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Sharp Wizard as a Crypto Dongle?
All the interesting discussion of building RS-232 crypto dongles,
notably the proposal of Yanek Martinson, remind me of the idea kicking
around of simply programming a Sharp Wizard (or Casio B.O.S.S., etc.)
to do the same function.
(And eventually much of our critical encryption will likely be done on
more powerful devices like the Apple Newton, General Magic gizmo, and
These devices have several advantages:
1. Cheap. $150 or less.
2. No construction required.
3. Not likely to have trapdoors or other limits, at least not in the
hardware, or in the units you buy today at your local electronics
4. RS-232 connections for PCs, Macs, etc. (used to be as an add-on,
now often bundled with the units).
5. LCD display, keypad, etc. (some of the features Yanek was
envisioning in later models of his dongle).
6. A fairly slow CPU, but one which is well-integrated with the other
features (and which saves us the effort of designing and debugging).
7. Some have PCMCIA capabilities.
8. They can be used for other thingss when not being used as a dongle.
9. New versions of the software (e.g., PGP 3.21) can be added more
easily, I suspect, than in a custom-built RS-232 dongle.
10. It is unlikely the NSA, FBI, or Patent Office could "ban" such
devices, as they are already widely deployed. Only the specific
programs that make them act as crypto dongles would be "bannable," and
I doubt this could be enforced.
By the way, the same arguments could be applied to using cellular
telephones as the base for building/programming portable, personal
crypto devices. (An exciting talk at Hackers on mods to Oki 900
cellphones was an eye-opener.) I don't think an easy interface to
RS-232 ports exists, but I know some cellphones interface to computers
(the Oki 900 above sure did).
Timothy C. May | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected] | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409 | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^756839 | PGP Public Key: by arrangement.