[cryptography] ICIJ's project - comment on cryptography & tools

ianG iang at iang.org
Sat Apr 6 07:34:15 EDT 2013

On 6/04/13 07:27 AM, Nico Williams wrote:
> On Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 9:17 PM, NgPS <ngps at rulemaker.net> wrote:
>> In the movies and presumably in real life, bad guys have smart crooked
>> lawyers advising them. Surely the bad guys have the resources to set up
>> bunch of servers a la iMessage/Whatsapp, and write/deploy their own apps on
>> their mobile devices, running stripped-down custom ROMs, to communicate via
>> these servers, to avoid 3rd party MITM. Don't even need crooked developers,
>> just advertise on Hacker News and whole bunch of "hackers" will jump on it.
> It'd be nice (for good guys certainly) to be able to open-code
> everything that one needs, or otherwise review all of the source code
> to the object code that one needs.  In practice you cannot do this.

That's the best short description I've seen yet!

> In the worst case scenario for the LEA there's still traffic analysis
> and warrants/court orders/rubber hoses that they can resort to.
> Crypto only helps the good guys w.r.t. bad guys and other governments
> (and then only sometimes); crypto is just a polite way of saying "try
> harder, get a warrant" to the LEA with jurisdiction over you (or your
> devices).  For LEA my guess is that the biggest problem isn't how to
> get at evidence, but how to know who the bad guys are: in a sea of
> traffic it's hard to tell when you don't even know what's needles and
> what's hay, which must be why LEA tend to have such a dislike for good
> guy crypto.

This bit:

> We hope the NSA types haven't forgotten that good guys
> need crypto, whether LEA like it or not.

I personally believe that the NSA's policy that the good guys don't need 
good crypto is the underlying root to the problem.  A goodly portion if 
not all.

Internally to the NSA this is known as 'the equity issue' or so I've heard.

In economic terms, the NSA imposes a sort of tobin tax on crypto which 
results in a stupidity drag on all security, thus making it easier for 
all to avoid doing good work.

Otherwise, I can't answer the question -- why as a society are we so 
good at internets, databases, apps, social networks, distribution of 
institutions, algorithms, all the good CS stuff, but we can't get our 
collective security act together?


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