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NSA Documents Reveal Which Encryption Methods Are Toughest To Crack

Just because your Internet activity is encrypted doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe from prying eyes. The German-based news agency Der Spiegel recently published some leaked National Security Agency (NSA) documents which reveal the least and most secure methods of data encryption. Granted, these documents are now about 2 years – since the time when NSA white-blower Edward Snowden released them – but sources say they are still relevant.

The documents rank various tasks, including encryption methods, using a one-to-five rating based on their difficulty to crack. A level one task is considered to be “trivial,” with minimal work required to crack it. A level five task, on the other hand, is “catastrophic,” meaning NSA doesn’t have the necessary tools and expertise to crack it. Reading someone’s Facebook post, even if their account is private, is considered to be a level two task.

So, what’s the strongest and most effective form of encryption? According to the leaked NSA documents, Tor ranks at the top, offering the highest level of privacy and security for Internet users. Tor (The Onion Browser) was originally developed by the U.S. Navy for privacy purposes. However, it’s since become the go-to tool for Internet users who wish to remain anonymous. It masks the user’s real Internet Protocol (IP) address by encrypting and routing their traffic through various Tor servers. If someone attempts to view your IP address, they’ll find the Tor server at which your traffic is currently stationed.

Another tough-to-crack encryption method reported by the NSA is Cspace, which is essentially an Internet chat and file-transfer service that encrypts traffic. Other methods outlined in the report include the voice and text encryption tool ZRTP and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). Of all the methods listed, however, Tor remains at the top in terms of privacy and security.

Der Spiegel notes that encryption is becoming more and more common in today’s society. From checking your bank account online to shopping at Amazon (or practically any other online retailer), chances are your data is encrypted. “The digitization of society in the past several decades has been accompanied by the broad deployment of cryptography, which is no longer the exclusive realm of secret agents. Whether a person is conducting online banking, Internet shopping or making a phone call, almost every Internet connection today is encrypted in some way,” wrote Der Spiegel’s staff in an article describing the NSA’s leaked documents.

About Chris Cooper

Chris's engineering degree has brought his exceptional technical knowledge to the world of memory and anything computer related. Our resident expert of the team loves nothing more then getting his teeth into the technical nitty gritty. Yawn, yawn I hear you all say. Loves to game (can do a 360 no scope headshot!) - Once met Kylie Minogue - Is campaigning for our next premises to be closer to that famous Scottish restaurant (McDonalds). Email - chris.c@offtek.co.uk
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