Skip to comments.Report: NSA working on code-cracking supercomputer
Posted on 01/02/2014 2:56:53 PM PST by markomalley
The National Security Agency (NSA) is using tens of millions of dollars to develop a lightening-quick computer capable of cracking nearly every type of code, according to a report based on documents from former agency contractor Edward Snowden.
The quantum computer is part of the agencys massive Penetrating Hard Targets project, based at a lab in College Park, Md., The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The new documents show that the NSA is conducting basic research in quantum physics and architecture/engineering studies to determine if, and how, a cryptologically useful quantum computer can be built. That effort is reportedly part of a $79.7 million research effort.
The quantum computing technology could be used to crack nearly any business or government encryption network. Scientists have also sought to develop a computer with similar powers, which could revolutionize their research.
Quantum computing has yet to be fully developed for the purposes of breaking codes, and is based on complex quantum physics.
Unlike traditional computers, which use bits of information with a value of either one or zero, quantum computing uses quantum bits, called qubits, which can have a value of both numbers at the same time. As qubits add up, they could theoretically dramatically increase the computers power.
That high-speed power could be used to unscramble even the strongest encryption tools currently in use, at a rate much faster than classical computers are capable.
Even the NSA is still early in the development. By the end of September, the agency has a goal of demonstrating dynamical decoupling and complete quantum control on two semiconductor qubits, it said in the documents. This will enable initial scaling towards large systems in related and follow-on efforts.
An NSA spokeswoman declined to comment on the disclosure.
Last year, Google and NASA jointly purchased a quantum computer developed by the Canadian company D-Wave. Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin bought the first commercially available quantum computer back in 2011.
I remember back in the day when I'd say "good luck" and see what I could do to get on the contract developing such a tool.
These days? If such a capability is developed, I would wonder what percentage of processing power would do what the NSA is supposed to do...versus what percentage would be used to crack domestic civilian email traffic.
That is a shame.
Can it stop a bullet?
How long would it take to break 128!
I’m sure they can already break 128 bit fairly quick.
If it has already been developed, the game is over.
The guy that cracked foermat’s last theorem was funded by Bill Gates to build a quantum computer abou 7 years or so ago....
HJKJKUD NSA [pkdfkfpkpo**&&^%% NSA
lkfl;sdk;lf99999 NSA UORPOITRPOSDK nsa.
*It'll be like a daily cryptoquote for them!*
Nuke them from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.
But what do I know. I’m just a grunt.
How many different ways can you insult them that they have to decrypt?
I would say everyone could just start making up pages of encrypted insult messages and just start sending them back and forth and melt the damn computer right there.
I would say everyone could just start making up pages of encrypted insult messages and just start sending them back and forth and melt the damn computer right there.*
That's a good idea! Being a Secret Agent Man you probably already know a few codes. ;-)
“aybemay i’llay artstay ithway igpay atinlay.”
If the decoders are as smart as the average politician, it'll take them two months to decode the above message, even with a supercomputer.
3 years if it's decoded by a climate change “scientist”
45 years if it's decoded by Algore (inventor of the Internet).
A billion years? Just a guess.
It depends on the algorithm they use to crack it. If they can use Schor’s algorithm, it would only take about as much time for a quantum computer to decrypt as it would take a normal computer to encrypt, which is nearly instantaneous. If they have to use Grover’s algorithm, they can brute force decrypt it in the same amount of time a normal computer could brute force an encryption with half the key size. So, it could crack 128-bit as fast as a normal computer can crack 64-bit encryption.
I wonder what they would do with a 100% contextual language like the Wind Talkers (or the Tamarians of ST:TNG fame).
For example, my friends and I had our own “language” with 1st and 2nd generation references related to people. You would have to know the people and our shared opinions of those people to understand the verb or noun in use.
I like cryptography. It’s fascinating. I’ve read about it from the early ancients to Alan Turing and ENIGMA. Most unbreakable cyphers are those one-time pads and using some obscure book then doing that double and triple super enhancement. I’m sure NSA could break them down but it’s the time element. If the bad guys want to coordinate something in a matter of days I think they’d be hard put to come up with a solution that quick. Lots of neat sites and blogs about it.
I could see a good science fiction movie come out of
this. NSA builds quantum computer, it hacks encrypted
message only it’s not from around here and the beings
that sent it are a bit put out.
That’s of course if a computer is used for encryption. See my other post.
Or the quantum computer is creating the messages, spooky huh? ... wasn’t there a movie a while back where this computer took over lots of things? I’m not talking about HAL. It was a movie on TV.
A quantum computer can’t break all encryption, it just makes you increase the key length.
It can never break a one-time-pad because nothing possibly can.
The old German Enigma and Tunny machines were one-time-pad systems that were based on a flawed random generator. They never encrypted a character as itself and that was a huge mistake that drastically narrowed the number of key setting to try. They also suffered from foolish operator errors.
But it is a simple matter to create true randomness now using something like a noisy diode or transistor junction...takes just a few simple parts. If you build it into a thumb drive USB style package you can create 128GB of random bytes and clone the thumb drive to another identical one and pass messages for a LONG time.
The problem is the parties have to meet physically to securely create the random number drives and they are thus exposed to danger or they have to trust others to do this for them... the old key exchange problem.
There have been several, I think the Forbin Project
Some saboteurs might ark their supercomputers that they spent all of our hard-earned belhoons on. Brightlighter like that have no idea how can-kicky the American People might become when our freedom and privacy is stolen.
We all have a right to be a cocked darley. The people running things are deegers, but they've been deeked and it's difficult to unsee what has been seen.
I highly recommend this book to any intelligent lay person interested in this topic:
The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh. Also Fermat’s Last Theorem by the same author.
Yep - just ran a search on it. It was Colossus: The Forbin Project a 1970 American science fiction thriller film. It is based upon the 1966 novel Colossus, by Dennis Feltham Jones, about a massive American defense computer, named Colossus, becoming sentient and deciding to assume control of the world.
Can it solve the mystery as to why foreign born Marxists are elected POTUS? Why hardcore blatant commies like Bill de Blasio are elected Mayor of a major US city even though communists are responsible for 100 million deaths in the past 80 odd years, over 4 times the amount of people the Nazis killed?? If a Nazi ran for Mayor he would be run out of town, so why aren’t Marxists? Please solve this mystery oh NSA computer.
There are plenty of ciphers that couldn’t be cracked by any computer, or any human for that matter, but they aren’t useful for a public encryption standard. If you and I want to trade secure messages, we can just make sure that the messages are too short for anyone to analyze them and figure out what cipher we are using, and then use a different cipher for each message. With publicly available encryption, the type of cipher is known to everyone, so that basic level of security is gone. You’re left with mostly relying on the complexity of the cipher as your only defense.
Also there’s Drop Box.
I'll save you the trouble
US citizens are being treated like a hostile foreign power sinking ships in the Atlantic with submarines.
They’re not quite there yet, because they are only building the most basic quantum computers right now. We’re not even talking pocket calculator levels of quantum computing power yet. Once they can build machines like this with real processing power, that is when the fun begins.
As for encryption within an encryption, it’s not a big problem. Most modern encryption standards are already using multiple levels of ciphers, so adding one more level is probably only going to double the time it takes to crack it, as long as you are using known encryption standards.
We don’t need a computer to solve that mystery. We let our school system be taken over by Communists, who have taught a couple generations of kids that socialism is all about fairness and capitalism is greedy exploitation. What did we expect would happen?
It's all about the algorithms (software) anyway, not the hardware. As someone noted above, such a computer might be able to process a particular algorithm twice as fast as a "normal" computer - whatever that is. Big deal - that's one iteration of Moore's Law (about 18 months).
Yesterday's "super" computers are in today's cell phones. Computing hardware will continue to advance, no matter what NSA does or doesn't do, and in not too long, this claimed super computer technology will be a total dog.
The real research on speeding up algorithms is in massively parallel processing and algorithms that can run across many thousands or millions of inter-connected "normal" processors of today, not some single "super" computer - quantum or otherwise - which pales in comparison.
This is all NSA paranoia hype to scare the non-technical, non-computing world.
I remember the discussions about how long it would take to crack a 128 bit encryption used in wifi or https systems. The time required was astronomical.
I believe there was even a monetary “reward” for anyone who could successfully break a coded message.
Sounds like we still have some time.
Now if they would use it on the “Venona” intercepts and name the 300+ spies who haven’t been identified we’d find out how RELLY BAD THINGS WERE IN THE 30’S, 40’S 50’S
I’ll save them some time:
“Be sure to drink your Ovaltine”
Yeah, if they develop the technology around the same rate that they developed modern computers, we’ve still got 10-20 years before these things are a real threat. However, the problem is that, whenever they arrive, they can retroactively crack anything encrypted using the modern standards. So all that traffic the NSA has been archiving that it can’t decrypt now, will be an open book to them in the future.
“As someone noted above, such a computer might be able to process a particular algorithm twice as fast as a “normal” computer - whatever that is. Big deal - that’s one iteration of Moore’s Law (about 18 months).”
No, we’re not talking about twice as fast. I said it could crack 128 bit encryption at the same speed a normal computer could crack 64 bit encryption, but that is much, much more than twice as fast, since increasing the key size results in an exponential increase in decryption difficulty. Basically, we are talking about the difference between 2 to the 64th power and 2 to the 128th power, not the difference between 64 and 128.
The reason it can crack things so much faster is not due to the algorithms, since both types of computers would run the same algorithms. It really is a function of the differences in hardware, boiling down to the difference between processing information in binary bits versus qbits. That difference is fundamental, and Moore’s Law is going to be no help in leveling the playing field, since it would apply to the speed of advances with both types of technology. As the standard computers doubled in speed, the quantum computers would too, and each speed increase would result in a wider gap, in terms of decryption power.
>>Some saboteurs might ark their supercomputers that they spent all of our hard-earned belhoons on. Brightlighter like that have no idea how can-kicky the American People might become when our freedom and privacy is stolen.
We all have a right to be a cocked darley. The people running things are deegers, but they’ve been deeked and it’s difficult to unsee what has been seen.<<
Yes, I watched late night Lost In Space yesterday, thanks for asking.
How long will it take to extract the data from the document the couriers are transporting that they never capture?
Just give the contract to Lockheed, they’ll pop out a Commodore-64 in 20 years.
“But what do I know. Im just a grunt.”
I’ve read that during WWII it was a housewife who broke the Nazi code.
A one-time pad determined by random means is unbreakable. But I urge all interested people to read Cryptonomicon for an enthralling novel that will make you question even that.
Waste of tax-payer money — even if they can overcome the nearly insurmountable problem of quantum decoherence, this will simply force folks who really want to keep communications secure to adopt hand-delivery of encryption keys. Quantum computing is only in theory useful against the public key encryption schemes that can be cracked by applying Schor’s algorithm (the only really interesting quantum algorithm) to solve factorization or discrete logarithm problems. It’s not even clear how useful a full blown quantum computer would be against either the matrix-exponentiation or combined DLP and conjugacy-search based key agreement protocols that came out of Lithuania a few years back.
Good point. When the NSA controls all of *OUR* computers and can use them to crack codes (in our idle time), we should be very worried.
I have no doubt that they have thought of this long ago.
Ya. A little after the fact. Especially if they are trying to prevent something.
However, they want to be vengeful and go after people, then that might be the justification... old dirt.
One-time pads can be unbreakable, but only as long as you can keep the pad private. So, once you start transmitting the key on the internet along with the message, they would be vulnerable to attack too.
not sure if that is correct. the allies were able’to steal several enigma machines and uncover ciphered messages.