The Well-Tempered Algorithm: A Primer on Public-Key Cryptography

PRESENTERS: Ryan Kennedy
FORMAT: Presentation (topical discussion followed by questions)


Recent revelations have underscored the need for universal access to strong cryptography, and the knowledge to correctly use cryptographic tools to secure digital communication between parties. PGP, widely considered one of the strongest and most versatile publicly available cryptographic tools, has existed since 1991 when it was first published by Phil Zimmerman. Despite its long record of proven success, many users are still either unaware or unsure of how to use PGP to secure their own digital activities. This session seeks to change that by (1.) Introducing, in a general way, the technology that makes PGP possible; (2.) Discussing how and why to use cryptography; (3.) Demonstrating how users can install and setup GPG, a free replacement for PGP, on their machines; and (4.) Illustrating the ways users can leverage PGP to secure themselves and others, including how to securely share their public key and download the public keys of others. The session is called “Well-Tempered” because, like the work by Bach, which uses all of the major and minor keys, PGP uses a serial combination of all of the basics of modern cryptography: hashing, data compression, symmetric-key cryptography and public-key cryptography. There will be a mystery prize giveaway at the end of the session.