A scene in Coffee Crash describes a method by which the U.S. National Security Agency could crack Secure Sockets Layer 128-bit encryption with the help of "an inverse adaptation of the Chinese Remainder Theorem," and by exploiting the fact that most computer generated random numbers are not truly random. (A massively distributed secret supercomputer system is also described. For more on that, see my Author's Blog post of 05/23/2012.)

The RSA public key/private key encryption method used for typical Internet applications does employ the Chinese Remainder Theorem to speed up decryption for a message's intended recipient, making the calculations about four times faster than would otherwise be the case. But the Chinese Remainder Theorem already uses inverse calculations. There's no such thing as an "inverse adaptation" of it. I just made that up.

It is true that most computer-generated random numbers are not truly random, just pseudorandom. The NSA undoubtedly knows ways in which these pseudorandom numbers differ from truly random, and could gain some advantage in attempting to decrypt an intercepted message. However, the advantage gained by such knowledge would still be quite small compared to the overall difficulty of cracking the encyption.

Unless some element of the original encryption was compromised at the outset, it's unlikely that the NSA can crack a 128-bit encrypted message in any reasonable time frame with today's technology. On the other hand, a March 2012 article by James Bamford in Wired magazine describes some of the NSA's forthcoming efforts in that realm.


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