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                EE380 Computer Systems Colloquium

                      Fall Quarter 1998-1999

                          Lecture #10

Date:           Wednesday, Dec 2, 1998

Time:           4:15-5:30 pm

Location:       NEC Auditorium (B03)
                Gates Computer Science Building

Internet:       Live on the Net!  See instructions on the Web page


Title:          Cracking the Data Encryption Standard: 
                Technology, Design, and Politics

Speaker:        John Gilmore
                The Electronic Frontier Foundation

About the talk:

Sometimes it takes good engineering to straighten out twisted politics.  

In 1997, working in conjunction with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, 
John Gilmore decided to demonstrate this by building a custom computer 
that would be able to solve the Data Encryption Standard, an encoding 
scheme the United States Government had been promoting for "secure" 
business and financial communications since the 1970s.  

It had long been suspected the Government was pressing citizens to use 
this standard because its intelligence agencies were secretly able to 
decode DES-encrypted messages.  It appears this theory was right.  
DES *was* crackable -- easily and affordably -- which Mr. Gilmore 
demonstrated in July, 1998 by using his "DES Cracker" system to solve in 
less than three days a coded message that had been produced as part of a 
DES-decryption contest.  

In this presentation Mr. Gilmore will discuss the design of the DES 
Cracker system and explain some of the politics surrounding the DES 

Note:  A full description of the DES Cracker system, including complete 
hardware and software design details, appears in the book, "Cracking 
DES: Secrets of Encryption Research, Wiretap Politics, & Chip Design," 
published by O'Reilly.  Further details can also be found at:


About the speaker:

John Gilmore is an entrepreneur and civil libertarian.  He was an early 
employee of Sun Microsystems, and co-founded Cygnus Solutions, the 
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Cypherpunks, and the 
Internet's "alt" newsgroups.  He has twenty-five years of experience in 
the computer industry, including programming, hardware and software 
design, management, and investment, and is a significant contributor to 
the worldwide open source (free software) development effort.  

Mr. Gilmore's advocacy efforts on encryption policy aim to improve 
public understanding of this fundamental technology for privacy and 
accountability in open societies.  He led the team that built, in 
conjunction with the EFF, the world's first published DES Cracker.  He 
is a board member of the Internet Society and the Electronic Frontier 

Further background information may be found at: 


Contact information:

John Gilmore
[email protected]