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One example is the encryption featured in Skype, a program used by some 300 million users to conduct Internet video chat that is touted as secure. "Sustained Skype collection began in Feb 2011," reads a National Security Agency (NSA) training document from the archive of whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Less than half a year later, in the fall, the code crackers declared their mission accomplished.
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?
" The Snowden documents reveal the encryption programs the NSA has succeeded in cracking, but, importantly, also the ones that are still likely to be secure.
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.By SPIEGEL Staff When Christmas approaches, the spies of the Five Eyes intelligence services can look forward to a break from the arduous daily work of spying.Encryption -- the use of mathematics to protect communications from spying -- is used for electronic transactions of all types, by governments, firms and private users alike.But a look into the archive of whistleblower Edward Snowden shows that not all encryption technologies live up to what they promise.
In addition to their usual job -- attempting to crack encryption all around the world -- they play a game called the "Kryptos Kristmas Kwiz," which involves solving challenging numerical and alphabetical puzzles.
The proud winners of the competition are awarded "Kryptos" mugs.