Does SHA-7 belong to the US NSA?

As everybody knows, the SHA-n is a series of cryptographic algorithm developed by the NSA and published by the US NIST. The current SHA-n lineup includes SHA-1, SHA-224, SHA-256, SHA-384 and SHA-512.

On the contrary, SHA-7 (see this link – italian only, sorry), a “proprietary, patented encryption algorythm” developed by an Italian company doesn’t belong to the original “family”. And doesn’t have any endorsement by the scientific community.

I wonder why SHA-7 designers have choses this confusing name for their code.



A new breed of bureaucracy?

Since at least twenty years ago – in the beginning of the Internet Era in Italy – ? one of the favorite topics has been how to use the Net to improve the efficiency of the State’s administrative machine. The pre-Internet experiences of big cities like Rome or Milan (and those of smaller while tech-savvy ones) showed a clear path that has never been pursued.

Digital Public Administration, in Italy, is still a dream (or a nightmare, better). Just to name a few examples, on-line healthcare-related services are almost useless. The project for automating the docket filing of civil lawsuits is in a deep coma, while no sign of life comes from the administration of criminal investigations and trials. And give everybody a 2 megabit Internet access (as Mr. Renato Brunetta, Minister of Public Administration advocates) is not a solution; because – putting apart the technological underdevelopment of this country – there is a deeper motivation for Italy to live in a digital (early) pleistocene.

Citizens – often with some merit – distrust computers, as (for less “noble” reasons) civil servants do.

By one side people look at ICT as a devilish matter, existing to make everybody life pity (think of viruses, phishing, angry copyright holders seeking vengeance for the nefarious downloader attack tho their rights, personal identity stolen on the net and so on.)

By another side (a certain number) of civil servants spread all along the pyramid of power don’t like the idea that by “going digital” they are under close scrutiny and ? loose the traditional grasp on the normal citizen, who doesn’t need anymore to plea for a “favour” when interacting with public services.

Between these two contenders lays the “role” of the Public Administration as “Innovation Engine”. The alternative is very neat. It can be chosen to be a “follower”, thus letting the private interests of big corporation to rule the technological and process upgrade strategies. Or the Italian Public Administration can stand as a leader, giving the goals to reach and the path to get there, by imposing open technological standars (such as file formats, operating systems and – in general – everything that meet the idea of “openness”, non only in the Intellectual Property field.)

This is what United States of America did about forty years ago, when they created a computer-to-computer communication system free from royalties and copyright that changed not only those country, but the whole world: the TCP/IP protocol, i.e. the Internet.

This is the English translation of an article published by Nova IlSole24Ore on Oct. 29, 2009

Infocert, electronic signature and technology discrimination

Here we are again. Infocert – one of the biggest electronic signature provider in Italy – confirmed its technology lock-in attitude, by pushing users toward Microsoft Windows.

Infocert released  ?its USB based all-in-one solution named Businesskey ?and advertises its dongle as an “hassle-free” tool, with no installation required. This is not entirely true, because the system only works under Microsoft Windows: no Linux or Mac OSX support.  ?Admittedly, Infocert did release a Linux and MacOSX desktop-based version of Dike (the software client needed to handle the electronic signature), but didn’t do the same as “portable app”.

Consequences are clear and don’t need further explanation. What is astonishing is the silence of both Government and Authorities, that are allowing private entities to force citizens to pay non irrelevant monies to get public services.

Digital Signature. A chance for change?

After ten years Italy might let digital signature legal framework moves toward a coherent system.

Current legislation – Legislative Decree 82/2005 – is still affected by unclear definitions, EU directive translation errors and technical misunderstanding.

If passed in Parliament, draft law AC1441-bis will assign Government the power to amend these mistakes, a non-impossible mission if only the concerned persons will take their time in fully understand the issues debated since 1997 and never fully resolved.

More to come about, as soon as the Parliament will pass the law containing the amendment principles.