Last year, the Guardian, New York Times and Pro Publica reported on the contents of a 2010 presentation on the NSA's BULLRUN decryption program, but left out many specific vulnerabilities.
The presentation states that, "for the past decade, NSA has led an aggressive, multipronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies," and "vast amounts of encrypted Internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable." Decryption, it turns out, works retroactively - once a system is broken, the agencies can look back in time in their databases and read stuff they could not read before.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and her cabinet now communicate using phones incorporating strong encryption.
Things first become troublesome at the fourth level.
The presentation states that the NSA encounters "major" problems in its attempts to decrypt messages sent through heavily encrypted email service providers like Zoho or in monitoring users of the Tor network*, which was developed for surfing the web anonymously.
The number of Internet users concerned about privacy online has risen dramatically since the first Snowden revelations.
But people who consciously use strong end-to-end encryption to protect their data still represent a minority of the Internet-using population.
US and British intelligence agencies undertake every effort imaginable to crack all types of encrypted Internet communication. The good news: New Snowden documents show that some forms of encryption still cause problems for the NSA.
When Christmas approaches, the spies of the Five Eyes intelligence services can look forward to a break from the arduous daily work of spying.For the NSA, encrypted communication -- or what all other Internet users would call secure communication -- is "a threat".In one internal training document viewed by SPIEGEL, an NSA employee asks: "Did you know that ubiquitous encryption on the Internet is a major threat to NSA's ability to prosecute digital-network intelligence (DNI) traffic or defeat adversary malware?Michael Hange, the president of the Federal Office for Information Security, has stated: "We suggest cryptography -- that is, consistent encryption." It's a suggestion unlikely to please some intelligence agencies.After all, the Five Eyes alliance -- the secret services of Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States -- pursue a clear goal: removing the encryption of others on the Internet wherever possible.Whether a person is conducting online banking, Internet shopping or making a phone call, almost every Internet connection today is encrypted in some way.