News / USA

US, British Intelligence Crack Online Encryption Tools

A protester outside the "Dagger Complex", which is used by the U.S. Army intelligence services, during a demonstration against the NSA and in support of Edward Snowden in Griesheim, Germany, July 20, 2013.
A protester outside the "Dagger Complex", which is used by the U.S. Army intelligence services, during a demonstration against the NSA and in support of Edward Snowden in Griesheim, Germany, July 20, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
Documents leaked by former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden indicate U.S. and British spy agencies have cracked encryption codes designed to provide online privacy and security.

Hundreds of millions of people use the codes to protect their personal data, online transactions and e-mail correspondence. But the files show the U.S. National Security Agency and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ - working together - have compromised Internet companies' guarantees that their customers' communications and personal records remain private.

The documents show the security agencies have collaborated with Internet companies to leave vulnerabilities - known as "backdoors" or "trapdoors" - in commercial encryption software. According to the classified material, sometimes the collaboration is voluntary, sometimes it is forced with court orders, and sometimes it involves the use of supercomputers and other technical measures, including NSA influence on international encryption standards or government requests for companies' encryption keys.

The records show the NSA spends some $250 million a year on a program that works with the U.S. and foreign IT industries to "covertly influence" their product designs. The files also reveal the British security agency has worked on ways to enter the encrypted traffic streams of major service providers, such as Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Microsoft's Hotmail.

The latest information comes from documents the British newspaper The Guardian received from Snowden and shared with The New York Times and non-profit news organization ProPublica.

The new revelations are already causing backlash among privacy advocates. The New York Times cites experts as saying the NSA campaign to weaken communications security may have "serious unintended consequences" and allow others to exploit the weaknesses as well.

U.S. government officials have argued that NSA surveillance efforts are only aimed at stopping terrorism. Many technology companies say they cooperate with the intelligence agencies only when legally necessary. For example, as The Guardian reported previously, Microsoft worked with the NSA to get around encryption on Outlook email, as well as chat services. But Microsoft said it only did so to comply with "lawful demands."

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 06, 2013 11:41 AM
If not for cracking terrorist threats, what else? To break into business secrets? Whatever. It should not break your head so far as it does not steal your private letters and messages with which you cheat your spouse. OK?


by: Kafantaris from: USA
September 06, 2013 8:04 AM
What's the surprise here?
Supercomputers have cracked code from the outset. This is why we build them.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid