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The Mathematical Society

Wednesday 27th February

Dr Ian Levy, Technical Director of GCHQ, gave a brilliant talk on the history of Cybersecurity.  It began with him physically showing us some of the methods used to encrypt messages during WWI, including the amusing example of the code written on silk so that it could be sewn into officers’ jackets.  We were introduced to the Enigma and how it was used to transmit and receive messages.  Dr Levy then proposed the fascinating problem of communicating securely with someone that you have never met, and explained the solution with an analogy of padlocks and keys, demonstrated by members of the audience.  Next he explained interactively how Group Theory and Number Theory are used today to create ‘Trapdoor Functions’, which are much harder to calculate in one direction than another.  Dr Levy finished by looking at case studies of hackers and their various motivations, creating a sense of just how important Cybersecurity is in the modern world.  The speech was entertaining and very accessible to the huge audience that attended.

Ramsay Pyper KS

Date Posted: 06 March 2013
2013

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