NERD HARDER! FBI Director reiterates faith-based belief in working crypto that he can break


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/12/imaginary-numbers.html


#2

And you can “math harder” and make 2+2=5.


#3

…And while you’re at it, create an ID method that is secret, secure, and can be provided upon demand to any party.
And trisect an angle…
and tell me the last digit of π.


#4

HAhahahhaaa… Oh, man. I love when the FBI Comedy Revue comes around, it’s always good for a snicker.

But really, it’s funny. Because these guys think they want the power to break crypto, but I’m 100% sure that anyone dumb enough to ask for something like that doesn’t realize what they’re actually asking for.

So let’s wave our magic wand and imagine that you can introduce a magical crypto backdoor key that unlocks every algorithm. You now have a publicly known access key… Which means two things. One, that you are in possession of something unbelievably valuable, on the level that nation-states will be throwing millions and billions of dollars at every contractor that might have access to that key, because that kind of power is worth trillions. Blackmail, murder, genital torture of your most-loved ones… No holds are barred, someone WILL get access to those keys very quickly, and then you’ve compromised every business, every person, and every government agency that uses any vulnerable algorithm.

Second, that public knowledge of such keys will mean that criminals will no longer use crypto to secure their communications! That, or they will use crypto but the plaintext will just use codewords, or they will use untraceable public accounts (e.g. terrorists using shared freemail accounts so that they didn’t actually have to send messages in the classical sense, and could do so from unmonitored public terminals).

So then you have the worst of both worlds - the criminals you want to catch just adapt, but you’ve massively weakened the U.S. infrastructure and economy, as well as literally putting people’s lives at risk and created an enormous incentive to corrupt your department. Good job, idiot!


#5

When technologists explain that this isn’t a thing, the FBI insists that they just aren’t nerding hard enough.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair.


#6

Movie-plot engineering. See, if you yell at the engineer he can do more work, because natural law is always defeated by motivation. “We don’t have time, Scotty!”

Related, political engineering. The best and smartest people become politicians and managers, therefore engineers are stupid because they aren’t rich crooked politicians. In fact the only reason we didn’t invent anti-gravity in the medieval era is because all the smartest people always become politicians and managers instead of engineers.


#7

Good thing no one is trying to sell it. It’s as if Wray imagines a group of “hackers” are hiding the secret to magic math from the upstanding agents at the FBI. He and the other deplorables can stomp their feet all they want but


#8

I think some of them know exactly what they’re asking for. They just work in a different framework than tech people. Problems aren’t fixed with math, they are fixed with laws and regulations. Ask any lawyer what the “solution” to a data breach is, and they’ll tell you free credit monitoring.


#9

Just like the TSA the FBI can “totes” be trusted with the keys to everybody’s secrets!


#10

I think this is more an example of “To every problem, there exists a solution that is simple, elegant, and completely fucking pants-on-head retarded”.


#11

I assume you don’t do a lot of interfacing with policy folks.


#12

Sure, for sufficiently large values of 2.


#13

You know, I wish that there was some way that I could be outside playing basketball In the rain and not get wet, now wouldn’t that be great, hmm?


#14

Well, we clearly can’t trust them with our totes! And anyway, the TSA already has the keys to them. :wink:


#15

I actually do all the time - you learn how to answer questions in such a way that doesn’t lead them to the dumbest possible conclusions, and if they do come to those conclusions, then you make sure they know that they would be directly, personally embarrassed by the consequences of those actions.

Remember that there exists a breed of person where “This would be bad for everyone” means nothing, but “This would be very bad for you, personally” makes them drop it immediately.


#16

Ssh, you’re giving the game away.


#17

In the software field, assign more programmers to the project. That always works


#18

Ah, a fellow Fred Brooks fan, I see.


#19

``The obvious mathematical breakthrough would be development of an easy way to factor large prime numbers .’’ -Bill Gates, The Road Ahead, pg. 265


#20

These snarky responses are somewhat less enjoyable after becoming involved in efforts to tackle human trafficking and child pornography.