James Lyne: Cryptography and the power of randomness

James Lyne: Cryptography and the power of randomness

#James #Lyne #Cryptography #power #randomness

I am a geek and I want to talk to you about a geeky subject that applies to all of us but a subject that is such a passion of mine I want to talk to you about cryptography hiding information in secret codes to make sure that anyone but the intended recipient can’t access

It now it surprises me that so few people know about cryptography when you consider that it’s been made sexy by every Spy novel that any of you have ever read in every movie when you consider that it has turned the tides of war such as the Enigma machine in World

War 2 and when you consider that it underpins all of our modern infrastructure every time you make a payment online every time you post something embarrassing on Facebook that you wish you hadn’t but encryption can be used for bad as well as for good take this computer

Virus here is a file I created could just as easily be pictures of a firstborn child or something like that and here is a nasty email from a cyber criminal now I stupidly run the attachment which then puts up a message saying my files have been encrypted with

The RSA 1024 algorithm if I look at my data now we can see all of my documents are encrypted and I can no longer access them they’re literally holding my data to ransom on my own computer how terrifying is that now encryption isn’t new Roman generals use the Caesar cipher

To send information to each other a very simple cipher where if the key was to you would change A to C and alike but it was very easy to break that cipher you could enumerate all of the different possibilities and quickly figure out the answer so modern computers have to be

Much much smarter the problem is surely if something between a and B is done by a computer a computer can undo it as well you need something that is easy in one direction and hard in another and here comes the elegant mathematical trick that powers the modern world if

You take two prime numbers 19 and 31 and you multiply them together most of you could do this quite easily some of you might more time or calculator but nonetheless you could do it fast however if I gave you the number 589 and asked you to find the two prime numbers

That constitute it together that multiplied to give this you find it really hard and so does a computer it’s like unmixing paint this can take seconds in one direction and years in another now imagine that number is absolutely huge just like in encryption for the parties

A and B that know the secret this takes mere seconds but for the attacker it takes forever you now understand cryptography or at least the basis of it that keeps most of our computers safe today but unfortunately computers are getting more powerful so there’s lots of research going on into new areas like

Quantum key distribution using light to send information from A to B using a wonderful law of quantum mechanics that says if you look at the photons of light between a and B the photons being the pastor here made a lot of mess in my kitchen then if you look at them when

They arranged at the other end they’ll be fundamentally different it’s a system that is designed by nature to be proof from tampering now there’s another important concept to encryption that we have to consider the art of being random now it sounds easy but being random is actually really hard

If you say to a computer be random it has a program to do that which is quite logical and not very random so we have to look at other ways to get that stuff so I went out on a little mission to build some of these devices and I’m

Going to share one of them with you now I took a smoke alarm and a smoke alarm contains a lovely little radioactive source and nature provides these wonderfully random radioactive emissions so I took this and using an incredibly expensive high-tech containment device I connected it to my computer with a

Geiger counter and collected data from this wonderful source and the net result okay I’m the only one that’s excited about that right to a cryptographer that is brilliant it’s pure randomness okay now I’m taking all of these devices I’ve built lots of others some from vacuum cleaners and other strange things and

Plugging them into my website where you’ll be able to go online and you’ll be able to use these to generate some random data to make yourselves more secure online but most critically my hope is this encryption cryptography is one of the most critical pillars of our infrastructure today it’s the guardian

Of your privacy and your security I hope that my passion and this talk inspires you to learn more about how to keep yourself safe and how this fascinating subject works thank you

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