1995-10-27 - Re: A secure cryptosystem with a 40-bit key?

Header Data

From: Scott Brickner <sjb@universe.digex.net>
To: Jiri Baum <jirib@cs.monash.edu.au>
Message Hash: ae4827f2ec9f66f3dc077164f78e6d4fff041f1ed87257dd5bc31bdf31494cc9
Message ID: <199510261908.PAA22358@universe.digex.net>
Reply To: <199510260221.MAA29674@molly.cs.monash.edu.au>
UTC Datetime: 1995-10-27 03:36:14 UTC
Raw Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 11:36:14 +0800

Raw message

From: Scott Brickner <sjb@universe.digex.net>
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 11:36:14 +0800
To: Jiri Baum <jirib@cs.monash.edu.au>
Subject: Re: A secure cryptosystem with a 40-bit key?
In-Reply-To: <199510260221.MAA29674@molly.cs.monash.edu.au>
Message-ID: <199510261908.PAA22358@universe.digex.net>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Jiri Baum writes:
>How about the numerical cmavo? You'd want to encode numbers. And you
>don't want people to know they are numbers, because they could
>count the digits (to get order of magnitude). Same for spelling cmavo.

I agree.  There are some cmavo with enough meaning to warrant some encoding.

Ok, for numbers we take our original 40 bit (or whatever) key and, by
convention, run it through a md5 to produce the key used for the next
digit.  By writing all numbers with 20 digits (padding zeros on the
front or back as desired) magnitude (and/or precision) is hidden.

>How about the tense system? You'd want to encode that because it could
>give important hints to locations (and times). Then again you could
>probably avoid using the "a little to the north and a long way east" tense

I'm not sure it gives anything away.  The cryptanalyst would only know
that there's a location, not anything important about the location, since
it could be padded with "null" direction and temporal operators.

And the tense selma'o could probably be treated as a single group for
encoding.  They're only semantically different, not syntactically.  You'd
end up with more confusing cyphertext, but that's no real problem unless
you're trying to hide the fact that you're encoding --- for which you
could stego the cyphertext in a rant generator.

>How about the attitudinals?

There are enough that encoding them as a group hides their meaning.

>> The selma'o that only have one member are especially meaning-free, as
>> they're typically elidable terminators and such.
>Like I said, I only glanced at it, but how about NAI and GAI?
>> >Yes, but the grammatical structure itself may reveal heaps.
>> >(Except for trivial statements.)
>> In a natural language this might be true, but in Lojban the grammar's
>> regularity eliminates much of this information.
>I'm not sure I'd agree here. I suspect you are overestimating the regularity
>of lojban grammar (then again maybe I'm underestimating...).

I think you're underestimating because you're discarding the effect of
having a cypher which can arbitrarily substitute gismu and rafsi.  With
my original examples of "Attack at dawn" vs "Party 'til you puke", there's
nothing to relate the items.  A long sequence of similarly simple statements
wouldn't add anything.  Increasing the complexity of the statements makes
it more difficult to find a false key, but the regularity of Lojban should
give you enough leeway to do it.

You'd probably want to avoid really complicated bridi, but these sorts of
things tend to appear more in literary works than in ordinary communication.

>> There are also problems due to ambiguity.
>Yup. If it's really a problem - ambiguity in language has been with us
>for a long time and nobody minds much. But I guess you wouldn't want
>arbitrary ambiguity in your text (you could have an interactive coder
>which immediately alerts you to all alternative meanings). Or you could
>put marks into your text to separate the word parts (like some beginner
>Esperanto books do) thus eliminating the problem.

I had in mind the sort of ambiguity that comes from "Time flies like an
arrow", in which any of the first three words could be the verb.  A
computer translator would have to know which to conjugate and which to

>> The even bigger inconvenience with natural laguages comes in defining
>> the codebook.
>I'm sure you could easily find wordlists giving the "first X" words of
>Esperanto - you could just standardize on one of them.

Yep, but it would have to be part of the cryptosystem's definition, as
opposed to the language's.

>Mi esperas ke tio cxi sencas...

.o'anai mi na cusku fi la .esperantos.