A Theory on How the NSA Can Decrypt Some Public Traffic


[ TL;DR: An attack against Diffie-Hellman based on people using the same prime number for seeding. ]

I love the simplicity of this attack. It’s so practical.

They don’t have magic, and they didn’t break the protocols. But they do have a ton of money to throw at ONE BET, and luckily many people are crazy enough to use the same prime.

So it happens to work, for the people who are misconfigured in this particular way, for this particular protocol.

I like this so much because it’s how real hacking works, especially where the challenge level is high. It often comes down to stupidity stacked upon stupidity, combined with luck, added to copious amounts of patience and/or resources.

Then it happens, and people hear about it and assume it was some genius inventing a new type of mathematics, overnight, while wearing a hoodie.


  1. This is of course assuming that the conjecture is correct, which may or may not be true.

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