What Makes A Number Illegal To Possess Or Distribute?

I know what you’re thinking, “What the hell is an illegal number?” We’ll tell you, and you’ll probably thank us at some point… or maybe you won’t, your call.

Being in possession of certain numbers can get you  into deep doodoo with the long dick of the law, and we’re not joking… even though we’re clearly taking the piss. Seriously, though, data security is a big deal and maybe now you’re starting to understand what we’re getting at.

This is how computer encryption works, in layman’s terms. An encrypted file or system is effectively “locked” with a really, really ridiculously long number and the principle of computer encryption is largely based around insanely large prime numbers. The keys to unlocking these files or systems are those prime numbers, which equal the lock’s number if they’re multiplied together. Here’s the deal, though. These numbers are thousands of digits long… which makes them really difficult to produce, even if you’re a supercomputer.

However, there’s one prime number (which is super long as as unspeakable as he who shall not be naked) that was the source code to unlock copyrighted protected systems on DVDs. With that number, you could duplicate, download or upload the data on the DVD… but that’s really illegal thanks to the 1998 Digital Rights Act. If you want to learn more then you should check out this video made by Wendoverproductions, which explains how all this works and even how finding one of these elusive numbers can make you a lot of dough.

Oh, and we don’t know the DVD code… sorry.

[IFL Science]

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