Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Decryption, Public Trust and Civil War


British intelligence office GCHQ is now hiring, with a public call to anyone who can break a series of codes on its Web site: "The Can You Find It? competition is designed to test both experienced and self-taught techies to crack a series of cryptic codes." (Daily Mirror report from 11 September 2013). Image Source: GCHQ via The Daily Mirror. If you crack the codes, the GCHQ promises "You can win 1 of 100 Raspberry Pi or 1 of 5 Google Nexus 7 tablets."

Do not discuss the NSA decryptions, please. There's nothing to see, move along. On 5 September 2013, Matthew Green, Assistant Research Professor in Computer Science (with a specialty in applied cryptography) at Johns Hopkins University, wrote a blog post about a sensational joint report from The Guardian (here) and the NYT (here). These reports claimed that the American National Security Agency and British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have decrypted a whole spectrum of Web software and communications and monitor them with the Sigint Enabling Project. The NYT remarks that Sigint involves: "industry relationships, clandestine changes to commercial software to weaken encryption, and lobbying for encryption standards it can crack."
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