UK and US spy agencies have penetrated much of the online encryption used by people around the world to guard their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to documents uncovered by American whistleblower, and former CIA contractor Ed Snowden.
Now Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has ordered a “series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security following revelations that the US NSA intercepted her communications, hacked into the state-owned oil company’s network and spied on Brazilians who entrusted personal data to U.S. tech firms such as Facebook and Google, ” say Bradley Brooks and Frank Bajak in Newsfactor.
In the Guardian, James Ball, Julian Borger and Glenn Greenwald, write,
“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’.
“Those methods include covert measures to ensure NSAcontrol over setting of international encryption standards, the use of supercomputers to break encryption with ‘brute force’, and – the most closely guarded secret of all – collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers themselves.
Google and Facebook? Say it ain’t so!
“Through these covert partnerships, the agencies have inserted secret vulnerabilities – known as backdoors or trapdoors – into commercial encryption software,” says the story adding:
“The files, from both the NSA and GCHQ, were obtained by the Guardian, and the details are being published today in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica.
• A 10-year NSA program against encryption technologies made a breakthrough in 2010 which made “vast amounts” of data collected through internet cable taps newly “exploitable”.
• The NSA spends $250m a year on a program which, among other goals, works with technology companies to “covertly influence” their product designs.
• The secrecy of their capabilities against encryption is closely guarded, with analysts warned: “Do not ask about or speculate on sources or methods.”
• The NSA describes strong decryption programs as the “price of admission for the US to maintain unrestricted access to and use of cyberspace”.
The last item should of course Read: “ Strong decryption programs are the “price of admission you pay for the US to maintain unrestricted access to and use of cyberspace”