Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government—Saving Privacy in the Digital Age
Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government Saving Privacy in the Digital Age is a book written by Steven Levy about cryptography, and was published in 2001. Levy details the emergence of public key cryptography, digital signatures and the struggle between the NSA and the cypherpunks. The book also details the creation of DES, RSA and the Clipper chip.
Crypto is about privacy in the information age and about the nerds and visionaries who, nearly twenty years ago, predicted that the Internet's greatest virtue - free access to information - was also its most perilous drawback: a possible end to privacy.
Levy explores what turned out to be a decisive development in the crypto wars: the unlikely alliance between the computer geeks and big business as they fought the government's stranglehold on the keys to information in a networked world.
The players come alive here in a narrative that reads like the best of futuristic spy fiction. There is Whit Diffie, the long-haired Newton of crypto who invented the astounding "public key" solution; David Chaum, whose "anony-mous digital money" actually threatened the global financial infrastructure; and "cypherpunks" like Phil Zimmermann, who freely distributed military-strength codes under the nose of the U. S. government. There is also the first behind-the-scenes account of what the secretive National Security Agency really had in mind when it created the controversial "clipper chip"-and how the Clinton administration bungled the operation.
Cryptography - the use of secret codes - has traditionally been the province of puzzle geeks and government spies. But just in time for the Internet - which radically alters the way we share information - a band of outsiders triggered a revolution in this once - cloistered field. But this was a revolution that the government wanted to kill.
- Steven Levy gives a fascinating account of the birth of public key cryptography in Crypto, John Naughton, The Guardian, February 3, 2001
- Decoder Ring—How a ragged band broke the government's hold on cryptography, Scott McLemee, New York Times, January 14, 2001
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