1995-10-23 - Re: “power one time pad”

Header Data

From: Doug Hughes <Doug.Hughes@Eng.Auburn.EDU>
To: pkoning@chipcom.com
Message Hash: 8d465c41354177649f9ffd1f162be93ac6c4f7227d242fd590dc625ee5b32df5
Message ID: <doug-9509231532.AA014714381@netman.eng.auburn.edu>
Reply To: <3087F1A2@mailer2>
UTC Datetime: 1995-10-23 15:33:26 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 23 Oct 95 08:33:26 PDT

Raw message

From: Doug Hughes <Doug.Hughes@Eng.Auburn.EDU>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 95 08:33:26 PDT
To: pkoning@chipcom.com
Subject: Re: "power one time pad"
In-Reply-To: <3087F1A2@mailer2>
Message-ID: <doug-9509231532.AA014714381@netman.eng.auburn.edu>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At the risk of beating a mutilated horse carcass:

>Among other things, it says that POTP "doesn't use an encryption algorithm;
>instead it synchronizes random processes on two computers as they
>communicate".  (I wonder if the author understands that that's just another
>way to describe encryption algorithms...)  The other claim is that it 
>the need to manage keys.  "... there is no need for central servers where 
>keys ... are kept".
Well, PGP does have keys. You have your private key and your public key, and
they have to be managed somehow (stored on disk) even if it's not centrally.
Other algorithms like kerberos have more complex key management issues. 
This has no key, and hence no management.

>This seems like a strange claim because of course PGP doesn't require
>central servers, but more importantly, you can't do authentication without
>at least one piece of keying data being established out of band.  That
>could be a certification authority public key, but you need something
>to get started.
This is the most confusing part of the whole thing.. How does it get started.
unfortunately, as this is embroiled in non-disclosure and patent-pending,
we're not going to know, but are forced to take the word of experts such
as David Kahn that it works as advertised.

>Supposedly this thing was shown at Interop.  Did anyone see it, and does
>the product make sense even if the article didn't?
Yes, I and a friend of mine were the only two people in the audience
that were not Journalists.  It does look rather intruguing, but so much
negativism is flying about, that most people have dismissed it out of hand.

>(One thing that disturbes me about the product name is the use of the
>phrase "one time pad".  Since the "random" processes are presumably
>not random but rather pseudo-random, there is no one time pad involved
>at all, but rather a plain old stream cypher of some sort, which may or
>may not be secure in practice but cannot have the "secure from first
>principles" property that real one time pad has.)
Yeah, this is a bit of a marketing issue. It doesn't use a cryptographically
strong random number generation scheme. Instead, some kind of state about
the two machines and the message stream is used to perform synchronization.
Then, the message itself is supposed to impart the non-repetitive nature
for the non-repeating "One time pad".
 So, in the sense that it never repeats, it could be called a one time pad,
and that's how they are using it. However, according to the traditional
definitions of a one time pad with a strong random number and no correlation,
it may not pass.

I believe they also use a random number stream somehow.. e.g. both parties
observe some random number stream, as well as the randomness in the message
itself to construct the pad. It would seem that if you wanted to decode
message N of an M message sequence, you would need all of the messages 1
through N to do it. If any one of them was missing, you couldn't decode
N itself.
Doug Hughes					Engineering Network Services
System/Net Admin  				Auburn University
	Apple T-shirt on Win95 - "Been there, done that"