Secrecy Is an Illusion

    Date25 Mar 2002
    CategoryCryptography
    2787
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    Phil Zimmermann says he doesn't regret creating the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) strong encryption program, even though terrorists may use it. But while encryption may protect our Internet transactions and routine communications, it would be naive to think that governments or . . . Phil Zimmermann says he doesn't regret creating the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) strong encryption program, even though terrorists may use it. But while encryption may protect our Internet transactions and routine communications, it would be naive to think that governments or even wealthy companies and individuals can't get around it. I happen to believe that if our investigative agencies can't crack PGP by now, someone isn't doing his job. But even if PGP has some life left, a couple of recent articles exposed how easy it is to spy on someone. One of the stories discussed a technology that decodes the flashing lights on a modem; the other is about finding out what's on a user's screen from the reflection of a monitor's glow on the user's face.

    These technologies aren't really as cutting-edge as they sound, but they have Hollywood written all over them. No doubt the next Mission: Impossible sequel will have Tom Cruise run a video of a suspected terrorist through a computer that transforms the glow on the terrorist's face into a flawless picture of what appeared on his computer's monitor.

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