SF code cracking vs real mathematics

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  • Implanted smartphone has weak encryption protocol due to physical limits.

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  • Crystal based factorization hardware was developed.

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  • Planet spanning super neural network come up with revolutionary mathematical solution

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  • Use Xrays or microwaves to alter memory, in order to run a Trojan program.

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  • #1
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After i read about RSA encoding, it looks like as if one need an alternate history universe to justify that in the not so far (cyberpunk) future the coded message of an important person involved in shady business can be cracked in reasonable time, let alone during a single night.
I read that poor encoding implementation or Shor algorithm could help. But the later should still require millions of qbits for a long key, and i think that in my story, quantum computers shouldnt be so common. They should be rather something exotic, as only they could house strong AIs.

What could be the solution, that passes suspension of disbelief for someone knows anything about cryptography?
Notes: in case A, security relies on frequent change of keys. The hacker need to deny net access from implanted smartphone.
In B the crystal utilize a physical based solution to perform similar as qbits. In C, that supernetwork still isnt sentient. In D, secret service wanted to blackmail that man if he do anything against beloved president, the hacker exploit that.
 

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  • #2
anorlunda
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If you are a targeted person, it is really difficult. I suggest that you should research what Edward Snowden does to protect himself.

If you are talking about the non-targeted general public protecting themselves, lesser encryption can be adequate.
 
  • #3
nsaspook
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My 2c.

Personal threats of hammers, blowtorches and crowbars are the usual code cracking instruments when time matters with a person involved in shady business. Technical exploits are the cool but the reality is most modern secure systems were cracked by social engineering or the greed of the code keepers when I was in. I'm pretty sure not much has changed irt human weakness.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy...y-spy-who-defined-crypto-betrayal-dead-at-77/
 
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  • #4
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My 2c.

Personal threats of hammers, blowtorches and crowbars are the usual code cracking instruments when time matters with a person involved in shady business. Technical exploits are the cool but the reality is most modern secure systems were cracked by social engineering or the greed of the code keepers when I was in. I'm pretty sure not much has changed irt human weakness.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy...y-spy-who-defined-crypto-betrayal-dead-at-77/
I describe that a well maintained system cant be hacked without getting access codes or physical access.

The first step of the hacking action would be catch a mob leader do dirty jobs for main villain. With symmetric encoding that would be great, but there are assymetric coding. But capture an important man contact with main villain should help finding a weakness.
 
  • #5
nsaspook
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Identification and Authentication is also a important angle. If mob leader X says 'open the safe' you don't ask if he also knows the combination before it's opened. If you can spoof Villain Authentication in the correct manner and context you often don't need the actual encryption access codes or direct physical access, the system will do that for you.
 
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  • #6
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the coded message of an important person involved in shady business can be cracked in reasonable time
It depends on much handwavium you want to apply, @GTOM, but compromising the end-user device is probably the most straightforward way to capture coded messages from a nominated character. Trying to describe a situation where encryption can be broken in the general sense without a new technology such as quantum computing injects a lot of implausible concepts into your story.

I've gone the 'new tech' route in my latest novel, but it required a short sequence to 'describe' how it was done, even in my hyperbolic plot, I couldn't just let it slip by (that 'describe' is quoted because I've just thrown stuff together to hopefully weave a reasonable scenario):

“I might,” Paul chimed in glumly. “It’s something I’ve been working on for the Prof. He asked me to update Gidney and Ekerå’s work on modular exponentiation. It’s a quantum computing method to quickly factor prime numbers. If you can factor primes fast enough you can crack encryption, but even with modular exponentiation, it’s not trivial. The Prof. was interested in Lattice cryptography and I created a different type of exponentiation method to test it against. It’s way more efficient. The Prof. coded it into some of his picolayer MOSFET processors, for testing, then once I’d worked out the kinks, he designed a diamond NV center qubit architecture to run it. I guess Cade is running on that.”

Once again, Robert had no idea exactly what his Son was describing, but he certainly got the gist. Silver had designed encryption-busting hardware and installed it in the bear. From what he knew of the man, he’d probably done it just because he cold.

Maureen was aghast. “Oh my God, Paul, do you know what you’ve done?”

“All I’ve done is speed up what was coming, Mom,” he shot back. “You should be adopting post-quantum methods, not just talking about it. Shor waved the flag back in 1994, and the Bitcoin subversion was a shout from the rooftops, but all you do is keep upping the key length. Two-kay bits, four-kay bits, it doesn’t matter, make then as long as you like, the superposition state range is infinite, it’s a war conventional encryption is never going to win.”
 
  • #7
Vanadium 50
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“I might,” Paul chimed in glumly.
Did you intend to juxtapose a happy sound like a chime with glumly?

It's almost a Tom Swifty. (My favorite: "I dropped my toothpaste," Tom said, crestfallen.)
 
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  • #8
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It depends on much handwavium you want to apply, @GTOM, but compromising the end-user device is probably the most straightforward way to capture coded messages from a nominated character. Trying to describe a situation where encryption can be broken in the general sense without a new technology such as quantum computing injects a lot of implausible concepts into your story.

I've gone the 'new tech' route in my latest novel, but it required a short sequence to 'describe' how it was done, even in my hyperbolic plot, I couldn't just let it slip by (that 'describe' is quoted because I've just thrown stuff together to hopefully weave a reasonable scenario):
Although i like to note, if they can easily rely on quantum phenonama, there can be quantum encoded transmission. So something send entangled pairs to Alice and Bob, if one try to intercept them, entanglement is broken, it will be noticed. They can generate new key for every message, that make cracking theoretically impossible. (Unless they compromise either Alice or Bob, or replace one of them.)
Of course, anytime soon, that wont apply to the communication of ordinary folks.
 
  • #9
anorlunda
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They can generate new key for every message, that make cracking theoretically impossible.
Study history; namely the history of Bletchley Park and engima in World War II. Alan Turing figured out how to break the enigma code without ever knowing the key. "Theoretically impossible" is a joke.
 
  • #10
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Study history; namely the history of Bletchley Park and engima in World War II. Alan Turing figured out how to break the enigma code without ever knowing the key. "Theoretically impossible" is a joke.
I just read about one-pad coding. New key for every message make crack impossible, a chunk can be equally "attack!" Or "retreat".
And next.one.has new key.
 
  • #11
anorlunda
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I just read about one-pad coding. New key for every message make crack impossible, a chunk can be equally "attack!" Or "retreat".
And next.one.has new key.
Then read further about the problem of key distribution. Impossible is a joke when humans are involved.

Also, don't confuse code with encryption. They are two very different things with similar purposes. For example, "red flare in the sky means attack and blue means retreat" That is a code. Very hard to crack (unless you intercept the code book, or unless the code is re-used another day). But code can not be used to send an arbitrary message such as, "Bring home milk and bread after the battle."

The German Enigma machine did encryption.

A very entertaining way to learn about this subject is the novel Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephanson.
 
  • #12
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Then read further about the problem of key distribution. Impossible is a joke when humans are involved.

Also, don't confuse code with encryption. They are two very different things with similar purposes. For example, "red flare in the sky means attack and blue means retreat" That is a code. Very hard to crack (unless you intercept the code book, or unless the code is re-used another day). But code can not be used to send an arbitrary message such as, "Bring home milk and bread after the battle."

The German Enigma machine did encryption.

A very entertaining way to learn about this subject is the novel Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephanson.
If the entangled quantum pairs do the distribution it cant be intercepted. Of course if either Alice or Bob compromised it can be cracked.
 
  • #13
anorlunda
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If the entangled quantum pairs do the distribution it cant be intercepted.
It can't be intercepted during the quantum pair exchange. It's still vulnerable before or after that phase of the multi-phase-process. I think you underestimate the cleverness of human adversaries.

If thinks were as impossible as you think, then the military and the NSA would have no need to keep secret their communication hardware and procedures. Their opponents wouldn't be able to do anything with that information if they had it. But that's not real life.
 
  • #14
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Did you intend to juxtapose a happy sound like a chime with glumly?
Intentional, @Vanadium 50, but maybe not permanent. I am still writing - about 80% through, so the end is in sight - then it's proofing before publication. I'll revisit the scene because I'm not sure that Paul's tone suits the situation.

I do enjoy a Tom Swifty, though, but only when they fall out of the narrative, as this one did. I find them tricky to force into a story, as they can tug the reader back out into the real by mere fact of appreciation, and no author wants that!

Although i like to note, if they can easily rely on quantum phenonama, there can be quantum encoded transmission. So something send entangled pairs to Alice and Bob, if one try to intercept them, entanglement is broken, it will be noticed. They can generate new key for every message, that make cracking theoretically impossible. (Unless they compromise either Alice or Bob, or replace one of them.)
Of course, anytime soon, that wont apply to the communication of ordinary folks.
I feel you need to decide the degree of realism your story will have, @GTOM. Either, it's true to life and you subvert selected character's devices and their messages rather than crack their traffic in transit; or you invent new tech in which case you can make the scenario whatever you like. You seem to be wanting an impossible outcome at the moment - widespread code breaking that is based on current tech. We just don't have that! You can make either plausible, but each obviously has narrative consequences.
 
  • #15
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I do enjoy a Tom Swifty, though,
"She's been kidnapped!", Tom said, mistakenly. Or if you prefer, ruthlessly. :wink:

as they can tug the reader back out into the real by mere fact of appreciation, and no author wants that!
I'm not so sure. Steven Brust did it. Rex Stout did it. Of course, when you write 33 bestsellers, you should get a little latitude.
 
  • #16
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Of course, when you write 33 bestsellers
Absolutely. I've not even written one yet, but it's a milestone I'd be happy to achieve :wink:
 
  • #17
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It can't be intercepted during the quantum pair exchange. It's still vulnerable before or after that phase of the multi-phase-process. I think you underestimate the cleverness of human adversaries.

If thinks were as impossible as you think, then the military and the NSA would have no need to keep secret their communication hardware and procedures. Their opponents wouldn't be able to do anything with that information if they had it. But that's not real life.
If you need the highest security use quantum pairs as one-time pad (after verifying that no one interrupted the exchange). Limits the data rate but its security is guaranteed by physics.
 
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  • #18
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Intentional, @Vanadium 50, but maybe not permanent. I am still writing - about 80% through, so the end is in sight - then it's proofing before publication. I'll revisit the scene because I'm not sure that Paul's tone suits the situation.

I do enjoy a Tom Swifty, though, but only when they fall out of the narrative, as this one did. I find them tricky to force into a story, as they can tug the reader back out into the real by mere fact of appreciation, and no author wants that!



I feel you need to decide the degree of realism your story will have, @GTOM. Either, it's true to life and you subvert selected character's devices and their messages rather than crack their traffic in transit; or you invent new tech in which case you can make the scenario whatever you like. You seem to be wanting an impossible outcome at the moment - widespread code breaking that is based on current tech. We just don't have that! You can make either plausible, but each obviously has narrative consequences.
Now i think about some malware hidden in the execution video sent to villain. Actually most random numbers are pseudonumbers, if you can deny true random numbers from the key generator, keys become predictable.
https://www.infoq.com/news/2019/12/rsa-iot-vulnerability/
 
  • #19
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There are several steps on the path from A to B. One of them is, as they say "cryptographically secure". The idea that the message would be intercepted by attacking it there is a) unlikely, and b) disregards good sense. Attack at the weakest point, not the strongest. Use a keylogger at the sender. A bug at the receiver. Someone who's been bribed or blackmailed.
 
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  • #20
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Now i think about some malware hidden in the execution video sent to villain.
That's what is supposed to have happened to Jeff Bezos, his phone was hacked via WhatsApp using a video file. So, you don't even need to make anything up 👍
 

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