[RC5] Paranoia

David McNett nugget at slacker.com
Sat Apr 4 19:52:46 EST 1998

On 04-Apr-1998, 344344 at usa.net wrote:
> Now that the list is temporaly unmoderated, I'll repost my message I tried
> posting twice before but the list moderator didn't let them through. Wonder
> if they just don't like paranoia, or they really have something to hide...
> When Jo Hermans won the RC5-56, he said that Nugget announced it to him by
> phoning him in the middle of the night. I sure do wonder how did he know his
> phone number - d.net isn't asking them from the rest of the participants.

Well, I'm all for a healthy dose of paranoia, in the long run it probably does
us all some good.  However, here I think your suspicions are a little 

Yep -- when Jo won RC5-56, I *did* call him up.  For me it was the middle of
the night, he was just getting ready for work.  Time zones can be silly things
at times.  Knowing a person's name and their city of residence is typically
enough information to track down a telephone number (even in Belgium) however
with Jo, it was even simpler than this as his phone number was listed on his
home page.

> Furthermore, all of this anonimity thing about who won DES II - there is 
> something weird about it too. First, on the IRC channel people are told that 
> it's a P90 that has found the correct key. Later, they announce that the 
> lucky CPU was an Alpha. Weird, huh?  

Perhaps you've become confused by something that was said in the channel.  The
winner of DES-1 (DESCHALL, not distributed.net) was a P90.  I'd guess you heard
someone make that statement out of context and misunderstood them to mean that
they were talking about DES-II-1.  We've certainly never announced anything of
the sort.  DES-II-1 fell to an Alpha CPU running an undisclosed version of DEC

> I am not saying that d.net is deliberately trying to pull some schemes. But,
> what if there is a situation that a computer mistake has happened and d.net
> just doesn't know who found the correct key? The thing that the winner wants
> to remain anonymous is a perfect cover-up. But, on the other hand, am I
> paranoid or what?

Actually, the perfect cover-up would be to just invent a fake winner.  Doing
that would certainly draw a whole lot less suspicion and inquiiry.  If there
had been a computer mistake and the information had been lost we would have
announced that fact and just re-inserted the winning key back into the 
proxy network and created another winner.  I'm having a great deal of
difficulty coming up with a circumstance that would result in our possession
of the key and not that person's email address, though.  

Due to RSA Labs insistance of being the first to "break the news" of each win,
it is necesssary for us to structure the challenges in this way with the 
win being concealed for a period of time.  This does invite a certain degree
of paranoia.  However, I'd hope that the distributed.net organizers have a
sufficient track-record to counter any wild conjectures that arise.

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