The NSA Can Break Many Forms of Internet Security

What's Hot

Do This or Your iPhone Bill May SkyrocketSave

23 Upgrades Under $50 to Make Your House Look AwesomeAround The House

Trump Worth $10 Billion Less Than If He’d Simply Invested in Index FundsBusiness

11 Places in the World Where You Can Afford to Retire in StyleMore

What You Need to Know for 2017 Obamacare EnrollmentFamily

8 Things Rich People Buy That Make Them Look DumbAround The House

32 of the Highest-Paid American SpeakersMake

Amazon Prime No Longer Pledges Free 2-Day Shipping on All ItemsMore

More Caffeine Means Less Dementia for WomenFamily

9 Tips to Ensure You’ll Have Enough to RetireFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

5 Spots Where Retirees Can Live for Less Than $40,000Real Estate

10 Ways to Reduce Your Homeowner’s Insurance RatesFamily

10 Ways to Pull Together the Down Payment for a HomeCredit & Debt

Chew on This: The Story Behind Your Hershey’s Halloween TreatsBusiness

There's evidence the NSA can access most online banking, medical and communications records, thanks to exploits that (hopefully) only it knows about.

Unless you’re willing to learn some new and sometimes complicated software, it’s probably time to just give up on the notion of privacy from the federal government. Where the National Security Agency is involved, privacy doesn’t exist — or at least won’t for long.

“The [NSA] has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures basic Internet communications, including the emails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of millions of Americans and others around the world,” The New York Times reports.

Documents leaked to the media leave it impossible to say with certainty which systems are compromised. But it’s now clear that not only does the NSA know how to get through many popular forms of encryption, but that it lobbies to keep those systems weak enough for it to hack into and discourages the use of more secure methods.

A proposed 2013 budget document leaked to the Times describes a program called the Sigint Enabling Project. Sigint is short for signals intelligence — spying on communications. Here’s the relevant excerpt:

The SIGINT Enabling Project actively engages the U.S. and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products’ designs. These design changes make the systems in question exploitable through SIGINT collection (e.g., Endpoint, MidPoint, etc.) with foreknowledge of the modification. To the consumer and other adversaries, however, the systems’ security remains intact.

So, the NSA “engages” (I read it as “forces”) tech companies to silently leave in security flaws it can slip through, while leaving them mostly secure enough for consumer use. In short, our private information should be safe from each other, just not from the government. (But oh, the mother lode of data awaiting a hacker who cracks the NSA.)

If you’re ornery about keeping your privacy and technically inclined, definitely check out our story “How to Keep Your Info Private (Even From the NSA).” You also probably want to learn about PGP, short for Pretty Good Privacy. Phil Zimmerman, who developed the original encryption program, thinks it’s still safe from the NSA.

He told The Washington Post why: “The fact that they use PGP for government users indicates that they haven’t broken it.” PGP is now owned by Symantec and incorporated in many of its business encryption products.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, agrees. “There would likely be far less identity theft, economic espionage, and spying on U.S. interests if encryption [like PGP] was routinely deployed for digital communications and data storage,” he told the Post.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: 7 Ways to Save More at Big Lots

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,742 more deals!