Security's inseparable couple

Tuesday, 8 February 2005, 10:42 AM EST

The most familiar names in network security are neither vendors nor geeks: Try Alice and Bob.

Since Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Len Adleman -- the R, S and A in RSA Security -- introduced Alice and Bob in their seminal public-key cryptosystem paper in 1978, the couple has become the subject of countless security-related papers, test questions, speeches and even, ahem, jokes.

Alice and Bob were the names given to fictitious characters used to explain how the RSA encryption method worked, with the thinking being that using names instead of letters like A and B would make a complex subject easier to grasp. They are so commonly used that most security experts don't even give a second thought to reaching for them.

By Bob Brown at Computerworld.

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