Crafty cookies: Intelligence agencies said to have foiled online encryptions

Decrypted for your reading pleasure

Edward Snowden may have spent his summer hanging out in a Moscow airport, but he's still dishing out intelligence secrets, this time potentially exposing U.S. and U.K. governments for successfully dodging online encryption methods.

Several reports this week revealed that government intelligence agencies in the United States and United Kingdom may have successfully cracked the encryption codes used to protect millions of internet users.

The top-secret operations are the latest disclosure from Snowden, the former computer specialist who began leaking details about classified government surveillance back in May prior to seeking asylum in Russia last month.

According to the report, U.S. and U.K. intelligence agencies have successfully decoded encryption techniques in use by Facebook, Google and Yahoo, as well as countless email, online shopping and remote communications portals and 4G-enabled smartphones.

Not-so civil wars

The U.S. National Security Association (NSA) is said to spend as much as $250 million (about £160m, AU$272m) per year to fund its own project, codenamed "Bullrun" after the first major land battle of the American Civil War in 1861.

U.K. spy agency GCHQ is said to have its own equivalent called "Edgehill," likewise named after the first battle of the English Civil War in 1642.

The latest disclosures outline the NSA's plan for running its own supercomputers capable of cracking internet encryption protocols, aided by "technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications," as reported by The New York Times.

British analysts were said to have been "gobsmacked" by the extent of the schemes, part of more than 50,000 documents provided by Snowden to news agencies, although they do not specify which technology companies may have participated.


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