Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government Saving Privacy in the Digital Age- If you’ve ever made a secure purchase with your credit card over the Internet, then you have seen cryptography, or “crypto”, in action. From Stephen Levy—the author who made “hackers” a household word—comes this account of a revolution that is already affecting every citizen in the twenty-first century. Crypto tells the inside story of how a group of “crypto rebels”—nerds and visionaries turned freedom fighters—teamed up with corporate interests to beat Big Brother and ensure our privacy on the Internet. Levy’s history of one of the most controversial and important topics of the digital age reads like the best futuristic fiction.
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Author: Steven Levy
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The telegraph, telephone, radio, and especially the computer have put everyone on the globe within earshot — at the price of our privacy. It may feel like we’re performing an intimate act when, sequestered in our rooms and cubicles, we casually use our cell phones and computers to transmit our thoughts, confidences, business plans, and even our money. But clever eavesdroppers, and sometimes even not-so-clever ones, can hear it all. We think we’re whispering, but we’re really broadcasting.
A potential antidote exists: cryptography, the use of secret codes and ciphers to scramble information so that it’s worthless to anyone but the intended recipients. And it’s through the magic of cryptography that many communications conventions of the real world — such as signatures, contracts, receipts, and even poker games — will find their way to the ubiquitous electronic commons.
But as recently as the early 1970s, a deafening silence prevailed over this amazing technology. Governments, particularly that of the United States, managed to stifle open discussion on any aspect of the subject that ventured beyond schoolboy science. Anyone who pursued the fundamental issues about crypto, or, worse, attempted to create new codes or crack old ones, was doomed to a solitary quest that typically led to closed doors, suddenly terminated phone connections, or even subtle warnings to think about something else.
The crypto embargo had a sound rationale: the very essence of cryptography is obscurity, and the exposure that comes from the dimmest ray of sunlight illuminating the working of a government cipher could result in catastrophic damage. An outsider who knew how our encryption worked could make his or her own codes; a foe who learned what codes we could break would shun those codes thereafter.
But what if governments were not the only potential beneficiaries of cryptography? What if the people themselves needed it, to protect their communications and personal data from any and all intruders, including the government itself? Isn’t everybody entitled to privacy? Doesn’t the advent of computer communications mean that everyone should have access to the sophisticated tools that allow the exchange of words with lawyers and lovers, coworkers and customers, physicians and priests with the same confidence granted face-to-face conversations behind closed doors?
This book tells the story of the people who asked those questions and created a revolution in the field that is destined to change all our lives. It is also the story of those who did their best to make the questions go away. The former were nobodies: computer hackers, academics, and policy wonks. The latter were the most powerful people in the world: spies, and generals, and presidents. Guess who won.
Table of Contents- Crypto How the Code Rebels Beat the Government Saving Privacy in the Digital Age PDF
Patents and Keys
The Clipper Chip
Slouching Toward Crypto
Epilogue: The Open Secret
“Gripping and illuminating.” —The Wall Street Journal
“A great David-and-Goliath story—humble hackers hoodwink sinister spooks.” —Time
“This story about the development of computer cryptography is both fascinating and important. The book is very well-written, and very easy to read. Its importance lies in the fact that it explains the machinations of government agencies to prevent the masses from using strong cryptography, and how the good guys in the software industry were able to overcome the obstacles. So, if you need a good read, go ahead and grab a copy.”– Donald A. Tevault
“This easy-to-ready short history by writer Steven Levy, who has written numerous articles for Wired, is a very well-researched volume on the human side of public-key cryptography.
Levy has interviewed all of the major players: Diffie, Adleman, Chaum, Zimmerman, and others; he’s done nearly a decade of research on the subject, and monitored the sci.crypt.* newsgroups. Clearly, this is an authoritative account of the short 30-year history of public key.
The main theme of the book is how the NSA tried to stifle new developments by the researchers, placing secrecy orders and classifying their patents and papers. Throughout the book, as Levy draws out the characters, it’s the crypto community vs. the government, until ultimately the cypherpunks win out.
This book doesn’t contain a single diagram; no photos, and no equations at all. So if you’re looking for a technical introduction to crypto, look elsewhere; this is purely an informally-written account on the people behind the scenes.
Five stars, for what it is; sure, Levy writes with magazine-style prose, but this fits the high-level view he takes on the subject. Most importantly, this volume was exhaustively researched and has the collaboration of all of the key players, which lends Levy’s account great credibility.”- Marcelo P. Lima
About the author
Steven Levy is the author of Hackers, which has been in print for more than fifteen years, as well as Insanely Great: The Life & Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything. He is also Newsweek‘s chief technology writer and has been a contributing writer to Wired since its inception. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.
Levy is editor at large at Wired. Previous positions include editor in chief at Backchannel; and chief technology writer and a senior editor for Newsweek. In early 2020, his book “Facebook: The Inside Story” will appear, the product of over three years studying the company, which granted unprecedented access to its employees and executives. Levy has written previous seven books and has had articles published in Harper’s, Macworld, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Premiere, and Rolling Stone. Steven has won several awards during his 30+ years of writing about technology, including Hackers, which PC Magazine named the best Sci-Tech book written in the last twenty years and, Crypto, which won the grand eBook prize at the 2001 Frankfurt Book festival. “In the Plex,” the definitive book on Google, was named the Best Business Book of 2011 on both Amazon and Audible.
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