1997-05-15 - Re: NSA likes strong crypto?

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From: Thomas Porter <txporter@mindspring.com>
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Message Hash: ae1ce12a336c0c0438dcaca5e207e9c176219ded11936c890a4b3ee0a878eea4
Message ID: <>
Reply To: <Pine.GSO.3.95.970514211520.28811E-100000@well.com>
UTC Datetime: 1997-05-15 19:23:27 UTC
Raw Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 03:23:27 +0800

Raw message

From: Thomas Porter <txporter@mindspring.com>
Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 03:23:27 +0800
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Subject: Re: NSA _likes_ strong crypto?
In-Reply-To: <Pine.GSO.3.95.970514211520.28811E-100000@well.com>
Message-ID: <>
MIME-Version: 1.0
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At 09:32 AM 5/15/97 -0700, Bill Frantz thoughtfully expounded thus:

>During a hall discussion at CFP, I heard that people at NSA are changing
>their opinions about the use of strong crypto in the general community.
>The reason is the threat of InfoWar and the need for strong crypto in
>general use to secure the US information infrastructure.

I realize I may catch it for my numerical ignorance here, but a more
paranoid type might think that any acquiescence on the part of NSA might be
due to more relative ease of breaking important traffic than they might
have possessed in the past.

Does any one on the list have any ideas on what the Intel mega-pentium
parallel  processor (touted for nuclear explosion and weather simulations a
few months back, and noticeably missing any mention of NSA application)
does to the time estimates for cracking "strong" crypto keys?  I am being
purposefully vague in my definitions of strong crypto, but I would present
as my test cases PGP ascii-armor traffic of 2048 key length or plain files
encrypted with pgp -c option; ie. typical crypto-criminal/narco-terrorist

How does this strength of encryption compare to whatever might be used to
"secure the nation's info infrastructure" [Netscape 40 bit!!??] regarding
cracking time?  Clearly less, but how much less on this type of specialized
parallel processor?  To put it another way, any swags on how long it would
take this pentium parallel processor to crack the current DES56 challenge?

Inquiring (and ignorant) minds want to know,

Tom Porter                                       txporter@mindspring.com
   "I do believe that where there is a choice only between cowardice and
    violence, I would advise violence." Mahatma Gandhi