[Cryptography] Credit for Trusting Trust

Jerry Leichter leichter at lrw.com
Fri Sep 13 23:22:11 EDT 2013

> ...The goal is to defeat the Thompson attack -- Thompson trojans [the classic
> attack described in Ken Thompson's "On Trusting Trust" where the compiler inserts code into login and into itself]....
Just to give credit where credit is due:  Ken Thompson didn't invent this attack, and cites the originators - Paul Karger and Roger Schell, way back in 1974, 10 years before Thompson.  (Thompson may have produced the first working example.)  Karger and Schell's work was done for the Air Force as part of an analysis of the security of Multics.  I never met Roger Schell, but I knew Paul at DEC back in the mid 70's.  Not realizing his connection with the underlying ideas, I showed him Thompson's paper.  Paul explained how to counter it by examining the compiler output (not practical except in specialized circumstances) but never brought up his own role.

Sadly, he died too young in 2010.  He deserves to be credited.

The full details can be found on David A. Wheeler's page at http://www.dwheeler.com/trusting-trust/.  (Wheeler's 2005 dissertation provides a complete solution to the problem; he cites Henry Spencer for suggesting the idea underlying his formal treatment back in 1998.)

                                                        -- Jerry

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://www.metzdowd.com/pipermail/cryptography/attachments/20130913/18db618e/attachment.html>

More information about the cryptography mailing list