Crypto 101: The Heart-Wrenching Tales of Alice and Bob

Cryptography is the science of applying algorithms to data in a way that requires at least one key to "unlock" it. It could be as simple as a child's decoder ring, or it could be complex enough to require thousands of computer years to crack.

Crypto is often the only way to protect your privacy on insecure or monitored channels. It seems like a really good time to talk about how to do that!

Let's talk about:
- a brief history of crypto, to show why it's relevant, how governments historically react to crypto, and to put today's crypto in context
- An explain-like-I'm-five demonstration of symmetrical and asymmetrical encryption, and how public key infrastructure (PKI) works
- Cryptographic ciphers, and their current state of security
- Examples of crypto in recent news and court cases, and your rights re: crypto (I am not a lawyer, so do not take this section as legal advice)
- Finally, a practical discussion of free crypto solutions to protect your privacy in email, storage, VPN, and things like onion routing. We could also do an installation workshop if you want to bring your computer or laptop.

I am an information security professional currently getting my MS in Information Security Engineering with an emphasis on digital forensics. Crypto is a personal interest of mine and I'm happy to share based on my desire to share knowledge and protect privacy in the currently invasive world of the Internet.

If you have any additional topics you want covered, comment!

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  • Joe

    If anyone is coming from around UB north campus area, I'd appreciate a ride. Sorry for the short notice. My ride can't attend tonight. (Reply to josephj AT .) TIA

    July 23, 2013

  • Joe

    I don't have a way to get to the Foundry, but I think it would be helpful to discuss the art and practice of gpg key signing. When does it make sense to sign a key or to ask someone else to sign yours - aside from the issue of verifying both parties?

    July 14, 2013

    • Joe

      While the information in your reply is good, you replied to everything except what I was trying to ask. How do you build a web of trust? The mechanics of it are simple. That's not the issue. Who "should" I add to my web of trust? Anybody I can verify, or just certain people? If we had a key signing party at the meetup and we all signed each others keys, what good would that really do us - unless we all started communicating with each other with signed or encrypted messages?

      July 16, 2013

    • Courtney

      That's a judgment call. If you want to be very cautious, you can go out-of-band (a phone call, mail, or key parties) to verify keys personally, or if you're comfortable with it, you can use OpenPGP's voting system. Kind of like social media - some people feel comfortable sharing with and trusting people they haven't met, and some people keep their circle of friends very small with friends with whom they have a high level of trust.

      July 23, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Interested in the subject matter

    July 22, 2013

  • George H.

    Ooop, I forgot I had plans Tuesday night. I look forward to future seesions on crypto and will try to make it.

    July 21, 2013

  • George H.

    Here is an interesting link for setting up an encrypted mail server.

    I am likely going to try to set this up on a raspberry pi over the weekend and try it out. I'll let you all know how it works out.

    July 17, 2013

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