1996-07-23 - Re: DES-Busting Screen Savers?

Header Data

From: tcmay@got.net (Timothy C. May)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 52c77c7800cb7bbf0174c8f169b02928922eda373ef008dc7010fb0ed45f3fa4
Message ID: <ae1a5e6f1d021004c7bc@[]>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1996-07-23 21:51:57 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 05:51:57 +0800

Raw message

From: tcmay@got.net (Timothy C. May)
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 05:51:57 +0800
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: DES-Busting Screen Savers?
Message-ID: <ae1a5e6f1d021004c7bc@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

At 5:02 PM 7/23/96, Lucky Green wrote:
>At 15:53 7/23/96, Timothy C. May wrote:
>>Or several times that number of machines or time for machines with less
>>crunch. Say, 100K Pentium-type machines for a month or two. How might this
>>be gotten?
>>A while back I proposed one approach: a brute force "screen saver" for
>>Windows machines. Other platforms, maybe, but the most cost-effective thing
>>to do is to go after the Windows market only.
>A friend of mine actually wrote an RC4-40 cracking screen saver during the
>initial RC4 crack. We finished the brute force so quickly that he never
>released the software.

Too bad. Properly modularized software, i.e., with a place to drop in the
specific system/algorithm being attacked, could be adapted quickly to
DES-busting, or whatever.

If your friend still has this, and it's not just spaghetti code, maybe he
can adapt it to a truly large-scale attack.

BTW, sitting in my hot tub last night I quickly reconstructed the math for
the "random" keyspace inefficiency:

-- Imagine that N users are "randomly" picking chunks of keyspace to
search. That is, they are not coordinating with others to avoid

-- By the time the total amount of computons expended has equalled the
amount that would have been expended in a "no duplications" allocated
search, the Poisson probability distribution says that 1/e = 36.8% of the
keyspace will not have been searched; the rest of the probabilty lies in
keyspace searched once, twice, three times, etc.

-- Thus, the calculation will have to go 2-4 times longer to give a high
(>95%) chance that the answer is found. For example, at 3 times the
"efficient" search time, there is only a 1/e^3 = 5% chance that nobody has
found the answer

The probabalistic assignment is less efficient, obviously, but has the
advantage of not requiring a registry of keyspace allocations. Further,
"denial of service" attacks (lying about having searched a chunk, or
incorrectly searching or reporting) are not a problem.

--Tim May

Boycott "Big Brother Inside" software!
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, we know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
tcmay@got.net  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
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