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The PJ Tatler

by
Stephen Kruiser

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January 7, 2014 - 8:48 pm

Comforting.

A National Security Agency employee will continue to co-chair an influential group that helps to develop cryptographic standards designed to protect Internet communications, despite calls that he should be removed.

Kevin Igoe, a senior cryptographer with the NSA’s Commercial Solutions Center, is one of two co-chairs of the Crypto Forum Research Group (CFRG), which provides cryptographic guidance to working groups that develop widely used standards for the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). On Sunday, the chair of the group that oversees appointments to the CFRG rejected a recent call that Igoe be removed in light of recent revelations that the NSA has worked to deliberately weaken international encryption standards.

This is an interesting read, even if it does keep referencing the abbreviations for some organizations that most of us aren’t familiar with. The question that kept running through my mind was, “Forget why he’s being allowed to stay there, why was he there in the first place?”

Stephen Kruiser is a professional comedian and writer who has also been a conservative political activist for over two decades. A co-founder of the first Los Angeles Tea Party, Kruiser often speaks to grassroots groups around America and has had the great honor of traveling around the world entertaining U.S. troops.

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The NSA has traditionally been very active in helping Internet standards bodies (particularly the IETF) with crypto and the non-crypto parts of security protocols. In fact, a few years ago, the NSA got an ovation at the IETF when it was announced that they were going to help fund the leadership of the IETF for no reason other than to allow them to devote more time to their role (IETF positions are unpaid and often demanding of time, so often it starts to cut into their day job).

The IETF is based on consensus, so even chairs have limited influence over the final protocol specification. Most are process shepherds, who basically keep the group organized. It really comes down to time - those who can afford to devote the most time to review, write and discuss tend to have the most influence.

All of that was part of the "white hat" side of NSA concerned with protecting communications. The question remains as to how much influence the "dark hat" side had in any decisions or input.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
In fairness, in the past the NSA did actually recommend a change to the original DES and the change removed a weakness that was subsequently discovered in open research.

The NSA's role has, apparently, changed.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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