Intelligence Black Budget Reveals Major Focus By NSA On Cracking Encryption

from the how-safe-is-your-encryption dept

There are lots of people digging through the latest Ed Snowden leaks concerning the black budget for intelligence activities in the US trying to pick out various nuggets. Over at Wired, Kevin Poulsen has found one of the most interesting tidbits, highlighting how James Clapper cheers on the "groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptofgraphy and exploit internet traffic." In short, the NSA has gotten pretty good at breaking encrypted communications. Encryption is a strong protector, but can be broken -- and that's always been a part of the NSA's mission: code-breaking. But, there have long been questions about to what level the NSA can break today's popular encryption standards. What today's leaks show is that they're apparently pretty successful and are spending more and more money on it:
The pie chart above? That's $11 billion and it employes 35,000 people. Breaking your encryption. As Poulsen notes, James Bamford (who has followed the NSA closely for years) revealed last year that the NSA had recently made an "enormous breakthrough" in cryptanalysis, and this should raise some questions about just how secure various forms of encryption really are today.

Filed Under: black budget, encryption, nsa, nsa surveillance, spying, surveillance


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  1. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 29 Aug 2013 @ 7:05pm

    Intel

    We are investing in groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit internet traffic. -- Clapper

    NSA is getting a Vesuvius or D-Wave Two quantum computing system built into the Utah facility according to this. Quantum computers can rapidly break down public key cryptography since it can quickly factor down large numbers to their respective primes.

    I think this means they don't have this capability yet. I wouldn't depend on that as a certainty, though.

    So the future is here. And we still need to work out cryptography that, while not necessarily impenetrable, is still a bother enough to make it impossible for the NSA (or for anyone) to engage in deep-packet-analysis of every incident they encounter. Even poor encryption that they have to triage is going to serve to slow their intelligence-gathering efforts.

    == == ==

    Encrypted with Morbius-Cochrane Perfect Steganographic Codec 1.2.001
    accident fungus golf elastic laser fire apple pie chime

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