A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering: Attack of the week: FREAK (or ‘factoring the NSA for fun and profit’)
Matthew Green is a particularly interesting writer on cryptography, theory and practice. He’s joined the EFF in a lawsuit to undo one of the most contentious and problematical provisions of the DMCA, Section 1201, which limits a user’s rights over a digitally locked object. (See EFF sues US government, saying copyright rules on DRM are unconstitutional | Ars Technica .) The argument by the EFF is that the provision unconstitutionally limits free speech; Green relates the provision to his own work, cryptography and its use on behalf of the (US, at the least) public good, to argue that Section 1201 compromises his work, puts him in legal (and financial) jeopardy, and thus endangers US society. He makes a good case.
But this account below actually relates to issues that have less to do with copyright than with the ways we secure many of our routine electronic communications. And it’s told well.
With all that in mind, there’s a third aspect of SSL/TLS that doesn’t get nearly as much attention. That is: the SSL protocol itself was deliberately designed to be broken.