High marks for encryption algorithm.The security of an encryption scheme depends in part on the quality of the mathematical procedure, or algorithm, used to scramble digitized speech or text into unintelligible strings of digits. Only recipients with the appropriate "key" should be able to decipher the coded message. Earlier this year, the White House proposed a novel "key-escrow" cryptographic system based on an encryption algorithm developed in secret by the National Security Agency (NSA NSA
National Security Agency
Noun 1. NSA - the United States cryptologic organization that coordinates and directs highly specialized activities to protect United States information systems and to produce foreign ). This represented the first time that classified encryption technology had been offered for public use (SN: 6/19/93, p.394).
To help allay fears that the secret algorithm, known as SKIPJACK skipjack: see herring.
(cryptography) SkipJack - An encryption algorithm created by the NSA (National Security Agency) which encrypts 64-bit blocks of data with an 80-bit key. , may contain a loophole or exhibit some other kind of weakness that could undermine the system, NSA gave five cryptography experts a chance to assess the algorithm's quality. "The government's new encryption algorithm is first-rate," concludes computer scientist Dorothy E. Denning Dorothy Elizabeth Denning (the daughter of C. Lowell and Helen Watson Robling on August 12, 1945) is an American information security researcher. She has published four books and 120 articles. of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who participated in this independent review of the algorithm.
Incorporated in an integrated-circuit chip placed in a security device attached to a telephone, the algorithm handles digitized speech in 64-bit chunks. In essence, it converts each incoming string 64 ones and zeros Ones and Zeros is the second full-length release by Canadian indie rock group Immaculate Machine. It is their first official release through Mint Records. Music videos were released for the songs "Broken Ship" and "So Cynical". into a scrambled sequence of the same length. It also requires the use of an 80-bit key as part of the encryption process.
Starting in late June, each of the five experts independently tested the SKIPJACK algorithm in a variety of ways, looking for potential flaws in the scheme. These tests failed to turn up any weaknesses. Indeed, the algorithm behaves "like a high-quality random-number generator," says Denning.
In a joint report, the five experts concluded that, even with tremendous increases in computer power, there was no significant risk that SKIPJACK could be broken in the next 30 or 40 years by an exhaustive search based on trying every possible key. They also dismissed the possibility that a shortcut (1) In Windows, a shortcut is an icon that points to a program or data file. Shortcuts can be placed on the desktop or stored in other folders, and double clicking a shortcut is the same as double clicking the original file. method of attack would succeed.
Denning presented the group's findings at a meeting of the Computer System Security and Privacy Advisory Group, held late last month at the National Institute of Standards and Technology National Institute of Standards and Technology, governmental agency within the U.S. Dept. of Commerce with the mission of "working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements, and standards" in the national interest. in Gaithersburg, Md. The other members of the SKIPJACK review panel are Ernest F. Brickell of Sandia National Laboratories Sandia National Laboratories, which is managed and operated by the Sandia Corporation (a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation), is a major United States Department of Energy research and development national laboratory with two locations, one in Albuquerque, New in Albuquerque, N.M., Stephen T. Kent of BBN (BBN Technologies, Cambridge, MA, www.bbn.com) A consulting firm that participated in the development of some of the most extensive networks in the world, including ARPANET, which evolved into the Internet. It was founded in 1948 as a consulting service in acoustics by Dr. Communications Corp. in Cambridge, Mass., David P. Maher of AT&T in Andover, Mass., and Walter Tuchman of Amperif Corp. in Chatsworth, Calif.
Because SKIPJACK is just one component of a large, complex encryption system, these experts plan to assess the strength of the entire key-escrow scheme as soon as the federal government settles various technical details. "When it's ready, we'll evaluate it," Denning says.