The math that helped solve Fermat's theorem now protects the digital world

Defenses against digital spies are getting stronger. Encryption is what protects communications when you use Signal and other messagin...

Defenses against digital spies are getting stronger. Encryption is what protects communications when you use Signal and other messaging apps, perform online financial transactions, buy and sell cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and trust that private information in your Apple iPhone will remain private.

While a variety of end-to-end encryption techniques seek to protect information flows from spies and eavesdropping, one of the most powerful and ubiquitous is elliptic curve cryptographyinvented in 1985. The underlying mathematics of the method helped solve the famous riddle of Fermat’s last theorem and has been promoted by the charitable foundation of James M. Vaughn Jr., heir to the oil wealth. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Vaughn funded experts who tackled thorny questions of mathematics thought to have no practical value.

Mr. Vaughn’s funding of Fermat’s studies supported the investigation into elliptical curves as a possible solution. The obscure branch of mathematics has proven to spawn a new generation of powerful ciphers – in particular elliptic curve cryptography.

In his 2009 autobiography,Random curves“, Neal I. Koblitza mathematician from the University of Washington who helped Mr. Vaughn and was one of the two inventors technology, described his “greatest friend” as a National Security Agency. A branch of the Pentagon, the NSA works to strip governments of their secrets while concealing theirs. This strongly presses on elliptic curve cryptography.

In an interview, Vaughn said NSA officials sent math experts to conferences he sponsored. “They always had people there,” he recalls.

Of course, digital thieves are trying to undo decades of advancements in encryption with new types of spyware and cyberweapons. Public encryption has become so powerful that hackers often try to take control of smartphones and steal their data before it is scrambled and transmitted securely.

In public speeches, Andrew Wiles, an Englishman who solved Fermat’s riddle, rarely talked about cryptography. In 1999, however, he broached the subject at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to describe recent advances in mathematics.

Dr Wiles now teaches at Oxford University, which opened in 2013 a 100 million dollar building named after him. British officials NSA equivalent — the General Directorate of Government Communications, or GCHQare no strangers to the Andrew Wiles Building.

In 2017, for example, two GCHQ officials gave lectures the. They were Dan Bergera researcher who helped discover a major vulnerability in a proposed cipher, and Richard Pinchresponsible for the agency’s mathematics.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The math that helped solve Fermat's theorem now protects the digital world
The math that helped solve Fermat's theorem now protects the digital world
Newsrust - US Top News
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