Cipher Issue 127, July 27, 2015, Editor's Letter

Dear Readers,

The US government is roiling with the recent discovery of the disclosure of a large amount of sensitive data about people who have applied for security clearances. This follows on the heels of many cases of data theft from health care providers. It seems that online databases have security procedures that are little more than window dressing --- sunscreens instead of firewalls. Our book review this month is about privacy in a world of increasing surveillance. One wonders how much the surveillors are being surveilled, and by whom!

For several months the NSA has been speaking about the benefits of being able to access all encrypted communication and data without the necessity of notifying the person who did the encryption, and without obtaining a warrant. This is a challenge to privacy, certainly. It is also, in some sense, a technology challenge --- what kind of cryptologic methods can be used to implement this securely? Many people believe that it is impossible and dangerous. The debate is on, not just in the US but in Great Britain and other countries.

The many research conferences that we list in our calendar and CFP sections follow a seasonal cycle. Many events to be held in the fall have their deadline for papers set for early summer. This year we noticed a surge in announcements and in extensions, and re-extensions, of deadlines. We also note that conferences are having a difficult time spreading themselves out evenly in time and space. It is something to think about as we continue to forge boldly into the mysteries of security research.

Well regulated encryption, being necessary to the security of a free state?,

      Hilarie Orman