'Kryptos' and Dan Brown: Inside the CIA's code of secrecy | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

'Kryptos' and Dan Brown: Inside the CIA's code of secrecy

Artist Jim Sanborn thought his 'Kryptos' cypher at the CIA headquarters would be broken within weeks. But two decades later, it still guards its text. David Usborne reports on a mystery that has frustrated the world's best crypto-geeks

Webmaster's Commentary: 

This underscores something I have been telling you all for years now.

If you use one of the "accepted" encryption systems, your messages will be easy to read.

Breaking a code takes two steps. First, you need to figure out the method used, then after you have the method, you can search for the key to a specific message.

If you are using a common encryption system, such as DES or RSA, then those who would loot your private communications (like the FBI did at APEC) already have the method. Finding the key is just a matter of time and computer power, and NSA has three acres of computers to play with.

The German ENIGMA is a classic case. Until an ENIGMA machine was captured off of a U-Boat, the method was unknown and Germany's messages were secure. Once the method was derived from the captured machine, Allan Turing's "Bomb" (from the loud ticking sound it made while working) would brute-force the keys. After the war, the US and Britain made gifts of captured ENIGMA machines to "friendly" governments around the world, but never bothered to tell them the messages could be read.