[Cryptography] Happy birthday, NSA!
wilson at math.wisc.edu
Fri Nov 4 12:18:49 EDT 2016
> On Fri, Nov 04, 2016 at 07:49:57AM +1100, Dave Horsfall wrote:
>> The NSA (No Such Agency) was created by presidential decree back in 1952;
>> it was so secret that even its name was a secret. And thank you, Mr
>> Snowden, for telling the world what they were really doing...
How many of us remember when the agency "came out" from having its
existence and name secret? At national meetings, e.g. the American
Mathematical Society's annual national meeting, where we wore name tags,
the ones just identifying place of work as "Defense Department" were a
giveaway that someone worked for the agency. Then one year there was an
invited talk at the national AMS/MAA joint meeting by the agency's
director of mathematical research (I am sorry that I cannot remember his
name, it was a notable event!) titled "The Agency That Came In Out of
But the window into what was happening inside the agency was still small
and cloudy... Nowadays existence is well known, uniqueness is not so
well known, and the window is still pretty limited. But I have been
astounded by the widespread reaction to Snowden's release of
information, where people who have been working in computing for decades
said they were surprised. From decades ago I can remember discussions
where we were sure that (a) whatever was the most powerful computing in
the world, at least a sample of it was located in Fort Meade, and (b) if
"they" wanted to read anything you had stored or transmitted as bits
they would surely be able to.
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