Disinfo? Breakthrough? How Should I Know

The NSA is hinting hard that it has cracked the fiber optic barrier and finds encryption 'no more than speed bump'. As usual, might be true (esp. the parts about tracking phones and tapping undersea fiber), but bring truckload of salt to the party.

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2 Responses to Disinfo? Breakthrough? How Should I Know

  1. Bryan says:

    As I read the article, it seems to be saying that the NSA has figured out how to grab data from fiber optic transmissions, but I’m not sure it clearly states that they have figured out how to decode public-key encryption using some other means than brute force; it mentions encryption as a signal that a given message is “interesting” (that is, itthose exchanging the messages have something to hide).

    My understanding is that there is still no proof that a person’s private key cannot be derived from the public key, yet there is no known algorithm that can do this (besides brute force, which is effectively forestalled by increasing key length). Perhaps other more knowledgeable readers can comment, but I personally believe this problem to be both formidable and, for the foreseeable future, intractable. Indeed, if it were publicly revealed that a private key could be easily determined from an examination of the public key, it would throw the entire infrastructure of electronic commerce (not to mention international finance) into absolute chaos…

    You-all should visit The Pink Bunny of Battle (http://pfaff.tcc.virginia.edu).

  2. The article actually says that when they’ve identified someone who’s sending encrypted mail, and identified him as a target of interest, they can generally find ways to get the data which don’t involve breaking the encryption directly (perhaps along the lines of the remote screen-reading from Cryptonomicon… at any rate, let your imagination run riot).

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