NSA can hijack ‘most sensitive data’ on your iPhone, top secret files reveal

By , Sep 8, 2013

iOS 7 (slide to unlock teaser 001)

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has pretty much compromised every online user’s security through a previously unknown ten-year program against encryption technologies that made “vast amounts” of collected data “exploitable.”

After these shocking revelations came to light Thursday, a new report Sunday in German news weekly Der Spiegel has given the privacy scare a whole new meaning.

See, owners of iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices are at risk of their “most sensitive data” being fully exploitable because the NSA is able to crack protective measures of these systems, previously believed to be highly secure…

Pet top secret documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel writes that the agency is able to retrieve your on-device contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information history.

It doesn’t seem to be widespread hacking as the documents mention “individually tailored” cases of smartphone tapping, often “without the knowledge of smart phone companies.”

That’s hardly reassuring:

In the internal documents, experts boast about successful access to iPhone data in instances where the NSA is able to infiltrate the computer a person uses to sync their iPhone. Mini-programs, so-called “scripts,” then enable additional access to at least 38 iPhone features.

Put simply, the NSA spies leverage so-called backdoor access to infiltrate your computer remotely and decrypt the iPhone backup files created during each iTunes sync.

The NSA has set up working groups that deal with each operating system. and tasked them with gaining secret access to the data held on the popular smartphone operating systems.

iphone incall menu

The agency has even gained access to BlackBerry’s highly secure email system, marking a “huge setback for the company which has always claimed that its mail system is uncrackable”.

Apparently, there was a period in 2009 when the NSA was temporarily unable to access BlackBerry devices. After the Canadian company acquired another firm the same year, it changed the way in compresses its data.

But in March 2010, the department responsible at Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency declared in a top secret document it had regained access to BlackBerry data and celebrated with the word, “champagne!”

A 2009 NSA document explicitly acknowledges that the agency can “see and read SMS traffic.”

If you haven’t been following this major story, the British newspaper The Guardian along with its U.S. counterpart The New York Times and ProPublica, an independent non-profit newsroom that produces “investigative journalism in the public interest,” on Thursday exposed how NSA’s $250 million a year program against widely used encryption technologies made a breakthrough in 2010, making “vast amounts” of data collected through Internet cable taps newly “exploitable”.

NSA diagram

Reporting stems from top secret files from both the NSA and The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a British version of the NSA, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Not only did the NSA and GCHQ covertly influence international encryption standards, they also tap powerful supercomputers to break encryption with brute force methods.

The snooping agencies also collaborate with tech titans and the Internet’s four service providers that funnel encrypted traffic which the NSA can decipher and exploit, explicitly named as Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook.

NSA Bullrun 1

NSA’s efforts 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 Guardian opined.

Check this out: the NSA has covertly changed commercial encryption software and devices “to make them exploitable” and is able to “obtain cryptographic details of commercial cryptographic information security systems through industry relationships”.

A 2010 GCHQ paper trail acknowledges that “vast amounts of encrypted internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable”.

An internal agency memo says among British analysts shown a presentation on the NSA’s progress, “those not already briefed were gobsmacked!”

The all-encompassing program costs ten times more than the PRISM initiative and “actively engages US and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products’ designs,” the classified documents read.

Another top secret NSA doc brags about gaining access to “data flowing through a hub for a major communications provider” and to a “major internet peer-to-peer voice and text communications system”.

NSA Bullrun 2

The scariest bit: the NSA has compromised crucial and rarely-updated hardware such as network routers and switches, and even encryption chips and processors used in consumer devices. Yes, the agencies can get into your computer if need be, though such an accomplishment is “significantly more costly and risky for them”, another Guardian article states.

“The NSA has huge capabilities – and if it wants in to your computer, it’s in,” the crux of the story reads. The exact nature of NSA’s methods is of course closely guarded. As one slide warns agency analysts, “do not ask about or speculate on sources or methods”.

Those cleared to access the program were warned: “There will be no ‘need to know’.”

NSA data center in Utah
NSA’s secret mega data center in Utah: that’s where supercomputers analyze vast amounts of online traffic data obtained through snooping programs.

On Friday, Microsoft and Yahoo expressed concerns over NSA’s encryption bypassing methods. Microsoft said it had “significant concerns” about the reports and Yahoo said it feared “substantial potential for abuse”.

NSA documented its decryption initiative as the “price of admission for the US to maintain unrestricted access to and use of cyberspace”.

Responding to publication of these stories, the NSA in a Friday statement through the mouth of the office of the director of national intelligence (ODNI) laconically dismissed the findings. This is “not news”, the officials said and cautioned the revelations provided a “road map to our adversaries”.

The ODNI statement reads:

It should hardly be surprising that our intelligence agencies seek ways to counteract our adversaries’ use of encryption. Throughout history, nations have used encryption to protect their secrets, and today, terrorists, cybercriminals, human traffickers and others also use code to hide their activities.

Our intelligence community would not be doing its job if we did not try to counter that.

Needles to say, privacy advocates are baffled.

I suggest going through the entire coverage over at The Guardian – you’ll be gobsmacked.

It’s guaranteed to send chills down your spine and shatter any notion that strong encryption secures your online data and communications from the government’s prying eyes.

I’m terribly sorry, but it seems Big Brother is winning.

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  • Sigh

    What’s wrong with you stupid Americans? Always snooping everywhere. This is why the whole world hates you.

    • Nathan Kalish

      It’s not like we WANTED this…

      • Glorin

        Then stand up and do something

      • Carlos

        Like what? Protest? Vote for the other guy?

      • sadaN

        Thats what lots of people have been doing in Brazil.

      • fredghostkyle

        you said it!

      • Antonakis Kipouros Nikopolidis

        Just a stupid idea here….Lets all put fake “terrorist” info in every single e-mail we send. Overwhelm their servers with stupid stuff. Use key words, plan bombings and assasinations along with the things you actually want to send to your friends. If they have to evaluate billions of terrorists its day……

      • Marly Marl

        If u do this then ull Hide the people who are real terrorists. Ull make it easier for them to bomb your country. I say let NSA do what they are doing I have nothig to hide

      • Carlos

        So if you don’t have anything to hide, it’s okay to give up our first and fourth amendments? Even after so many people died to give you your freedom and liberty, you’re okay with giving them right back? SMH

      • Marly Marl

        I live in jamaica.. I have no fourth amendment right on this Island.

      • Carlos

        Even if half the country were to do that, the US would have no problem incarcerating them. Believe me, the prison industry is a big business in the US. What better way to compete with China than to pay Americans 25 cents an hour to work. Oh and if you think you can’t be detained because you were simply lying and aren’t a real threat, look up the National Defense Authorization Act signed by Obama.

      • Maxim∑

        like what? hack them back

      • rasengan720 .

        now i like the sound of that :P

      • CryptoCoin420

        You don’t think progressives in America are trying to do something? We can only do so much against our corrupt government. Secret programs, and secret FISA courts, we would not even know our damn government is doing this SHIT if it were not for Mr. Edward Snowden. So please shut up if you do not have a solution!

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        In other words…

    • Maxim∑

      First off I highly doubt the people on idownloadblog have been lying for the past 10 years about not knowing how to crack the most advanced encryption protocols.

      If people were to stop blowing themselves up,putting bombs at marathons, slamming planes into buildings or shooting kids in a school maybe this wouldn’t be necessary

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        “If people were to stop blowing themselves up,putting bombs at marathons, slamming planes into buildings or shooting kids in a school maybe this wouldn’t be necessar”

        People don’t do that though. The governments just want any and every piece of data they can get from you and then come up with the same excuses all the time:

        “Oh he might be a terrorist”

        “We’re doing it to protect the children”

        Those sort of excuses…

      • Joseph

        Bullshit. The Boston Bombing, 9/11, the Aurora shooting, and more are ideal examples of why this is justified. People do, in fact, do what was stated. Get out of your idyllic world.

        On that note, I don’t support this program at all.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        It’s not bullshit you can’t label “people” as terrorists. There is a few people that fit into this demographic but not enough to justify an entire Internet surveilance program that costs millions and billions of dollars to run. Especially since the NSA isn’t stopping terrorists. By providing me with examples of shootings and terrorist attacks your only demonstrating events that have happened and have not been stopped with the help of programs such as Prism and Bullrun. If these programs are designed to stop terorrist attacks then why are they still occurring?

      • Joseph

        Not like you would know if it stopped them, though. The program has remained unknown for ten years and it’s still being relatively hidden because of what we don’t know.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        Exactly. If intelligence agencies were more transparent this wouldn’t be a problem. Governments shouldn’t keep secrets especially when it pertains to a global Internet surveillance program targeting both citizens of your own country and foreign citizens.

      • Rowan09

        Anyone can be a “terrorists” when you watch everyone you miss out on the real terrorists. All these cameras and systems in place yet all these events happened.

      • 5ingularity

        its because people like you, who think these things done by the government are okay, that Hitler was able to pass the Enabling Act, giving his all authority and almost took over the world.

      • Joseph

        Did I say I thought it was okay? No. I specifically stated in the post above the one that you replied to that I didn’t approve of it, and I tried to tread carefully to avoid people like you accusing me.

      • Maxim∑

        But they have to be doing it for a reason. I don’t like it either. I was really shocked about them being able to crack these encryptions in less than a second.

        My main issue is that they are being dishonest

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        It’s more than being dishonest though. Since the intelligence agencies do not know who or what a terrorist is they just target anyone and everyone and then they archive the collected data. These days I seriously doubt it’s possible to use things such as TOR without making yourself a target for the NSA. In addition to this the implementing of backdoors into commercial encryption software makes it difficult to maintain a secure system and legally allow the NSA in whenever they want. What happens if the backdoor gets out? You’re looking at a big massive cyber war that’s what…

      • Rowan09

        That’s far from true. If you’ve noticed since 9-11 we gave away our rights for a fake sense of protection. One of our Presidents I believe Roosevelt said if we give up our rights for security we will end up with neither. Recently I heard they were going to allow people to pay extra so they won’t have to wait on line at the airport and remember they were even allowing people to bring small knives on planes when supposedly on 9-11 some guys took over and crashed planes with box cutters. You should not give up your rights because that will one day lead to the government taking over and then martial law will follow.

      • Kurt

        Martial law is coming. Obama has given himself power to declare martial law in peace time. And has given himself the power to declare it over FOOD, energy, etc.

        Agenda 21, learn about it people….CNN owner, Ted Turner wants to depopulate the world as well as Soros, Gates etc. There’s videos of them talking about it. In their eyes, you are scum.

      • ehX

        Finally someone else here understands things. Very few people these days do. I like you.

      • Kurt

        Glad you are awake too!

      • Singed

        I’m always in for some conspiracy theories, but doesn’t this sound a bit far fetched? I mean, sure, it can happen, but I really doubt the possibility. It might be all just fake.

      • ehX

        When you look at these things and then other events such as the NDAA 2012, NDRP (an executive order), the fact that they pushed so hard for gun control, it makes you think… What are they expecting?

        The economy isn’t good and what if the US collapses? There will be rioting and fighting, and with the NDAA the government can use the military to silence anyone who is armed. Then they can use it to control us.

        But why? That’s how the world works. That’s how government works. Good people almost NEVER go into politics. It’s always the ones who are greedy and want power, and this is the result. We get shit like what the NSA is doing and everything else I just listed above.

        Even if you aren’t one for conspiracy theories you have to realize the things I mentioned can’t just be a coincidence. I’m not someone who wears a tin-foil hat or anything, that’s the stereotype of conspiracy theorists (although I’ll bet some of them do that, since I’ve seen some who think Prozac is a mind control drug).

        The point is that people are greedy and the ones in power always want more power. Just remember, the NDAA is the second biggest violation of human and Constitutional rights ever (first is the NDRP), and what happened when they voted on it?

        Bipartisan support.

      • Carlos

        Well said, I just want to add that a “conspiracy theory” is no longer a theory when there’s solid evidence to support it. A conspiracy is defined as a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful. When there is proof that our own government is involved, you have to ask yourself who the real terrorists are. I think the NSA should spy on our government officials rather than our own people.

      • Singed

        Thanks for clarifying, your post was actually insightful. Although, I cannot claim anything for the US, as I don’t live there and what I saw from my visits it was just a country, I do agree that good people don’t go to politics. Again, thanks for taking the time to reply.

      • ehX

        No problem, my friend. You’re lucky you don’t live here with everything the NSA does to us and now the military with the NDAA. Glad to be of help. =)

      • Kurt

        Remember boston bombing? They had drills. The drills were for a bombing. The drills were taken place at the finish line. Interesting? Sandy hook had drills. Drills just down the road in the same town. Drills for a school shooting. Day before and day of. Interesting? London bombings, same thing. Video on Youtube were a guy tells his story that he went to take part in the drills for a bombing on a bus and in the subway. So when it was real, he thought it was just part of the drills he was working in. Interesting? Back to Boston bombing. Martial law was never called, but they treated it like it. Have you seen the videos of the police dressed as military in their MRAPs with their fully automatic weapons going door to door treating everyone like criminals. Going into their homes. Searching their persons, searching their homes, searching their property-no search warrant. All this took place with the governor never having seen the evidence that these two boys even did it. We still have never seen the proof. But we are supposed to believe the government who benifits when these attacks happen as they take away our rights, treating us like ciminals. Don’t you just love to get felt up by the TSA? How many millions has been spent on the TSA, and how many “terrorists” have they caught? How many people die from terrorism attacks each year? somewhere around 100 people. That’s all, but we have to live in phoney fear and have that fear be the excuse we need to lose our rights. Boston bombing was a test of martial law. Watch the videos on Youtube as them pull people out of their homes by gun point acting like the military.

      • Grande PHD

        I agree if it is used against terrorism, but what about economics, industry?

        It will go on even if terrorism is over for good and you know that.

    • Kyle

      American people and American policymakers are two different specimen.

      • batongxue

        This applies for most countries.
        China comes to my mind first.
        All votes are “voted” by the so called “people’s representatives”.

    • razvanlupu96

      its america… what can you do?

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

      It’s for their security…

    • Rudy

      This was all organised when the intelligence communities were all brought under the one umbrella organisation and is now the body that adheres to the underlying skull and crossbones of American sub-culture.

      In order to re-establish founding values and principles of American culture and the position of respect that the U.S. *used* to have in the world, all of that has to be seized, in the dead of night, shoved into a vat of acid, battened down and shoved into a crypt that will never see the light of day again.

      This ‘Five Eyes’ rubbish has to disappear also, along with its extended modern day manifestations. There never has been a need for it other than one of a manufactured variety.

  • ✪ aidan harris ✪

    Assuming it’s possible, some jailbreak developer should develop a tweak to encrypt the data partition on a jailbroken iPhone…

    • Glorin

      we talk about current top encryptions spying on us… wake up

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        “we talk about current top encryptions spying on us… wake up”

        I may be wrong but from what I can gather the NSA has sidestepped encryption via a backdoor of some sort. This is only possible in commercial software so assuming an open source encryption software was used, implemented or ported for iOS it would be very difficult for them to sidestep it due to the possibility of being able to audit it. Although considering the NSA has custom built chips from IBM and other companies bypassing the used encryption could still be possible. Someones view from an article I read on The Guardian though was that since these custom chips tend to be very expensive the NSA will generally probably not want to go after you like that unless they really have to. Meaning that although encryption can be bypassed should you have the necessary complex custom built chips making life difficult for intelligence industries like the NSA will put them off unless they really, really want your data…

        EDIT: To summarise all of the above here’s a quote from Snowden:

        “Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on.”

      • 5ingularity

        If such jailbreak dev exists, he has probably already been hired by a security research team.

      • http://www.idownloadblog.com/author/dujkan Christian Zibreg

        You forgot to include Snowden’s follow-on statement:

        “Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.”

    • mafish

      i dont know for mobile, but for computers, there’s TrueCrypt, you can make a volume with the highest encryption level, even NSA/FBI wasnt able to decrypt Daniel Dantas (brazillian banker) hdd to charge him for corruption

  • Carlos Gomes

    Hmm… why would the NSA need our print? I mean, doesn’t the government already have our fingerprints already?

    • Johhny Q

      is there a way when the 5S comes out, you can disable the fingerprint scan to unlock?

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        It’s not out so nobody knows but if there isn’t going to be, there is a way you just don’t know it yet and that thing is called jailbreaking…

      • ImLouis

        Well we know that iOS7 has the pin lock feature meaning apple could either make its iPhone 5S users give them there fingerprint on setup or let them choose to add it in the setting, only time will tell

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Or just put some duck tape over it…

      • Kurt

        We should probably be doing that to our cameras. School lend out laptops and then take pictures of the kids in their home. Some of those pics where nude as they were dressing. If school officials have done that, image what the government does.

      • Carlos Gomes

        That.. really happened?

      • Kurt

        Yeah, pretty sick.

  • Josh

    Apart from mass hysteria and complete distrust in all governments, what the f*ck are the NSA and GCHQ trying to achieve?

    • Patrick

      new world order

      • Kurt

        Agenda 21

    • 3aloo1

      Ummmmm…… CRAP lololol

    • Singed

      “…I’M CLEANSING THE EARTH OF THESE VERMIN!” The DigDug guy.

  • Patrick

    its the illuminati, new world order has begun everyone, soon you will hear about global marshal law.

    • Question

      Spell illuminati backwards and put .com watch what pops up

      • Tom Brady

        What

      • Question

        Nsa website pops up

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Interesting find…

      • Jar

        It’s a redirect created by some nobody to prank mindless morons like yourself that actually believe there’s such a thing as the illuminati

      • Question

        Im sorry but you’re a mindless moron because you dont believe illuminati is true.

      • Patrick

        its too late for you, you are too brainwashed by the media

      • Jar

        http://www.who. is/whois/itanimulli. com

        pontifier. com/

        arthurgoldwag.wordpress. com/2010/01/17/itanimulli/

        goo. gl/yWdnFy

        Take a break from being a complete delusional dumbass and
        you’d realise how easy it is to find who created that site. I hope you’re
        teenagers because if you’re grown men that’s just unforgivably embarrassing.

  • Joseph

    Most secure operating system, huh?

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      From what I’ve read the NSA doesn’t do anything extraordinary to get data from iPhone users. They do one of the following:

      1. Co-operate with ISP’s to snoop the data sent over the Internet and then decrypt it
      2. Get data of a PC that is synced with iTunes
      3. Co-operate with Apple to place a backdoor of some sort which they would be required to do by law whether they like it or not and what not be able to disclose what the NSA wanted them to do either.

      It’s not like the NSA is developing malware for iOS or jailbreaks etc…

      • Joseph

        It’s still a breach of privacy and general security. Of course the US government would have no problem with this, since it’s their program, but they’re backing other governments and people in general against a wall because they have basically no private vectors of communication anymore.

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

  • http://knottykink.com/ Rope Bondage Premium Supplier

    Hide your nude photos everyone, unless you need a second opinion!

  • http://hacking-computers.com/ What Is Computer Hacking

    Well of course they can get anything off of our smart phones

  • n0ahcruz3

    The government can get my nude photos if they want lol i dont give a fu ck. Just get those terrorist in check. I dont want another 9/11 or boston bombing again.

  • Om

    That’s it. I’m switching to my Nokia 3310.

    • Rowan09

      Won’t help they record our calls.

      • Carlos Gomes

        Smoke signs it is, then.

      • Moi

        And birds mail

      • FOFF

        they will genetically infuse you birds with chips that read the messages they carry..

      • FOFF

        they will use satilites to watch you smoke signals..

  • NSABot

    This is our job. Always has been. Why so surprised?

  • mav3rick

    Nothing new, nothing surprising. One have to be really naive to believe that once connected to some sort of network the data traffic cannot be snooped and its content analyzed. “Privacy” and “encryption” for users are just concepts to sell.

    • FOFF

      true privacy is not profitable … the govt and corporations beed to watch you to keep you inline

  • Kyle Beroney

    And we wonder why our country is in debt. It’s stupid programs like this that cost us billions per year and make America look like retards. Our government is so screwed up… There’s no reason for this because it’s not gonna solve any of the problems at present. If I wanted my life dictated by old men with great power, I’d just talk to my damn grandfathers on either side of my family. All those events that happened, guarantee you wouldn’t have happened if the government was more focused on funding practical national security programs. Not over oppressive and super paranoia programs that really doesn’t give them anymore information than before. If the constitution was actually followed correctly by how our forefathers wrote it, the system wouldn’t be so goddamn f***ed up and if there were younger middle class government officials elected every 5 years, I bet the government would be run differently and not run by a joint government-big business scheme.

    • FOFF

      that debt they say we are in is the money the corporation have in their pokets because of politicians who pass laws that enable extortion of the public economy.. there are hundreds of billions that are controlled by corporations that should be in the public sector but govt works for the profit taking corporations .. welcome to extreme capitals which is worse than Communism but you dont know it yet

  • Sumeet Gandhi

    Should we now stop using the digital gadgets and move back to the analog world :)

    • FOFF

      umm you really think they wont listen to you on there too?? hahahhaha

  • ehX

    Finally someone else here sees what I’m scared about with the fingerprint scanner in the 5S.

  • Grande PHD

    they are stealing industrial and economic information worldwide and getting benefits from it . they want us to believe that is just about terrorism .

    see, they are spying industrial secrets of the largest brazilian oil industry – PETROBRAS: the world leader in oil exploration in deep waters. the monthly profit of this company is larger than the combined total of many european countries.

    so, what does that have to do with terrorism?

  • http://www.iheavy.com/blog/ Sean Hull

    That’s it, I’m switching to sign language for all sensitive communication!

  • FOFF

    duh anyone who thinks they have any privacy or freedom under capitalism is dumb as hell… monitoring and controlling the population is the most valuable and profitable thing ever and it will always happen….

    corporations control the politicians and politicians control the law and they will use the cops and army to make you do as they say thats life

  • geekinit

    So if my computer is behind 15 firewalls and it’s turned off, can the NSA get into it? I mean come on. I seriously don’t think they are as advanced as this article alludes. Ever tried programming??? It’s not easy to build software that can dig into many different fragmented systems and always guarantee access… #fud

    • Joseph

      I think you’re forgetting that the NSA has direct access to information from Google, Microsoft, Apple, and more, along with the fact that there are intentional backdoors built into the HARDWARE that the NSA can exploit. It’s horrible.

      So no, your machine is not safe. Have fun wasting your system resources with 15 firewalls, though.

  • Byron C Mayes

    I dunno. I certainly hope that a government agency called National Security Administration is able to crack most security “if need be.” I also hope that the police are able to trace my gun, and that AAA can jimmy the lock on my car door. If they don’t have people capable of doing this then what sort of shoddy “security” personnel (or policemen, or locksmiths) are they hiring?

    I have to agree with ODNI. That they can do this is a non-story. If they are doing this routinely and without cause — something that the article doesn’t suggest is happening — then it becomes a problem.

  • Canchume

    so if i put like a million times terrorist, alqaeda, child rape, or that things in the app of note im a terrorist ?

  • Ghost

    The ALL SEEING EYE aka New World Order watching all of US!

  • Johannes Strauss

    This article is misleading, so I have created an account here to set the record straight. Read the original documents and you will note that there is nothing that indicates that the NSA can break mathematically “strong” encryption such as RSA etc. If your key is chosen randomly (by coin-flipping etc…high entropy) rather than deterministically (by an algorithm) and it is sufficiently long, there isn’t enough computing power in the world to break it. The encryption battle is being won, and it is being won by encryption, not by decryption, for reasons I will now describe.

    The problem is with shoddy web encryption standards pushed by the NSA, and, worse, the backdoors that they and their ilk pay third parties to put into their systems. For example, a rigged key might be the product of a pseudo-random factor and a standard ‘workload reduction factor’. This composite key is far easier to factor than a prime that is the length of the key. Another way way would be to crack the poorly-implemented pseudorandom number generators. (hint: embed the pseudorandom sequence in n dimensions, the numbers lay on a hyperplane – Knuth vol. 2)

    Properly implemented encryption will always outstrip decryption, barring something crazy like an affirmative result for P=NP, which few experts consider plausible. As computers get faster, the ability to encrypt grows rapidly (polynomial in number of bits) and the ability to decrypt can’t grow at any fraction of the same rate (exponential in number of bits). Even a quantum computer is only a marginal improvement when trying to break a cryptographic hash function…it allows you to search the square root of the number of cases you would have otherwise, and ‘quantum-proof’ algorithms are easy to implement.

    In summary, start flipping a coin, and, for f**ksake, USE ENCRYPTION. DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED BY THE CLOWNS. Do encryption/decryption on a stand-alone machine not connected to the internet. Transfer data in text format on read-only optical media, or, better yet, only in one direction, or, otherwise, you could print it out and OCR it. Your internet machine should not store data permanently, make it a dumb terminal, a live CD of Linux or BSD is a good option. Apple and Microsoft OS are not secure, although they are impressive software IMO they should not touch the internet, much less be used for encryption/decryption. Endpoint security.

    Also, though this hasn’t been leaked by the mainstream media yet (peruse Wikileaks…) be mindful of hidden cameras and microphones – keystrokes can be determined via audio, and cameras are popping up everywhere, hidden or otherwise. FWIW, Snowden typed in his passwords while hidden under a blanket. (Also he supposedly had Tor stickers on all his devices.) They might be looking at you through your webcam right now, make sure that little light isn’t on. lol.

    Viva la revolution!