This is much more frightening than the idea that the NSA has made profound mathematical breakthroughs – such breakthroughs might stay within the NSA’s walls for years or decades. But a program of systematic sabotage against common crypto tools means that anyone of sufficient skill and attentiveness is likely to discover and exploit those same back-doors – that means that organized crime, totalitarian states, and other entities even less savory than the NSA should now be assumed to have full access to the financial system, government databases, and other sensitive systems. But the good news is that, as the ProPublica article mentioned (quoting whistleblower Edward Snowden), “Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on.” That means that free/open source security tools like Tor (which can be publicly inspected for sabotage) can indeed be trusted, where they use state-of-the-art crypto, and implement it well.

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