Customer Review

26 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful, 5 April 2005
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This review is from: Digital Fortress (Paperback)
I read the DaVinci Code, then Angels and Demons, then finally this. And then it suddenly hit me: There's such an enormous amount of things that are very, very wrong in this book that it's very unlikely that the rest are much better.
The technical mistakes in this book are simply amazing.
First, the NSA is nothing particularly misterious. They have a public website at [...]
Second, there's simply no such thing as a computer that can brute force any key regardless of length. Each additional bit doubles the amount of time needed. If a key can be brute forced in a day, 8 additional bits (one character) will require 256 days. 8 more and it's going to take 179 years. And why stop there? Add 16 more, and civilization might very well cease to exist before those 11 million years pass.
Third, there is such a thing as an unbreakable code. It's called a one time pad. They're not terribly practical, but they exist, and easily proven to be unbreakable by brute force if used correctly.
Fourth, PGP is not an algorithm, it's a program that can use some of the listed ones, like ElGamal. There's a free version available at [...]
Fifth, "Twenty years ago no one imagined we'd be breaking twelve-bit stream ciphers". Please. 12 bits allow for 2^12 = 4096 combinations. A human could try every possible password by typing them one after another in a day or two. It'd be really boring, but it doesn't even require any tools!
This is a quick list I compiled by just looking at the beginning pages at random. There are lots of other horrible mistakes, but the full list would be far too long to put it here.
There's enough other horrible stuff, as well.
The "Sherwood Forest" attack against NYSE simply couldn't have worked. I have great difficulty to believe that NYSE keeps all their critical information in one unique place that conveniently makes it easy to destroy it.
The product placement.
The ridiculous Hollywood-esque display, with lines indicating attackers, and firewalls going gradually down. If they can plot the attacks as a picture it means they can identify and block them.
This is not even half of what is wrong with this book. The whole plot makes absolutely no sense, and it annoys me to no end that Dan Brown even dared to publish something so incredibly badly researched. The only thing I could possibly recommend it for is to use it as an example of how not to write about technology.
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