David Papp Blog

How the NSA Cracks Encryption Using Math

Check out this video for a great explanation on how the NSA cracks encryption using math. The actual equations used are very simple however they use huge prime numbers for the variables. The video helps explain the basis behind Elliptic Curve Cryptography.

13 thoughts on “How the NSA Cracks Encryption Using Math”

  1. Not surprised that the NSA would be proficient in using simple concepts from math and creating more complex algorithms. What may be considered “simple” to them may be something I probably couldn’t even fathom without some serious personal study beforehand.

    With something like this, it’s not hard to comprehend the level of access members of the NSA would have with something like this. Even if that creates privacy issues, I highly doubt they’ll be concerned on what product a person buys online with using their e-mail address as long as it doesn’t end up being a matter of national security.

    Things like this makes me remember what some of my math teachers stated on how Calculus and math in general can truly create magnificent results if approached correctly.

  2. This really puts you in a reflective state of mind. It’s mind blowing how math can be utilized for such invasive purposes such as email hacking, but I have to admit that it would be very helpful to the NSA when it comes to catching criminals. It all goes to show you that nothing you place on the internet is ever really private. Good post.

    • Well said and I agree. The complex parts of the world from cells to calculus all come from basic units and this is an example of that. Personally, I think the NSA spying controversy is highly overblown, for the reason you said. They are concerted with illegal activity, not my recent purchase of a textbook on Amazon. Really, anyone concerned about privacy should NOT be on the ‘net.

    • What I find worrisome is the fact they seem to be spying on everyone; good or bad. That to me is an issue, I know they might have an answer for that, but still that doesn’t convince me. How an innocent person could ever get involved in something suspicious? Like a terrorist attack? Hard for me to see that, but I guess that is why they do what they do?

      By the way, this video reminded me of my high school years 😀

  3. I’m not very surprised at all. The NSA has the intelligence to do such simple things like this, generally I believe thats the sensible way of thinking about it. Also, everything on the internet is basically just very complicated math. If you know what math to do, then you basically know everything.

  4. After 3 minutes into that video I was lost. The bottom line I think is that if you want to maintain your personal privacy, stay offline. There is nothing, I believe, the average person can do to stop the NSA from what it’s doing.

  5. I had absolutely no idea how cryptography worked. Thanks for sharing this video. I understood the basic concept from his explanation. It was relatively simple if you paid attention and pretty much follow the visuals. It was great, again, thanks!

  6. It is incredible that is how they do things. I am not too concerned about the NSA, I am not jumping on the bandwagon complaining about them. I am on the side of ‘if you haven’t got anything to hide, you don’t mind them looking’, which they won’t anyway.

    • Phil, I think people complain because isn’t fair that if you are good citizen the NSA guys get to check your personal mails and calls. It makes no sense, right? They know pretty well which ones are the suspicious ones, so why not focus on them? It sounds scary to think of a full room of people listening to our calls day in and out… it’d seem as we are not as free as we like to believe; and we are being constantly monitored.

  7. Really interesting. My Math teacher kept on saying that if you’re really good with numbers you can be a very rich man and I think he’s right. Now if you can crack the supposed ‘random’ pattern or the lottery then you might have a chance of winning.

  8. This is really cool. Goes to show that Math can be really fun. But even if the NSA is snooping around I don’t think each and everyone of us should be concerned. I mean, there are a million people in the world and if people actually think that the NSA really cares too much as to read every email that they receive then it’s really a bit of a stretch of narcissism. Unless you have some sort of buzz code on those emails then I think the NSA would never bother.

  9. I’ve seen this video before. Really, really interesting stuff!

    Now, I’m certainly not a math genious. Not in any way shape or form. But I try to understand as much of this stuff as possible.
    I don’t think I’m understanding it all completely, I mean, this is some really complicated stuff. But it’s very interesting nontheless. And as far as the NSA goes… it’s just scary.

  10. This is very interesting, so there is nothing that can stop them from spying on us. I’m glad I don’t exchange very personal e-mails with anyone. I’d be so upset if I found out someone has been checking my e-mails. On the other hand I am so glad I don’t have a credit card! If the NSA can do this… there is a big chance there are people out there who can do it too and use it for their personal gain.

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