Un cypherpunk is an activist who defends the idea of using cryptography powerful and the best of technology to protect the privacy of individuals. The word cypherpunk is one of the most viewed words in the crypto world since the 80's. These activists played a decisive role for the evolution of cryptographic technology, used today everywhere, and the defense of our privacy in what we know today as the Internet.
The word cypherpunk was first coined by the well-known hacker Jude Milhon 1992 . For this he joined "cypher" (encryption) and "punk" (rebel). Simply put, cypherpunk is "encryption rebels." In addition, the word has a previously known drift, that of cyberpunk. This word is used to define a futuristic, science fiction and dystopia literary genre, where technology is central to the plot.
But what were your beginnings? Who are they? What were your greatest achievements? And more importantly, what are they doing in the world today? Well, all this and much more we will see below.
Start of the cypherpunk movement
The cypherpunk movement started as soon as computing began to demonstrate its potential to transform the security of public information using crypto in 1970. Back then, people interested in crypto wanted to take such technology into spaces beyond purely military use. A situation that seemed necessary due to the future prospects of a digital world interconnected thanks to computers. And even more knowing that in this network all our data would be stored and within reach from anywhere in the world.
The Internet was not designed to be secure. It was designed not to fail, but not to be safe. One of the first figures to boost security was Ralph Merkle. Merkle who while still a student, was able to design the bases of various current cryptographic systems. In fact, Merkle is recognized as the creator of the first functional system of asymmetric cryptography. A fact that has been forgotten for many, because their work was taken as a joke.
However, the joint work of Ralph Merkle, Martin Hellman and Whitfield Diffie, gave rise to the first asymmetric cryptographic systems available to the public. While DES (Data Encryption Standard) it was its counterpart in symmetric cryptography, made public by the American government.
It is from this moment on that the world of cryptography would begin to change the world. And the moment, in which the cypherpunk begin to have a great weight in their development.
The 80's, cypherpunks start to appear
Certainly the development of asymmetric and symmetric cryptography during the 70's were important. But many specialists saw this progress as insufficient. On the one hand, DES was seen as insufficient for the number of security applications that lay ahead. This is in addition to suspicions that the standard was intentionally weakened to allow espionage by the United States.
On the side of asymmetric cryptographic systems, the low computational power and its complexity makes it difficult to implement these developments. But that did not stop those interested in developing these systems. With ARPANET growing rapidly and the development of TCP / IP, the 80's would be the beginning of the great world information network. At the prospects of this development, brilliant minds like those of David Chaum, Shafi goldwasser o Silvio Micali, They began to focus on the crypto challenges of the future.
Of all of them, David Chaum is the most prolific and "rebellious" of them all. Chaum was focused on taking crypto technology to its maximum. All in order to protect the privacy of people. It was a fight between people and governments that want to control everything. A fight where the tool for battle was advanced technology and crypto. That was how Chaum created highly secure crypto systems like blind signatures, group signatures, crypto credentials, and the first example of cryptographically secure digital money.
All this would transform David Chaum into the first person who could be defined as a cypherpunk. A fact that continues to impact our lives today and that would open the doors of a movement for the right to privacy around the world.
Cypherpunks mailing list is born
By the beginning of the 90's, what we know today as the Internet is already a reality. The network of networks worldwide It was operational, although limited in size compared to today. Yet there it was, and it allowed thousands of people to share information from anywhere in the world without being physically present.
Back then, mailing lists were widely used as spaces to meet and discuss on different topics. From these lists, the Cypherpunks mailing list, created in 1992, was somewhat special. In it personalities like Adam Back, Jude Milhon, David Chaum, Eric Hughes, Timothy C. May, John gilmore, Fen Labalme, Lance Cottrell, Nick Szabo, Richard Stallman, Romana Machado, Ron Rivest, Tatu Ylönen, Tim Berners-Lee, and Ulf Moller came to life.
From 1992 to the present day, the Cypherpunk list has been the epicenter of many crypto projects in the world. From her projects as important as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) or the Open Privacy.
But in addition to this, the Cypherpunks list was the birthplace of "The cryptanarchist manifesto" y "The Cyphernomicon". Not to mention technological advances that would lead us to the creation of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, such as the case of HashCash de Adam Back.