RSA and Other Ciphers

Theory is a beautiful thing, especially when it is polished with such elegant mathematical formulas as we saw in the previous chapter on asymmetrical encoding. The true impact, however, is made by implementable applications based on these theories. Until the end of the last century, such applications were used almost exclusively by various military and intelligence agencies. Since the arrival of the Internet and particularly online banking, the demand for their use in the public sector has grown dramatically.
The transition to public cryptography algorithms has generated a pressure to standardize them. (If we leave aside the speculations that China has the most state-of-the-art, though officially denied, cryptology technology today), the traditional leader is the U.S.A. with its doctrine of military superiority based on using the latest technologies. As a result and despite the claim that technical roots of all commonly used algorithms today are mostly associated with the Israeli research, these algorithms, such as (Triple)DES, RSA, AES SHA-n, are rooted in the U.S. government standards: Data Encryption Standard, Advanced Encryption Standard, Secure Hash Algorithm (with RSA – formed by its inventors’ initials – Rivest, Shamir, Adleman – being the only exception from this appellative rule).
During the Cold War and shortly afterwards, the Soviet/Russian sphere of interest found using the U.S. technology solutions unacceptable, for the fear alone (later confirmed as justified by Mr. Snowden’s documents) that the U.S. intelligence agencies were able to decode messages encoded with these applications without a key. Individual solutions based on elliptic curve cryptography with similar characteristics achieved by using other mathematical methods are therefore used in this sphere.
At the same time, particularly thanks to notable Phil Zimmermann and his controversial export of then embargoed RSA algorithm in the form of a printed book with a source code, there is an extensive public discussion on whether individual people (not just states) also have the right to conceal their correspondence (backed by the right to privacy) or whether facilitating the high quality work of intelligence agencies (backed by the need to ensure national security) is the priority. Additionally, there are numerous legal disputes and media cases based on more or less documented suspicions of classified information trading by rival companies, sometimes even based on their (illegal) “purchase” from the very same state authorities. Current promoters of these issues use the unofficial term Crypto Wars which provides a number of specific details when searched on the Internet.
Last, but not least, an important (not mere) anecdote explains two terms, officially used to both review and certify individual technologies. It is always vital to distinguish between two attacks, the so-called unskilled attack (i.e. the attacker can be anyone, except for the state-organized intelligence agencies), and the skilled attack (i.e. the attackers are the intelligence agencies themselves). None of the above-mentioned public cryptography methods, nor any application designed for commercial use, is certified against the skilled attacks, and it is quietly presumed that it is not immune to them.