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Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C, Second Edition by Bruce Schneier

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CHAPTER 10

Using Algorithms

Think of security—data security, communications security, information security, whatever—as a chain. The security of the entire system is only as strong as the weakest link. Everything has to be secure: cryptographic algorithms, protocols, key management, and more. If your algorithms are great but your random-number generator stinks, any smart cryptanalyst is going to attack your system through the random-number generation. If you patch that hole but forget to securely erase a memory location that contains the key, a cryptanalyst will break your system via that route. If you do everything right and accidentally e-mail a copy of your secure files to The Wall Street Journal, you might as well not have bothered.

It's not fair. As the designer of a secure system, you have to think of every possible means of attack and protect against them all, but a cryptanalyst only has to find one hole in your security and exploit it.

Cryptography is only a part of security, and often a very small part. It is the mathematics of making a system secure, which is different from actually making a system secure. Cryptography has its “size queens”: people who spend so much time arguing about how long a key should be that they forget about everything else. If the secret police want to know what is on your computer, it is far easier for them to break into your house and install a camera that can record what is on your computer screen than it is for them to cryptanalze your hard ...

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