Cryptography in pop culture
The topic for discussion is an example of Cryptography in a movie or current event. The following paragraphs being discussed are: The actual scene within the movie that uses Cryptography, whether it can be real, and if this interaction “helps or hurts” the way we see “Network security”.
An example that comes to mind with Cryptography in a movie, is the movie called Sneakers.
Sneakers is a great movie and the entire movie is based on cryptography and encryption. The gist of the movie is about a “black box” that was the unknown when the main character, Robert Redford, was forced against his will, being black-mailed because of his past, to steal this box and hand it over to the government as they posed as NSA agents.
After they retrieved the box, his team played around with it to find out why it was so important and find out what it actually was. They found after a few tweaks, the box was an encryption decoder and it could break all encryption codes; known as the “breaker of all codes”. The scene for discussion was when they discovered what it was and how this device could break into any corporation or government agency as this box could encrypt any code; FBI, air traffic, any electrical grid and basically any corporation that had any encryption, could be broken. If this device actually got in the wrong hands, it could destroy the world.
I would not be surprised if this “black box” has been attempted and one could possible see that it could be very true. There are many types of algorithms and this decoder, within the movie, was the best of the best when it comes to algorithms. The other types of encryption used in the movie, “voice-activated access” and the heat sensors, I’m sure exist today, but I doubt it would have worked as smoothly in real life.
I believe there are many parts of this movie that are realistic. The movie was produced 20 years ago and today they do exist. One can think about the various techniques of voice-activated encryption and even heat censored technology that would be used more for physical environment and the “black box” does exist (in a way).
According to the article Cryptography Breakthrough Could Make Software Unhackable, this black box is used for, well, the opposite. It is used to “scramble or confuse” the one trying to hack into a system. This black box is known as the “A black box obfuscator” (Klarreich, 2014).
This tool was designed to actually “confuse” not hack into systems, but to complicate the intruder. The person that worked many years on this black box stated; “The most natural, and also the strongest, definition was the idea of a “black box” obfuscator, which would jumble a program so thoroughly that a person with the best available computational resources could figure out nothing at all about it…You could not figure out the value of a password hidden inside the software, unless that password was one of the program’s outputs, nor could you reassemble parts of the program to compute anything meaningful other than what the program was originally designed to compute (Klarreich, 2014)”.
Other means in this movie that would be real life today is the “hacking and attacking automated homes” (Smith, 2013). With all the technology available, being able to turn on lights from an application from ones handset, setting the temperature, turning on the oven to warm up, are all encryption formats that can be invaded. “There are over 700 interoperable products available, 12 million Z-Wave products worldwide. They are supported by over 160 manufacturers and service providers throughout the world, and can be found in thousands of hotels (Smith, 2013)”
Any one of these techniques used inappropriately can and will do damage. If the “black box” from the movie actually existed I do not believe our current life style would exist today. It would harm our country in more ways than one. I have no doubt there are many trying to “remake” this black box after seeing this movie.
The only harm these types of movies can do for society is give ideas to the intruders. They may try to copy any technologies revealed in the movies and be successful. A famous hacking group called “anonymous” is very similar to the beginning of the movie Sneakers. The two gentlemen, in the beginning of the movie, hacked into systems and sent “conservative money funds out for multiple liberal causes”. This was how one of the hackers got caught and was sent to jail. While the group “anonymous” did not do this (as I have read), they revealed confidential information to the world through wiki-leaks or just by shutting down a website. I realize this group is harmful to most, but found an interesting article that stated the “good” this group has accomplished.
According to article Things That Anonymous, The Hacker 'Terrorist' Group, Has Done For Good has “helped to identify Chinese military cyber-attacks, targeting the digital properties of various hate groups and even retaliated against kiddie porn sites ” (Love, 2013). While these seem good in nature they also do great harm.
Cryptography is a powerful tool that can be used for good or for evil. As it stated in the article,The quantum cryptography arms race has begun, “traditional cryptography is fine for the moment, but one day public key ciphers will fall, and when that day happens, we're going to need quantum cryptography to protect us (Grimes, 2014)”.