Mining Bitcoin with pencil and paper by Ken Shirriff

Bitcoins are mined using a cryptographic algorithm called SHA-256. This algorithm is just about simple enough to be done with pencil and paper as shown in a video (embedded below) by Ken Shirriff. It is obviously impractical but exposes the process of bitcoin mining. It consists of repeatedly performing a cryptographic operation called hashing until an extremely rare hash value is found - one that begins with around 17 zeros. Only one out of 1.4x1020 hashes will be successful. Using a pencil and paper approach you would only be able to mine about 0.7 hashes per day.

 

Ancient & Magickal Alphabets

Celestial Alphabet/Angelic Script, Malachim, and Passing the River were made up by 16th century German alchemist/astrologer/lawyer/magician/occultist/soldier/theologist Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa.  Theban was created by 15th century German cryptographer/historian/lexicographer/occultist/theologian Johannes Trithemius, one of Agrippa’s teachers.  The Alphabet of the Magi was created by 16th century Swiss German alchemist/astrologer/botanist/occultist/physician/toxicologist Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (aka Paracelsus), another of Trithemius’s students, who rejected Agrippa’s magical theories.

Those, and the two Tolkien made, are entirely fictional and are good to use in most any context. All the others are real alphabets from real cultures — some still used today — so be VERY aware of and careful with them.

More writing systems can be found at Omniglot.

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Manus Groenen’s show Cryptographics: A Tribute to the Voynich Manuscript was selected as the winner of ArtSlant’s Curator’s Open, where we asked readers to use our massive database of art to design an exhibition. Now showing at EXPO CHICAGO Art Fair, Groenen’s Cryptographics brings together twelve unique artworks exploring different forms of marking, both linguistic and pictorial. Reflective of the mysterious text his show honors, Groenen’s Cryptographics features works touching on the cosmological, the obscured, and the occult. We caught up with Groenen over email to chat aboutCryptographics and what it was like designing a show through our Curator’s Open.

Read the interview here

sissybutton replied to your post: 1, 10 and 42? (Feel better soon lovely x)

Cabaret sea shanties? I’m your man.

rhubarbgirlreplied to yourpost:1, 10 and 42? (Feel better soon lovely x)

If you do form a band of queer feminist social-justicey actual-decent-people pirates then I am joining you Cap’n

cryptographers replied to your post1, 10 and 42? (Feel better soon lovely x)

Good lord can I be part of that band of pirates. It really does seem perfect. I will happily make sequin covered pirate hats and EVERYTHING

Get in, you guys: we’re off to sail the high seas/cover things in glitter/drink and sing and be ridiculous in general but also naturally really fabulous and great.

(I was about to say we don’t have a pirate ship though? but that’s okay! Because we’re queer feminist social-justicey actual-decent-people cabaret-sea-shanty-singing pirates, so we can just commandeer one off a dudebro or something and it’ll be our first official act. I am already so excited.)

Cryptographers are fighting back against efforts by spy agencies to secretly weaken the encryption standards designed to keep the Internet secure.

In an open letter posted online Monday, security experts from universities in the United Kingdom and Luxemburg blasted the National Security Agency and its British counterpart GCHQ for what they describe as the “systematic undermining of cryptographic solutions and standards.” The letter was written in response to a jointly reported scoop by the New York Times, ProPublica, and the Guardian that revealed earlier this month how the NSA and GCHQ were working to break and in some cases covertly subvert common forms of encryption. In at least one case, for instance, the NSA apparently planted vulnerabilities in an encryption standard adopted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal agency responsible for recommending cybersecurity standards, presumably so that it could exploit it for spying.

The academics’ strongly worded letter demands that the U.K. Parliament’s intelligence and security committee—which is tasked with conducting oversight of the country’s spy agencies—open an urgent investigation into the encryption subversion.

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The Voynich manuscript.

Has the mysterious Voynich manuscript a ‘genuine message’.

 

A new study, published in the journal Plos One, suggests the manuscript may, after all, hold a genuine message.

Scientists say they found linguistic patterns they believe to be meaningful words within the text.

The Voynich manuscript, described as “the world’s most mysterious manuscript”, is a work carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404–1438), possibly from northern Italy.

It is named after the book dealer Wilfrid Voynich, who purchased it in 1912.

Much of the manuscript resembles herbal manuscripts of the 1500s, seeming to present illustrations and information about plants and their possible uses for medical purposes. However, most of the plants do not match known species, and the manuscript’s script and language remain unknown.

Possibly some form of ciphertext, the Voynich manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including American and British codebreakers from both World War I and World War II.

It has defied all decipherment attempts, becoming a famous case of historical cryptology.

The mystery surrounding it has excited the popular imagination, making the manuscript a subject of both fanciful theories and novels. None of the many speculative solutions proposed over the last hundred years has yet been independently verified.

 

Full text of findings at Plos One.

 

Source:  Plos One.

The Good Wife's Finn and Downton Abbey's Tom Talk About Their TV Shows and Cumberbatch Mania

These have a great couple of weeks for friends Matthew Goode and Allen Leech, who play Finn on The Good Wife and Tom Branson on Downton Abbey. Not only did their new movie, The Imitation Game, win the Toronto International Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award—an award that’s been a harbinger for Oscar winners like The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire—but both of their hit television shows debut their new seasons tonight. (Downton doesn’t air on PBS in the U.S. for four months, but you know you’re going to find a way to start watching it before then.)

The two were cast as part of the “Hut 8” team of cryptographers and linguists working out of London’s Bletchley Park under the direction of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), who eventually built a machine to break the “unbreakable” code the Nazis used for communication in WWII. We caught a couple cups of coffee with the pair in Toronto as they were still loopy from The Imitation Game premiere the night before.

You guys seem like bros.
Allen Leech: Bros or pros?

Bros.
Allen: Yeah, we are.
Matthew Goode: Definitely. But we’re not pros. Anyway. Good morning to you. Cheers. I have felt and sounded better.
Allen: You sound more like Danny Huston this morning.

Are you guys sure you’re not still drunk from last night?
Allen: Oh no, we didn’t say that…
Matthew: We’re just bringing the energy.
Allen: People say this about us all the time when we talk. “Morten[ [Tyldum, director of The Imitation Game] used to ask that question: “Are you guys drunk?” Joking! This is a terrible interview, you’re getting all the wrong quotes from me.

Were you guys friends before this movie?
Allen: We met on this, actually.

And then it was love at first sight?
Matthew: We had our own love story.
Allen: We’ve been lucky enough to hang out a bit since.

Can we just talk for a minute about Benedict and that woman’s question
Allen: Delicious yumminess? I knew you were gonna say that.
Matthew: Oh my god.
Allen: Delicious yumminess. Can I feed, can I feast on your yumminess?
Matthew: Can I feast on your yumminess?
Allen: No! She said, can I taste your yumminess? That was literally all she asked to do, do the action of it.
Matthew: Do you think there’s a vocabulary problem there? Or do you think she was asking to nosh him off.
Allen
: I think it was the latter.
Matthew: Do you think it was the latter?
Allen: I do, I think she was going for a full taste.
Matthew: I mean, ‘cause it can only be construed in one way.
Allen: Either way, it was gonna be a gastronomical feast.

[Waiter asks us what we want for breakfast]

What was the atmosphere on set like? You knew Benedict beforehand?
Matthew: I’ve known Ben for, like, 15 years.
Allen: Speaking of which, just for the crack, I’m gonna have an eggs Benedict.
Matthew: Change that to eggs Benedict, would you! Eggs Cumberbatch, please!
Allen: There is a very funny picture where someone superimposed Ugg boots on a picture of Benedict, and it says Uggs Benedict. [laughs]

So, um—
Matthew: The atmosphere on set was—well, we had the luxury of having two and a half weeks of rehearsal, to get kind of what the relationships would have been like, hanging around each other for 2 years in real life. So that was a joy. And the research was quite tough because a lot of the information was—
Allen: Well, it was so limited. We were really limited to what we could actually find out about these characters. All of Bletchley Park, as you see it in the movie, is shrouded in secrecy.

Waiter: [continues to try to take our order. It’s a bit of a struggle] Any bacon or sausage?

No, at least not for me.
Matthew: No. She’s not feasting on that much yumminess. She wants the omelet. One eggs Benedict, one omelet, one American breakfast, eggs over medium.
Matthew: We have far less that we’re allowed to put on our room bills than you’d think.
Allen: Uh oh. Whip out the old credit card there. There goes Christmas.
Matthew: You should be working!
Allen: [laughs] I’m unemployed! Thanks for bringing that up.

So you’ve known Benedict for 15 years. Did women come to set to scream at him?
Matthew: Well, yesterday was the first time I realized that he’s like a Beatle. I mean…
Allen: That was insane.
Matthew
: We got in the car behind him going in. The screaming, I was like, oh, my god! This is electric! Because I don’t get out much—I’ve got kids now, so I don’t really get out that much.
Allen: You make it sound like, if you did, you wouldn’t be able to walk down the street. [laughs] If you did, you’d be on the subway, Oh, no! Get away!
Matthew
: What I mean is I haven’t seen him in a bit either, so this meteoric rise—
Allen: It’s incredible. I got there ahead of him, and I was like the warm-up act. When I got there, and people were like, [dull voice] “Allen. Woo.” FourDownton fans. And I was like, “Hey!” And then I went over, and they hadSherlock pictures. They did this: they had a picture of Ben, and they’d go, [pretends to turn over a picture] “Sign the back please.” [laughs] I loved it, it was hilarious.
Matthew: Yeah. Because everything should be taken with a little pinch of salt.
Allen: Of course. It’s brilliant.
Matthew: Otherwise we’d swallow ourselves up.
Allen: Listen, I’m just delighted to be in the movie.
Matthew: Yeah! I am!
Allen: I would have walked to the premiere. I’m delighted they gave me a car.
Matthew: We should let you ask us a question.
Allen: You’re never gonna use any of this, are you?

Read More

covro-deactivated20130730 said:

FACTS you can have three because of the best reasons. I am ambidextrous but only because I taught myself after damaging ligaments in my writing arm when I was nine. I used to be a professional breaker and enterer for my family when they got locked out of their houses and behind our school library there are old pipes that didn't get removed after the heating was upgraded and I use them to climb to an old attic space where I work and read in my frees

These are glorious. <3

I am ambidextrous as well, which I used to prove to people when I was younger by trying to write a sentence (generally a song lyric) from both the beginning and the end until both ends met in the middle.

One Christmas Day (2005? I think it was 2005) we went over to drop off presents at my friend Johanna’s house, and when I went back out to our car to show Johanna my new saxophone the car locked itself with the keys inside? And, while my mother and Johanna’s dad figured out how to get the keys out again, I figured out how to play My Heart Will Go On in Johanna’s kitchen, because she and I were in the process of entering a Leonardo DiCaprio phase from which yours truly was never (yet) to emerge.

I tragically do not have any such fabulously private spaces in my own school, but it was a boarding school until maybe three years ago, and also has a chapel in the middle of campus, so there are various spaces we try to commandeer occasionally. When I was thirteen, for one thing, my friends and I got to use the chapel as our meeting-place every day after school for months by telling the chaplain we were hosting prayer meetings.

Privacy for Normal People (please reblog!)

image

My latest Guardian column, Privacy technology everyone can use would make us all more secure, makes the case for privacy technology as something that anyone can — and should use, discussing the work being done by the charitable Simply Secure foundation that launches today (site is not yet up as of this writing), with the mandate to create usable interfaces to cryptographic tools, and to teach crypto developers how to make their tools accessible to non-technical people.

Read more…

Cryptographers Attack NSA&#039;s Secret Effort to Subvert Internet Security

http://www.angrysummit.com/cryptographers-attack-nsas-secret-effort-to-subvert-internet-security

Cryptographers Attack NSA’s Secret Effort to Subvert Internet Security

Cryptographers are fighting back against efforts by spy agencies to secretly weaken the encryption standards designed to keep the Internet secure.

Code Found on Pigeon Baffles British Cryptographers

By Alan Cowell, NY Times, November 23, 2012
They have eavesdropped on the enemy for decades, tracking messages from Hitler’s high command and the Soviet K.G.B. and on to the murky, modern world of satellites and cyberspace. But a lowly and yet mysterious carrier pigeon may have them baffled.

Britain’s code-breakers acknowledged Friday that an encrypted handwritten message from World War II, found on the leg of a long-dead carrier pigeon in a household chimney in southern England, has thwarted all their efforts to decode it since it was sent to them last month.

As the bird’s story made headlines, pigeon specialists said they believed it may have been flying home from British units in France around the time of the D-Day landing in 1944 when it somehow expired in the chimney at the 17th-century home where it was found in the village of Bletchingley, south of London.

After sustained pressure from pigeon fanciers, Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, its code-breaking and communications interception unit in Gloucestershire, agreed to try to crack the code. But on Friday the secretive organization acknowledged that it had been unable to do so.

"The sorts of code that were constructed during operations were designed only to be able to be read by the senders and the recipients," a historian at the organization told the British Broadcasting Corporation.

"Unless we get rather more idea than we have about who sent this message and who it was sent to, we are not going to be able to find out what the underlying code was," said the historian, who was identified only as Tony under the organization’s secrecy protocols.

Code breakers, he said, believed that there could be two possibilities about the encryption of the message, both of them requiring greater knowledge about the identity of those who devised or used the code.

One possibility, he said, was that it was based on a so-called one-time pad that uses a random set of letters, known only to the sender and the recipient, to convert plain text into code and is then destroyed.

"If it’s only used once and it’s properly random, and it’s properly guarded by the sender and the recipient, it’s unbreakable," the historian said.

Alternatively, if the message was based on a code book designed specifically for a single operation or mission, then the code breakers were “unlikely” to crack it, the historian said. “These codes are not designed to be casually or easily broken.”

It took a campaign of many years to get officials to pay attention. The pigeon’s skeleton was initially found in 1982 by David Martin, a retired probation officer, when he was cleaning out a chimney at his home in Bletchingley as part of a renovation. The message, identifying the pigeon by the code name 40TW194, had been folded into a small scarlet capsule attached to its leg.

"Without access to the relevant code books and details of any additional encryption used, it will remain impossible to decrypt," the Government Communications Headquarters said in a news release. "Although it is disappointing that we cannot yet read the message brought back by a brave carrier pigeon, it is a tribute to the skills of the wartime code makers that, despite working under severe pressure, they devised a code that was undecipherable both then and now."

Mr. Martin said he was skeptical of the idea that the agency had been unable to crack the code. “I think there’s something about that message that is either sensitive or does not reflect well” on British special forces operating behind enemy lines in wartime France, he said in a telephone interview. “I’m convinced that it’s an important message and a secret message.”

One of the most “helpful” ideas about the code, according to Tony, the agency’s historian, had come from an unidentified member of the public. That person suggested that, with Christmas coming and thoughts turning, in the West at least, to a red-robed, white-bearded, reindeer-drawn bearer of gifts skilled at accessing homes through their chimneys, the first two words of the message might be “Dear Santa.”

Code Found on Pigeon Baffles British Cryptographers

New Post has been published on http://www.todayheads.com/code-found-on-pigeon-baffles-british-cryptographers/

Code Found on Pigeon Baffles British Cryptographers

They have eavesdropped on the enemy for decades, tracking messages from sources as disparate as Hitler’s high command, the Soviet KGB and on to the modern world of satellites and cyberspace. But a lowly and yet mysterious carrier pigeon may have them baffled.

Britain’s code-breakers acknowledged on Friday that an encrypted handwritten message from World War II, found on the leg of a long-dead carrier pigeon in a household chimney in southern England, has thwarted all their efforts to decode it since it was sent to them last month.

As the bird’s story made headlines, pigeon specialists said they believed it may have been flying into Britain from France at around the time of the D-Day Normandy landings in 1944 when it somehow expired in the chimney at the 17th-century home where it was found in the village of Bletchingley, south of London.

After sustained pressure from pigeon-fanciers, the Britain’s GCHQ code-breaking and communications interception unit in Gloucestershire agreed to try to crack the code. But on Friday the secretive organization, whose initials stand for Government Communications Headquarters, acknowledged that it had been unable to do so.

“The sorts of code that were constructed during operations were designed only to be able to be read by the senders and the recipients,” a historian at GCHQ told the BBC.

“Unless we get rather more idea than we have about who sent this message and who it was sent to, we are not going to be able to find out what the underlying code was,” said the historian, who was identified only as Tony under GCHQ’s secrecy protocols.

Code-breakers, he said, believed that there could be two possibilities about the encryption of the message, both of them requiring greater knowledge about the identity of those who devised or used the code.

One possibility, he said, was that it was based on a so-called onetime pad that uses a random set of letters, known only to the sender and the recipient, to convert plain text into code and is then destroyed.

“If it’s only used once and its properly random, it’s properly guarded by the sender and the recipient, it’s unbreakable,” the historian said.

Alternatively, if the message was based on a code book designed specifically for a single operation or mission, GCHQ code-breakers were “unlikely” to crack it, Tony said. “These codes are not designed to be casually or easily broken,” he said.

The pigeon’s skeleton was initially found by David Martin, a now-retired probation officer at his home in Bletchingley, when he was cleaning out a chimney as part of a renovation. The message, identifying the pigeon by the code name 40TW194, had been folded into a small scarlet capsule attached to its leg.

There was some indication on Friday that GCHQ was not taking the cracking of 40TW194’s code as seriously as, say, tracking satellite phone communications between militants in the Hindu Kush.

One of the most “helpful” suggestions about the code, Tony said, had come from an unidentified member of the public who suggested that, with Christmas looming and thoughts turning, in the West at least, to a red-robed, white-bearded, reindeer-drawn bearer of gifts, the first two words of the message might be “Dear Santa.”

WATERLOO — His work has been called the “greatest intellectual feat” of the Second World War. Its mathematical genius is credited with helping speed up the German surrender and saving untold lives. And yet, for most of his life, Prof. Bill Tutte’s wartime efforts were a well-kept secret.

“He intended to take it to the grave,”

Watch on bitcoininsider.tumblr.com

Mining Bitcoin with pencil and paper

Bitcoins are mined using a cryptographic algorithm called SHA-256. This algorithm is simple enough to be done with pencil and paper, as I show in this video. Not surprisingly, this is a thoroughly impractical way to mine. One round of the algorithm takes 16 minutes, 45 seconds which works out to a hash rate of 0.67 hashes per day.

As the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance make clear, the preservation of the integrity of communications and systems is a key obligation under international law. A report providing legal background on the Principles explained,

Just as it would be unreasonable for governments to insist that all residents of houses should leave their doors unlocked just in case the police need to search a particular property, or to require all persons to install surveillance cameras in their houses on the basis that it might be useful to future prosecutions, it is equally disproportionate for governments to interfere with the integrity of everyone’s communications in order to facilitate its investigations or to require the identification of users as a precondition for service provision or the retention of all customer data.

We’ve outlined three steps towards building stronger cryptographic standards to celebrate the principle of “Integrity of Communications and Systems.” To learn more, head here: https://www.accessnow.org/blog/2014/09/12/virtual-integrity-the-importance-of-building-strong-cryptographic-standards

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