Last-modified: 20 March 1995
1. "What is the charter of sci.crypt.research?"
2. "How do I submit an article to sci.crypt.research?"
3. "What do you think of my new cryptosystem?"
People frequently invent new encryption schemes and protocols and want to share the fruit of their creativity with other people sharing an interest in cryptography. Past experience on sci.crypt indicates that many of these postings tend to be just an annoyance, rather than serious research. In an attempt to cut down on the annoyances, while still encouraging serious research in this area, we have proposed the following guidelines for posting new algorithms.
A. DO research other encryption methods and understand how they work, including both historical and current work. There are lots of good books and journals devoted to this kind of work.
B. DO investigate methods of cryptanalysis. Knowing how a cryptanalyst might go about trying to break a cipher gives you much better insight into how to create a good one. Indeed, among professionals, experience attempting to break encryption methods is considered essential before designing new ciphers.
C. DO COMPLETELY DOCUMENT your algorithm with both a text description and, if applicable, computer source code. By "completely document" we mean that the description is sufficient for anyone skilled in the art to implement or simulate your algorithm. If you have doubts about export restrictions on the source code for the algorithm, you may choose to provide a pointer to a place where the source code can be obtained by qualified people, rather than posting it. If you have a complete application using encryption, and you are posting from the USA or Canada, then providing a pointer to the program rather than just posting it is recommended, but the text description should still be posted.
D. DO describe the advantages of your algorithm compared to others in existence, including comparison of efficiency and other relevant design parameters. Make sure that you provide evidence to support your claims.
E. DO try to break your own scheme before you post it. This could save some embarrassment.
F. DO take a look at similar postings from other people on sci.crypt and sci.crypt.research and try to analyze them. This will give you some insight into how others will look at your posting and perhaps allow you to make yours more clear. It also gives you a chance to try to break some other cryptosystems.
G. DO read the sci.crypt FAQ, posted monthly and archived at rtfm.mit.edu under /pub/usenet/sci.crypt.
H. DO describe which quantities in your scheme are public and which are private. Explicitly mention what the key is and what the message is.
I. DO include the design principles you used and mention any assumptions you made which you think may be relevant. Explain why you think your system is secure.
J. DON'T expect a response from a ciphertext only challenge. Although there are techniques for attacking ciphertext only, most of them require lots of examples, some of which correspond to known plain text. They are also rather time consuming. If you do feel the urge to issue a challenge, make sure that you also comply with all of the above guidelines. Offering a cash reward if someone breaks your cryptosystem may help someone to be more motivated to try (and is also a good test of how much you believe in your own system).
K. Be ready to carefully evaluate and learn from any feedback you get.
4. "What effect do export regulations have on this group?"
Comments, questions, or suggested additions to this FAQ should be directed to the sci.crypt.research moderators at firstname.lastname@example.org
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