, black-bag cryptanalysis
is a euphemism
for the acquisition of cryptographic secrets via burglary
, or the covert installation of keystroke logging
or trojan horse
software/hardware on target computers or ancillary devices. Such methods are intended to capture highly sensitive information e.g. cryptographic keys
, key-rings, passwords
or unencrypted plaintext. Typically, the capture takes place without the victim(s) realising it has occurred. Black-bag cryptanalysis is in contrast to a mathematical or technical cryptanalytic attack
. The term refers to the black bag of equipment that a burglar would carry or a Black Bag Operation
As with rubber-hose cryptanalysis, this is technically not a form of cryptanalysis; the term is used sardonically. However, given the free availability of very high strength cryptographic systems, this type of attack is a much more serious threat to most users than mathematical attacks.
Black bag cryptanalysis is the underlying theme of video game Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell and its sequels.