Cipher Issue 89, March 2009, Editor's Letter

Dear Readers,

This month's book review emphasizes the "Privacy" part of the Technical Committee's sphere of interest. Just how much does Google "know" about us? And how much does our concept of what is "knowable" change as the Internet and storage technology bring masses of real data online?

My review of the SHA3 conference addresses the other linchpin of the Technical Committee's interests: security. Applied cryptography faces continual challenges as analysts chip away at algorithms and computers bring more computing power to bear on searches. The SHA3 hash function competition is meant to elicit an algorithm for the ages, and there are dozens of competitors.

Please note that registration is open for the annual Security and Privacy Symposium at the Claremont Hotel in Oakland/Berkeley, California. This year the conference features two workshops and tutorials. Also, the Computer Security Foundations Symposium will be held in July, and that is another way to learn about the latest research and to meet the minds behind the words.

Finally, it is sobering to see the chaotic disruption of the economy, a man-made system of immense complexity, crippled by poorly understood forces. Is there a lesson here about the inevitability of similar collapses in our global information systems? As assuredly as bad money drives out good, will bad security always undermine good security?

    Hilarie Orman
    Cipher Editor