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Questions tagged [history]

History of cryptography and cryptanalysis. Questions that wish to ask about the history of cryptography should use this tag; if you're asking about historical ciphers you may also wish to use the classical-cipher tag.

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Origin of values for “security margin”?

It seems that the acceptable "security margin" for ciphers is set to be between 25% and 30% as a target by designers, where this number represents the number of rounds that remain "unbroken" for a ...
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1answer
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When was hash chain first used?

Hash linking is used to prove the integrity of a blockchain, or similar systems. When was that technique first used? I would guess it was early, maybe 1950s/1960s?
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80-bit collision resistence because of 80-bit x87 registers?

This is just a curious question, and it probably doesn't belong here anyway, and I'm just being bold asking it here. 80-bit used to be considered an adequate level of security, Skipjack and SHA1 ...
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1answer
80 views

How was the 5 digit random number in the VIC cipher generated?

Knowing that VIC was a "spy cipher" it is unlikely that the agents used a cryptographic device to genreate the 5 digit number but how did they do it?
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Why did MD4 replace MD2?

MD2 was a hash function based on swapping bytes in a state array permutation, much like the RC4 stream cipher, whereas MD4 was a novel construction. MD4 replaced MD2 despite the fact that MD4 is more ...
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678 views

What motivated the creation of RSA and ECDH?

Recently I've been learning about cryptography and so far I am loving it. However, there are some things I do not comprehend. As far as I know, RSA was published in 1979 while New Directions on ...
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Old French Cipher w/ Text Hidden In Drawing

I'm trying to find a cipher challenge I saw a few years back, it was an old drawing (I think 1800's or earlier) with clouds and stars on it and French text was hidden in the image. Does anyone happen ...
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1answer
875 views

In the RSA DES challenges, how did the contestants know they had found the right key considering they weren't given any plaintext?

If the contestants were given both the plaintext and ciphertext, it's straightforward. Just bruteforce all 56-bit keys until you find one that maps the given plaintext to the given ciphertext. But ...
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Question from WW2

I have seen in the imitation game that the Germans reset the Enigma, midnight sharp and then start messaging by sending the weather report morning. But the device by Alan Turing, took a few minutes ...
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Is RSA inspired by Diffie Hellman?

I read a bit of A Method for Obtaining Digital Signatures and Public-Key Cryptosystems that introduced RSA in 1977, and, while learning the steps in RSA a few days ago, I noticed that they are similar ...
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327 views

Who said “32 round Rijndael” in the third AES Conference

This is a historical question. In the third AES Conference of NIST (AES3), April 13-14, 2000, New York, near the end of the conference, one representative for each of the last 5 candidates sit on a ...
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Cryptanalysis in the middle ages — publications

Are there any publications, articles or literature discussing cryptanalysis and crypt breaking techniques in the middle-ages? I have seen various manuals from the middle ages describing various types ...
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315 views

Where can I find the description of SHA0 algorithm?

Where may I find the description and or pseudocode for the SHA0 algorithm. I am looking for something on these lines - HMAC RIPEMD. I have been implementing a few of those (HMAC, HOTP, TOTP and MD4, ...
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What was the BassOmatic cipher, and what made it so weak?

According to Wikipedia, this homebrew cipher was originally used in PGP, before Phil Zimmermann replaced it with IDEA. Supposedly, insecurities in the algorithm were pointed out to him, leading to ...
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ECDSA public key recovery is discovered by whom?

Im looking for the history of the method (ECDSA public key recovery from signature). Where is this implementation first appeared in (is it bitcoin?) and who discovered this method?
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aside from DES has the NSA ever strengthened algorithms?

When DES was originally developed, the NSA changed the s-boxes. For decades people thought that their changes introduced a backdoor but then it was discovered that their changes actually strengthened ...
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How come Public key cryptography wasn't discovered earlier?

I became interested in crypto lately and read about symmetric and public key crypto algorithms. I understand how crucial the discoveries of the 1970s like RSA, DES and DH were in advancing the ...
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1answer
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Would it be possible to negotiate a key of 128 or 256 bits strength using Merkle puzzles?

One can be fascinated by the simplicity of the schemes created by Ralf Merkle; like the Merkle tree or his key negociation protocol over an insecure channel. Wikipedia has some material on "Merkle ...
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Why is XOR preferred over XNOR in cryptography? [duplicate]

The advantages and properties exhibited by XOR are also exhibited by XNOR, like the ones mentioned in many answers like this one Information is preserved. $c = a \oplus b$. One may recover $a = c \...
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Why did Histiaeus tattoo his slave's head?

The story is often told that Histiaeus tattooed a secret message on his slave's head, waited for his hair to grow back, then sent him off to Miletus. Why would he have done this? The story is usually ...
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2k views

What was the first hash and what problem was it supposed to solve?

Today's hashes have many uses. File integrity, verification of a secret without revealing the secret (i.e. passwords), hash maps, bloom filters, and probably a few more cases not immediately coming to ...
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1answer
143 views

Major Block Ciphers between DES and AES competitions

DES was announced as a standard in 1976. AES competition started in 1997 and Rijndael was selected as standard in 2000. What are major block ciphers and block cipher designs made/proposed from 1976 to ...
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359 views

How were one-time pads and keys historically generated?

In the 20th century, it was common for various intelligence agencies and military organizations to use ciphering machines and one-time pads. However, no source I've seen ever mentions the process of ...
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How did the cryptographers of Bletchley Park figured out the chi stream of the Lorenz cipher?

How did the Bletchy Park code breakers figured out the chi stream of the Lorenz cipher, that was obscured in the cipher text, which Britain code breakers eventually decoded. It's written in The ...
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1answer
74 views

How effective noise based voice encryption against attack?

In WWII the primary way of encrypting radio broadcasts was to have the broadcaster transmit a signal with noise added from record, while the receiver would have an identical copy of the record ...
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1answer
160 views

When was a RSA Private Key Introduced?

I'm doing some research into the RSA cryptosystem but I just need some clarity on how it worked when it was published in the 70s. Now I know that it works with public keys but did it also work with ...
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An unbreakable book cipher?

In a recent press interview, a former terrorist of the 1970s described the cipher his group used to communicate. He claimed that method was unbreakable and I wonder if cryptographers today would agree....
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1answer
191 views

How did “Secure Voice” work on the old Air Force One's?

I recently visited the "Museum of Flight" where they have an old SAM 970, previously known as "Air Force One". Inside there is a comm station with many buttons designated "Secure Voice", as can be ...
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1answer
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Who issued the first SSL certificate?

When SSL was introduced in ~1996, there was only a few CAs issuing certificates for that specific use and a few sites which actually used SSL. Which Certification Authority issued the first SSL ...
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172 views

Steganography in speech by adding extra “filler” syllables [closed]

PREAMBLE About 20 years ago, when reading a novel (set in late 1800) by some classic Russian writer I came across very curious example of steganography. The two main characters were peasants who got ...
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614 views

Major code breaks in history

What are the major code breaks in the history of cryptography? Which code breaks changed the face of a battle or another major event? Which one had nationwide consequences?
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1answer
396 views

Have affine ciphers actually been used in practice?

I have been been studying some basic ciphers, and learnt about the affine cipher where the encryption function is given by $ax+b \pmod{26}$ for an alphabet with 26 characters. This is a very insecure ...
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1answer
62 views

How does Fialka manage to have a letter encipher unto itself?

http://www.cryptomuseum.com/crypto/fialka/index.htm Fialka was an electromechanical rotor machine. How does it manage to have a letter encipher unto itself. I realize it does something clever by ...
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227 views

Time gap between Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange and ElGamal encryption?

I'm looking into the Diffie-Hellman key exchange paper (New Directions in Cryptography, 1976) as part of a series of classic papers in Cryptography for my Ph.D and I was wondering if someone could ...
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Has the Linear Congruent Generator ever been used in any of the early crypto algorithms?

The Linear Congruent random number generator is the simplest kind of pseudo random number generator. I know that its now long broken. But I am curious -- has it ever been used in any of the early ...
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Did a certain cryptography method get abandoned due to security flaws in the past?

I am researching how quantum computers affect current encryption methods (RSA and more). However, I remember learning in a course that there used to be a particular encryption method which was ...
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1answer
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Examples of modern, widely used ciphers that suddenly fell?

RC4 and GOST are two major ciphers (defined as being widely used to encrypt large amounts of data) that fell to cryptanalysis (relatively) suddenly. The first becoming totally broken and the second ...
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Turing's (still?) classified inference engine algorithm?

Does anyone know the algorithm used by Turing's Colossus inference engine, so highly classified that the Brits kept it secret for decades after WW II? Indeed, it may still be classified. Several ...
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2answers
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Purpose of DES parity bits

DES has a 64-bit key size, but only 56 of those are used during encryption. The other 8 are "parity bits". What was the intended purpose of the party bits, and why are they no longer used in modern ...
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VIC cipher author known?

Does anybody know if the design of VIC cipher is attributed to anybody? I've tried Google and found nothing. There are quite a few sites describing the method in detail, a few implementing it ...
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441 views

Best non-digital cipher?

Is there an undisputed cipher that was considered the best before the computer age? (This is not suppose to be a discussion, it's either a yes or no.) Please give a brief description why it is yes ...
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136 views

Historical algorithm which is frequency analysis resilient

Long ago, I've read an article on wikipedia which describe a cipher algorithm, used by kgb (if I remember well) with the property that all ciphered letters has the same (or nearly) probability to ...
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1answer
283 views

Would the rotors in Enigma machines always advance by one position? Or was there a way to set this?

Before encrypting a letter the first rotor advances by one, right? So there could be a way, once the first rotor turns 26 times, make the second rotor advance two positions instead of one. Or three. ...
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Why was the Navajo code not broken by the Japanese in WWII?

In reading about this topic recently, to my understanding, the encryption schemes used on top of the Navajo language were very simple and definitely could have been broken (my research shows they ...
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Historic Authentication Schemes Before Computers

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recently ran an article about an alleged near miss with rockets in 1962, which raises some interesting cryptographic questions: After the usual time-check and ...
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How were semagrams encrypted in the pre-digital era?

Historically messages in languages that use alphabets have been encrypted manually according to some kind of algorithm (e.g. mono- and poly-alphabetic ciphers). But how wew messages encrypted in a ...
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1answer
658 views

When did Kerckhoffs's principle become fully accepted in design and practice of modern ciphers?

Kerckhoffs's principle is named after a publication over 130 years old. Yet it is still something that is commonly misunderstood and challenged by newcomers to cryptography. This question from Open ...
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What was the first MD5 collision ever constructed?

We all know that MD5's collision resistance is severly broken. But when thinking of "random" strings with great cryptographic importance I've come up with NIST's curve seeds and MD5 collisions. But ...
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How did G.H. Hardy's work contribute to today's public-key cryptography?

I know that Hardy's work in number theory was used by Clifford Cocks in 1973 to develop the basis for public-key cryptography. What specifically was this work, and how is it used today in ...
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Definition of the term “key”

I've looked in many places (NIST, text books, online resources) and I cannot find an answer to the definition of the term "key" from a semantic point of view. Is it the "key" to cipher-texts (i.e. ...