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NSA, crypto, and bananas

Bona reflexió sobre les limitacions computacionals de la NSA, o per altres organismes com la British GCHQ, a l’espionatge i un breu repàs de les vulnerabilitats en la present criptografia.

Cooling equipment in NSA's Bluffdale center

After Snowden’s revelations many people are concerned by an omniscient and omnipotent NSA reading their email. NSA reportedly got access to content that was assumed to be encrypted—whatever that means—and that prompted the appearance of a new word in newspapers: “NSA-proof encryption”. This refers to communication tools with strong confidentiality and integrity guarantees; essentially end-to-end (authenticated) encryption following a key agreement using public keys exchanged and/or verified through an authenticated channel. When journalists say that NSA “cracked” some encryption they actually talk about access to decrypted content or to the secret keys, rather than actual attacks on the algorithms. That is, failures come more from privileged access to network nodes or links, from poor OPSEC, software flaws, or from “backdoors”, raher than from old-school cryptanalysis.

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