The Null Device

The Dining Freemasons

Academic paper of the day: The Dining Freemasons, or a look at the mechanics and problems unique to secret societies from the perspective of (computer) security protocols:
To a first approximation, a secret society has three functions: Each area presents intriguing challenges, but crucial to each aspect is membership testing – society members must be able to identify each other in order to pass on the doctrine, to confer rewards and to consider new applicants.
The paper talks about steganographic broadcasts (i.e., transmitting your affiliation in a coded form; the drawing of a fish by early Christians is one famous example), plausible deniability, and suggests various protocols using the semantic meanings of bodies of knowledge known to the society, including coding challenges and responses (or even small amounts of information) in the truth value of statements about the shared text.

Also from the same authors: A Pact With The Devil, or a hypothetical outline of how a genuinely nasty form of malware could use various forms of persuasion and blackmail to spread itself.

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