Archive for the 'Computer Science' Category

Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government Saving Privacy in the Digital Age, by Steven Levy

SEL Books: QA76.9.A25 L49 2001

This book immerses you into the world of codes, code-breaking, and encryption. Though it is a non-fiction, investigative work, Crypto reads like a novel. It is a compelling and enjoyable read.

What the author accomplishes here is to convey not only how fascinating is the tale of encryption, but also to emphasize the importance of it in our daily lives. What is at stake here is no less than the protection of our personal and collective data. As we become increasingly dependent on the Internet, we become increasingly vulnerable to theft—both financial and personal. I heard recently that identity theft reached an all-time high in 2005, and that data thefts from large, ostensibly secure, organizations is on a steep rise.

While this book is not a primer for protecting yourself, it certainly succeeds in explaining the importance of encryption in our lives. It does so by entwining several branches of the story—a history of encryption, Whitfield Diffie’s personal battle to protect individual’s personal data, and the fearless battle of a number of code rebels to wrest encryption from the government in order to protect individual privacy.

This is a wonderful book about an important subject. I’d place it on the shelf labeled “Must Read.”

Steven Levy also wrote Insanely Great: The Life and Time of the Macintosh, the Computer that Changed Everything (SEL Books: QA 76.8 .M3 L487 1994).

(Originally published in Connections, January 2006)