Hiding in plain sight


Senkou no Night Raid

In a recent post from Bruce Schneier, he quotes a piece on secret languages. Here's a portion of it:

Incomprehension breeds fear. A secret language can be a threat: signifier has no need of signified in order to pack a punch. Hearing a conversation in a language we don't speak, we wonder whether we’re being mocked. The klezmer-loshn spoken by Jewish musicians allowed them to talk about the families and wedding guests without being overheard.

This is something I have known, instinctively. I first thought up this tactic around my second year in high school. I advised my brother if there was something he wanted to tell me secretly, he should tell it to me in Chinese because then other people would not be able to understand - that was more or less true around that time since it was not that often that we would see Asians around us.

But even as I used it on others in public in this manner, this same method was being used on myself by a group of Korean girls in my grade at school. They took advantage of their Korean background to use the language in their tight giggling gaggle to point, whisper and laugh about students they singled out, and because we were unable to understand what they were truly saying, there was nothing we could do no matter how obvious it seemed to us that they were talking about us, particularly in a mocking manner. There's no need for wondering in this case, we knew.

I suppose the point of his post though, could have been to point out the purest form of this 'secret language' business. Encryption works much like a secret language to render whatever we put up essentially incomprehensible to others, but understandable to ourselves. It keeps our 'conversation', in this case our data, 'secret' from those we don't want to comprehend it.

Well, I'm no expert, really, so I could be wrong. Maybe I'm taking too far a leap in logic, but I feel enlightened all the same.

Image from Akirascuro.