NSA Cracks Encryption Codes to Read Emails

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Sept. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Veracode VP of Research Chris Eng discusses the NSA's ability to crack encryption schemes with Emily Chang on Bloomberg Television's "Bloomberg West." (Source: Bloomberg)

All right, allan holmes from bloomberg government, thank you so much for weighing injur how . how easy is it to crack encryption codes?

I want to bring in the vice president of research at the software security firm, who joins us from boston.

What is involved in what these documents claim the government has been doing?

Let's are by just saying there is no just one single encryption that everything uses.

There are a lot of different ways to encrypt data, different levels of strength and publicity, and lots of different ciphers that can be used.

What has come a yesterday is not that the nsa can break all encryption everywhere, but that they may have weakened or been able to formulate some attacks against certain forms of encryption.

Typically, if you were to try to reagan encryption, one would be to figure out the password, by trying out all possible choices are that is a really exhaustive process that can take thousands, millions of years for some ciphers on standard computer and hardware.

For intelligence agencies like the nsa or other countries, what kind of computing power to have to put against that?

It is anybody's guess how quickly they can do it here today can certainly crack encryption faster than you or i could with our home computer, but whether it is a matter of 10 years or one year or one month, that is anybody's guess.

Obviously it is not taking thousands or millions of years, but what does that tell you about the tools that they are using to do this and the cooperation that they may be getting from certain companies?

I think they are attacking it from a couple different angles.

One is trying to figure with the keys are in finding weaknesses in the algorithms that are used to maybe make that search faster.

On the other side, trying to work with getting maybe subverting the product themselves are working with companies, the allegations are to insert backdoors.

It is unclear whether they are cooperative with those companies or whether they have found ways to subvert those parts or that software.

It is unclear whether that is being done on a general, broad level, or if it is being done in a more targeted fashion where let's say they are interested in a certain target, so they would maybe intercept that person's product he for it got to them and insert something there.

All of that is unclear.

That is wanting to take away is that we do not know very much yet about the extent and the involvement and the level of cooperation that any of these companies have other than the lawful intercept your -- intercept.

What kind of companies do you imagine that we are talking about here?

You can think of any sort of software or network agreement -- equipment company that people use.

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.

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