The Battle for Encryption
A new day is dawning where encryption is growing and the ever watchful eyes of the NSA and GCHQ are fighting harder. The right to privacy is teetering back and forth all across the world. Methods of encryption online and found in hardware are creeping into society in a very profound way. However the ever […]
A new day is dawning where encryption is growing and the ever watchful eyes of the NSA and GCHQ are fighting harder. The right to privacy is teetering back and forth all across the world. Methods of encryption online and found in hardware are creeping into society in a very profound way. However the ever present battle to crack this protection has been on the minds of governments everywhere.
“The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything.”
— Edward Snowden
Individuals, groups and businesses are applying encryption everywhere and it’s growing incredibly popular. Its taste is on the tongue of everyone from hearing whistleblowers blast immense amounts of information regarding governments spying on their citizens. Recently the Washington Post published documentation from the infamous Edward Snowden in which he reveals that the National Security Agency is trying to crack everyone’s encryption. They are in search of a “cryptologically useful” quantum computing system. The state of the art equipment is meant decode most public encryption available today. This includes public/private key encryption used in cryptocurrency and various message platforms.
Whistleblower’s and spying apologists are creating a genuine discussion where people have validated the corruption of government spying. Because of this escalation of mass data collection and scandal projections over recent years, internet traffic encryption will rise another 20% by 2016. Online services along with mobile devices are the most targeted technologies for experts of encryption to shine their work for the masses to enjoy. Encryption is in demand and cloud security providers are getting injections of venture capital from explosive growth this year.
Protectionism advocates and government employees feel that these acts do not serve the public interests at home and abroad. The fact that businesses and corporations are giving owners’ power over their private keys gives state supporters a distaste. Some corporations are using “zero-knowledge” services which promise they don’t have the ability to even use private keys. These same examples can also be found in Bitcoin services and hardware. Yet certain groups of parliament and congress believe this emerging tech is a threat to society. Even after countless accusations and proven theories of their corrupt spying and data harvesting.
“They (NSA & GCHQ) are intent on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them.” — Edward Snowden
Over the past two years, federal law enforcement agencies have been outraged that tech companies are supporting the popular consumer decision for privacy. The NSA wants the businesses providing software to offer them a ‘skeleton key’ which can open encryption on any device, and any protocol. At the moment a lot companies don’t seem to be offering the NSA the means to do this. In fact, it’s just the opposite a survey from 2013 from Thales e-Security’s says that 35% of businesses now implement enterprise-wide encryption strategy, up from 29 percent the previous year. In 2015 that rate is exceedingly large and growing at exponential rates. Despite the demand for privacy there are some corporations that have been said to have given access to user information in the past
With the aftermath of information provided by Edward Snowden a report written by Sandvine says encrypted internet has surged to record levels. In North America, SSL encrypted traffic skyrocketed in 2014, in Europe encryption surpassed the US by four times. This rise in privacy services can represent small ‘Mom and Pop’ businesses to gigantic corporations. End users themselves also have been adding layers of individual security by utilizing Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and hidden web proxies. Society is clearly not happy with the pervasive monitoring of citizens and the surveillance of their every action. The fact is, with Snowden’s admissions its near proof that the NSA and GCHQ are constantly watching our every move through mobile devices, computers, televisions, street lights, public transportation and more.
Still with all their power and efforts to crack encryption, they still cannot yet defeat the modern science of public key cryptography. With private organizations and private individuals striking back, it’s becoming increasingly harder for them to attack the public. However bribing by the powers of political means has awarded government with a series of puppets. Microsoft has had quite a history with the NSA and GCHQ, supposedly its encryption services hold a backdoor for government agencies. This report includes all of Microsoft services from Skype to Outlook. Google is no friend either with accusations of working with federal watchdogs regularly in the past. Recently, Apple has given mobile device owner sovereign rights to their encrypted key. However, the federal government has said to have worked with the modern day tech giant as well and they want a backdoor to all proprietary software.
“From all his policies and webs of fear and treachery, from all his stratagems and wars his mind shook free; and throughout his realm a tremor ran, his slaves quailed, and his armies halted, and his captains suddenly steerless, bereft of will, wavered and despaired. For they were forgotten.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien
With all this massive power, these entities have waged a war against public key encryption. If an agency uses brute force, to try and break the key code the computing power needed increases by the length of the keys. However, this means that through brute force the attacker must run through all possibilities of the algorithm. With modern day advances to algorithms and elliptic curve research the number of possibilities are so large, the NSA would need a global sized computing outfit of quantum computational devices. They are building this battle station, and hiring ringwraiths of spies to gather info off the public. In order to break the anonymous VPNs, decentralized marketplaces, and networks of cryptocurrencies it will take quite a bit of power for governments to muster up the strength. No doubt they are working on it as we speak. Yet the power of public key encryption and research in this field is heavily open source, peer-to-peer and growing. The need for developers and coders to thwart the beast is more intense than ever. They are recruiting and so are the freedom fighters.
What do you think about the NSAs attempts to crack encryption? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Pixbay, and Redmemes