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CS Alert (1890) (wikipedia.org)
35 points by rmbryan 54 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments



Meta HN question (I'm sorry if this is inappropriate). Normally, in HN "{Title} ({Year})" signals that the article is written in "Year". So when I read the title, I thought the article will be from 1890, but then realized the article is named "CS Alert (1890)". In this case looks like "(1890)" is added to the title to disambiguate it from other "CS Alert"s i.e.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CS_Alert

I initially thought it would make more sense to name this article as "CS Alert" since it wouldn't matter as much as Wikipedia if the title is ambiguous. But then I disagreed with myself since other "CS Alert"s are all named of the form "CS Alert ({Year})" so it could still be ambiguous even in HN context. Maybe the title could editorialized to "CS Alert 1890" or "CS Alert, 1890" or something, but I understand that HN rules are against editorializing titles. It's an interesting problem.


This article is a great example of where the submitter should improve the title. As it is, I thought "Was there a Computer Science Alert in 1890?"

There's nothing wrong with an informative title here. If it were me, I would write:

The cable-laying and cable-cutting ship CS Alert

That does what a good headline should do: give a taste of the story without venturing into clickbait territory.


Maybe wikipedia should be exempt from the dating rule, since, what's the publication date on a wikipedia entry?


I think the problem here is that the literal string "(1890)" is part of the original title.


Interesting that they cut the lines instead of tapping them. Maybe the technology wasn’t there yet, or they were in too much of a hurry.


It would probably be obvious if there was always a ship over the cables.


I wonder if there are cases where it's better to cut an enemy cable, as opposed to tapping it. I can't think of any, but this isn't my field.


Tapping the cable still allows the enemy to talk.

Sometimes, if the enemy is trying to be sneaky, it's better to overhear them and thwart their efforts.

Other times the enemy might be trying to coordinate a massive attack for which timing is key. It wouldn't matter if you overhear because you need to disrupt the attack before it starts. In that case it's better to not let the enemy communicate at all.


Still doesn’t explain why layer 1 encryption isn’t used for oceanic cables.

Edit: I mean this from a timeless perspective, and slightly from the present day.


In 1915!? Because mathematically sound encryption and the computational machinery to employ it did not exist back then.


Hmm...sound encryption did exist: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-time_pad#History

And computational machinery to implement it, at least for telegraph seems to have quite likely existed in 1915: https://patents.google.com/patent/US1310719 (filing date 1917).


A one time pad is not "sound encryption", as it lacks message integrity.


Layer 1 encryption doesn’t involve message integrity.


That's a weird assertion, but okay.

My only point was that by the modern standards we take for granted, OTP/XOR is not really a cryptosystem but better thought of as a primitive. IMO for those just learning crypto, it's a red herring that hides the core functionality of modern cryptography (see: the common amateur reinvention of using a PRNG as a OTP).

My answer to your main question is because encrypting layer 1 adds negligible security properties to the whole system (can't tap that link, but you can tap anywhere else), everything should already be encrypted at a higher level (for the previous reason, as well as integrity/authorization/etc), and that the bandwidth is too high (the entire point of packet switched networks is to do as little as possible in each node).

Applied to the existing Internet, the only thing it would gain is hiding addressing metadata from an attacker who directly taps a link.

A more effective general way of doing this would be something like onion source routing, where each router only knows the next hop. But once again the scalability problem, so the desire is better applied to an overlay network rather than convincing backbone providers to take this on - there is barely the impetus for IPv6.


I was thinking you’d tee it and run an extension to shore.


they cut it to be able to tap it, by cutting the cables they forces Germans to use the radio that easily could be listen to!


Right, but then the Germans know you’re listening and will be more careful about what they say. If you tap the cable, you may be able to keep it a secret.




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