Page Created: 6/25/2014   Last Modified: 3/25/2016   Last Generated: 2/7/2024
Unless you are a student of information theory or cryptography, you probably think that all forms of encryption and codes can be cracked eventually, at least theoretically, given enough time and computing power, and that there is no "perfect" secret that is unbreakable, forever and ever.
But a perfect secret can actually be hidden by means of security through obscurity↗, something most security professionals say not to do, that it is not a true form of security.
But actually, the only informational-theoretically secure ciphers are ones like the "One Time Pad", a form of security through obscurity, if you think about it.
Now, because we are human, if someone followed you around while you were creating or decoding your secret or read your thoughts, then the secret would be revealed. But if they could not do this, the secret would remain a secret, forever.
Imagine if Bob told Alice, "When I write the word 'apple', that means 'call Sally'". Bob and Alice then share a secret nobody can break. Years later, Bob writes a letter to Alice and includes the word "apple".
So is the secret encoded in the word apple? Yes. Can someone crack this secret? No. Why? Because ALL possible secrets are encoded in this word, and we'll never know which one is the correct one.
But if you knew something about Bob's psychology, you may be able narrow down his word choices and what he might say to Alice. Therefore, a better way to "pick" your word is to use random values, and then tweak each random value slightly, and record how you tweaked them.
Imagine if you randomly drew a letter tile from a bag (like a game of Scrabble if there was only 1 tile per letter). Say there is one tile for each of the 26 letters and a blank tile to represent a space.
Then shake up the bag, pull a letter tile and write it down on a piece of paper. Put the tile back in the bag, shake it up again, pull another letter tile and write it down to the right of that letter, and so on. Do this 30 times to create a row of 30 letters and/or spaces. Then give a copy of this piece of paper to Alice.
Now, for each letter in the word "apple", assign value 1 for "A", 16 for "P", and so on to match their numerical order in the English alphabet. Assign the value 27 for the space.
Then, starting from the leftmost letter in the word "apple", shift your first random letter down 1 place, since A is 1, and write down that new letter on a new piece of paper. So if your random letter was C, shift it down to D. Do the same for each letter in "apple". If you pass the 27th letter, the "space", then loop around to A and keep counting. For example, for the second letter in "apple", the P (the 16th letter), if the second letter in your random row of 30 letters is a Y, then you will need to shift down 16 places from Y and will pass the space and loop around to N. Since "apple" has 5 letters, you won't get to the 25 extra random letters to your right. Just leave them as is.
Individually, all someone may know is that whatever the word is, it has to be encoded in 30 letters or less, which covers all words in the English language. Assuming that you drew random tiles, both pieces of paper are equally random. To cover phrases or longer messages, just draw more tiles and write down more letters. You have to pick enough tiles to at least cover the size of your message.
If Alice was at home with the piece of paper she gave you, then you could mail her the second piece of paper, and nobody could crack it if they intercepted it in transit. She could reverse the process you performed to decode the message.
So--using this method, is the message stored in the pieces of paper? Yes and no. Yes, it is, since ALL messages that could possibly fit into the allotted space are stored there, just like the in the clouds or the rocks on the ground. But no, knowing which particular message only exists in the mind of the creator.
But what if the creator, Bob, died, and Alice never decoded the message. Where is the message stored? It is not in anyone's mind.
It actually isn't stored in any physical "place" but only in the "order" of the world.
Once encoded, someone else cannot use your two pieces of paper to encode their own message--they would have to modify at least one of them which would change the order.
This shows us that information does not come from the material world, but the material world arises from information, not the other way around.
What is Real? What is an Object? It is physical or informational?
Do we eat an apple because it provides us nourishment, or does it simply change the order of information in the world?
The two pieces of a One Time Pad can be thought of as a wearer and a mask, things used in theatre. A person may have a certain look to their face. But when you place a mask on that person, or a mustache and glasses, you can turn them into a clown, a celebrity, a superhero, etc. The mask both obscures parts of the original face, and replaces the blocked portions with itself.
Depending on which parts are blocked and which parts are shown, many different characters can form. But you need both pieces (the face and the mask) to do this. Clark Kent is the result of Superman + glasses. He is not the result of Lois Lane + glasses or Superman + stocking cap.
When I was 6, each of my classmates and I received a metal key, unique to each of us, and were told that if we brought the key to a certain place on campus at a certain time, we could see if it opened a box and which contained a treasure inside.
When the day came, my mother or grandfather walked me up a path to a lady sitting outside, peculiarly, at a table. She had a box in front of her and took my key, tried to open the box, and it would not open. I was slightly saddened, but the experience was fascinating. I never knew what was in that box.
But I always wonder, What was in that box?Comments