Cracking Confidentiality

Popularity:

10

Simplicity:

1

Impact:

10

Risk Rating:

7

Huge and decisive victories have been made by cracking confidentiality controls. The ability to intercept and read messages that have been obscured or encrypted while the intended parties have no idea that their secret has been exposed is the foundation of information warfare.

Defeating modern, peer-reviewed confidentiality techniques such as 128-bit AES public key encryption takes incredibly vast amounts of computing power and time. Direct attacks using brute-force to try every possible combination or millions of word combinations can be very difficult, whereas guessing most modern-day passwords takes considerably less time. Depending on how the encryption is applied, the amount of information encrypted, and the complexity of the key used to lock it, the viability or futility of the attack will vary. Therefore, some foreknowledge of the encryption technique (but not necessarily the algorithm) is preferable but not required. This means that how the encryption or obscurement is applied can often be its main weakness rather than the mathematics on its own.

The other major weakness to confidentiality controls is in the key. The key or password used to perform the encryption is often easier to steal than cracking the encryption itself. The most notorious example of this is how the key for unlocking Digital Rights Management (DRM)-encrypted DVDs was insinuated from the programs used to play DVDs, which allowed for their copying.

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