When the Code Rebels Beat the Government</b> is an
15 excellent account of the events that delivered cryptography out of the
16 hands of governments and the NSA and into the hands of the people
17 who made it happen.
20 The first time I heard the term "elegant" applied to a technical problem
21 was a bit of a revelation for me. Until then, elegance, to me, was a
22 visual quality that could only be achieved by painters and poets.
23 When I began to see the elegance in solutions to technical and
24 mathematical problems, I was hooked into a world of intellectual
25 curiosity. Cryptography immediately filled the mold of a highly
26 complex and technical problem with a beautiful and elegant solution
27 when it was first explained to me several years ago. The idea clicked
28 again when I read Raymond's <a
29 href="http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/"> The
30 Cathedral and the Bazaar</a> and equated that elegance to
31 "scratching a particular itch". This intellectual curiosity seems to
32 drive the open source community.
35 However, in 1967, when James Ellis of the secret British agency,
36 GCHQ, first came up with the idea of public key cryptography, his
37 theory was buried. Until then, solutions to cryptographic problems
38 were a dirty process. If it was easy to create a cipher, than it was just
39 as easy to break it. As such, Ellis's breakthrough was simply too
40 pretty to be trusted and as a result, it lay locked away until 1997. <a
41 href="http://www.echonyc.com/~steven">Steven Levy's</a> new
42 book, Crypto is the story of the individuals who transformed
43 cryptography from a dirty art, which only the most elite governments
44 dabbled in, to an elegant mathematical solution available to the public
45 in hundreds of different forms. It was all done by a community of
46 individuals who preached openness and sought out elegant solutions to
47 tough, technical problems.
50 Levy starts out his story in the same place as he started with an earlier
51 famous work, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He
52 narrates the story of Whitfield Diffie, the co-creator of public key
53 cryptography. Starting in 1969 as Diffie sought shelter from the
54 Vietnam war working for a defense contractor, Levy discusses Diffie's
55 transformation from examining ideas about cryptography as merely a
56 hobby, to an all out obsession. Diffie is transformed from a man
57 thinking about cryptography on the weekends to a man criss-crossing
58 the country in one run-down Datsun after another, searching for any
59 and every piece of information about cryptography. Diffie would not
60 broach the wall of cryptography until he was pointed to another
61 cryptography source in California who seemed to be investigating the
62 same concepts as Diffie. Levy chronicles the fateful partnership that
63 occurred with Marty Hellman and the subsequent invention of public
64 key cryptography, at least its theory.
67 During this time period, there were few works published on the subject
68 of cryptography. In fact, only government agents and a few privileged
69 defense contractors were able to expend meaningful resources on
70 crypto research. It seems that while Levy's work is a story of the
71 people who waged a war to bring crypto to the public, it is also the
72 story of that wars' enemy, the National Security Agency. The
73 cryptography bureaucracy, gaining most of its resources during the
74 Second World War, had built quite a palace around anything that
75 involved codes. In the years to come, the NSA would fiercely defend
76 its position of strength. From its early attempts to classify David
77 Kahn's famous work, <I>The Codebeakers</I>, to its involvement in
78 the creation of the Digital Encryption Standard and its invention of the
79 Clipper Chip. As <I>Crypto</I> defines it, the spooks were able to
80 keep their lock on cryptography by invoking a mentality of "if only
81 you knew what I know..." in classified briefings to politicians and
82 contract negotiations with defense contractors like IBM. What the
83 NSA never expected, was for anyone to try and find out what it was
84 that they knew. With the publishing of the Diffie-Hellman paper,
85 "New Directions in Cryptography," one of the NSA's most viable
86 opponents would begin their work where Diffie and Hellman's
87 theories left off, implementation.
90 Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman, through a four-month
91 period of intense brainstorming, would eventually implement and
92 patent the Diffie-Hellman concept of public key cryptography while
93 working as faculty at MIT. As Levy chronicles it, the algorithm,
94 which would become popularly known as RSA, was named for the
95 order in which each mathematician gave to the project. Rivest, who
96 spearheaded the search for the implementation was listed first and
97 Adelman, who merely poked holes in Rivest and Shamir's proposals,
98 had to be convinced that he had even contributed enough to the project
99 to be listed on the paper. Until this point, the description of
100 cryptographic algorithms in scientific texts had always been done
101 using letters of the alphabet to depict members in a cryptographic
102 exchange. The creators of RSA introduced the now famous
103 cryptographic characters, Alice, Bob and the unruly Eve, to describe
104 their new breed of algorithms. Levy is able to highlight the mentality
105 of the three mathematicians, some of which at first, thought the
106 problem was nothing more than a clever puzzle and too grounded in
107 the real world to be successfully dealt with by mathematicians. He
108 shows their transformation to the church of cryptography, as the
109 elegance of the new algorithms would prove as beautiful as the
110 theorems of Gauss and Euclid.
113 The story continues with RSA Data Security, the vehicle Rivest would
114 use to commercialize his algorithm. To talk about RSA Data Security
115 is to talk about patent use. Both the Diffie-Hellman algorithm, as well
116 as RSA, were actually patented by Stanford University and MIT,
117 respectively. When the patents were granted, those Universities then
118 had the option to either free the patents or restrict them. As history has
119 painfully shown, they did not choose to free them. RSA Data security
120 was built on this decision -- an MIT patent. It was sometimes difficult
121 to read this section of the book with the same exuberance that Levy
122 writes about it. Nonetheless, it is a reminder of the state of our
123 intellectual property laws today in the United States.
126 Levy's narration eventually leaves the story of RSA to tell that of Phil
127 Zimmerman, someone who could rightly be called a crypto-anarchist.
128 Once again we are treated to an in depth discussion of the motivation
129 that created <a href="http://www.pgpi.org/">Pretty Good Privacy</a>.
130 Levy contrasts the use of legal patents by RSA Data Security to bring
131 encryption to the masses, to the complete ignorance of them by
132 Zimmerman in his creation of PGP to achieve the same goal.
135 Finally, in my favorite section of the book, Levy discusses the
136 controversy that surrounded a device known as the Clipper Chip. It
137 was originally invented by the NSA as a complete key-escrow system,
138 named the Capstone Chip. Later, as AT&T attempted to market the
139 first encrypted telephone device, the Capstone chip became the Clipper
140 Chip as the FBI and other Executive branch officers rushed to
141 implement a brain-dead subset of the original system before the AT&T
142 device made it to market. An entirely amusing fiasco, Levy lays the
143 entire story out from beginning to end.
146 Lastly, includes an epilogue telling the story of the British agents at
147 GHCQ, who beat Whitfield-Diffie and RSA – a story that the GCHQ
148 refused to let surface until the mid 1990s.
151 Levy first began writing about cryptography, and the people involved
152 in the movement in the early 1990's. Several of the pieces he wrote
153 for Wired magazine served as a basis for this work. If you would like
154 a taste of the writing that eventually became Crypto, take a look at the
159 Crypto Rebels</a></li>
162 Anonymously Yours – How to Launder Your Email</a></li>
165 of Privacy</a></li>
168 Money (That's What I Want)</a>.</li>
172 Levy tells a story about people. If you are looking for a technical
173 discussion of the different aspects of cryptography then you would be
174 better off with Schneier's <I>Applied Cryptography</I> or Singh's
175 <I>The Code Book</I>. However, to understand the freedom that
176 cryptographic technologies bring us, we must understand the history
177 that it stands on. This is what Levy provides. A comprehensive
178 history of the events that took cryptography out of the hands of the
179 NSA and into the hands of political dissidents, CEO's, Nazi's, you and
180 me (not to mention mozilla, pgp, ssh, and gpg among others).
183 Crypto will be published in January, 2001. Orders are being taken
184 now at most online booksellers.
188 Content-Disposition: form-data; name="uploaded_file2"; filename="C:\Documents and Settings\jmcatche\Desktop\msgs\webbug.txt"
189 Content-Type: text/plain
191 Hello Everyone,
193 I am pleased to introduce to you, the Webbug Mailing List.
195 --What is the Webbug mailing list?--
197 The idea of the Webbug list is as follows:
199 *Be as public as possible about the need for privacy.*
201 The webbug mailing list is a proof-of-concept list that aims to illustrate
202 the ability to track your activities on the Internet. Specifically, it aims
203 to show how a third party can monitor your email, knowing what messages you
204 read, when you read them and the IP address with which you are logged onto
205 the Internet.
207 The Webbug mailing list aims to provide a forum to discuss all thing
208 relating to privacy and the protection thereof. Its mission is to do
209 this while serving as a case in point as why privacy should be protected.
211 The Webbug mailing list tracks every email sent through the list, including
212 who read each message and when they read it. This information is then
213 placed on the Webbug web site for everyone to see. The list accomplishes
214 this feat through the use of, you guessed it, webbugs. If you don't know
215 what a webbug is, goto the mailing list homepage, where it is explained in
216 more detail: http://topeka.dyndns.org/privacy/.
218 In short however, a webbug is a 1 pixel x 1 pixel invisible image that is
219 embedded in HTML email. HTML email has become popular in the past two
220 years as it allows people to send formatted emails (including colored text,
221 bold fonts, etc.).
223 It has become popular for large Internet companies to embed these bugs into
224 their free email services, so that they may collect demographic information
225 and sell it. One company that has engaged heavily in this process is,
226 Yahoo! and its sister site, Yahoo! Groups (free mailing lists).
228 The Webbug mailing list, being primarily a teaching tool, is overt about
229 its use of bugs, and instead of using invisible bugs, it uses large,
230 dynamically- generated images that show exactly what information was
231 harvested from you.
233 This contortion of HTML email represents a significant privacy problem as
234 it becomes easy to track Internet email users. In fact, by combining data
235 collected from webbugs, with a few other pieces of information, it is easy
236 to achieve a high level of surveillance on an individual (which would
237 normally require a court order). See the website for more information.
239 --Please Subscribe--
241 Consider this email an invitation to join the Webbug mailing list. There is
242 a lot more information about the subject on the webbug homepage:
243 http://topeka.dyndns.org/privacy. You can also subscribe there.
248 julian catchen
251 The webbug mailing list is an original project, that I have been working on
252 for several weeks. The code for the programs that do this is also available
253 on the site.
255 Lastly, you need HTML mail for the webbug system to work properly.
256 If you only have text email, you will still get all the messages, but you
257 will not be "bugged".
260 To: firstname.lastname@example.org
261 From: email@example.com
262 Subject: A New Mailling List on Privacy
267 Hello Everyone,
269 As a follow-up to the messages I posted about HTML mail and proprietary file-
270 formats, I am pleased to introduce to you, the Webbug Mailing List.
272 --What is the Webbug mailing list?--
274 The idea of the Webbug list is as follows:
276 *Be as public as possible about the need for privacy.*
278 The webbug mailing list is a proof-of-concept list that aims to illustrate
279 the ability to track your activities on the Internet. Specifically, it aims
280 to show how a third party can monitor your email, knowing what messages you
281 read, when you read them and the IP address with which you are logged onto
282 the Internet.
284 The Webbug mailing list aims to provide a forum to discuss all things
285 relating to privacy and the protection thereof. This includes, privacy in
286 our medical and school records, in our homes, and of course, on the
287 Internet. We hope to provide a source of information as to how to protect
288 yourself, a forum to share experiences as well as news and issues on the
291 Its mission is to do this while serving as a case in point as why privacy
292 should be protected.
294 The Webbug mailing list tracks every email sent through the list, including
295 who read each message and when they read it. This information is then
296 placed on the Webbug web site for everyone to see. The list accomplishes
297 this feat through the use of, you guessed it, webbugs. If you don't know
298 what a webbug is, goto the mailing list homepage, where it is explained in
299 more detail: http://topeka.dyndns.org/privacy/.
301 In short however, a webbug is a 1 pixel x 1 pixel invisible image that is
302 embedded in HTML email. HTML email has become popular in the past two
303 years as it allows people to send formatted emails (including colored text,
304 bold fonts, etc.).
306 It has become popular for large Internet companies to embed these bugs into
307 their free email services, so that they may collect demographic information
308 and sell it. One company that has engaged heavily in this process is,
309 Yahoo! and its sister site, Yahoo! Groups (free mailing lists).
311 The Webbug mailing list, being primarily a teaching tool, is overt about
312 its use of bugs, and instead of using invisible bugs, it uses large,
313 dynamically- generated images that show exactly what information was
314 harvested from you.
316 This contortion of HTML email represents a significant privacy problem as
317 it becomes easy to track Internet email users. In fact, by combining data
318 collected from webbugs, with a few other pieces of information, it is easy
319 to achieve a high level of surveillance on an individual (which would
320 normally require a court order). See the website for more information.
322 --Please Subscribe--
324 Consider this email an invitation to join the Webbug mailing list. There is
325 a lot more information about the subject on the webbug homepage:
326 http://topeka.dyndns.org/privacy. You can also subscribe there.
331 julian catchen
334 The webbug mailing list is an original project, that I have been working on
335 for several weeks. The code for the programs that do this is also available
336 on the site.
338 Lastly, you need HTML mail for the webbug system to work properly.
339 If you only have text email, you will still get all the messages, but you
340 will not be "bugged".