It seems that every week something new comes out regarding the NSA’s attempts to intentionally weaken security protocols in order to create back-doors. Beyond simply being a violation of government authority and an infringement on our rights, this is one of the greatest threats to cyber security imaginable. Because of that, even those who have fallen into the belief that they have “nothing to hide” should be concerned.
According to Gizmodo, the cyber security attack that hit Target during the holiday season has hit at least three other stores. Why have there been so many attacks in recent years? Of course more and more people are using systems that store credit card information. That is one possibility. However, given the recent information provided to the people, regarding the illegal activities of the NSA, it is also possible that the intentional compromise of security algorithms, put into place by cyber security companies that were paid off by the NSA, are to blame.
Before starting with the more technical aspects of recent NSA activities, I might as well begin by noting that their actions are clearly a violation of our right to privacy and is therefore quite illegal. The United States government is continuing the trend of the Patriot Act and this is unacceptable. The idea of having nothing to hide is irrelevant. It simply is not any of the government’s business. It is never worthwhile to give up any freedom in order for the promise of increased security. As soon as you give someone control over you, there is a risk of them abusing that power. It is ever more the case with the government.
Cyber Security, Encryption, and Backdoors
Now it’s time for the technical discussion. Encryption is a method of keeping private information secure. All credit transactions are supposed to be encrypted, as is data about the card if it is stored somewhere. Encryption algorithms are really quite secure. In fact, no computer currently in existence is be able to decrypt such information without a special “key”. However, in order to gain access to such confidential information, the NSA has paid off cyber security firms to create workarounds that bypass this system. Such workarounds are called backdoors.
Threat from Backdoors
Now, people might wonder how the NSA having a backdoor into the system would be a cyber security threat. The answer is simple. If the NSA can use the backdoor, anyone else who knows about it can do so as well. Hackers spend a lot of time trying to find backdoors into various systems, and with intentional backdoors being put into place by the NSA, it is all that much easier for them. This does not even take into consideration that people working for the NSA could use this information to hack into systems for their own personal gain.