Found in 8 comments on Hacker News
_dps · 2021-03-03 · Original thread
There's a very amusing epilogue in Steven Levy's "Crypto" [0] about the fact that either RSA or Diffie-Hellman (I've forgotten which) was in fact known to the intelligence services for 10+ years prior to its re-discovery among public researchers. These are people who are very good at keeping secrets.


fossuser · 2015-08-04 · Original thread
Public Key crypto was discovered by GCHQ (and then given to the NSA) several years before it was publicly discovered by Diffie-Hellman and RSA. I think this was to avoid having to have the symmetric keys under armed guard. The public discovery is also what kicked off the 'crypto wars'. I'd be surprised if modern nation state intelligence communities found symmetric encryption sufficient.

A lot of interesting information about the history I learned from Steven Levy's crypto:

fossuser · 2014-05-22 · Original thread
The history of crypto in the US is actually much more interesting than that and for a time exporting any crypto tools was a felony (exporting munitions).

Steven Levy's book goes into pretty good detail about this:

At the time the NSA was not pleased about the release of DES and was also very concerned about PGP. There were attempts at laws requiring key escrow available to the NSA among other restrictions on foreign key size etc. It wasn't really until the late nineties that this stopped. For a time they would probably have liked to ban all citizen encryption all together, but it became obvious that this couldn't be enforced (and it's necessary for things like e-commerce).

A lot of early crypto based patents and research were retroactively classified - there was a big historical legal battle to get things where they are today.

tjaerv · 2012-12-11 · Original thread
The definitive account is Steven Levy's book "Crypto":

lubujackson · 2012-06-19 · Original thread
The answer is simple - everyone is being spied on. Not to tinfoil hat the issue but: EEEVVERYONE

If you want to really get a feel for the situation, read Crypto: It's a book about how cryptography was finally accepted and allowed in the U.S., and how the NSA handled the growth of everyday crypto (hint: not without a fight).

It's not about a government agency trying to control everything and turn the U.S. into 1984, it's about an agency getting swept up in their own mission of secrecy and surveillance, and sometimes (in my opinion) using it as an argumentative technique to advance their agenda. This is just another obvious example of that.

ansy · 2011-06-27 · Original thread
I highly recommend In the Plex to anyone on Hacker News interested in tech folklore. I'm sure even Googlers would find stories they hadn't heard before. The story of Google is an epic story fit for Homeric interpretation.

Steven Levy also wrote the excellent Crypto which covers the emergence of strong public cryptography. It is not a story of accidental discovery, but about active sabotage by the NSA and perseverance by a number of visionaries like Whit Diffie and Martin Hellman working under the radar and outside the mainstream.

bry · 2010-07-29 · Original thread
I really enjoyed this book:

"Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government Saving Privacy in the Digital Age"

Doesn't really teach crypto methods, but it gives a solid (and interesting) lesson about the history and thinking behind cryptology. A good read even if you're not a developer, IMHO

cruise02 · 2009-11-04 · Original thread
Probably not exactly what you're looking for, but anyone who worked on cryptography back in the 1970s (and who wasn't working for their government) was being fairly subversive. Steven Levy wrote a great book about the people involved called Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government Saving Privacy in the Digital Age.

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