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Encryption explained and how it's crippled

A good explanation of web & email encryption plus how it’s crippled by the US government.

Discover Magazine has a good explanation of the maths behind encryption used in web secure pages and email.

It’s somewhat misleadingly headlined “How to create codes that even the NSA can’t break“.

The article explains the prime number maths behind standard RSA encryption then explains how modular arithmetic and larger prime numbers could be used to make messages unbreakable even by government agencies.

So why hasn’t it been done?   The US government won’t allow it.

The sentence way down in the story explains:

“In adopting standards for encryption in the United States, and for exporting encryption products, the NSA has pushed for, and succeeded in implementing, legal limits on the size of the numbers used in RSA coding, so that–with its supercomputers–it would be able to decipher any message based on it. 

So there it is.  The National Security Agency lobbied for encryption standards to be reduced or crippled so they can continue to read messages.  In theory this is used for anti-terrorist purposes but, as we’ve all seen, governments tend to take the powers they have any apply them to situations way beyond what the public or legislators intended.


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