[Cryptography] dead man switch [was: Re: Snowden "fabricated digital keys" to get access to NSA servers?]

StealthMonger StealthMonger at nym.mixmin.net
Fri Jul 5 12:07:26 EDT 2013

Richard Salz <rich.salz at gmail.com> writes:

>> How could it be arranged that "if anything happens at all to Edward
>> Snowden, he told me he has arranged for them to get access to the full
>> archives"?

> A lawyer or other (paid) confidant was given instructions that would
> disclose the key.  "Do this if something happens to me."

An adversary can verify an open source robot, but not such instructions.

NSA cannot verify a claim that such instructions have been given (unless
they know the lawyer's identity, but in that case they can "interfere").
(On the other hand, NSA cannot afford to assume that such a claim is a
bluff, and that's the strength of this idea.)

The intended interpretation of the "open source" clause in the original
problem statement is that anyone could inspect the workings of the robot
and verify that it does indeed "harbor a secret" and that if the signed
messages stop coming it will indeed release that secret.

(For example, in one implementation -- NOT CRYPTOGRAPHICALLY STRONG -- a
secret file's access permissions can only be granted by the robot.)


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