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Interview With Cryptographer Elonka Dunin 103

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the old-school-geeks dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Whitedust is running a very interesting article with the DEF CON speaker and cryptographer Elonka Dunin. The article covers her career and specifically her involvement with the CIA and other US Military agencies."
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Interview With Cryptographer Elonka Dunin

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  • So (Score:2, Interesting)

    by poeidon1 (767457) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:05PM (#14916922) Homepage
    is quantum cryptography being persued in the military?
  • A Beautiful Mind? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by indyweb (959553) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:12PM (#14916990) Homepage
    Looks like she's the real thing, even makes Russell Crowe seem boring.
  • by Mortisoul (542987) <mallen@2nw.net> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:25PM (#14917127) Homepage
    After meeting her both at defcon and when she was kind enough to come and speak at a couple of the UMR ACM meetings she is completely brilliant. I wish her the best of luck with the final parts of the sculpture as well as success with her game company. Good taste in sushi too :)
  • Very cool person ;) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 222 (551054) * <stormseeker@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:31PM (#14917201) Homepage
    I met elonka at a con a few years ago, and I can honestly say she's one of the coolest people to go out and have a few drinks with; very interesting conversations.

    Btw, its about time we caught another movie ;), Jay
  • Re:Elonka (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pilgrim23 (716938) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:45PM (#14917323)
    About a year or two ago I had a discussion with this lady on a subject of mutual interest: the Voynich Manuscript; a medeval bit of encryption. Her knowledge of that obscurity caught my curiousity so I looked her up. A MOST impressive curicula vitae there...
  • The Corporation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:48PM (#14917348) Homepage Journal
    The CIA is not supposed to be a "military agency". It was originally supposed to be an assassination agency supporting US military overthrow of enemy governments during WWII, when it was the "Office of Special Services". When it was converted to the CIA, its postwar role was supposed to be foreign intelligence gathering, with domestic operations confined to centrally processing government intelligence information. None of its operations are supposed to be military, as in tactical violence against strategic targets to support government policies.

    The CIA is not supposed to trade guns for cocaine or peddle them in the US, or work with the mafia to fund operations secret from Congress, either.
  • In our midst (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:53PM (#14917410)
    Not only is she featured on Slashdot. She's also a member. [slashdot.org]
  • Steganography (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Aspirator (862748) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:17PM (#14917676)
    From TFA:
    And there was an extensive scan of images done by a team from the University of Michigan,
    looking through millions of internet locations, and then clustering computers together and
    running password dictionary attacks on anything that looked suspicious, but they never found
    a single thing.


    Given the prevalence of near GB files traversing the internet, and a payload of only a few kB,
    is there any reasonable expectation that one could find it if it did exist, let alone decrypt it?
  • Re:Elonka (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Joiseybill (788712) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:50PM (#14918481)
    I also worked with Simutronics for a while - apparently during the period she was working out of St. Louis apartments. I never knew that at the time. As a GameHost for GemStone III, I always thought that they ran a very slick, professional site. We had several developers,had mandatory weekly meetings (online) to discuss game developments and maintenance and they ran 24/7/365 operations. I was amazed to see a MMORPG that could handle 1000+ average simultaneous users, and I was proud to have redundant dial-up access through both AOL and CompuServe because AOL went down so much. I was there for the breakaway transition, but left before they became play.com. I assumed they had a fancy office campus outside St. Louis right from the beginning. (For the younger among us, this was the time when those ISPs were charging $3 per hour -or much more on GEnie- for people to connect and play these games.) I even considered applying and moving there to work. (I got married instead.) I didn't think Elonka (then SimuElonka) was on-board from the beginning. I guess that shows how little a peon like me really knew about the business end. I was supervised by GameMasters and a management-type guy called SimuJosh. I only met Elonka (virtually) once or twice in our weekly meetings. I thought she was more involved with DragonRealms and another murder-mystery type game. Since those days, I have also become interested in crypto - now back in school and working on my MS with a concentration in security. Elonka is definitely one of the most knowledgeable in the field - and she has remained relatively accessible, as opposed to some elite acadmics. Before this article, I had read about Elonka's public work & glanced at her website but I never put the name together. Thanks for bringing this all together for me SlashDot!
  • Re:The Corporation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 0ptix (649734) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:53PM (#14918512)
    Nor is the CIA really into cryptography. Yes they need a few cryptographers here and there but when I went to them, looking for a job (in the field of cryptography research) i was politly asked to go see their colegues over at the (very non-discript and unmarked) NSA booth over in the corner.

    The first time round when approaching the NSA booth I stupidly enough kept my (normal) british accent and was almost imediatly told to go see the GCHQ. (i.e. "get lost kid") So I walked off again and only came back when there was a new representative sitting behind the desk. This time I didnt bother mentioning my nationality and put on a nice generic american accent letting them assume my orginis were more... kosher. :-)

    Of course that interview went quite differently... "Oh yes! Well you've come to the right place then. We have a great program for you begining with several years of training where we rotate you through the variouse subfields teaching you all the newest techniques and methods you'll never hear about in academic circles... blablabla.... Just please sign here."

    somehow i just couldnt help but thinking of Faust... i wonder why...

    i got what i wanted though. a cool business card from the NSA math highering department and some email address printed on an old dotmatrix, cutout and stuck on the back. cloack n dagger n all that...

    Anyway if you really want do crypto work for the US gov. (or DOD in particular) then never mind the CIA. The NSA or the SigInt guys are who you really want to talk to.

    AFAIK of course. I mean how would a mere civilian and a FORIEGNER at that have any clue about whats going on over there... :-)
  • by barutanseijin (907617) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @03:03PM (#14918575)
    Her remark about how "helping out with the war on terrorism" gives her the warm fuzzies suggests to me that she has either absorbed the ambient paranoia or that she is cynically exploiting it. Considering that AQ is a very loose network of Anti-Western religious fanatics, some of them in hiding off the grid, and not a monolithic, top-down organisation of Super-Baddies, I'd guess the latter. Even if she's only saying it gives her the warm fuzzies because she thinks she has to say that to maintain her status with the CIA, it doesn't say a whole lot for her. After all, there are plenty of US soldiers in Iraq who aren't afraid to speak their minds.

    Yes, she's clever. But perhaps not much more than that. Colour me unimpressed.

  • who? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @05:06PM (#14919628) Homepage
    I'm interested in cryptography, but could someobody explain to me why anyone should care about this person? Most of the posts so far are something like, "She's so cool! I met her!" or "I went on a date with her, look at me!" But what has she done that is significant other than socializing with the nerds of slashdot? Are there any widely-implemented algorithms to her name? Did she find a novel way to break a cipher? Will I find theories or equations named after her in a crypto textbook?

    I'm hoping someone can post what it is that makes her famous, other than being a girl in one of the geekiest parts domains of CS.

It's not so hard to lift yourself by your bootstraps once you're off the ground. -- Daniel B. Luten

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