Intelligence agencies including the US National Security Agency (NSA), GCHJQ and others are secretly undermining the very infrastructures that form the basis of secure communications on the internet, according to the latest documents leaked in the Edward Snowden case.
The US Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has, in collaboration with Britain’s GCHQ and selected intelligence organisations worldwide, gone to extraordinary lengths to undermine the secure communications infrastructure of the net.
Apparently the NSA has not only pursued an aggressive programme of obtaining private encryption keys for commercial products – allowing the organisation to decrypt vast amounts of internet traffic that use these products — but has also attempted to put backdoors into cryptographic standards designed to secure users’ communications. Additionally, the leaked documents make clear that companies have been complicit in allowing these activities to take place, though the identities of cooperating companies remain unknown.
The US investigative reporting agency Propublica backs the story, saying the NSA is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications.
Thanks to such powers, the agency has been able to circumvent or crack much of the encryption that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, web searches, internet chats and phone calls of ordinary people around the world.