Newly disclosed documents show the United States’ National Security Agency is winning its secret war on the Internet encryption protecting everyday communications. With supercomputers, court orders and other tactics, the NSA can circumvent encryption that protects banking data, trade secrets, emails and secret records. The New York Times reports it’s all done in stealth, after the agency lost a bid in the 1990s to insert a “back door” in all encryption. The report adds the NSA used custom-built computers to break codes and worked with technology companies in the United States and abroad — some of whom were reportedly coerced into building a back door or turning over master encryption keys. The documents disclosed by whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden shows the NSA’s encryption successes are considered highly guarded secrets, known only to those cleared for a classified program known as Bullrun. The NSA says its activities are critical to ensure the United States’ protection from terrorists. But some experts say the NSA’s work to weaken communications security could work against US communications too.
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