Breaking Down the NSA’s Code-Breaking Mission

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Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) –- Author James Bamford and Chertoff Group Principal Richard Falkenrath discuss the NSA building a massive non-quantum computer and researching a quantum computer with Trish Regan and Adam Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” (Source: Bloomberg)

A greater body of work.

When i see these stories come out, i feel like this is stuff you have been writing about.

What is new about this quantum computing story?

Thank you.

What's new is the release of these classified documents, but the fact that the nsa has been working on quantum is not a secret.

It has been paying a lot of money to colleges around the country for open resource -- open research into quantum and classified research at the university of maryland, a laboratory there.

It has been studying quantum for a long time but it's a decade away from achieving any meaningful success in it.

I think james puts his finger on it.

This is basically an r&d program, not an operation yet.

One thing the nsa has had a lot of since nine/11 is money.

-- since 9/11 is money.

They can actually take some risks in terms of r&d spending on more advanced products and quantum is one.

$81 million has been used for that, but it doesn't sound like enough to get it going.

I'm not sure how much that encompasses, but they are spending billions on it every year for at least a decade.

To show you they don't have a lot of confidence a are ready to start doing quantum crypto analysis or computing basically, the nsa is currently working on a massive computer in oak ridge, tennessee, one that will do i think aseptically and operations per second.

It will take up an entire warehouse and the amount of cooling power needed to cool the computer will be about the same amount of cooling power needed to cool both towers of the world trade center.

They are working on a massive normal computer that is not quantum while they are working on research about a quantum computer.

I love it whenever i read about this, you read about the stocks making supercomputers and they say they are whether computers.

That was the big market here is addicting the weather but the government is the end-user for a lot of these things.

Code breaking was the original purposes area in 1950s, the first supercomputer was built primarily to break codes.

It later became used for the weather and nuclear research and so forth.

I have a question about hacking.

If we have a huge supercomputer that can hack any code, does that mean hackers can hack back?

The a radically they can hack anything.

But the code breaker computers are running lots and lots of copy patience to find a decryption algorithm that works for a particular encryption employment and that's computationally excessive.

The first customers for supercomputers, a company that no longer exists, was the nsa.

They still build really big and powerful computers.

The architecture is fundamentally different, but it is very computationally intensive.

They are still around.

It has gone through eighth you are mutations in the last couple of years but is still around.

-- they have gone through a couple of permutations in the last couple of years but they're still around.

To start with code breaking -- brute force when you try every combination to break a code.

What the nsa has managed to do from the snowden documents is find a lot of backdoors and trap doors and developed weaknesses to get into it without having to break it through brute force.

I know you have so many sources in the nsa, but they feel about -- how do they feel about this secret work in the open?

Most people i have talked to are extremely frustrated.

They usually work in absolute secrecy.

Their secrecy is enormous compared to the cia.

All of a sudden of the sudden, to have all of this material late working on for all these years to be exposed, they are not used to it.

It's a very strange world they are waking up to where they are picking up the newspaper and seeing a top- secret document they worked on.

It is even worse than that.

This is the most devastating accentual back -- back substantial thing.

This is so beyond the pale.

Never in their wildest dreams -- it's a great question and nobody knows how they let this happen because -- it's a catastrophic failure of the internal security, no question.

The worst case, how bad could it possibly get, they never would have thought it could get this bad.

It is absolute lack of accountability in the intelligence immunity.

Nobody was fired and people were promoted a cousin of that.

Now you have the largest security breach in u.s. history and nobody gets fired.

The director is still the director.

If that was a ship and the captain had run his ship into the rock of gibraltar, there's

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