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At one time, postal mail provided secure communication and equally prompt delivery for all who needed to communicate documents. Now, email is much faster but is much less secure. All companies must operate at the speed of email to be competitive. Few hackers go to jail for stealing documents from individuals or from tiny businesses. Unless very strong encryption is used, the ideas and inventions of small companies and individuals are lost to larger organizations, both foreign and domestic.
Well then! If you and a couple of other entrepreneurs don't live next door to each other, and have a innovation to offer the market, just use strong encryption and you won't need to worry about big companies or foreign counties stealing your ideas.
It isn't that simple. I know of no country, province, or state that encourages their citizens to use the strongest possible encryption for their email communication. On the contrary, there has been considerable discouragement and misinformation offered to the public. Most people don't know that perfect encryption has been achieved. Such a method has been used by most governments since it was published by Claude Shannon in 1950. Due to situation comedies and other public broadcasts, most people incorrectly believe that "What one man can encrypt, another man can decrypt."
Many people (and quite possibly most voters), firmly believe that any form of encryption can be hacked. This belief tends to forestall any public demand that email match the security of postal mail. If you dismiss this goal as unrealistic, please carefully consider the following:
Imagine that Thomas and Richard flip a coin when they are in a room alone. Only they know whether the coin toss was heads or tails.
Later, Thomas sends a message to Richard's answering machine knowing that the phone is being tapped. There are only two possible messages - "buy" and "sell."
To Thomas and Richard, the coin flip tells whether the message is the truth or the opposite message is the truth.
The wiretapper does not know which way the coin toss came out. He only knows that Thomas and Richard often use this trick or some other form of encryption. This means that the only people on earth who know which message is intended are Thomas and Richard.
This technique can be used to send choices like "1" versus "0" instead of "buy" versus "sell."
A binary code like 10011010 could be sent securely by email, despite any wiretapping or hacking, if the communicating parties share a knowledge of eight coin flips in a row.
If a "0" means "heads" and a "1" means "tails," Thomas and Richard could share a trillion coin tosses on a disk copied in private. This would enable them to send a trillion binary digits worth of messages securely, but only if each of the bits were created as randomly as coin tosses. If there were any pattern in the trillion digits, a mathematically skilled wiretapper could decrypt their messages.
Because the capacity of data storage media becomes ever greater, sharing random numbers becomes very convenient. A single modern disk could keep secure communication going for years. This method is especially convenient for banks because they routinely use armored-car delivery services. That would certainly reduce losses to hacking.
Despite published government encryption standards, all other publicly sold encryption methods for email are more complicated and less secure than the method described above.
True random numbers are not available as a hardware feature of common computers. Those numbers are less than random.
Messages encrypted with them can be unravelled. A separate hardware device specifically designed to produce truly random numbers must by used for encryption.
Appendix B provides additional information about the requirements of algorithms for perfect encryption.
No patriot wants to compromise national security; but what was the national security risk when postal mail was the fastest option? In democratic countries, a court order based on probable cause can be used to reveal to the government the contents of any document. Relieving a government of the responsibility to investigate and show probable cause is a convenience to government that works against human rights. The right to private communication must be upheld, both for the sake of liberty and the health of the economy.