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NSA and GCHQ unlock encryption used to protect emails, banking and medical records

US and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.

The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments.

The agencies, the documents reveal, have adopted a battery of methods in their systematic and ongoing assault on what they see as one of the biggest threats to their ability to access huge swathes of internet traffic – "the use of ubiquitous encryption across the internet".

There is also documentation of secret partnerships entered into with various tech companies to make the encryption standards built into new products accessible to government spy programs. Encryption is the technology that makes internet data security possible. Without it, it is like writing your details on the bathroom wall. The linked article gives a lot more details about the kinds of efforts that NSA has been involved in. One of the concerns about this is not just the increased ease for government agencies to invade the privacy of citizens, but in weakening the technology they have likely made the job easier for hackers as well.

I am among those people who have wondered if one of the reasons for the big push on Syria was to change the subject from the bothersome conversation about the NSA and its dubious activities. That doesn't seem likely to work out so well. As promised, there are just a lot more slimy things waiting to crawl out from under that rock.  

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  •  Tip Jar (259+ / 0-)
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    Claudius Bombarnac, AZ Sphinx Moth, dance you monster, JML9999, annieli, davidincleveland, bakeneko, The Free Agent, bastrop, The Lone Apple, Miggles, hwmnbn, mconvente, cardboardurinal, Chi, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Meteor Blades, annecros, 3goldens, TheMomCat, slowbutsure, DeadHead, Cofcos, 420 forever, stone clearing, limulus curmudgeon, ferment, Ray Pensador, 4kedtongue, Deward Hastings, cotterperson, ek hornbeck, pgm 01, smiley7, dkmich, triv33, greenbastard, Caddis Fly, blackjackal, bula, YucatanMan, notrouble, Crabby Abbey, T Maysle, Renee, sceptical observer, socal altvibe, Sprinkles, Lisa Lockwood, OldDragon, poligirl, hubcap, CanisMaximus, angelajean, OLinda, Sandino, ericy, gooderservice, FogCityJohn, AoT, Williston Barrett, Buckeye Nut Schell, Dr Arcadia, happymisanthropy, Miss Jones, Dumbo, Oldowan, zerelda, Mr Robert, rantsposition, wayoutinthestix, profh, Sunspots, No one gets out alive, petral, jayden, Horace Boothroyd III, Thomas Twinnings, jbalazs, JVolvo, WisePiper, lunachickie, peacestpete, LynChi, Pat K California, Lepanto, Lovo, JayBat, britzklieg, happy camper, sunny skies, LtdEdishn, mollyd, psychodrew, Bluefin, Flyswatterbanjo, Carol in San Antonio, leeleedee, dewtx, Shockwave, allenjo, denise b, phonegery, Quilldriver, Medium Head Boy, UTLiberal, timethief, Joieau, CenFlaDem, Nailbanger, Sucker Politics, phillies, CA Nana, StevenJoseph, Panacea Paola, ranger995, shopkeeper, Eddie L, barleystraw, CenPhx, Jim P, jamess, la urracca, CorinaR, DavidMS, Australian2, Flying Goat, Tunk, coral, Alumbrados, Laconic Lib, Burned, andalusi, lostinamerica, ScienceMom, native, Johnathan Ivan, Involuntary Exile, PrometheusUnbound, lysias, leema, BYw, leonard145b, NanaoKnows, kbman, democracy inaction, elkhunter, doingbusinessas, ffour, Aspe4, basquebob, stevemb, maxomai, Otteray Scribe, elwior, Kentucky Kid, Brooke In Seattle, ladybug53, Lady Libertine, WheninRome, ChemBob, Catesby, Rhysling, Jarrayy, eightlivesleft, twigg, Indiana Bob, Tirge Caps, RocketJSquirrel, Teiresias70, atana, lotlizard, bronte17, asterkitty, psnyder, RJP9999, banjolele, Liberal Thinking, sawgrass727, Einsteinia, Shotput8, George3, jadt65, his panic, Mentatmark, corncam, PeteZerria, eyesoars, markthshark, Nebraskablue, OHdog, Haningchadus14, suejazz, Lujane, wordwraith, jeff in nyc, driftwood, rbird, Nada Lemming, Demeter Rising, kaliope, Oaktown Girl, Betty Pinson, devis1, 3rdOption, out of left field, Rosaura, koNko, Dianna, newpioneer, Lost Left Coaster, Youffraita, magnuskn, caul, radarlady, kharma, agincour, greengemini, gulfgal98, Book of Hearts, Dauphin, owlbear1, katiec, catilinus, Showman, Caoimhin Laochdha, gizmo59, mythatsme, Noodles, J M F, Kristina40, StrayCat, offred, jnhobbs, Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees, marleycat, ichibon, zzyzx, PeterHug, Richard Villiers, quagmiremonkey, jfromga, sc kitty, MKinTN, foresterbob, Wino, cybrestrike, 3rock, Tinfoil Hat, bmaples, JosephK74, peggy, RageKage, BlueDragon, shaharazade, TX Unmuzzled, IndieGuy, eztempo, LaEscapee
  •  what else is wagging the phonelog (33+ / 0-)
    Researchers Crack Code In Cell Phones
    By JOHN MARKOFF
    Published: April 14, 1998 NY Times

    In successfully cracking a widely used encryption method designed to prevent the cloning of digital cellular phones, a group of University of California computer researchers believe they have stumbled across evidence that the system was deliberately weakened to permit Government surveillance.

    The method that was cracked is known as G.S.M., for the Groupe Speciale Mobile standard. The world's most widely used encryption system for cellular phones, G.S.M. is employed in about 80 million of the devices worldwide and by as many as two million phones in the United States.

    Most of the 58 million American analog and digital cell phones are based on a variety of other methods, but 20 American cellular phone companies, including Pacific Bell, a unit of SBC Communications Inc., and the Omnipoint Corporation, use the G.S.M. standard.

    Two researchers at the University of California at Berkeley announced today that they had successfully broken the G.S.M. method by using a computer to determine a secret identity number stored in the Subscriber Identity Module, or S.I.M., a credit cardlike device inside the phone.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 01:43:28 PM PDT

  •  Kind of light on details (13+ / 0-)

    I would like to know exactly what encryption methods they can actually break within a reasonable amount of time.  Anything short of a one time pad can fall to a brute force attack given the nsa's unlimited computing power and time.

    •  Did you read the linked article? (48+ / 0-)

      The Guardian in its NSA coverage has made a practice of vetting their articles with the security agencies in terms of information that they claim would pose a risk of an immediate threat.

      What concerns me the most is the indication that they are working in collaboration with major tech companies, despite their claims to the contrary.

    •  it sounds like backdoors, primarily (38+ / 0-)

      I've read a bunch of the articles looking for that kind of detail.

      The articles are not reporting that the NSA has broken AES, for example.

      Mostly it's backdoors like getting access to messages before encryption, e.g. in Microsoft, Facebooks, etc., and backdoors in implementations, and a few standards (though not apparently big ones like TLS.) And also stealing encryption keys.

      But they're not reporting that the NSA has broken the major cryptographic algorithms.

      (What makes it tricky is that the reporters almost certainly have no idea what they're writing about.)

      •  That's my sense of it as well.. (23+ / 0-)

        It sounds like they have tried to get copies of the HTTPS certificates - possibly from the certificate authorities themselves, which would allow them to decrypt "endpoint" encryption.

        There is the suggestion that they might have inserted backdoors into several commercial encryption products - if word ever leaks out as to which ones, those products are dead.

        But it isn't clear the extent to which they can crack a key by itself.

        •  A list would be nice. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          atana

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:21:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  They've not tried (0+ / 0-)

          They actually have done just that: get SSL keys and certs directly from issuers.

          Bogus article

          •  cert issuers do not have the keys (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ferg

            The only key a certificate issuer ever sees from a holder is the same public key that the holder hands out to anyone who asks.

            What they've done is get keys from the holders that run popular services, and possibly gotten the ability from issuers to forge certificates for other holders to perform MITM attacks.  The latter is more detectable and less likely.

            Ignorance is Curable.

            by skids on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:01:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm aware of that. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              peggy

              When I said "issuers," I meant the entities that issue both keys and certs. They don't need to do MITM attack because they have the keys already. They'd ask for the cert from a certificate issuer anyway in case they needed MITM for some reason.

              The main point is that by discrediting HTTPS, our government has dropped a bomb on internet business. Still most people don't seem to realize the immense damage being done to the American economy.

              The article is bogus because they didn't "break" or "unlock" any encryption. They just have the keys before the data is encrypted by subverting the system directly.

              •  terminology is important in this area. (0+ / 0-)

                There is no entity that "issue both keys and certs."  Someone who has the private key for a cert does not "issue" the cert they only "present" it.  These words are used rather precisely in IT.

                Ignorance is Curable.

                by skids on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 08:16:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You made the word "entity" (0+ / 0-)

                  singular. Maybe I was not clear enough. Entities that issue keys and entities that create certificates. I've been a systems admin for the past 13 years, so I'm well aware of how basic https works. I believe we are saying the same thing.

        •  No, any client can ask for (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sawgrass727, Hey338Too, lotlizard, kharma, ferg

          any HTTPS server's certificate, which does not contain its secret key.

          Are you thinking of the secret SSL keyfile on the server, which has to be under the greatest possible protection? Part of the story is that the NSA has been hacking into servers and grabbing such keyfiles.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:58:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Which is different from saying public key (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Johnny Nucleo

            encryption is compromised.

            Something like Enigmail should work just fine.  It's not the security of the protocols; it's the security of private keys that would be at issue here.

            Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

            by mbayrob on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:24:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  NSA declares war on Silicon Valley (0+ / 0-)

          "There is the suggestion that they might have inserted backdoors into several commercial encryption products - if word ever leaks out as to which ones, those products are dead."

          For example, making HTTPS an insecure method of transmitting financial information will severely damage the companies selling and supporting it. 'Open Source' said my husband as he walked out the door. 'Open Source' won't help the US firms repair the damage because Microsoft/Apple/Google depend on proprietary information for their products.

          Knowing that any US product has been compromised before it was released will provide a bonanza to offshore companies but will not help the American economy.

          Conservation is green energy

          by peggy on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 10:04:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Which raises an interesting question (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg, kharma

        Did they put a backdoor in, for example, OpenSSL? Or GnuPG? Or the open source versions of PGP?

        That's entirely aside from the possibility that they've found a way to crack modern encryption algorithms.....

        ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
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        by maxomai on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 06:20:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My understanding of this (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ferg, sawgrass727

          is scant.

          However, there appears to be no such thing as an uncrackable code ... what encryption buys is time. Quite a lot of time in some cases.

          Critical to the time is the strength of the pass-phrase, combined with the complexity of the algorithm.

          So I would doubt that they have unraveled AES or any other complex codes, but they might have "backdoors" into commercial products that use them.

          Those algorithms are so complex that they would tie up even their supercomputers for years ... so they have either weakened them or they are still working to weaken them.

          Maybe someone with better knowledge can tell me where I went wrong here.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          Who is twigg?

          by twigg on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:26:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No, they cannot put backdoors of that type (7+ / 0-)

          into relatively simple Free/Open Source Software protocols, where the source code is combed through by experts in the security community on every release. There have been backdoors in much more complex server software, both put in by the original developers, and inserted by malware.

          The NSA is on record as being extremely fearful of SSL and GPG encryption. Snowden says that properly implemented encryption is still secure. It is the old and weak encryption methods that are routinely cracked. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, for example, built a DES cracking machine years ago for about a quarter million dollars in order to prove that the NSA must be cracking DES routinely.

          There are effective methods for protecting private encryption keys that should be used by every company offering any form of security, but are not widely-enough deployed. For example, encryption and decryption using a private key should be done on a system with no direct connection to the Internet, and private keys for servers should never be stored on any system directly connected to the Internet.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:22:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No, more likely is that they put a backdoor in the (0+ / 0-)

          hardware random number generators that most Intel/AMD/ARM CPUs have.  Since most OSes and encryption software will take advantage of the hardware RNG that is how they would compromise OpenSSL and GnuPG.  Of course, you could get around it by disabling hardware RNG support in the kernel so that /dev/random is not based on that.

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 09:40:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  They haven't broken AES (6+ / 0-)

        If they had, the Federal government wouldn't use that algorithm to encrypt their own secure data. Secret data is AES 192, Top Secret is AES 256. Put simply, when the government can crack those with reasonable resources (time, computing power, etc) then they'll stop using them for their own data.

        The article this diary quotes has insufficient details, and I bet the "broken encryption" is really the government's ability to request SSL keys. The takeaway from this article, like all recent revelations, is to stop doing business with American companies.

        •  There are lots of details... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kharma, ferg

          As someone once commented, breaking a communication by breaking the encryption is often very much the hard way.

          There are many others -- if you can compromise a random number genrator that generates session keys (e.g., by limiting its output in substantial ways), you can greatly reduce the number of keys that need to be searched. If the protocol 'leaks' useful data (e.g., key bits) through side-channels (e.g., power usage, processing time, use of related keys, ...), or other methods (probes of various sorts are popular if the encryptor can be encouraged to attempt encryption or decryption of other items using identical or related keys), then that can compromise an actual product that uses ideal encryption.

          Further, protocols can be broken, and accidentally (or otherwise...) permit rapid searches of the keyspace. This has happened recently with some popular products.

          Finally, corruption of the development process is often cheap and easy. Engineers can be bought or bribed, open-source products "fixed".

          There are thousands of dodges, any or all of which may make it much easier to break a crypto-system than to mathematically break the underlying crypto algorithms.

          •  I think the main (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peggy

            "side channel" that the NSA uses is purposeful insecurity built into security system by closed sourced software. It's been known for a long time that Microsoft puts weak points in their software, then tells government where they are.

            Similarly, with cryptography algorithms that have  been "broken," in reality the government has just asked the producer to send them the key for data prior to its encryption. Encryption still works, and can still be relied on. What cannot be relied on is software made by closed-source companies in general, and especially if that company is American, Canadian, British, Australian or Kiwi.

            Germany & Switzerland especially, but also Scandinavia, have rather strong data protection laws. In fact all of the EU is better than the rest of the West. For examples, Facebook cannot do facial recognition there, Google & Bing maps have been massively fined and may be banned entirely in places.

            •  Too optimistic? (0+ / 0-)
              Similarly, with cryptography algorithms that have  been "broken," in reality the government has just asked the producer to send them the key for data prior to its encryption.
              What key? Most systems set up keys for each host, customer, and transaction.  Unless there's a backdoor master key of some sort (odd...) this wouldn't make sense.

              Many protocols, however, allow a choice of algorithm to be negotiated. If an older or broken algorithm can be used, it can leak information about keys and allow 'better'/unbroken encryption to be broken.

              Encryption still works, and can still be relied on. What cannot be relied on is software made by closed-source companies in general, and especially if that company is American, Canadian, British, Australian or Kiwi.
              That's certainly true, but French and German agencies have been known or strongly suspected in such activities as well. The GSM standard, in particular, was widely believed to be compromised at the direction of French intelligence agencies. German (and US) authorities were believed to be behind the subversion of a Swiss encryption product some years before that.

              And I'd be careful even about open-source products. Compromises can be very subtle, and there are certainly entities motivated enough to try.

              •  Unless there's a backdoor master key of some sort (0+ / 0-)

                The fact of the matter is, most of the systems that are comprised are sending the keys to government that are subsequently used by some end-user to encrypt data. They get the key before the data is encrypted. This fact means that software companies in the US are in collusion with government.

                •  I don't think you're right. (0+ / 0-)

                  Government doesn't want keys, and I think they largely don't get them.

                  Nor do they want completely broken security. What they want is the illusion of security -- enough crypto-'stuff' there that it is not readily breakable, but with enough holes in it that they can look at things they really want to see.

                  One of the best ways, as I've mentioned, is breaking the random number generator. Real random number generators are quite hard to build (even for experts), and so many products have used 'roll your own' pseudo-random number generators for many years. With a bad PRNG, if you can see or derive or guess information about the numbers it generates, you can subvert products that use it quite easily.

                  This comes because session keys, IVs, some protocol negotiations, &c all use PRNGs for security-sensitive purposes. If a protocol (real or theoretical) leaks some state information about its PRNG such that its internal state can be guessed, even inaccurately, it can cut down the amount of computation required to break encryption enormously.

                  That can be near ideal for a clandestine agency: the protocol looks secure, and may even be provably secure (with a true random number generator), but its behavior in practice can be guessed or established with relatively modest efforts, leading to real, practical decipherment for knowledgeable entities willing to work at it, and more-or-less effective encryption for everyone else.

      •  They could break alot of encryption simply by (0+ / 0-)

        compromising the hardware random number generators in Intel/AMD/ARM/MIPS CPUs.  Remember, a flaw in "random" number generation is how the PS3 was cracked wide open.

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 09:38:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This document (35+ / 0-)

      here offers some details, although it's not entirely clear how good the capabilities are, but anyway they list TLS/SSL, HTTPS, SSH among others.

      Also some intriguing hints, like "NSA/CSS develops implants to eable a capability against the encryption used in network communications."

      Bruce Scneier, who knows his shit when it comes to encryption, has apparently bee working with Glenn Greenwald on this part of the story.  I'd watch this space for updates.

      "That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything ... There would be no place to hide." - Senator Frank Church

      by jrooth on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:06:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  from Schneier (50+ / 0-)
        The new Snowden revelations are explosive. Basically, the NSA is able to decrypt most of the Internet. They're doing it primarily by cheating, not by mathematics....

        Remember this: The math is good, but math has no agency. Code has agency, and the code has been subverted.

        •  Cheating to me... (17+ / 0-)

          implies that by one means or another they are stealing copies of private keys/certificates.

          For example, if the NSA has already coerced cooperation from the likes of Google, Microsoft, etc, what is the likelihood that they have also coerced cooperation from some of the large certificate issuing authorities?

          The implication in the article is also that they might be able to steal the certificate by installing targeted malware on the server..

          •  I'm pretty certain that if the NSA (7+ / 0-)

            can coerce companies like Google and Microsoft they can do exactly the same thing with the entities that issue certificates.

            I'll bet they have backdoor access to all the certificate authorities and maintain a database of keys so in most cases decryption is fast and simple. There's no need to use brute force cracking techniques if you have the certificates.

            The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

            by Mr Robert on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:33:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's a live possibility (12+ / 0-)

              There's basically four possible points of compromise: 1. the algorithm, 2. the code that implements the algorithmic code, 3. code piggybacked onto the algorithm code that messages the NSA about key production, and finally, 4. the certificates, .

              1. There are plenty of mathematicians just as smart as the ones at the NSA. And some of them (the black hats) have enormous incentive to crack it. So while it's possible it's the actual algorithms have been broken, it's unlikely that's the NSA's solution.

              2. All the major cryptographic algorithms have public code implementations and public test suites. Code that broke the algorithm would produce anomalies in the public test suites. So it's virtually impossible for that to be the issue.

              3. is basically a massive man-in-the-middle-attack. If the NSA is able to intercept the key exchange that occurs during secure connection initialization, they could message the keys back to their storage facilities, giving them long-term capability to unwind communications on those connections. The trouble is, how do they get those keys back to their facilities without it being obvious to companies/institutions which monitor their web traffic? There are plenty of such that regard the NSA as inimical. So I find it hard to believe this is situation.

              4.  That leaves certificate compromise, which requires nothing more than arm-twisting at a select few institutions.

              Occam's razor strongly suggests it's the certificates.

              "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

              by nosleep4u on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:06:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think you're on the right track (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Demeter Rising

                with option number 3.

                3. is basically a massive man-in-the-middle-attack. If the NSA is able to intercept the key exchange that occurs during secure connection initialization, they could message the keys back to their storage facilities, giving them long-term capability to unwind communications on those connections. The trouble is, how do they get those keys back to their facilities without it being obvious to companies/institutions which monitor their web traffic? There are plenty of such that regard the NSA as inimical. So I find it hard to believe this is situation.
                Given that they have trunk level access to everything, why not just intercept the initial key exchange. Given the Snowden revelations this makes perfect sense.

                The NSA more or less owns the Internet and can easily defeat protocols like HTTP, SSL, etc.

                The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

                by Mr Robert on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:05:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  security protocols are designed around MITM (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kharma

                  #3 doesn't happen, because the key exchange itself is encrypted to defend against those attacks.

                  #4 is partially wrong, because the CA doesn't have the private key (which is used in #3.) So they need to steal the individual certificates, not just compromise the CA.

                  He's also missing a more important:

                  #5. backdoors to the plaintext.

                  All the encryption in the world doesn't matter if you have access to the unencrypted data.

                  •  You just don't get it (0+ / 0-)

                    The NSA is sucking up all of these exchanges so #3 still counts.

                    The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

                    by Mr Robert on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:18:11 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  no, the key exchange is encrypted (0+ / 0-)

                      It doesn't matter if the NSA has the encrypted key exchange. It can't extract the plaintext session key from that exchange.

                      •  So what makes you think the NSA (0+ / 0-)

                        doesn't have what they need to decrypt the key exchange?

                        Remember that the NSA is recording absolutely everything at the wire level.

                        Don't they get every thing they need to know from an earlier exchange?

                        The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

                        by Mr Robert on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:10:22 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  public/private key cryptography (0+ / 0-)

                          The server's private key (used for key exchange decryption) never leaves the server. So, no, even if the NSA saw all traffic, it would still not know the server's private key, which is why the articles mention the NSA needing to hack and steal keys from servers.

                          •  Bingo (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            kharma, ferg

                            NSA breaks into servers and steals the private keys and that in turn allows them to decrypt absolutely everything.

                            Stay tuned, I'm pretty sure that Snowden and Greenwald will be publishing exactly how they do that or at least how often it's been done and how the keys are used in the overall scheme of things.

                            The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

                            by Mr Robert on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:27:19 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  No. (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          kharma, ferg

                          The whole point of public-key encryption is that such exchanges are not private -- eavesdroppers are assumed to be a party to all steps of the key exchange/creation.

                          There are still many ways to subvert the process.

                          (1) Key generation depends heavily on the true randomness of a random number generator. If those can be subverted, then searching a keyspace can be enormously simplified. (This has certainly happened and yielded working attacks.)

                          (2) Errors or bugs in the protocol or protocol specification can 'leak' information. Error recovery protocols (often needed for things like cell phones) can permit an attacker to rapidly search a keyspace by sending bad, e.g., reply packets (e.g., modified packets carefully chosen to reveal data) to the source and examining the responses.

                          (3) The standards themselves can be compromised. This was well-known to have occurred with the original GSM cell-phone designs. Worse, there were probably several different government actors (e.g., the French and German gov'ts) acting to compromise the standard.

                        •  No they don't (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          kharma, ferg

                          In answer to your last question, no you do not get everything you need to know by eavesdropping on a connection.  There are a number of algorithms like Diffie–Hellman key exchange that would either require a quantum computer of a size that is not yet buildable, or to actually interfere with the conversation by forging a certificate, the latter option being something that can give you away so it would be used sparingly, not opportunistically.

                          The capabilities against technologies like TLS/HTTPS other than stealing keys are probably referring to oracle-based (not the company) methods like BREACH where the wrappers around the algorithm are doing something unsafe, like compressing the data before encryption when there is known plaintext and the ability of a third party to cause retransmission of manipulated content inside the encryption channel.

                          Ignorance is Curable.

                          by skids on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:25:24 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

            •  I don't believe CA's have the private keys... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ferg, Mr Robert, GeoffT, eyesoars

              The just sign the public ones.

              •  Man in the Middle Attack (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Flying Goat, mythatsme

                That's what I'm thinking now.

                Given that the NSA has this wire-level access to nearly everything, why not intercept the key exchange and bank them so that you can decrypt packets on the fly.

                The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

                by Mr Robert on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:08:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You'd have to compromise the CA's certs, (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mr Robert, ferg, mbayrob

                  by one means or another, but once you do that, should work.  Of course, you'd also have to be in the middle.

                  Cert pinning is a potential partial solution for that kind of thing.  If the MITM attack is widespread, instead of against a particular user, it's also possible for the site admins to notice it, if they're sufficiently on the ball.  Google caught Iran doing it, but only when they pinned Google certs to Chrome, so detection can be unlikely, even if you have all the resources of Google.

              •  You sign your CSR with your private key (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Flying Goat

                So the CSR (Certificate Signing Request) contains you identifying data including your public key,  but not your private key.  The CA appends their data and their public key, and signs the resulting block with their private key.

                Neither private key is revealed to anybody.

                Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

                by mbayrob on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:39:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Problem with that (0+ / 0-)

              The issuer of the certificate DOES NOT HAVE ACCESS TO THE PRIVATE KEY UNLESS YOU LET THEM GENERATE THE KEY PAIR FOR YOU.  If they don't have the private key, you don't have a problem.

              A lot of the folks panicking here do not understand how key pair encryption works.  You can compromise a server or a piece of software.  You can use an obsolete method for encryption.  But I'd be very, very skeptical of anybody who says the best practice protocols and algorithms -- which are open to everybody and are well analyzed -- have anything to do with this report.  If this report is valid at all, that is.

              Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

              by mbayrob on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:34:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Speaking of "implications" (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ScienceMom, Demeter Rising, kharma

            The end result of these revelations rather throws some new light on why Lavabit bailed, doesn't it?

            This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

            by lunachickie on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:34:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  It's notable that Schneier has done a small 180 (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kharma, ybruti, mythatsme, Richard Lyon

          In just the space of 2 days.

          I guess he got an eyeful doing technical consultation for the Guardian story.

          Back then he was basically saying "don't worry, be happy, the math is on our side".

          That's still true, but he seems less inclined to trust in it for the time being, because a good hack changes everything, right?

          As a long time reader of his blog, I'd say I haven't ever seen the guy as agitated as he is now, and rightly so.

          The basic foundations cryptos of the internet have been hacked, so forget privacy if you thought that existed at all and now we even have to wonder if PFS has been hacked and should be trashed.

          So much for Google and Facebook fighting back.

          •  Um, ah, no (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kharma, peggy, ferg
            The basic foundations cryptos of the internet have been hacked
            I don't think you're understanding the discussion.

            Even Snowden is saying that the foundations are just fine.  The math works.

            Short version:  crypto works fine.  But security on servers that set up for doing crypto often (but do not always) suck.

            Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

            by mbayrob on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 12:10:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I understand it well. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kharma, ybruti, Richard Lyon

              Including the fact NSA has obtained keys, and also access to pre-encrypted streams, in addition to the Tier 1 servers they filter by splitting optical feeds.

              Maybe you need to research more and be a little less certain about what you don't know.

              SSL and related VPN cryptos were clearly broken and can be interrogated at will.

              If you think that is trivial, you are entitled to that opinion but experience suggests that provides the gateway to other information just as gaining admin access to a given system does.

              Then you find the keys and other goodies. Then you get the goods.

              That the NSA has compromised thousands of servers internationally is a fact you seem to ignore.

              But if you are so confident, then I guess you have nothing to worry about and can ignore these news items. Don't worry, be happy.

              But it seems Schneier is not so blasé:

              But security experts accused them of attacking the internet itself and the privacy of all users. "Cryptography forms the basis for trust online," said Bruce Schneier, an encryption specialist and fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. "By deliberately undermining online security in a short-sighted effort to eavesdrop, the NSA is undermining the very fabric of the internet." Classified briefings between the agencies celebrate their success at "defeating network security and privacy".

              "For the past decade, NSA has lead [sic] an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to break widely used internet encryption technologies," stated a 2010 GCHQ document. "Vast amounts of encrypted internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable."

              An internal agency memo noted that among British analysts shown a presentation on the NSA's progress: "Those not already briefed were gobsmacked!"

              The breakthrough, which was not described in detail in the documents, meant the intelligence agencies were able to monitor "large amounts" of data flowing through the world's fibre-optic cables and break its encryption, despite assurances from internet company executives that this data was beyond the reach of government.

              The fire hose has been tapped for almost 10 years, and now NSA is making great progress to decrypt a larger part of the stream to make it useful, and they have a new data center to store and analyze it.

              Disbelieve it if you wish.

              •  I lack your deep understanding (0+ / 0-)

                All I know is how crypto works, and the programs that are used in actual servers to implement it.  For I am only a programmer and an experienced system administrator.

                Very sorry.  I do not BELIEVE and am cut off from all relevant knowlege.  Or something.

                Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

                by mbayrob on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 11:26:12 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Snowden did not reveal specifically (9+ / 0-)

      which encryption methods have been cracked, but did mention that Microsoft inserted backdoors into its e-mail software.

      I have not used Microsoft e-mail except on employers' systems for decades. Mac first, then Linux as soon as I could.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:39:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Does this mean you don't believe the article? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kharma

      Or does it mean you simply seek additional information?

      This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

      by lunachickie on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:33:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's clear that the majority of this NSA access (16+ / 0-)

      ...has nothing to do with decryption, and everything to do with wide-open back doors provided by commercial software and services vendors.

      NSA is NOT breaking AES-256.

      I'm betting they're not breaking anything interesting at all (open-source cryptographically speaking). I'm betting they're breaking old, insecure schemes (MS-CHAP, anyone?) and exploiting known security weaknesses in the routers and switches that handle this traffic.

      Bruce Schneier has a terrific couple of articles at The Guardian here and here. You could do a lot worse than to just follow Bruce's commentary on this issue, he's a true internet treasure and security wizard.

      On the moral and ethical responsibilities of us tech geeks:

      One, we should expose. If you do not have a security clearance, and if you have not received a National Security Letter, you are not bound by a federal confidentially requirements or a gag order. If you have been contacted by the NSA to subvert a product or protocol, you need to come forward with your story. Your employer obligations don't cover illegal or unethical activity. If you work with classified data and are truly brave, expose what you know. We need whistleblowers.
      On practical personal strategies:
      5) Try to use public-domain encryption that has to be compatible with other implementations. For example, it's harder for the NSA to backdoor TLS than BitLocker, because any vendor's TLS has to be compatible with every other vendor's TLS, while BitLocker only has to be compatible with itself, giving the NSA a lot more freedom to make changes.
      On a sober, but hopeful note:
      The NSA has turned the fabric of the internet into a vast surveillance platform, but they are not magical. They're limited by the same economic realities as the rest of us, and our best defense is to make surveillance of us as expensive as possible.
      -Jay-
      
      •  I'm sure that this has more nuance (11+ / 0-)

        for cryptography professionals. However, for those of us who have naively been relying on things as they are, it should be a wake up call.  

      •  Great takeaway (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kharma, ybruti, JayBat
        our best defense is to make surveillance of us as expensive as possible.
        Have been reading Schneier for years now. I highly recommend him too.
        •  The US makes dollars out of thin air: fiat (0+ / 0-)

          currency.

          The fed gov is not monetarily constrained.

          So, the expense really doesn't matter much.  

          The amount we spend on X and the lack of spending on Y has much more to do with politics than it does with issues of "affordability", as we can afford anything at any time.

          Money is just a social relation, not a limited commodity.

          •  But it's capability is limited: (0+ / 0-)

            1. By the way the fed generates money, they just don't say: Hey gov, have here some billions more ...
            2. By the economy: Too much new money would create considerable inflation.

            "This isn't America" - Zenkai Girl

            by mythatsme on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 05:23:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  1) Well, pretty much how it does happen. If (0+ / 0-)

              Congress wants to spend money, then there's not much to prevent it.  So it's more:  "I want to spend, so I will spend".

              The mechanics of how a new dollar is born is just mechanics.

              2)  Sure, you can cause inflation.  But that's a separate issue from the ability to create dollars.

              If the economy gets too hot, just remove those excess dollars.

            •  The treasury and the fed reserve work in (0+ / 0-)

              concert to generate new dollars.

               

          •  Why would (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JayBat

            the NSA be opposed to funding reductions then? They need money too.

            Actually cracking cryptography is very expensive. What they're doing now is getting plain unencrypted information from most people. Some of the encrypted info is being decrypted because the company that did the encryption (like Microsoft, for example) sends our government the keys before data is encrypted.

      •  You can also got to a Schneier piece from Wired (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kharma, J M F

        Here, but in the 2 days since that was written he seems to have lost a little short-term faith in math given the knowledge of NSA hacks he got to analyze as a consultant to The Guardian.

        Basically, as I understand it, fundamental cryptos used for internet transactions have been hacked and if you wanted to be reasonably confident of sending a secure document you would have to rely on a more powerful 128 or 256 bit crypto requiring either (a) a key or (b) a brute force hack, but given the elliptical decryption capabilities NSA seems to have now, that might be a lot less brute force that one assumes.

        It's fair to say NSA isn't decrypting everything, but is is reasonable to suppose:

        1. They can filter a lot more from traffic than people supposed

        2. They have weakened the cryptos used for common internet transactions including your online banking, etc.

        3. If they do decide to decrypt your badass 256 bit code, they might have a reasonable chance of success given their nice tools and software.

        I would not be in a hurry to tell anyone privacy exists. Extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof and I haven't got any that makes the case for internet privacy.

        Oh, greetings from China.

    •  One time pad is an old, old (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kharma

      technology (as in hundreds of years old), and I am sure that anyone serious about encrypting their messages is using it.

      Trouble is, it can't be used on a broad scale.  

      •  Thats just a Vernam cipher with a true random key (0+ / 0-)

        Yeah it is impossible to crack provided the secrecy of the keys are never compromised.

        That little caveat would make a lot of ciphers impossible.

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 10:45:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Did you read the articles and source data? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kharma

      Go to the Pro Publica article which links some source.

      Details will come out soon enough but if you are really doubting the scope and impact of this I suggest you do a little work yourself first.

      Let me put it this way in simple terms:

      - NSA has crypto keys
      - NSA has hack for common foundation internet cryptos
      - NSA has elliptical hacks to reduce key cracking time

      They do not rely only on brute force, if you think that is the case you are a bit out-dated.

      Some additional articles are linked in my comment in another diary here.

  •  the NSA's main bread and butter (8+ / 0-)

    is code breaking.  When and by whom encryptions are broken is the more interesting question.   There may well be valid reasons to hack an encryption.

    If you can't acknowledge the reason for the push for Syria -- even if you disagree about the response -- was a sarin gas attack by Assad, you are full of it.  And the argument it's a distraction from the NSA ignores that the story already (rightly or wrongly) faded from daily discussions and, if anything, Syria is less popular than NSA actions (again, rightly or wrongly).  Seeing things thru an automatically political lens is about the quintessence of false sophistication, especially when the political categories are reduced to simple good and evil.

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 01:45:37 PM PDT

    •  This is sad. It's not up to your usual standards, (18+ / 0-)

      and reeks of desperation: You took two lines to dismiss the diary, its source material link and the diarist's issue by saying "there may well be valid reasons" without enumerating or elaborating any such candidates, which makes your dismissal sound hollow. But your desperation shows in the rest of your comment, where you took seven lines to attempt to turn the last four lines of the diary into a strawman.

      Enough fossil fuel remains on Earth to warm it 6 degrees C by 2100 AD if it is all used. A +6 C planet will only sustain half a billion humans. Human population will rise to 9 billion by 2050. Any questions?

      by davidincleveland on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:35:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no typos though; i'm improving (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hey338Too, duhban, Fogiv

        i do think the person seeking outrage has the burden of excluding if not innocent, non completely evil possibilities, or at the very least would have already acquiainted oneself with the codebreaking mission of the NSA.  I'm not otherwise qualified to get into details because my idea of hacking an encrypted system is successfully remembering the right password for the right log-in.   And, yes, details of terrorist financing, if encrypted, should not stay encrypted.  Nor did i dismiss anything.  when and how this is used is an open question and may or may not be evidence of abuse or cause for alarm.  Like Arlen Specter, I vote not proven.

        I do agree that the last four lines of the diary need no specific refutation, but I don't think I unfairly characterized anything.  There was an unverifiable claim that the push for the Syria attack idea could well serve to distract from the NSA revelations.  I read that accurately as being both language one would use to have the benefit of advancing an outrageous claim while retaining the credibility of not fully committing to it, and as suggesting that matters of war and peace were driven in this specific case by domestic politics.   Not getting into word counts, but you know the margins are different, right? Lazy CT is not not CT.

        As for your comment, I rate it somewhat above average trolling.  I appreciate the work put it  to find petty objections, the personalization of the dispute and general tone of smugness, but your heart doesn't seem to be in it either.  There's no real outrage about the underlying source issue that comes through, so it's too obviously a gripe just to gripe and therefore unsubtle. That could be my fault for not giving you enough to work with, so till we meet again, have fun living in Cleveland.

        Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

        by Loge on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:54:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I deliberately attempted to match with my reply (6+ / 0-)

          these elements in your comment. If you recognized

          ...petty objections, the personalization of the dispute and general tone of smugness...
          then I succeeded.

          On a serious note, I'm NOT the one trolling, I'm doing my job as a TU. This site's diary rules state that if a diarist responds in kind to dickishness toward him in his own diary then he cannot complain about the behavior or declare his diary a controversy-free zone. You may have missed the Kos diaries that covered those issues and declared the rule.

          The specific recommendation for diarists, dating back to before I joined, is to let others engage unfair attacks on your behalf. These others must engage on the diarist's behalf in a civilized manner, or the diary's immunity is just as shattered as if the diarist personally threw the insult.

          When I see unfair or dishonest comments that seek to 'darken counsel' and most of all when I see a diarist attacked via either strawmen or ad homs, expect me. I promise to treat any comment I respond to in a civil manner and with real points of disagreement, since if it is worth my time it is worth a cogent response.

          Enough fossil fuel remains on Earth to warm it 6 degrees C by 2100 AD if it is all used. A +6 C planet will only sustain half a billion humans. Human population will rise to 9 billion by 2050. Any questions?

          by davidincleveland on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:47:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  whatevs (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hey338Too, Fogiv

            i think the fact that you explicitly brought up prior comments made it less a response to the comment than to the commenter, which is an aspect of trolling.  It came across as you responding not simply to take issue with anything I said (which you didn't, really, except by pretending i hadn't made points i had) but because you don't like me or don't think i belong on the site.  That's your prerogative I suppose, although if every trusted user took it upon him or herself to teach impromptu rhetoric classes, the result would be even more meta, which is exactly what Kos said he didn't want.  I bet you're more likely to defend the "immunity" of a diary when you see something you disagree with, ideologically; but paradoxically the obligation to act when you see uncivilized behavior is also a not bad description of the justification for intervention in Syria.  Your application of the stated standard is also a recipe for polarization - it's a built in bias towards agreement with the diarist.  (Any thoughts on YucatanMan's strawman response to me? Keep them to yourself if so.)

            The last paragraph makes you sound like a cross between Desmond Tutu and Batman.  It disappoints me I can't ever possibly hope to achieve that level of self regard.

            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

            by Loge on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:05:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thank you. I regard being likened to a combination (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              stevemb, cybrestrike

              of Batman and Desmond Tutu a very high compliment, and one I wouldn't have presumed I qualified for, though I've worked toward such an outcome all my life, starting in early childhood.

              I'm sorry to hear you have self-regard problems. I find self regard an essential part of reality-based functioning, and sometimes a necessary tool to persuade oneself to keep faith with a course of action or thought, even in the face of indifference or disbelief.

              I once found myself on a jury where the first vote was for conviction of the defendant, 9 to three. I was one of the 3, and I set out to get an acquittal. My task, though complicated by the fact that the jury had made me its foreperson, was accomplished because I so completely believed in my own opinion. Self regard is priceless.  

              Enough fossil fuel remains on Earth to warm it 6 degrees C by 2100 AD if it is all used. A +6 C planet will only sustain half a billion humans. Human population will rise to 9 billion by 2050. Any questions?

              by davidincleveland on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:52:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Deference to authority is dripping.... n/t (12+ / 0-)

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:37:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  don't care (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hey338Too

        either about your classification, nor about the question of deference in isolation.  Sometimes the NSA (which i don't really think of as exercising authority over me) is going to be right, sometimes not.  Not being outraged over a diary in  this instance on these facts gives you very limited information about me, which gives you even less information about the NSA.  

        Likewise, I don't care about your reasons for thinking as you do, nor am I inclined to think a program is good just because you object to it, having been just lectured to about strawmen.  I don't care about you at all.

        Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

        by Loge on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:13:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Are you saying (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poligirl, stevemb, YucatanMan, cybrestrike

          that makes your opinion somehow more valid?

          Because, to give an example:

          There was an unverifiable claim that the push for the Syria attack idea could well serve to distract from the NSA revelations.  
          The use of the words "could well serve" makes it overtly speculative in your language. The actual language used by the diarist was something else:
          I am among those people who have wondered if one of the reasons for the big push on Syria was to change the subject from the bothersome conversation about the NSA
          If you believe that casts a bad light somehow on the diary, please feel free to think about that some more. I mean, not that I care if it actually occurs to you that you are wrong, but it might be helpful...

          This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

          by lunachickie on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:40:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What i was saying was that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hey338Too, Fogiv

            i don't really have the desire to respond to this type of comment in the way i would in the past.  I might have gotten defensive and talked about work i've done on voting rights and the issue of false confessions or whatever, but now, really, if this is what being authoritarian is, applying skepticism to the arguments of admin critics, i can live with it.   I'm not going to out libertarian you as long as i conceive of my liberalism / authoriarianism / ismism in terms of the federal government being, broadly, a force for good.  Whatever "drips" from me doesn't make anything more or less valid, which is exactly what I said.  What i'm not going to do is seek out the left most position for it's own sake, which would be the easiest way for me, at least, to come around to the diarist's point of view on that issue.  Other people can and should come at it differently.  

            On the block quote part, I said upthread that "who have wondered" is exactly the type of wording one would use to get a point across while being able to deny it.  The diarist didn't just wonder it; he wrote it down.

            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

            by Loge on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:13:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Disagree. The NSA's main bread and butter (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Medium Head Boy

      ...is brute force and back-door strategies. They are not magical, and the best people don't work for them.

      -Jay-
      
  •  they might be bluffing (9+ / 0-)

    I'm sure they can crack much of the encryption out there, especially encryption used by their corporate partners such as Microsoft and Google.
       They probably cracked low encryption levels too.

       But I'd be surprised if they can easily crack the rest of it, especially the high level stuff from overseas.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 01:53:02 PM PDT

  •  Can I Sue Everyone? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LynChi, StevenJoseph, CenPhx

    How about just Citibank that promised my bank account was secure?

    The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    by The Lone Apple on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 01:55:13 PM PDT

  •  None of this comes as a surprise to techies who (30+ / 0-)

    were also DFHs. We've always understood, from personal experience and historical evidence, what the real goals of any government entity always become. Since the late '50s I've lived with the assumption that my government will spy on me. Since the late '60s I've never forgotten what DARPA is an acronym of. No one should assume I like this, and if enough of the rest of you are pissed enough I think we could do some things about it. T&R.

    Enough fossil fuel remains on Earth to warm it 6 degrees C by 2100 AD if it is all used. A +6 C planet will only sustain half a billion humans. Human population will rise to 9 billion by 2050. Any questions?

    by davidincleveland on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:13:28 PM PDT

  •  The Cesca wing response: So? Just cuz they can (10+ / 0-)

    doesn't mean they do it!

    Really. That's it.

    "Just because their hands are in my pants doesn't mean they'll touch my woo woo!"

  •  I'm shocked... (8+ / 0-)

    ... to discover that a giant government bureaucracy set up to explicitly spy is using every tool they have to spy.

    What next?

    BREAKING:  The defense industry makes giant bombs designed to kill people.

  •  It was bound to happen... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yoshimi, Hey338Too, TheLizardKing

    If it wasn't the NSA, somebody else would be doing it, or perhaps others already are. The internet is just not a place for privacy. People need to adjust to that reality and act accordingly.
     I know this is an absolutists attitude, I can't apologize for that as I just don't see any other outcome.

    Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture

    by nezzclay on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:30:51 PM PDT

    •  You raise some very important (4+ / 0-)

      and necessary questions. The internet has already effected radical changes on the way people live and we are now that it goes well beyond what most people thought. It calls for an examination of the notion of privacy. What is essential and what is just comfortable because it is what we have thought we had?

    •  People need to think of the internet as the town (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nezzclay, Hey338Too, duhban, LynChi

      square. What are you doing on your computer today that you wouldn't dream of doing in a town square?

      Think about it.

      •  No -- I don't agree with this. (14+ / 0-)

        The Internet is not the Town Square.  The Town Square is a PUBLIC gathering place.  My home is a PRIVATE dwelling.  I'm not inviting everyone into my home when I surf the Internet -- and the expectation should my conversations, chat, emails, internet searches should be private and protected from the prying eyes of my nosy neighbors and my government.

        There are many things I do on the internet that I wouldn't dream of doing in the Town Square.  And none of it is illegal.

        Your suggestion is one that should be resolutely resisted, if not out-right REJECTED.

        all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

        by 4kedtongue on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:57:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is where you are making a mistake... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nezzclay, duhban, Yoshimi
          I'm not inviting everyone into my home when I surf the Internet -- and the expectation should my conversations, chat, emails, internet searches should be private and protected from the prying eyes of my nosy neighbors and my government.
          Actually you are.  The internet, your cell phone, your land line, you Playstation or XBox, your tablet, you've invited every one of those devices into your home.  You've agreed to a user agreement for every one of those devices, and not one of them guarantees what's going to happen to your data once it leaves the device you own.

          Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

          by Hey338Too on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:29:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  which really should be the real story out of this (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hey338Too, Yoshimi

            but instead we're stuck with 'revelations' like 'omfg! the NSA is actually spying on people'

            •  I totally agree... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              duhban, Yoshimi

              ... people seem gobsmacked by the "revelations".  What scares me about diaries like this is that there is absolutely no context given to the claims.  What I hope is that people don't start running around looking for "NSA Solutions" from some guy on the internet who promises to "keep them safe".  What's missing here is the truth that if your communication starts and end in the US, encrypted or not, the NSA is going to go to great lengths to try and avoid it - and none of the other 5 eyes gives a damn if you bought a Chia Pet on Amazon using SSL.

              Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

              by Hey338Too on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:58:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  No - that's inaccurate primarily because (4+ / 0-)

            both the government and private enterprise are making it increasingly difficult for anyone who wants to be reasonably high-functioning in this society to stay off of the internet.

            The Obama Administration is pushing for all electronic healthcare records which sounds really awesome until you consider the fact that it is really hard for anyone to get into a doctor's office and steal paper files, but super easy to steal electronic documents.

            The Obama Administration is also pushing hot and hard for online education.  I happen to disagree with that idea for a whole host of reasons, but the other day I was thinking about the fact that all of my college papers were between me and my professors.  Someone's stupidity in college study all of a sudden becomes fodder for anyone good at hacking into that database.  That's not okay.

            I actually could go on about banking, credit cards, debit cards and a whole host of other ways in which people are being forced to leave a trail of their activities at this point in history.  

            Personally, I believe that that trail should be protected from undo scrutiny and also have significant and meaningful ways to challenge the government through the courts and other democratic means that would keep the government and private enterprise in check.

            •  um the future is electronic reccords (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Hey338Too

              that's just a fact.

              They're easier to store, easier to access and easier to move around. So you might as well resign yourself to that  and stop pushing CT theories like the one you are implying right now.

              Here's another fact for you there is little law regulating user agreements. A company could write nonsense for pages and then slip in the middle 'your computer is now ours to do with as we wish' and you'd have little recourse.

              So how about instead of being simply shocked and outraged that the NSA is doing it's job you redirect some of that to the topic of user agreements?

              And if you think it is hard to steal paper records well we're not going to agree

            •  The internet is the perfect market... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              stevemb

              ... not because it is supply driven, it's because it's demand driven.  Consumers are the ones determining what they want, the ones who deliver it succeed.  There isn't some cabal of government and industry pushing this, it's a synergy that's been developing between enablers (technology providers), suppliers (goods, services, information, and DKos) and consumers.  

              Online medical records make sense now, because I shouldn't receive worse care because I happen to be 500 miles from my doctor's office.  Online education makes sense now because I shouldn't receive an inferior education because the district I live in believes intelligent design should be taught, nor should I not be allowed to get a better education because it's beyond driving distance.

              It's not the government and business forcing these things to happen - we're telling them we want it.  As for things remaining private - I do agree with that, but I doubt that anything that involves the communication between two people can ever be considered private - especially if it uses a privately/publicly funded network to convey the communication.

              Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

              by Hey338Too on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 05:44:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  This is pure neoliberal propaganda. n/t (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                4kedtongue, Nada Lemming, cybrestrike
                •  Had to look up neoliberal on wiki and saw... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Yoshimi

                  ... that:

                  Two of the most prominent neoliberal politicians were Al Gore and Bill Clinton of the Democratic Party of the United States.
                  So, thanks!

                  But if you meant it:

                  as a pejorative for policies that deregulate the private sector and increase its role in the economy
                  You'd be wrong

                  Or, if you meant it to refer:

                  to economic reform policies such as “eliminating price controls, deregulating capital markets and lowering trade barriers”, and reducing state influence on the economy especially by privatization and fiscal austerity
                  You'd be wrong

                  Or, if you meant it as referring to a rejection

                  of structuralist economics in favor of the Washington Consensus
                  I'd have no idea what the fuck you're talking about

                  Or, if you meant it:

                  to denote a conception of freedom as an overarching social value associated with reducing state functions to those of a minimal state
                  You'd be wrong

                  Take your pick.

                  Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

                  by Hey338Too on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:24:10 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  No. (6+ / 0-)

            There is a difference between recognizing how things are now, and seeing how they ought to be.

            A BIG difference.

            Just because teh NSDA, Facebook, Verizon, and your Employer  can currently spy on you doesn't mean they should be able to spy on you.

            Your position that they should be able to, that that is somehow moral, is wrong and extremely offensive.

            "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

            by nosleep4u on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 05:13:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You chose to bring these items into your life... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Yoshimi

              ... on the terms of the company that you purchased them from.  Since the 1980's you have been signing contract after contract for these things without actually reading what you've been signing.  There's nothing about my morality in this, it's about your awareness.

              These entities are doing what they do because the market demands it (even the NSA stuff is required by the market to insure safety).  The commercial entities aren't big by accident, they're big because they are popular.  The government entity is big because the problems they are tackling are huge.  Again, no morality involved, just logic.

              And again - you are complicit in this, don't blame it on me.  I understand what it means to bring technology into my life, and I do it willingly.  But I ain't gonna buy the new XBox, that thing is just TOO creepy even for me.  And how do I know that?  Because I READ ABOUT IT FIRST).

              Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

              by Hey338Too on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 06:13:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Full Exposure in Public is Freedom, friend... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          4kedtongue

          As of 9pm 8/30/13: RETIRED Pie Warrior. Substance over Sh*t Flinging (as best as I am able) ~ JV

          by JVolvo on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:32:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You might not agree but it is a fact. (0+ / 0-)

          The internet is public and you just invited that public square into your home.

        •  Example: (0+ / 0-)

          Am I in your home? You are reading this so I must be in your home. Right?

          •  You're not in my home. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dianna

            And communicating with you via the internet doesn't give you  (or anyone else) the right to invade other aspects of my internet use -- like say, access to my bank acct. info, or private correspondence with others, or to search my browser history.

            Paying my Visa bill online is not an invitation for people to enter my home.  

            all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

            by 4kedtongue on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 08:57:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  People are bound to rob banks too. (8+ / 0-)

      We should just get used to the fact.

  •  Yeah, but is anyone paying attention to this? (13+ / 0-)

    Dammit, this would have a huge impact if the public wasn't consumed with worry over Syria (rightfully so).

    The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:31:06 PM PDT

  •  no, they're not doing this (5+ / 0-)

    all they're doing is collecting metdata, which is basically phone numbers of who called who. They're not actually reading anything and, besides, it's only foreign phone numbers they're interested in.

    The bottom line: if you're an American who isn't calling terrorists in terrorist places you have nothing to worry about. It's only terrorists with listed phone numbers that are being looked at.

    Dear NSA: I am only joking.

    by Shahryar on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:38:20 PM PDT

  •  So, because encryption gets their attention (0+ / 0-)

    it is probably best not to encrypt at all?

    He who would trade liberty for security deserves great customer service.

    by Publius2008 on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:47:10 PM PDT

  •  I heard about it today on NPR (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wayoutinthestix, JVolvo, The Jester

    who mentioned this front paged NYTimes article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    You have authority in your quotes of you ascribe them to someone else. Jim Harrison

    by Sprinkles on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 02:48:08 PM PDT

  •  Oh good grief (4+ / 0-)

    A part of the NSA's job is keeping government computer systems and agencies safe from hackers and foreign "code breakers".  I'm sure most government agencies and financial institutions like the Federal Reserve (and probably a lot of private business) have NSA-created anti-hacking and anti-malware encryption technology installed as their protection against viruses and hackers.

    Or maybe you'd like it if some Russian or Chinese hackers hacked into the US Treasury, or the IRS's files, or into your personal bank account and deleted all your funds?  Who do you think should protect government agency computer systems?  

  •  The other interesting thing in the article... (6+ / 0-)

    talked about how they are cracking VPN:

    Documents show that Edgehill's initial aim was to decode the encrypted traffic certified by three major (unnamed) internet companies and 30 types of Virtual Private Network (VPN) – used by businesses to provide secure remote access to their systems. By 2015, GCHQ hoped to have cracked the codes used by 15 major internet companies, and 300 VPNs.
    The encryption used for this is typically different than that used for HTTPS traffic.  I saw an analysis of the Microsoft flavor of the thing here:

    http://www.schneier.com/...

    Keep in mind that this is now 14 years old..

  •  These encryption schemes all rely on Certificates (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sunspots, JVolvo, duhban, JayBat

    issued by certificate authorities and I strongly suspect that the NSA has compromised the issuing of these certificates.

    I suspect that the certificate authorities are being forced by the NSA to provide access to their databases in which case I believe that gives them everything they need to decrypt the data that relies on those certificates.

    Are there any computer security experts here who can comment on this possibility?

    The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

    by Mr Robert on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:05:14 PM PDT

    •  Not all encryption schemes use certificates... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, Hey338Too, duhban, JayBat

      but I suspect you may be correct.  Not all certificate authorities are in the United States however - some of them are overseas, and would be in countries that would be unlikely to wish to cooperate with organizations like the NSA (but they might cooperate with NSA equivalents in other countries).  But then again, the NSA might have been able to hack them to obtain the same information..

      If you create your own self-signed certificate, then they wouldn't be able to do this, of course.

      When one creates a certificate, one needs to generate a pair of large prime numbers that are as close to random as possible.  But true randomness is something that is actually quite difficult for a computer to produce.  And a subverted computer could be hacked so as to produce random numbers that are even less random than usual, which might make it easier to factor the modulus (product of the two primes).

      •  CAs don't get the private keys (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ericy

        They only sign the public keys in the certificate.

        •  Yes and no.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ferg

          Yes, I forgot what exactly was in a CSR, but you are correct.  The ones I have used have a web page that has a bunch of javascript that handles the basic logic.  It creates the private key on your own machine, but the javascript could be compromised to send more than just the CSR up to the CA.  But doing so would be kind of obvious to anyone who cared to look, I suppose.

          The CA could issue a 2nd certificate to the NSA that otherwise matches your certificate - that would allow them to do a MITM attack.

          •  right, but the 2nd is an authentication problem (0+ / 0-)

            not strictly speaking an encryption problem, which is what Mr Robert was asking about.

            I looked at the TLS RFC, by the way, and it does allow (but does not require) the server to use its certificate key-pair for the session key exchange, which surprised me. I'd assumed the server normally used an ephemeral key-pair, which would avoid the whole certificate security problem entirely.

          •  Doubtful (0+ / 0-)

            The nice thing about certificates is that they are a standard across a lot of different programs.  If the cert is bogus (i.e., does not follow the X509 standard) it will fail often enough to be useless.

            Getting into the server that hosts an encrypted service and getting at its private key file is the real threat here.  But X509 is not itself flawed.

            Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

            by mbayrob on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 12:16:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Companies should guard (0+ / 0-)

              their private keys carefully.

              From what I've read this morning, seems like the NSA managed to "acquire" a nice collection of private keys. Very useful.

              Is President Obama the last moderate Republican?

              by al23 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 06:02:38 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  There's also another way (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ferg

              to get a "bogus" cert. Become a certificate issuer. There was an incident I vaguely recall thru the caffeine haze, where the issuer was an "authorized" and "legit" issuer as far as the system goes, but was ultimately some group issuing certs who shouldn't have been.

              As I recall, Sterling et al pointed and said "And that's why a central key certificate authority isn't such a hot idea."

              Nicht durch Zorn, sondern durch Lachen tödtet man. ~Nietzsche

              by somewierdguy on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 12:16:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Understand what "bogus" means (0+ / 0-)

                A bogus cert still works fine to encrypt your traffic.

                What a bogus cert won't tell is whether the info in the cert is correct.  A bogus cert might tell you that it is the cert of microsoft.com.  Which it won't be.  But it will still encrypt traffic.

                Whether said issuer of certs (in the lingo, a Certificate Authority) is accepted by your browser depends on the list of CAs that are installed into your browser or into your operating system, depending on your browser.  You should care about this.  But it's a different issue.

                Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

                by mbayrob on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 11:40:05 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Code breaking was the NSAs initial purpose (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Inland, Hey338Too, duhban, TheLizardKing

    so this comes as no surprise.

    What did we think they were doing with some of the world's largest supercomputers?

  •  wouldn't terrorists, enemies use encryption? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jdsnebraska, Hey338Too, duhban, Anna M

    Don't you think that our government has tried to break every single code there has ever been?

    Is there something wrong with that?

    HEY COGNITIVE INFILTRATORS! I googled "confirmation bias" and Daily Kos raided my house! And and and smashed my hard drives! Ask CNN, it's all truthy!

    by Inland on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:12:13 PM PDT

    •  Yes, (3+ / 0-)

      because it goes beyond the matter of breaking encryption to inserting backdoors that weaken ALL encryption, like the encryption used for online transactions.

      The efforts made by the NSA and GCHQ against encryption technologies may have negative consequences for all internet users, experts warn.

      "Backdoors are fundamentally in conflict with good security," said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. "Backdoors expose all users of a backdoored system, not just intelligence agency targets, to heightened risk of data compromise."

      http://www.theguardian.com/...

      What about the climate cliff?

      by wayoutinthestix on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 04:20:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All of the reports I have seen.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wayoutinthestix

        are that the crooks are still using trojans like Zeus to capture the logon credentials for online banking.  They don't need to break any encryption - all they need are your username and password, and there are enough average users out there who aren't careful about what they download.

        Your point is well taken however.

  •  I honestly don't care at all. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too, Anna M, al23

    Code breaking is what I EXPECT the NSA to be doing.  If there's a code out there, the NSA will try to crack it just like they always have.

    In fact I read several months ago that the NSA had attained some kind of holy grail of decryption.

    Plus there's some nifty mathematics involved, if you're into number theory and such.

  •  From the companion NYT article (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Dead Man, JayBat, bobswern, native
    How keys are acquired is shrouded in secrecy, but independent cryptographers say many are probably collected by hacking into companies’ computer servers, where they are stored. To keep such methods secret, the N.S.A. shares decrypted messages with other agencies only if the keys could have been acquired through legal means.
    emphasis mine
    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    Um, so the NSA is admitting other decrypted messages not shared were acquired illegally?

    What about the climate cliff?

    by wayoutinthestix on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 03:31:25 PM PDT

  •  Multiple articles up... (7+ / 0-)

    http://www.propublica.org/...

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    http://www.reuters.com/...

    http://www.theguardian.com/...

    By subverting the internet at every level to make it a vast, multi-layered and robust surveillance platform, the NSA has undermined a fundamental social contract. The companies that build and manage our internet infrastructure, the companies that create and sell us our hardware and software, or the companies that host our data: we can no longer trust them to be ethical internet stewards.
  •  I've got to ask. . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hey338Too

    What's a spy agency supposed to do?

    Now, I read the NY Times article here.  And I admit to being disconcerted that companies are being bullied into giving the gov't access to security systems that no one should have access to.  I'm concerned that the gov't has tried to influence the programmers of encryption algorithms to place weaknesses in their systems.

    What I'm not disconcerted by is that the government actively tries to break or go around web encryption.  Why wouldn't they?  Breaking encryption has been the main job of the NSA since its inception.  If you can't read the emails of Osama bin Laden because he's using gmail and it's encrypted, then what fucking use are you?  If you can't force criminals to use hand written messages couriered by people (who are much easier to follow and intercept) - then what use are you?

    I do have issues with the government's means.  I don't have an issue with the government's ends.

    •  Well what they are supposed to do (0+ / 0-)

      is act within the law.

      That means that if they want to collect information from Americans, they go get a warrant.

      If I encrypt something it is because I don't want anyone except the intended recipient to read it. The law says they need a warrant to read it, and not one issued by a secret court working from secret law interpretations, and that never says "No".

      If that hampers their febrile imaginations, then I'm sorry. We live in a free and open society, and we are a nation of laws or we are done.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:46:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        twigg

        They shouldn't be able to read your private correspondence, be it email, twitter, private facebook posts, telephone calls or texts without a reason and warrant.

        But then the question is what you consider reading.  Does it count if a machine reads it, but a human has to get a warrant in order to read what the machine has stored?  If they do have a warrant, is it a problem if they bully companies into giving up your private information?

  •  People seem to be deliberately misunderstanding (10+ / 0-)

    this.  They aren't BREAKING CODES.  They're just swiping them.  Like stealing somebody's password.  

    Brute force attacks won't break the encryption on off the shelf 256 bit AES encryption anytime in our lifetimes.

    Anybody who wants to believe otherwise, read this:

    http://www.eetimes.com/...

    Also, that's not even what the article linked to claims.  They aren't breaking codes.

    •  From the little I know (0+ / 0-)

      I agree, it's very unlikely they are breaking codes.

      But it would be helpful to know if they are compromising them, and who is helping.

      And more helpfully, which are still safe to use.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      Who is twigg?

      by twigg on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 09:42:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo

      AES, the most commonly used symmetric encryption  algorithm, is unbreakable.

      I'm unclear from reading the articles if the NSA has actually hacked an asymmetric algorithm like RSA, often  used in SSL/TLS.

      Seems to me they're stealing private keys and using techniques that are commercially available  to examine/exploit ssl/tls https encrypted communication.

      Sneaky, but that's what they do.

      Is President Obama the last moderate Republican?

      by al23 on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 05:48:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  any thoughts about NSA contributing SELinux? (0+ / 0-)

    does that thing have open sesame trapdoors in it?

    •  I'd kind of doubt that (0+ / 0-)

      The source for SELinux is available for people to look at and audit.  Correctly configured SELinux would be pretty secure.

      Of course, if you've ever tried to actually use SELinux, you know it's a real bear to configure.  It's extremely complex, and its way of doing things is very confusing.  You really, really need to know what you are doing, or you are no where as well secured as you think you are.  Or not secured at all.

      If we're to believe (as is reasonable) that the NSA gets at stuff by breaking into servers, then people who use SELinux incorrectly would be "good customers" for the NSA.

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 12:21:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd be less worried about SELinux (0+ / 0-)

        And more worried about the random number generator binary that Intel had put in the kernel.

        Nicht durch Zorn, sondern durch Lachen tödtet man. ~Nietzsche

        by somewierdguy on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 12:11:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  er, correction (0+ / 0-)

          I should have said I'm not instead of i'm less. SELinux aims to secure things by shutting down ports and such, basically it ensures good practices and sandboxes or attempts too. That, combined with it's open nature, makes "backdoors" a losing proposition.

          Nicht durch Zorn, sondern durch Lachen tödtet man. ~Nietzsche

          by somewierdguy on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 12:12:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Not a wag the dog, OBVIOUSLY (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StevenJoseph

    Obama expected no real discussion on the extremely limited strikes he intended in Syria. What has happened is that people here have changed the subject.

    I have tried to bring up legitimately scary extra-legal stuff related to drones, but this site is fairly quiescent on the subject. On the other hand, as soon as Obama announced his intent to strike at the chemical weapons capabilities of Syria, people on this site have said, "War" instead of "strike" and have treated it as if it were 2003 all over again.

    Let's focus on the NSA, by all means. The piece of the article you quoted indicated that the NSA had essentially compromised the PGP-like program (hacked it) from before its installation. If this were done with Win OS, it wouldn't be that hard, I'd guess.

    Can we have polls and polls and flaming editorials on the front page now about how drones are not any of the branches of the military, are used by CIA, which is supposed to be an information agency, and can be deployed without oversight by the executive? I trust Obama more than Bush, but this type of power is unconstitutional.

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 05:19:25 PM PDT

    •  What with NSA over reach, illegal drone strikes, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Geogre

      persecution of whistle blowers, and now the threat of intervention in Syria, the government seems to be going out of its way to alienate its citizens.

      All of this abuse is related though, and I don't believe most Kossacks are forgetting about any of it.

  •  How do we know Greenwald and Snowden (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StevenJoseph, bobswern, Dianna

    didn't make this up?

    /snark

    The excuses for Obama's behavior have long since passed the point of predictability neccessary to qualify as an absurd production of Kabuki Theater.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 05:28:55 PM PDT

  •  It's okay, there's a Democrat in office, nothing (5+ / 0-)

    to see here, move along.

    The excuses for Obama's behavior have long since passed the point of predictability neccessary to qualify as an absurd production of Kabuki Theater.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 05:32:18 PM PDT

  •  I'm beginning to hate the word "security". (3+ / 0-)

    Seems like every time I hear it, I feel less secure.

  •  If it's ever revealed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevemb

    which U.S. IT security companies are working with the NSA to back door Internet encryption they are going to have a very bad day(s).

    I'm just Double Tapped the hell out.

    by pajoly on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 07:48:30 PM PDT

  •  How Long Did It Take to Figure Out? (0+ / 0-)

    How long did it take people to figure out that the spy agencies would be doing this?

    Even so, we should probably just encrypt everything. It may not be all that secret, but at least they'd have to go to the trouble of trying to decrypt it.

  •  It's been obvious SSL was NSA hackable for a while (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA

    SSL 128bit has been the Gov't standard for years and was recommended by the NSA for use.  I always kind of figured it was obvious that they wouldn't be recommending an encryption they couldn't crack already... I mean duh.  Several years ago before the ebay purchase of Skype NSA put out a public bid for someone to crack the proprietary (Swedish?) Skype encryption.   Thought that made it kind of obvious too.  

    When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross - Sinclair Lewis on the money in 1935

    by SmallAxe on Thu Sep 05, 2013 at 08:51:27 PM PDT

    •  Can they crack PGP? (0+ / 0-)

      I assume that's what a miscreant would use.

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 03:44:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which PGP (0+ / 0-)

        The current symantec version or the free versions like GPGP?
        The answer to the former is, who knows, the latter, well..also..who knows. They key is, er, key length, versus mathematical attacks and computing power. The NSA has acres of the latter, and people dedicated to the former. If you're encrypting with 32 bits..you my friend are done, but 255 bit encryption? That is a horse of a much different color my friend. The big allure of pgp was it's two factor authentication using a public key ring, trusted networks (of people) along with the fact that it made it easy for non-tech's to work with.

        For my part, as i said lower, while it is possible the NSA has the math and computing to break these, it's improbable at this point. There are ways, far easier, to attack an encrypted system. And even if they do break it, it's even less likely that it's real time like Des probably is at this point. Ergo why they're storing so much information.

        Nicht durch Zorn, sondern durch Lachen tödtet man. ~Nietzsche

        by somewierdguy on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 11:52:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A little comic relief here: Joy of Tech (0+ / 0-)

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ☮ ♥ ☺

    by lotlizard on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 02:16:09 AM PDT

  •  Longstanding technical question (0+ / 0-)

    How do you know when you've encrypted something? In other words, when you're using brute force, how do you identify that one legible result among all the gibberish ones?  

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 03:42:43 AM PDT

    •  generally, there's known patterns (0+ / 0-)

      For example, HTTP and mail headers are well known. Anything like .gif or .pdf has known protocol elements (XML, word documents, etc.). English words  are in a dictionary, etc.

      So if you decrypt and see the known, expected data, you know you've hit the right key.

      If the plain text was totally random, you'd never be able to tell if it was decrypted correctly.

    •  because math (0+ / 0-)

      If you're working on something, you have an idea what it is you're working on. I.e. voip data, text, hypertext, pdf's, etc. So, that alone tells you what you should be getting as the end result. From there you can calculate entropy. If it's a text file, you can look at the metadata in the headers in it (language used) and from there you know to expect entropy that would correspond to the letters, numbers, and symbols in text with that metadata header.

      All that involves higher complex math, and I freely admit, despite having my degree and interest/lively-hood in this kind of thing, that I find it hard to follow, (as in, pen and paper and tons of caffeine to keep me focused) and no doubt most will find it at least as hard. If you're really interested in the math, google "Encryption decryption certainty and entropy" and if you want to specify it a little more, add the encryption tech you're interested in (I.e. AES is the modern standard for our side of the world)

      Nicht durch Zorn, sondern durch Lachen tödtet man. ~Nietzsche

      by somewierdguy on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 12:08:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They've undermined the entire tech industry (0+ / 0-)

    Way to blow huge holes in one of the few areas we still lead globally. Thanks, NSA.

  •  how dare people take action (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade

    to secure their privacy as quaranteed by the constitution.   They should all be ashamed of themselves, forcing the spy agencies to break encryption to spy illegally.

  •  I guess I could gloat because I stated this (0+ / 0-)

    flatly in a reply to earlier posts on this in which the purported experts were claiming that encryption would prevent snooping.

    Wrong.

    Busted.

    Would say Har, Har, but this is too serious.

    First rule in CI, Intel and Security = always assume that your communications are being tapped.

    “Never argue with someone whose livelihood depends on not being convinced.” ~ H.L. MENCKEN

    by shigeru on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 09:58:37 AM PDT

  •  An old Boston politician said it best: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade
    Never write if you can speak
    Never speak if you can nod
    Never nod if you can wink

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 10:12:09 AM PDT

  •  For the "unbreakables" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg

    TL:DR version = AES is not "unbreakable" it's just "unfeasible" using known technology and methods to do so. The NSA works with "computing power measured in acres, several generations ahead of the consumer market." So, who the hell knows?

    I keep seeing AES described as "unbreakable." This is patently wrong, AES is known to be cryptographically broken (attacks faster than brute force are known to exist). The proper word is "unfeasible" to break. The known attack vectors, and the known technology used in such an attack, render it futile. That said, the keyword there is "known."

    The NSA brags (or did on it's website ages ago) that it has computing power measured in acres (yes..acres..) and working at several generations ahead of the consumer market's available processing capabilities. Remember, this spy agency consists of the math whizes, the engineers, the "nerd" agency if you will. And even knowing this, I'm still only willing to say "well...maybe they have" as an unlikely scenario of them breaking AES. That they may have discovered weaknesses that aren't yet known, well..that is another possibility.

    DES is an example of an "unknown known." When DES was up for approval and design, IBM discovered a new analysis method that showed DES to be weak against it. They told the NSA, the NSA said "ok, we'll fix this..hang on...and don't EVAR tell nobody about what chu see here kay blue?"  The result was an augmentation that the NSA demanded be put in, which nobody understood why it as put in. It, in effect, shored up these weaknesses. The line of thinking goes "We don't want people to know about this powerful technique, but we also want this adopted so we'll fix the failures."

    The weakness in DES, and also that of AES is in the fact that there are mathematical attack vectors publicly known, but they're "Unfeasible." At least for a time. 22hours breaks des with modern techniques, (I've been told by "people-may-know" that triple-Des is breakable as well by this agency, but admittedly it's hearsay) the problem is the NSA isn't necessarily using "modern" techniques. They brag, or used to, that they measure their facilities computing power in acres, and are working with technology several generations ahead of the consumer market. Hype? Bullshit? Given the nature of the organization and it's funding, I'm not likely to take it as such.

    That said, even if the crypto is "infeasible" to attack, doesn't mean that the way it's being used is. Hardware encryption is a big issue, specifically in the realm of random number generators. Screw those up, and you've weakened the whole structure built on top of it. There doesn't have to be any "malice" for this to happen either. Bad design, flaws in logic, the simple fact that a random number generator is harder to make than you think (what you think is random, mathematically probably isn't in the face of a cpu/gpu). Then, even if they get the manufacturing right on true hardware encryption, there's the "hardware" encryption that is sold to a lot of people. That is, they buy a piece of hardware that uses built in company supplied encryption. This isn't true "hardware" encryption, but it's as close as most get outside of people willing to spend.
    The problem with pseudo-hardware encryption, or "built in" software encryption (better term I'll use it instead) is that you have to hope the company isn't screwing it up. That's a big bet.

    At least one modern NAS manufacture Qnap, who handles both enterprise and consumer markets, bills itself as using quality trusted encryption. And it was, back before 2004ish when the big SSL weaknesses were discovered. The company hasn't updated the internals of the software it's running in all that time. Oh, they issue firmware, but the firmware uses the same old libraries, not the dandy new fixed ones. So, there goes that.

    Of course, none of the encryption you use matters if they get a rootkit/trojan/malware onto your system. Once they're in there, they can probably grab the keys to the kingdom from memory, or just map what you do regardless and compel you to unencrypt your system or go to jail for contempt for years.

    So, there's my points...which are really long and you should get a prize for reading..I suggest fudge!

    Nicht durch Zorn, sondern durch Lachen tödtet man. ~Nietzsche

    by somewierdguy on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 11:38:39 AM PDT

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