Skip to comments.US Cyber Command's code has been cracked
Posted on 07/11/2010 2:05:23 AM PDT by tlb
For those unfamiliar, a 'hash' is a computed summary of a longer piece of text. For instance, this entire article could be hashed to a simple 32-byte hash which can be used to guarantee that the text is unchanged as modifying a single character in the text would yield a totally different hash.
The article from The Age infers the solution, without actually revealing it, noting that it is connected with the organisation's mission statement: "USCYBERCOM plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when directed, conduct full spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries."
In fact, using a reverse hash calculator we can easily determine that indeed the code is the MD5 hash of the mission statement.
This all suggests a couple of things. That the new Cyber Command might actually know a thing or two about encryption techniques and also that they seem to have a mild sense of humour.
Drat. First part of the post was lost.
Over the past few days, the Internet has been awash with reports of an intriguing secret code embedded in the logo of the United States Cyber Command.
The logo clearly shows a string of characters on the inner gold ring surrounding the usual eagle-based motif.
For those of poor eyesight, the characters are:
Let’s apply some simple analysis before we reveal the secret.
Firstly, it’s almost certainly a hexadecimal string there are digits 0 - 9 and letters a f only. Breaking it into 2-byte pairs gives us:
9e c4 c1 29 49 a4 f3 14 74 f2 99 05 8c e2 b2 2a
An inspection of which suggests a very low likelihood of a simple character translation to plain text.
What else do we know? There are 32 bytes in the string and this is a very common length for a hash value.
There’s no such thing as a a “reverse hash calculator” though. Hash is meant to be one-way encryption.
I’ve checked it, yes that’s the MD5 of that string.
It also suggests that they are behind the times - as MD5 has been supplanted for several years by more trusted algorithms.
only had 16 characters to work with
It’s not really encryption, it’s validation. An encrypted message has the same amount of information as the orginal message, thirty-two bytes can never contain all the information in a much longer message. For instance if the original message was the first one million digits of PI, the hash code would still only be 32 bytes. There are infinitely many messages that would have the same hash code, but the probability that two distinct messages would have the same hash code purely by chance is about one in two raised to (the number of bytes times eight). For a thiry two byte hash code that would be about one in 1e77.
BTW, it appears to me that 9e c4 c1 29 49 a4 f3 14 74 f2 99 05 8c e2 b2 2a only contains 16 bytes. What am I missing?
Sheesh. It’s all Geek to me.
"There's nothing quite like a governmental agency that uses our money to waste time coming up with puzzles for us. How cute. Glad I pay my taxes so that we can have a larger standing army rather than a proper, well-regulated militia, like we're supposed to."
What’s the lightning bolt stand for? Elvis?
Dark Matter: the unseen Universal constant.
It's was a common element in all three of the military cryptologic services working for the No Such Agency.
Our replacements use it to pretend they are as good as we were.
It can also be used for encryption. Passwords are stored using it. The intent is *one-way encryption*.
BE SURE TO DRINK YOUR OVALTINE
Again, I think it’s an example of validation rather than encryption. You can’t determine a password knowing its hash, there are infinitely many possible plaintext messages that would produce the same hash. What you can determine is that it is extremely unlikely that password entered was not the one that produced the stored hash. For me encryption implies the possibility of decryption, it is not even possible in principle to decrypt a message given its hash.
You can find the password if you guess the length. It’s been done. Hence it’s a form of encryption, which is intended to be one way. And almost always is.