1998-01-22 - Re: NYT compression proposal

Header Data

From: Bill Stewart <bill.stewart@pobox.com>
To: Steve Schear <cypherpunks@ssz.com (Cypherpunks Distributed Remailer)
Message Hash: 0d791259b9cc6a5f4e41ed7f6405b3ba29c4bd16061d28b414b4787d183e746d
Message ID: <>
Reply To: <199801190230.UAA19688@einstein.ssz.com>
UTC Datetime: 1998-01-22 08:27:09 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 16:27:09 +0800

Raw message

From: Bill Stewart <bill.stewart@pobox.com>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 16:27:09 +0800
To: Steve Schear <cypherpunks@ssz.com (Cypherpunks Distributed Remailer)
Subject: Re: NYT compression proposal
In-Reply-To: <199801190230.UAA19688@einstein.ssz.com>
Message-ID: <>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

>At 8:30 PM -0600 1/18/98, Jim Choate wrote:
>>It has been proposed to compress the keys from 100 cypherpunks down 
>>to a 64 character add in the NYT. 

Obviously you can't compress the keys themselves, and if you just take
a short chunk of each key, you don't have enough entropy to be useful.
But you can make a file with all the keys, hash the file, and post
the hash and an URL for the file.  That lets you use 128 or 160 bits
of hash.  That's plenty of room, and has full-strength security.
If you want to do a 32-character message, it's tighter;
using the usual 6-bit characters, 128 bits of hash takes 22 chars,
and 160 bits takes 27.  If you use the btoa encoding, which puts
4 bytes of binary into 5 bytes of ascii (if the 85 characters
it uses can all be printed in the NYT's fonts), that's
20 for 128 or 25 for 160.  So you have up to 12 characters left.

So how short a URL can you do?  With some cooperation from Vince, 
you can probably do 2 characters - "ai", which should retrieve 
http://ai/index.html (currently www.ai does.).  I don't know if
Netscape will let you retrieve this - I tried it, and got the 
index page for www.ai.com, using the Netscape "try adding .com" hack.
(If you use the hack, "a" is shorter, but you'll need to
give the IANA a good excuse for using the a.com reserved name.
And keys.com is a company in the Florida Keys, but maybe they'd
be friendly.)  The shortest URL that really looks like an URL
is probably www.ai .

If the NYT insists on a phone number, that's 10-11 characters,
so you'll need a shorter hash :-)  Is 64 bits enough?  It's
long enough that it's hard to brute-force, and you probably
don't need to worry about birthday attacks, though it's
still uncomfortably short. 
Bill Stewart, bill.stewart@pobox.com
PGP Fingerprint D454 E202 CBC8 40BF  3C85 B884 0ABE 4639