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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

9/6/2013 (10 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We need a new expectation of privacy on the internet.

The NSA and British intelligence services have broken virtually all online encryption systems used by people to protect their privacy, according to a report published by the Guardian and the New York Times. The report is based on information leaked by Edward Snowden.

Ironically, mailing an actual letter may be one of the most private forms of communication that remains.

Ironically, mailing an actual letter may be one of the most private forms of communication that remains.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/6/2013 (10 months ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: NSA, encryption, data, hacking, spying, privacy, letter, mail


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A report published jointly between the Guardian and the New York Times says that information leaked by Edward Snowden shows that British and U.S. intelligence services have broken virtually all online encryption systems.

This means that these services can read encrypted data, even individual emails, financial and medical records and more.

While the use of encryption has spiked in the wake of these revelations, it is disheartening to see that even this is futile.

According to the report, the NSA has a three-pronged approach to getting at encrypted data. First, they set the international standards for encryption, second they hack encrypted networks by any means available, and third, they enter secret partnerships with web providers and tech companies to access your data.

Using these partnerships, the NSA has reportedly added secret "back doors" to encryption software that allows them to read your encrypted data with ease.

The report, as published by the Guardian, highlighted these points:

- 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".
- A GCHQ team has been working to develop ways into encrypted traffic on the "big four" service providers, named as Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook.

The NSA argues that it needs access to encrypted data to effectively assess threats and gather foreign intelligence. However, encryption serves as a substitute for trust online. Encryption prevents access to private data from hackers, marketing and research firms, and unscrupulous private agencies. Terrorists also use encryption to exchange secure messages.

Ultimately the time for a new understanding has come. The internet is not private. Furthermore, whatever you put online stays there forever, even if you think you delete it. Deletion may render something invisible to you and other casual users, but to those in the know, deletion is meaningless.

This understanding is important as we raise the next generation of computer-savvy kids with access to the internet. What is posted there is permanent and indelible, and will be read and accessed by people you have never even heard of.

Undoing the harm wrought by agencies such as the NSA is virtually impossible. Even if the program were killed or curtailed, it would likely be rebranded and relaunched in another, more creative way. Other nations will eventually attempt to do the same.

The only remaining way to send a reasonably secure communication anymore -is by letter.

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