Privacy SOS

Snowden documents show open source encryption is our best bet to defeat government spooks

New reporting from Der Spiegel confirms that open source technology and encryption are our best defenses against dragnet surveillance.

As of 2012, documents from the Snowden archive show, the nearly omnipotent NSA had full access to Skype conversations, but difficultly monitoring people using off the record (OTR) encrypted chat services, the Tor browser, PGP email encryption, and open source services like Red Phone and Signal. The latter are Android and iPhone apps designed to facilitate encrypted phone calls; they are free and extremely easy to use.

What wasn't so secure, as of 2012? HTTPS connections—through which we all do our banking and other sensitive information transfers online—and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), widely used by corporations and other entities in an attempt to shield internet traffic from prying eyes. Turns out the NSA has a hack for that.

Der Spiegel:

According to an NSA document, the agency intended to crack 10 million intercepted https connections a day by late 2012. The intelligence services are particularly interested in the moment when a user types his or her password.

Read more for details about how NSA is attempting to break internet security, going so far as working to undermine a critical encryption standard it has recommended to the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. Der Spiegel has also published tens of supporting documents along with its story.

Want to learn how to encrypt your sh*t? Check out this excellent guide.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.