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Bill Roth, Ulitzer Editor-at-Large

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RSA Conference 2011: Cryptography Panel and a Cri de Coeur

In a nearly full conference hall, the Tuesday morning RSA 2011 keynotes included talks from EMC, VMWare and Symantec, and an all-star cryptography panel.  The panel started by opening remarks by Ari Juels, Director of RSA Labs, who asked as a moderator. The main theme was the the history of the first modern cipher, the Data Encryption Standard, or DES. The back-story on this algorithm is that it was government standard, and was widely believed to have been modified to have a backdoor so that it was easily broken into by the US Government. The panel included Martin Hellman and Whitefield Diffie, two important figures in public-key cryptography. Ron Rivest, the R in RSA, was also on the panel, as was a government cryptographer from the NSA. The early parts of the panel was a discussion on how the early days of cryptography had assisted their all careers. While there was a lot of mathematical history, the interesting point in the panel is when Diffie brought up the "crypto-politics". Diffie, who sports long hair and has a vague resemblance to Kenny Rogers, said he believed  that the NSA (and IBM) could not be trusted to build a national standard algorithm without a back-door. It was pointed out that the initial algorithm was only slated to last for 10-15 years, but that the designers misjudged how the algorithm would be used in the commercial world, and how they would have to deal with the "legacy" issues. The algorithm was originally intended for government and military use. Read the full story at Sys-Con…

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Bill Roth is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years in the industry. He has played numerous product marketing, product management and engineering roles at companies like BEA, Sun, Morgan Stanley, and EBay Enterprise. He was recently named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Bloggers.