In this episode of Boing Boing tv, Xeni Jardin (current target of my media-star crush) visits a Los Angeles area group that gets together in a park and practices light-saber duelling. The founder reveals that he has no formal training in martial arts, but has watched the videos a lot. This allows hiim to utilize "the same thing that Bruce Lee did when he made Jeet Kune Do" and take what works from a lot of different styles. The big difference being, Bruce Lee actually knew a lot of different styles. But let us not quibble - the important thing here is - these guys get together and play with light-sabers, right here in LA!
My feelings on this are mixed. On one hand, chasing my friends around in a park swinging light-sabers with much gusto appeals to me. On the other... I think it sort of crosses a line of nerd-dom. Maybe I crossed that line a long time ago. Maybe not. What say you, my friends?
I spent part of my morning making an entropy gathering daemon do my bidding. And it did, too - gathering raw chaos to channel to my own ends!
Eh, but it's not as impressive as all that. Basically, a fundamental element of cryptography is the inclusion of random elements that make a key impossible (or at least really difficult) to crack. But there's nothing really random about a computer - so where shall we get random elements with which to "seed" the key file for cryptography? The entropy gathering daemon is the system process (daemon) that does this task. It takes bits from various things, system noise, user input at the keyboard, mouse motion, and other stuff, to create randomness. Of course, this isn't really random at all - whether there's anything random in the universe has yet to be conclusively determined. So we have to replace true chaos with dynamics so complicated as to be practically non-determnistic. Since the initial conditions of the entropy gathering are, in fact, deterministic (meaning they proceed from a known set of influences) with sufficient information, one could replicate the process. However, the degree of access in the root system in which the faux-entropy was gathered is so great to do this, that practically speaking, a cracker would no longer have the need to actually break the encryption.
However, the method by which the entropy gathering daemon actually generates chaos is constrained by a known set of variables - so a talented cracker can create a brute-force decryption program that isn't brute-force at all - it would start with those key sequences which were most likely given the initial system conditions, and exclude entirely what would be impossible. This makes the time and computing power necessary to crack the key much, much less by orders of magnitude. It's still incredibly difficult, however - and once again practically speaking, a person with the talent and resources to do so could probably find significantly easier methods to retrieve the data that they want.
So, at the end of the process, my little entropy gathering daemon has created enough false-chaos to make the encrypt/decrypt key sufficiently complicated enough to be extremely dificult to replicate. Now, when the system on which the EGD is running communicates with a distant host that is using the same encrypt-decrypt method, they can exchange public "keys" with which to decrypt each other's secure data.
Cryptography is cool. It has daemons!