Thank Snowden, As NSA Estimates He Singlehandedly Sped Up Encryption Adoption By 7 Years

from the thank-you-ed dept

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James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, is claiming that, according to NSA estimates the Snowden revelations sped up the adoption rate of encryption by 7 years. Apparently, that's based on NSA estimates of the adoption curve of encryption. As reported by Jenna McLaughlin at the Intercept:

“As a result of the Snowden revelations, the onset of commercial encryption has accelerated by seven years,” James Clapper said during a breakfast for journalists hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

The shortened timeline has had “a profound effect on our ability to collect, particularly against terrorists,” he said.

When pressed by The Intercept to explain his figure, Clapper said it came from the National Security Agency. “The projected growth maturation and installation of commercially available encryption — what they had forecasted for seven years ahead, three years ago, was accelerated to now, because of the revelation of the leaks.”
Of course, it's worth noting that, in the past few months, it seemed as if the NSA and the intelligence community was moving away from its kneejerk hatred of encryption, pushing back against the FBI's argument that we need to backdoor encryption. But, apparently they're not willing to go quite this far. Basically, the NSA wants strong encryption out there, but it doesn't really want you to use it.
Asked if that was a good thing, leading to better protection for American consumers from the arms race of hackers constantly trying to penetrate software worldwide, Clapper answered no.

“From our standpoint, it’s not … it’s not a good thing,” he said.
Yup. James Clapper would prefer that the American public be less safe by not using encryption, rather than protecting their digital lives.

Of course, many other people do think it's a very, very good thing. Including Ed Snowden:
So, the guy in the US government is upset that the public is more safe, and the guy that people want to accuse of being a traitor is proud of helping Americans to better protect themselves. Maybe we ought to reverse their roles...

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 27 Apr 2016 @ 9:47am

    "It's not my fault for stealing the cookies, it's your fault for catching me."

    Of course the real blame lies on them, not Snowden, for the 'early' adoption of more widespread encryption, not that you'd ever get them to admit it.

    Had they shown restraint in their actions, only going after targets and trying to minimize 'incidental' collection of other data rather than trying to grab everything simply because they could it's entirely possible that Snowden wouldn't have felt the need to leak the evidence exposing their actions in the first place, and even if he did there still wouldn't have been nearly as strong a push to roll out widespread encryption.

    If encryption is becoming more widespread and it's making their jobs 'harder', they have only their own actions to blame, as they made it very clear that they have no interest in protecting or respecting the privacy or security of anyone that isn't them, so if people and companies want it done they will have to do it themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 27 Apr 2016 @ 10:25am

      Re: "It's not my fault for stealing the cookies, it's your fault for catching me."

      While he may have sped up things and the intel folks are to blame for it I wouldn't place all the blame on them. At least not if restricted to the US. There are plenty of help from abroad and I'm not talking about US allies. That said, the contribution of China and the likes is smaller for sure.

      And the arms race with malicious hackers out there (remember hacking is not always bad per se) also isn't guilty alone. There's a lot of people wanting to protect their devices from plain old theft of data. Remember our phones now carry a great deal about our lives.

      So in the end Clapper is giving too much importance to Ed while leaving other factors out.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        I.T. Guy, 27 Apr 2016 @ 10:29am

        Re: Re: "It's not my fault for stealing the cookies, it's your fault for catching me."

        Its called Propaganda. :)

        He gets a 2-fer on this one. He gets to blame Ed and Encryption. A win-win.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 27 Apr 2016 @ 10:35am

        Re: Re: "It's not my fault for stealing the cookies, it's your fault for catching me."

        Plain old physical theft (as in stealing the phone itself then accessing it). Think the original is a bit confusing on that part.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 27 Apr 2016 @ 4:11pm

        Re: Re: "It's not my fault for stealing the cookies, it's your fault for catching me."

        The idea is that the NSA had already accounted for all those other factors, and the Snowden revelations sped up the timetable putting us seven years ahead of where we would have been without them. Whether they actually successfully accounted for all the factors and their timeline is accurate I have no idea. Sounds like it would have a pretty large margin of error. Maybe plus or minus seven years?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 27 Apr 2016 @ 10:31am

      Re: "It's not my fault for stealing the cookies, it's your fault for catching me."

      The fact that NSA was spying on private links between data centers was what caused Google, and other cloud companies to speed up encryption.

      Now everything is encrypted even over private links between data centers. And increasingly, is encrypted at rest on storage media.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 27 Apr 2016 @ 9:48am

    "because of the revelation of the leaks."

    He acts like the revelations of the U.S. letter agencies acting in a Naziesque fashion towards its citizens was a bad thing.

    Wanna see the real domestic terrorists? There is a picture of one right here... look up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 27 Apr 2016 @ 10:21am

      Re:

      That's how they've always acted, and how they always will, as doing otherwise would require them to admit to having done something wrong, and since that clearly isn't the case, all the blame must go to the messenger who revealed their actions.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2016 @ 9:55am

    Not 7 years...

    I keep reading this "headline" everywhere, but if you read the quote:

    “The projected growth maturation and installation of commercially available encryption — what they had forecasted for seven years ahead, three years ago, was accelerated to now, because of the revelation of the leaks.”

    It's only 4 years ahead per their forecast.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 27 Apr 2016 @ 10:19am

      Re: Not 7 years...

      7 years has more of an impact... more shock value. It's a lie of course. But they'll just keep repeating it... over and over and over like any good propagandist does.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2016 @ 10:16am

    Speaking of which, this looks like a must-see movie:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlSAiI3xMh4

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    streetlight (profile), 27 Apr 2016 @ 10:40am

    Another thing improved encryption technology

    IIRC, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was found to have purposely compromised encryption technology by producing a poor random number generator used in some encryption products. Once that was corrected I'm guessing various commercial encryption methods improved immensely.

    Perhaps a bit off topic but the push by some government three letter agency leaders and politicians for back doors to encryption probably won't stop the use of secure encryption. Should this be required and implemented then immediately cracked it would be interesting to see the response of those pushing this when their most private correspondence is published including financial records, hotel bills, notes to girlfriends or boyfriends, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2016 @ 10:53am

    Sponsored by Golden Frog? What a disgrace.

    This is a company marketing snake-oil security. Taking money from them in exchange for promoting their products is disgraceful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      art guerrilla (profile), 27 Apr 2016 @ 5:40pm

      Re: Sponsored by Golden Frog? What a disgrace.

      1. don't know nuthing about no steenking golden, silver, or bronze frogs...
      2. actually, was going to post (as a proud ABP/ghostery/noscript user) that i found those restrained, on-point, and relatively unobtrusive 'inline' ads to be fine...
      3. if ads were mostly like that, wouldn't have any where near the hatred of them i do now... oh, i would probably still hate them, just not as rabidly and righteously...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2016 @ 11:02am

    You know, none of this business would be a problem were the security and LEOs not doing things that collide with the Constitution and the law.

    It comes down to if you are having a hard time justifying and getting more because it is coming up against public disapproval then maybe you shouldn't be doing the things that bring you bad publicity and negative reactions.

    More and more today, it's becoming evident that this country is corrupt from top to bottom. The money is guilty but not the person carrying it? State lab testers are faking results and get fired but no one in DOJ wants to address the 10s of thousands of jailed people put in there as a results of bad evidence? That law makers are making laws directly and continuously that don't favor the voters that put them in office? That votes voters make don't really count?

    Seems to have no end of examples to provide as reasons why the citizens of this country no longer trust the government but rather fear it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2016 @ 12:18pm

    More americans probably view the FBI as creating and supporting terrorism than trying to prevent it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Seegras (profile), 28 Apr 2016 @ 2:32am

      Re:

      Right. Counting all terrorist plots in the USA, including all the failed one, it turns out that the FBI is indeed responsible for the majority of them.

      Granted, the FBI is probably not responsible for any of the plots that worked, but still, they're obviously not doing what anyone could call "fighting terrorism".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2016 @ 2:05pm

    $u$picious journali$m

    Techdirt- Now just blatantly regurgitating propagandist headlines- "sponsored" by an alleged government honeypot vpn service. (see the very first sponsored post, where a reader helpfully posted a link to evidence.)

    So much for TD being a trustworthy source.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2016 @ 2:50pm

    Advanced by 7 years?

    So that would put it still about 13 years behind where it should be. We should point out that almost all the crypto being rushed into service now is using software libraries that have been in service and progressively updated for a decade on now.

    Also note that newer systems under development are typically not open architectures. As the older systems become deprecated, the newer ones are making the Internet more closed.

    This can be attributed to less economic freedom, (fewer innovators have the free time to innovate in a non-militaristic way) and to intellectual property law that treats public assets like the dirt in the bottom of a cock fighting ring.

    The impetus for change is there, but the freedom to do so is under progressively more constraint. That constraint will continue to get worse under either of the front running candidates. It is fair to say the next major technology boom won't come from the U.S.. It will be like the 80's again with heavy domestic stagflation, and a foreign markets dominating.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Skeeter, 27 Apr 2016 @ 4:15pm

    Is it just me?

    Is it just me, or does anyone else notice that the sum of the NSA, CIA, FBI, and all other alphabets; are incapable of PREVENTING a terrorist action, and proudly stand behind their decimation of the Constitution (specifically the 4th Amendment, secondarily the 10th) justifying spying on all citizens so that AFTER THE NEXT ATTACK, they can possibly piece together how it was done? Spying, clearly, isn't meant to stop attacks anyhow, it's nothing more than a forensic tool for AFTER the attack. We won't even bring up the fact that it WAS illegal to use unwarranted surveillance on American Citizens (illegal for NSA and CIA to operate in-country) prior to 9/11. We also won't mention that 90-percent of hidden surveillance approved by FISO is actually done IN-country. Obviously, our threat has nothing to do with other nations or peoples. It's all internal. Wonder why?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Apr 2016 @ 7:34pm

    I suppose the Americans want Snowden to return and collect his reward of a free electric chair.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 27 Apr 2016 @ 10:51pm

    Role reversal?

    So, the guy in the US government is upset that the public is more safe, and the guy that people want to accuse of being a traitor is proud of helping Americans to better protect themselves. Maybe we ought to reverse their roles...

    Hens in charge of the fox house tend to end up with short terms.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 1:36am

    How you can endorse and publicly support anything from a corrupt company like Gold frog is beyond me

    You really should vet your sponsors, its just like your daily deal. Techdirt is loosing credibility when you spam this kind of poor services

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2016 @ 11:19am

    ya, no, the golden frog thing has my puzzled? YU take golden frog money?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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