Fri, 31 October 2014
This episode explores the basis of why we can trust encryption. Suprisingly, a discussion of looking up a word in the dictionary (binary search) and efficiently going wine tasting (the travelling salesman problem) help introduce computational complexity as well as the P ?= NP question, which is paramount to the trustworthiness RSA encryption.
With a high level foundation of computational theory, we talk about NP problems, and why prime factorization is a difficult problem, thus making it a great basis for the RSA encryption algorithm, which most of the internet uses to encrypt data. Unlike the encryption scheme Ray Romano used in "Everybody Loves Raymond", RSA has nice theoretical foundations.
It should be noted that although this episode gives good reason to trust that properly encrypted data, based on well choosen public/private keys where the private key is not compromised, is safe. However, having safe encryption doesn't necessarily mean that the Internet is secure. Topics like Man in the Middle attacks as well as the Snowden revelations are a topic for another day, not for this record length "mini" episode.