Monday, October 03, 2005

Dan Brown - Digital Fortress Review

I ran out of technical books at the apartment and so I barrowed one of my wife's books by Dan Brown - Digital Fortress. I had read Davinci Code because it was so popular, but I found it overly predictable. The only part that was at all interesting was the reverse handwriting which I now frequently write my personal notes in.

There were hints of what was to come all through the begining of the book. I should have seen it coming when our super code breaker Susan didn't know about One Time Pads. Here are a few more fun things I found when I read it:

-They spent several years building a parallel computer with three million processors. In the real world you build it up block of computers at a time rotating out the oldest with newer computers every year.
-The installed all three million processors and *then* tried it. Again you incrementally add computers.
-A 64 bit key tool 10 minutes to crack and a million bit key took only three hours. In reality every bit you add doubles the number of keys to search
-A normal 6 minute crack cost $800, a 18 hour crack then does not cost $999,999,999
-The algorithm for a new code is here in this encrypted file, now let me just brute force the file to get it with the algorithm ... oh crap another bug in the book.
-Susan has an IQ of 170, but is perfectly "normal". Those who really have IQ's of 170 are not normal, but have a lot of social quirks.
-Susan walks over to get into Hale's computer rather then ssh'ing
-We are suppost to like Susan, but she enjoys the thought of us all using a code she can easily break. I was rooting for the other guys after that.
-I can easily get around anonymous re-mailers by sending a message that will "disintegrate" on the other end.
-When three million processors overheat they explode in a twenty story fireball.... right, now pass me some of that crack
-Lets teach the user all about Caesar box so that we can bring it back at the end of the book AND in the code on the last page of the book.
-"128-10-93-85-10-128-98-112-6-6-25-126-39-1-68-78". - hint there are 128 chapters in the book.
-When a virus is taking down your "iptables" they are either on or off, they don't "fade"
-"X-eleven", puke
-EFF, an annoying group....
-Lets introduce a random Japanese Businessman, Tokugen Numataka, he can't be connected to one of our main characters... or can he
-Didn't you see that movie about the Manhattan project?
Best for last:
-When your iptables are going down and anyone can get into the network in five minutes and we need to gave fifty pages of suspense we will forget about just unplugging the network cable.
-Lets see how long it takes a group of smart people to calculate "three".
-And of course Digital Fortress is a rotating clear text, un-unbreakable code... just well glossed over as some obscure paper written in 1987 that "does some stuff to some other stuff to make it not possible" in the hope that the reader will just accept it. The closest thing I could figure that he meant would be encrypting your data with one key and then encrypting that with another different key. still stupid.

I felt like I just read a bad Neil Stephenson knockoff written in two months with no research. Go read Cryptonomicon, it is way better then this and you learn a cooler simple code.

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