The National Security Agency has the keys to most Internet encryption methods and it has gotten them by using supercomputers to break them and by enlisting the help of private IT companies, The New York Times and The Guardian are reporting.
In plain English, this means that many of the tools — like TLS, used by many banks and email providers — that people worldwide have come to believe protect them from snooping by criminals and governments are essentially worthless when it comes to the NSA.
The revelations are the latest from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
While the main premise of the story isn’t surprising — one of the main goals of the NSA is code-breaking, after all — the breadth of the program and some of the “trickery” described in the pieces are.
One of the more interesting finds is that the NSA spent $250 million a year to engage “the U.S. and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products’ designs” to make them “exploitable,” the Times reports.