[cryptography] ciphers with keys modifying control flow?

travis+ml-rbcryptography at subspacefield.org travis+ml-rbcryptography at subspacefield.org
Wed Sep 29 10:12:06 EDT 2010

On Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 06:11:28PM -0700, Jon Callas wrote:
> If you remember (or even read) Dan Brown's mid-late-'90s novel,
  "Digital Fortress," in which the MacGuffin was an unbreakable
  cipher, I was amused when I read it that Brown blurred the
  difference between code and data. The keys in Brown's cipher were
  both data and self-modifying instructions in some virtual
  machine. It didn't make sense in the way that software actually
  works, but this made the cipher some weird cross between crypto and
  a polymorphic virus. It was plain in the description that he'd
  gotten a little knowledge about each and combined them to create a
  dangerous thing.

I read that (well, listened to it) and got the feeling he didn't fully
understand the difference, or didn't care.  It was still mildly
entertaining, but not as insightful as Vernor Vinge.

There's a religious author whose book detailing incorrectness in the
Da Vinci Code outsells all his other books combined.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, there was a company who licensed
their patented chaos-based ciphers to the Japanese Telegraph and Post
system, and last I checked (late 90s); their cipher had key-dependent
algorithm lookup.  I suppose that counts as affecting the control flow
:-) I can pull up the name later if you can't find it on your own.
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