Re: What does this all mean?

Howard Wilson (stile@ionet.net)
Sat, 17 May 1997 16:05:37 -0500 (CDT)


>
> 1. Why is it that initially the key server assigned 2^22 pairs, then 2^26,
> then 2^28 then 2^30 pairs? And why is progress measured (on the web site
> and elsewhere) as X * 2^20 pairs checked? In other words, what's the
> "magic" in 2^20? Is 2^20 some special "unit" of labor??

It's just an easy form of measurement. Since most computers that are able
to connect to the network can handle 2^22 in a short time, that is where
the server starts.

> 2. What does each "progress dot" (if that's the right term) signify? That
> X pairs have veeb tested? Something else?

On my computer, about 5 seconds or so. Not sure what it really is,
but I suspect it might be keyblocks.

> 3. How does the program know empirically that a given pair doesn't (or
> does) work? i.e. what is the nature of the test it employs?

As the computer on Star Trek says: "Please redefine parameters". Do you want
a long mathematical discussion or a short answer? The short answer is it
decodes the key by brute force.

> 5. Finally, not to be a cynic, since I support the effort, but one could
> argue that an encryption key which requires an effort of this scale to
> crack is, by definition, pretty damn secure; i.e. hope the project isn't in
> itself self-defeating.

One COULD argue that, yes. One could also argue that the moon is made of
green cheese, and both would be equally correct. The point we are making
is the key can be cracked by DESKTOP computers in their SPARE time.
Ok, so it takes us a year to do it with Pentiums. What if we threw DEDICATED
hardware at it FULL TIME?

Another way to say it is, do you want ME, just a regular guy, to have your
credit card number? If not, then we need to show that DES in the current form
is not good enough.

The message we are trying to crack is one from RSA saying "Good job, you did
it". It could just as easily be something else.

Howard

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