July 16, 2003

State Department victim of war on cryptography

A letter to the editor with forged headers fooled the Washington Times into publishing an e-mail hoax and embarrassing the State Department. E-mail is currently usually transmitted using plain text character encoding with no inherent security. This makes standard e-mail the electronic equivalent of paper postcards, able to be read by anyone and copied/altered by anyone.

In most circumstances, this is quite convenient for the State as electronic eavesdropping is easily done with minimal computing power. The electronic equivalent to an envelope, signature, and seal is cryptography, in various forms and variants. Document forgery is very, very difficult when digitally signed. It's too bad, in a way, there are digital signature software programs available for free that would have solved this problem without a single penny having to be disbursed from the Treasury.

Posted by TMLutas at July 16, 2003 03:49 PM