[rc5] Some thoughts on finding the key

Phil Reed pcr at ic.net
Wed Oct 22 23:22:18 EDT 1997


>It is a great privilege and we are excited to announce that at 13:25 
>GMT on 19-Oct-1997, we found the correct solution for RSA Labs’ RC5-
>32/12/7 56-bit secret-key challenge.  Confirmed by RSA Labs, the key 
>0x532B744CC20999 presented us with the plaintext message for which we 
>have been searching these past 250 days.

Congratulations!

Now, here are some thoughts that occured to me while I was driving
around after reading this.

According to this announcement, the key was found on October 19, but
the announcement was not made by Bovine people until October 22. There
are good reasons for a lag (perhaps the client that found the key didn't
report in right away), but three days? This lag, along with the posted rumors
over the weekend that the key had been found make me wonder. It seems
that the rumors probably had some basis in fact. Anybody else care to
comment?

Overall, even though I have not been active on the mailing list, I've been
closely monitoring it since I joined the effort in late July. During that
time,
I noticed one very strong attribute of the Bovine crew: they have been
very reticent about saying ANYTHING. There have been comments galore
on the mailing list, criticisms, lots of messages that were just CRYING out
for a response from the Bovine folks, and no response ever appeared. It's one
thing to hold your council, but it's another to leave everybody with the
impression that you don't give a shit. (Bovine: I'm not saying that you 
don't, I'm saying that you give the APPEARANCE that you don't.)

And now, when we have grabbed the brass ring and won what we set out
to do, we find a strange three day lag between the victory and the
announcement
of the victory. And, that would not be so bad by itself, except that rumors 
started appearing shortly after the stated time of the discovery of the
key. So,
the suspicious mind thinks: did Bovine know right away? Did they report it to
RSA as soon as they know? Looking back at the rumors, one might think so.
Perhaps word leaked out of RSA that the key had been found. If this sequence
is correct, then why the delay in announcing it?

Now, you're probably asking yourself, "Why is this important?"

Well, Bovine/distributed.net has said that they are going on to the next
thing, what ever that may be. And, they are going to ask the world to go
along.
But, should we be inclined to go along, given the apparent communications
difficulties that Bovine has with it's volunteers?

I know that for me this will factor into my decision about where to donate
my spare CPU cycles next. I've had a machine running the GIMPS prime
search client for a while; maybe I should add more machines to that
effort? BigScience and the SETI analysis is a very seductive project, even if
it's open-ended. What will distributed.net offer?

 If Bovine wants me to participate in the next big distributed project, 
they are going to have to do a pretty good job of convincing me that I should
join them. And part of that will be an improved committment from the
coordinating team for communications.

                                                    ...phil

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