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From: "Alex Flanagan"
References: <email@example.com> <3F4C55C1.114C@despam.autobahn.mb.ca>
Subject: Re: the FBI and 1 time pads
X-Newsreader: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2800.1158
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2003 08:16:27 GMT
NNTP-Posting-Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2003 02:16:27 MDT
Organization: Shaw Residential Internet
> There is a couple of catches though. Delivery of the keys is a big
> because you must _never_ use a key again and the key must always be at
> as long as the message. Quality of the keys may also a problem - they must
> be _truly_ random. You've heard of nice programs which produce "random"
> numbers? Randomness is a lot more difficult subject than one might think.
The short story is: computers cannot produce random numbers. One time pads
require (OTPs) complete randomness in order to be as strong as they can be,
and because computers can't give us perfect randomness, encryption done by
them won't be as strong as a good OTP.
The long story follows:
Computers fake random numbers by doing things like measuring the time
between keystrokes and the time between when packets of information reach
your computer from the internet and then applying statistics to these
numbers to make sure they are used in a random-looking way. This isn't just
a splitting hairs, patterns in pseudorandom numbers (as they are called) are
detectable. These patterns (call them "trails") can then be "followed back"
to the plaintext (assuming you used a computer to generate your OTP).
True OTPs are (as far as I know) the strongest kind of encryption. There is
no pattern to the randomness (no "trail" to follow back to the plain text of
your message). And yes, with the security come usability problems. If you
use a pad twice it is compromized. A good codebreaker given two messages
encoded with the same pad will be able to find the contents of both messages
and the pad (the Soviets made this mistake a few times).
Organizations using OTPs deal with this is by having lots of pads. In World
War II, for example, they apparently had rooms full of clerks drawing
numbers from hats, from bingo machines, from any source of random numbers
that had no pattern (or, to be precise, a pattern so complex that no one
could predict it) and writing those numbers down to make one time pads.
Anyway, I could probably babble on about this for awhile. Best to cut it off
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