Public key cryptography turns 30 and it’s no secret
By Dan Moren
Hard to believe it’s been 30 years of public key cryptography. Codes and ciphers have been one of my interests since I was a mere young’un, and electronic crypto is the most recent offshoot of that. I can talk Diffie-Hellman key exchanges and RSA with the best of ’em.
I’m a little bummed that I missed the
30th anniversary bash
at the Computer History Museum the other night, featuring luminaries such as Diffie and Hellman, former RSA Security CEO Jim Bidzos, and Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie. The panel discussed cryptography over the years, with arguably the most contentious portion of the evening being commentary by former NSA technical director Brian Snow about the government’s more recent stances on cryptography.
Most of the people who buy things online nowadays probably don’t understand the importance of public key cryptography, or how e-commerce wouldn’t even exist without it. Many see the little key or padlock icon and understand that it’s safe to send their credit card information—they don’t need to understand the details, but it’s fascinating nonetheless. If you are interested, I highly recommend Steven Levy’s
or—if you’re a more general codes and ciphers fan—Simon Singh’s
The Code Book. Fiction fans, look no further than Neal Stephenson’s fantastic