Showing posts with label 24. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 24. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bits and Pieces

I found a link to an interesting article indicating that Most Britons have lied about the books they read on reddit today. Before anyone accuses me of Brit bashing, let me just say that I'm sure most Americans are just as quick to inflate their own literary tastes. I only mention this because it expands on my own prior observations about the books that programmers don't really read.

On 24 last night, an FBI analyst broke an AES block cipher in under 30 seconds. The really strange part was that the cipher was used to encrypt the 5-digit combination to an electronic door lock.

Someone needs to tell Hollywood writers that if I'm cracking an N-digit code, and I already know N-1 digits, it won't take my computer a few more seconds to figure out the last digit, no matter how much tension it builds. Most 10 year olds could figure it out in a few seconds.

John Cook posted a couple of good articles on floating point numbers on his blog, The Endeavor, recently. Floating point numbers are a leaky abstraction and Anatomy of a floating point number are both good reads for anyone interested in math or programming.

John's regular and high-quality posts have made The Endeavor one of my favorite blogs on the 'Net. Anyone who reads this blog should give it a try. I think you'll really enjoy it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bruce Schneier is amused.

I threw a foam brick at my TV set this past Monday evening during 24, at the mention of a backdoor designed into the Blowfish cipher. I'm a long-time fan of the show, but not for its steadfast attention to technical details. The show's creators seem to believe that all you need in order to crack any encryption algorithm is an "open socket" and a high enough security clearance.

Bruce Schneier, the designer of the Blowfish algorithm, was gracious in mentioning the episode on his security blog, even providing an excerpt from the show's transcript.

In a response to a comment, Bruce had this to say:
I've never seen the show, and don't really care to. As to how it feels: it feels surreal. I'm not proud to be mentioned, angry they claimed I put a back door in, annoyed they get the details wrong. If anything, I am amused by the whole situation. It's, well, it's surreal.
I won't be surprised if next season's villain on 24 has a manly beard, twin automatic machine pistols, and the uncanny ability to decrypt a box of Alpha-Bits.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Schneier Facts.