Crack The Government's Encryption
(Don't worry, it's legal)

What are you talking about Mike?

From the RSA webpage:

"It is widely agreed that 56-bit keys, such as those offered by the government's DES standard, offer marginal protection against a committed adversary. By inertia as much as anything else, however, DES is still used for many applications. Theoretical studies have been performed showing that it is possible to build for a modest sum a specialized computer "DES cracker" that could crack keys in mere hours by exhaustive search. However, no one is known to have built such a machine in the private sector, and it is generally unknown whether or not one has been built by any government, either.

"The successful factorizations achieved as part of the RSA Factoring Challenge (launched by RSA Data Security, Inc. in 1991) show that for some types of problems, it is possible to recruit spare cycles on a large number of machines distributed around the Internet. Therefore, by offering a suitable incentive, it might well be possible to recruit sufficient computational power across the Internet to exhaustively search the DES keyspace (or the keyspace of a cipher with a comparable keysize) in a matter of weeks."

What does that have to do with me?

A non-profit organization, Distributed.Net, has devised a system to organize computers attached to the internet to assist in cracking the encryption code (you do not have to be permanently attached).  The system works by sequentially assigning blocks of keys to check to each participant.  They already have thousands of computers world-wide working on the same problem!

Two well used (now dead) encryption schemes have already been broken this way by Distributed.Net

So what can I do?

You download a "cracking" client that knows how to talk to the coordinating server and your client runs on your machine all the time (unless you turn it off).  The "cracking" client is very nice and runs at a very low priority on your computer, so you should never notice a slowdown.  Basically, when you aren't doing anything on your computer, it is working at cracking the encryption.

The clients are set up to work on many different operating systems.  You could also use your computer(s) at work if it is connected to the internet.  Note: You may need to know information about your firewall.

A prize is given for crackng the encryption!

Suffice it to say that team Skydive! around the world will receive $2000 if we get the key! This money will be donated to the USPA Airport Activity Defense fund (sorry to our friends across the sea).  If you have suggestions for another charity, then I will be very glad to entertain any suggestions.  A skydiving charity would be best, I think.

More information about the prize money allocation is here.  All told, $10,000 is given away.

OK, I want to sign up!

That's great!  You will need to take several steps in order to join team Skydive! around the world.
  1. If you want, go to the Distributed.Net How to help page and read up on your part,
    or just read on.
  2. Next, download the proper client from them (you want a GUI) and install it on your computer.
  3. I suggest the following settings for a home computer which sometimes logs-on the internet.
    Config Tab Enter / Select This
    User Enter your email address
    Networking 1)I can communicate freely
    If you don't know what the other selections are, then don't choose them.
    Connection Modem Dialup Lurk Only (do not trigger autodial) if you use a modem
    Buffers All Blocks to Buffer: 60 and  Enable DES: checked
    Logging I log so I can see what goes on (really boring info), you may not want to.
    CPU Execution Priority (older clients): 0) (recommended) Very nice, should not interfere
    Optimize for CPU type:
    Number of CPUs: the number of CPUs you have (usually 1)
    Startup Automatically launch client as startup service, do not run hidden
  4. Join the Skydive! around the world team AT LEAST ONE DAY LATER.  You must wait, unfortunately, one day at most before you can join our team because the Distributed.Net server is only updated once a day and you have to be in the system before joining the team.  You can start cracking right away, however. Please don't forget to join!
  5. Once you are ready to join team Skydive! around the world, follow these steps;
    • Go to the Join A Team FAQ on Distributed.Net and follow the directions set forth
      or Follow These Steps
    • Enter your email address here and press the STATS button to view your cracking statistics

      Enter your email address:      

    • Click on the button Mail Me A Password at the bottom of your personal stats page
    • After a few minutes at most, you should receive your password via email.
    • Enter your password and email address here and click the EDIT button

      Email:      Password:      
      (I never see your password)                                     

    • Now you will see an entry box on the new page for the team number.
    • Skydive! around the world is team number  3935
    • Choose a charity for the $6000 award  (the Free Software Foundation is on top by alot)
    • Click on the submit button and you are done!
  6. Lastly, send me email so I can give you access to the team page which has all sorts of useful info: Michael B. Vederman.


You have just joined the largest computer in the world!  And hopefully Skydivers will win!