Published: 16 February 2015 There has been a lot in the news recently regarding snooping of data on the internet. For instance the lords kicking out the so called “snoopers’ charter”.

GCHQ using hacked login data to spy on people

As well as the chief of GCHQ warning that spies must monitor the internet.

“Sir Iain said the internet contains "the worst aspects of human nature."”

I agree with that statement but that’s another blog article ;-) The old saying is “it’s not paranoia if they really are after you”, so my question is are the worlds security agencies watching us? If so to what degree.

Before I answer that question, I’m not a conspiracy theory evangelist. My good friend George Clark IS a big conspiracy theory person. While buying lunch one day last year, he was telling me how 9/11 “didn’t actually happen”. I did what any sane person would do in that situation, laughed in his face! That said George is no fool he’s highly intelligent, so I respect his point of view even if I disagree. So perhaps this blog post is his chance to laugh at me!

In what follows, it’s coming from someone who doesn’t believe that

1.     The moon can be used as a giant death laser
2.     The international space station can be used to trigger earth quakes
3.     9/11 didn’t happen
4.     Man didn’t walk on the moon
5.     <celebrity x> is an alien
6.     The Pentagon was actually hit by a missile

With that out the way let me give you my thoughts with both barrels!

Do I think that spy agencies have full access to everything going across the internet and everywhere else? Yes absolutely, not only that but I think there isn’t any public encryption currently available that isn’t already broken/breakable. That’s a bold claim and like any bold claim it’s on me to give some evidence to back it up.

Back when half the world was worrying about the millennium bug and the other half were worrying about drinking enough alcohol to see in the year 2000.

A patent was applied for in the USA for a software application which read email and figured out the “true” subject line. That is to say if you sent an email with a  subject line of “Ollie loves pugs” and in that email you gave detailed instructions on baking a cake. The system would read the email contents and calculate the true subject line was “baking, cake, carrot, ingredients, pug cake” for instance.

In 2009 a patent was filed for “Device for and method of language processing” for transcribing voice conversations.

2010 a similar one for “Infinite impulse response resonator digital filter”

They “seem” pretty harmless except that the first one is scanning all email flowing across the net. The second is listening in on all voice phone communications and transcribing it. In America (and elsewhere) they have strict laws regarding ‘people’ listening in on phone calls. The third is used for identifying a given person on a phone line no mater were they are calling from. All three patents belong to the NSA. Those aren’t the only ones there are a lot more.

I said that all public encryption is being decrypted? Now all encryption can be broken, it’s a matter of how long it takes a computer to break it. Based on current computing technology we use cryptographic keys of between 80-256 bits. As time goes on the key length will grow to keep in track with faster computers to keep your information secure.

Computer World did this great article on encryption and how it will be broken by quantum computing.

Have you heard of In-Q-Tel? No? I’m not surprised it’s not a company that’s well known to the normal person on the street.

They are described as “In-Q-Tel of Arlington, Virginia, United States is a not-for-profit venture capital firm that invests in high-tech companies”

Sounds pretty uninteresting unless you look at the homepage which says “We identify, adapt, and deliver innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the Central Intelligence Agency and broader U.S. Intelligence Community.”

If you like, check out the portfolio of companies they are involved in

One of the companies they are involved in is called D Wave, a company that makes quantum computers. So they are involved with a company that makes a machine, that more than likely already is breaking encryption on everything they want access to right now.

Even if they haven’t perfected that technology you can be sure that they have more than enough computing power to get the job done. The NSA headquarters uses 75 megawatts of power, and it’s expected to grow by 15 megawatts a year. To put that in perspective 2.4 megawatts is enough to power 420 homes.

So their current consumption is 13,020 homes worth. The company Mozilla for instance has a 1mw data centre, so you might wonder quite how much technology uses 75 megawatts of power J So with all these people patting themselves on the back about how the snoopers’ charter has been defeated. I can’t help but think, I do hope the Intelligence Support Activity doesn’t come looking for me….  

Richard Brisley

Lead Server-Side Developer


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