About Digital Fortress and Journalists

    Journalists often wonder at their superficiality. They seem to know a lot, but somehow shallow. They are ready to talk about science, about politics, about the Templars' conspiracies and in everything there is some kind of mess, mistakes and absurdities. For example, Dan Brown is known for his books on historical events, physics and computer technology. And all this looks terribly flat. And sometimes it's funny. Of course, a writer can invent something that does not happen in life, or it happens, but vice versa. But in a good story — it is always visible, and the plot is built around it. For example, in the cartoon “Steamboat” they came up with a device that holds gigantic pressure on a small area, due to which they received magical steam technologies. And this is an element of fiction, but the truth is around. Or Clark’s Moon Dust novel. Like, there is a lot of dust on the moon and people finally mastered this celestial body. And then everything is true (to one degree or another). But in Brown’s books you see strange places and obviously this is not an author’s idea. I tried to read the book “Digital Fortress” and write out everything that seemed dubious to me. Those who want to meet and maybe smile, please, under the cat. Spoilers are possible.

    "The NSA invited Becker because there was a suspicion that the original was written in Mandarin Chinese, and he had to translate the hieroglyphs as they were decrypted."

    And you know how to write in dialect of Mandarin? I’m not sure that there is a big difference between different types of dialects when writing hieroglyphs, although I don’t know much about Chinese.

    "The key, as a rule, was rather long and complex and contained all the necessary information
    about the encoding algorithm, using the mathematical operations necessary to recreate the source text."

    Not sure if such keys and ciphers are worth using. In fact, in our world, the encoding algorithm for most ciphers is not a secret, or not completely secret. But as a child, after reading the book "Zhangada" by Jules Verne, I became interested in ciphers and really came up with a cipher in which it was necessary to indicate in the key information about which encoding techniques are used and in what order.

    “The NSA immediately realized that a crisis had arisen. The codes the agency encountered were no longer the ciphers that they figure out with a pencil and a piece of paper in a cage - now these were computerized obfuscation functions based on chaos theory and using multiple symbolic alphabets to transform the message into an absolutely chaotic set of characters ” .

    Well, since World War II, ciphers haven’t been solved on paper. Actually, even the cipher I mentioned from Jules Verne (the Vizhinera code) is unlikely to be decrypted manually with a sufficient key length. The Viginer cipher was long considered unbreakable, but it was invented in the 17th century.

    “Susan looked at him and almost laughed. Impossible? What does this have to mean? There is no such thing as a tamper-resistant cipher: some of them require more time, but any cipher can be opened. There is a mathematical guarantee that sooner or later TRANSTEXT will find the right password. ”

    In fact, mathematics guarantees the existence of unbreakable (theoretically) ciphers. The example I know is a one-time pad. But in this case, this may be just the central idea of ​​the book, around which everything is built. There is even a fictional theorem named after Berghofsky.

    “Susan couldn't help but admire Tankado's mind. Without opening his algorithm, he proved to the NSA that it could not be decrypted. ”

    If you have not read books, I will tell. There is a story that the NSA learned to crack all the ciphers using the TRANSTEXT supercomputer and was happy. But a smart Japanese scientist quarreled with them and decided to create a digital fortress code that cannot be cracked. He promised that he would send everyone a program for encryption with this algorithm, if the NSA did not abandon their cunning. Then everything was lost and people could be encrypted, and no one could read their messages. But in order to prove that he really has such a cipher, he sent them ... a file encrypted with this cipher. The scientist was clearly killed, however, it is not known who.
    Well, just imagine, some file was sent to you, and your supermachine cannot decrypt it, what will you think? I would think that this is just nonsense and there is no text there. And in the book, the heroes should have thought so, because they have a theorem that proves that any cipher can be cracked! But they immediately believe the Japanese, not the math!

    “Hale understood the Limbo programming language enough to know that it is very similar to the C and Pascal languages ​​that were his element”

    Well ... I don’t know how much Limbo looks like Pascal, I know that it’s just used in the Inferno OS and its tasks are very different from C and from Pascal. I am also confused by this arrangement in one line of C and Pascal.

    "In addition, Susan wrote her beacon in a new hybrid language called LIMBO, so I was not surprised that Strathmore could not cope with it."

    A beacon is such a tricky program that somehow finds out where the letter was sent from. If I understand the book correctly, it is something like a trojan, but it’s still not clear how exactly it works there and, besides, they have in that universe that all OS Inferno have?

    “Now Susan understood why the security officer is so excited. Chain mutation. She knew that a chain mutation was a programming sequence that distorted data in a complex way. "This is a common occurrence for computer viruses, especially those that infect large blocks of information."

    I heard something about polymorphic viruses. Maybe this is what Brown had in mind? However, the phrase is still full of fog.

    “Under normal conditions, such an action would be considered unacceptable. But in this situation, there was no danger in downloading this program to TRANSTEXT, because the commander knew exactly what the file was and where it came from. ”

    I explain that they were sent an unknown file (the person with whom they quarreled), and they uploaded it to their super-secret system, which also stores super important data. Well done.

    “- If I received the key, I could hack our copy of Digital Fortress and make the necessary changes ...”

    There is such a moment. The scientist puts his unbreakable “Digital Fortress” on the site, and the NSA then plans to replace it with his cracked version. But ... the fact is that the Digital Fortress was encrypted by the Digital Fortress. This was, in fact, not a jailbroken file that they wanted to crack, but could not.

    “She remembered her first reaction to Strathmore’s tale of a crack-proof algorithm. Susan was convinced that was impossible. The menacing potential of this whole situation suppressed her. What evidence do they have that Tankado really created the Digital Fortress? Only his own statements in electronic messages. ”

    They thought of it!
    And then the spoiler!

    “The file that Tankado posted on the Internet was an encrypted virus, probably built into the encryption algorithm of mass use, strong enough so that it could not harm anyone - no one but the NSA. TRANSTEXT opened the protective membrane and released the virus into the wild. ”

    I will not comment.

    “Susan looked indifferently at TRANSTEXT. She understood that a ball of fire imprisoned in a ceramic cage would soon burst out and devour them. She almost physically felt how this ball rises up faster, devouring the oxygen released by burning chips. A little more - and the cryptographic dome will turn into a fiery hell. ”

    Without an explosion of unprecedented power, what is the story? Brr ... it’s good that I don’t work in a data center, otherwise a fireball breaks out through the floor ...

    “Alas, this program does not have such vanity, it does not have the instinct of procreation. She is unsophisticated and purposeful, and when she reaches her goal, she is likely to commit digital suicide. - Jabba theatrical gesture pointed to the huge screen. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he sighed again heavily, “there is a computer kamikaze aggressor in front of you ... a worm.”

    That's just funny. And Jabba is their main specialist in computers.

    “The director nodded in understanding. ENIGMA, the twelve-ton Nazi monster, was the most famous encryption machine in history. There were also groups of four characters. ”

    By the way, I understand that Brown does not know that computer codes are not applied to letters of the alphabet, but to ones and zeros.
    And finally. Geniuses in computer science and mathematics are discussing.

    “- What is the difference between isotopes? Asked Fontaine. “It must be something fundamental.”

    Have a nice day, everyone.

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