Dan Brown - Digital Fortress book

Robert J. Hansen rjh at sixdemonbag.org
Wed Jan 14 17:47:58 CET 2009

Andre Amorim wrote:
> Anyone knows what's is fact (real) and what is fiction in Dan Brown
> novel, Digital Fortress ?

The book is almost wholly fiction with the occasional bit of
name-dropping thrown in to make it sound authentic.  The idea of a
cipher that shifts over time and thus making it unbreakable is patently
ridiculous.  All you're doing is making a timestamp part of the
encryption key, nothing more or less.

The TRANSLATR machine does not work and cannot work, not under the laws
of physics as we know them to be.

The description of life in a secure high-reliability datacenter is also
absurd.  E.g., the book mentions several times how they use Freon to
cool the machinery.  Real datacenters explicitly forbid Freon.  When
Freon catches fire it decomposes into phosgene, a nerve gas, which makes
it kind of hard to fight the fire.  In the book, a fire ravages the
datacenter and yet somehow people in it aren't dead from phosgene exposure.

The portrayal of the NSA doesn't even rise to the level of a caricature.

The book is a miserable, insufferable, abysmal waste of time.  A friend
of mine once gave me a copy with the caveat that I wouldn't be able to
finish it.  I did, but only to prove him wrong.

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