Boston Linux & UNIX was originally founded in 1994 as part of The Boston Computer Society. We meet on the third Wednesday of each month at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Building E51.

Crypto News, plus our annual PGP/GnuPG Key-Signing Party. VENONA, breaking Soviet OTP. Quantum Outlook.

Date and Time

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm


MIT Building E-51, Room 315


Bill Ricker - bill.n1vux gmail com


Bill's annual crypto talk, PGP keysigning party. Register your key in advance to participate!


Bill reviews recent crypto news from the past year, and some crypto history.

“Quantum Cryptography Outlook”: Don't worry /yet/.

Cryptology History vignette: “One time Pad (OTP), BRIDE/BOURBON/VENONA, Russian Spies, Vint Hill Station” (The history of breaking the unbreakable cipher in the proto-NSA … and development of proto-computers in USA parallel to the more famous Colosus in UK)

Cryptography News Highlights since the last year; e.g.,
  • top named vulnerabilities
  • preparing for post-Quantum cryptography
  • books on Eliz. S. Friedman released (wrto Hidden Figures)

The history portion may include horse farms, pumpkin patches, IBM punch-card accounting, and catching atom spies; or the Hidden Figures book connections; or something else entirely.

Following Bill's presentation, we hold our annual keysigning party.


A key signing party is a get-together of people who use the PGP encryption system with the purpose of allowing those people to sign each others keys. Key signing parties serve to extend the web of trust to a great degree. Key signing parties also serve as great opportunities to discuss the political and social issues surrounding strong cryptography, individual liberties, individual sovereignty, and even implementing encryption technologies or perhaps future work on free encryption software.

The basic workflow of signing someone's key is as follows:

  • Verify that the person actually is who they claim to be;
  • Have them verify their key ID and fingerprint;
  • Sign their key;
  • Send the signed key back to them

At the meeting, we go through the first two steps. Each person who preregistered their key will announce their presence and then read off their key ID and fingerprint, so everyone can verify that their copy of the list of keys is correct. Once we've run down the list, we line up, and each of us examines everyone else's photo IDs to verify that they are who they claim to be. After the meeting is over, each participant can then retrieve the keys that they've personally verified, sign those keys, and send the signed keys back to their respective owners.

In order to complete the keysigning in the allotted time, we follow a formal procedure as seen in V. Alex Brennen's “GnuPG Keysigning Party HOWTO”, attached below. It is strongly advised that if you have not been to a keysigning party before, you read this document. We're using the List-based method for this keysigning party, and the keyserver at

It is essential that, before the meeting, you register on the signup form listed in the attachments. You should bring at least one picture ID with you. You must also bring your own printout of the report on that page, so you can check off the names/keys of the people you have personally verified.

The list will be printed on Wednesday afternoon, the day of the meeting; be sure to register your key for the keysigning before that. The official cutoff time is 3:00 pm.

Meeting Notes

BLU is a member of BostonUserGroups
BLU is a member of BostonUserGroups
We also thank MIT for the use of their facilities.

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