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.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.
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".
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.