Flinging Secrets: On Tron & Crypto

December 30th 2016

Chaos. Good news. -- Kevin Flynn, Tron: Legacy

As of last night I've watched Tron: Legacy mas o menos a dozen times. If Everett gets his way I'll watch it another dozen between now and the end of the year. The end of the year is in two days.

(Yo, he loves that movie.)

If you've seen the movie I'm talking about, the 2010 rendition of Tron, you've watched cryptography in action. Course, they didn't call it crypto. But when Sam Flynn (spoiler alert: I'm going to be talking about loads of things that happen in the film that'll ruin it for you if you haven't seen it) arrives on the grid he's stripped (it has a zipper!) of his clothes and four women equip him with a hollow frisbee-type identity disk that, he is informed, will record everything he does and learns. The disks are attached to the character's backs. They glow.

The disk functions the way a private key functions (less the records-your-every-thought bit). Each one is unique. Lose it, you're screwed. (Unless you're Sam and you haven't done much with your life, so your key is worth nada mucho.) For some reason the disks are used during the games as boomerangs. I would never encourage anyone with a Bitcoin private key to go flinging it around a crowded place. But things play out that way in Tron.

It's a movie, they take liberties.

At the crux of the film is Sam's dad, who created the grid. He's chased around by his self-created nemesis, CLU (Codified Likeness Utility). Flynn created CLU in his likeness to make the perfect machine, to perfect the grid. CLU takes it too far. Years go by, he turns on Flynn. CLU wants the master key to the grid.

He wants Flynn's private key. He's willing to go to any length to get access to Flynn's key. If he gets it, he gets the master plan and can take over the world.

I won't completely spoil it for you (I won't tell you if he gets the key or not) but I will say this: if you want to get a whiff of cryptography, you'd do worse than watch Tron.

In the Secure Scuttlebutt world your private key comes equipped with the following message:

# this is your SECRET name.
# this name gives you magical powers.
# with it you can mark your messages so that your friends can verify
# that they really did come from you.
# if any one learns this name, they can use it to destroy your identity
# NEVER show this to anyone!!!

As with Tron disks, so, in some ways, it is with sbot private keys which are auto-generated with libsodium. Your digital identity is connected to an append-only log that can't be edited except for by the person in possession of said key. You might want to keep your keys secret because they're connected to your (digital) identity.

Might not hurt to backup said keys somewhere. Perhaps a disk holstered to your back. A usb stick could also do the trick.

Algos Anonymous→← Your First Node.js Server Over a Porter

comments welcome | email | 2019