6 - Dan Shumow - Security Cryptography - The Beertelligence Podcast

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“I like bullshittin… Some might say I’m quite skilled at it.”

Dan Shumow is a Senior Software Development Engineer in the Security and Cryptography group at Microsoft.

One of his more notable accomplishments was when he used a mathematical proof to show how a government-created random number generator could have a built-in backdoor, which was later confirmed after the Snowden leaks came out.

Dan shares many stories in this podcast, including the Snowden story, why Microsoft didn’t want him to share it and how he made the decision to go ahead. And totally different stories like how he wanted to be a ninja when he was a kid, beating up the neighbors trees and getting into trouble and how this connects to him becoming interested in cryptography.

We spend time discussing what it is exactly that a cryptographer does and he shares his views on education, the “internet of things” (aka how the “internet of shit” that makes us less safe) and what a regular person can do to educate & protect themselves about web security.


In this episode:
+ How a love of ninjas led to cryptography
+ How drugs can sometimes help resolve a crisis
+ Being involved in airport protests after the travel ban
+ Some fundamental changes needed in education, relative to tech
+ Why he doesn’t keep his Alexa turned on all the time
+ Early versions of the Kinect recording ‘adult moments’
+ Steps people can take to protect themselves online


Wired story on backdoor

Microsoft page

Some work he did in Crypto got a lot of attention in conjunction with the break of the SHA-1 cryptographic algorithm:

He likes street art and has an instagram for it:

And once he told a story about his favorite tagger (Shitbarf) at the Moth in Seattle:

Books mentioned
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge


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