A Penn prof co-wrote this paper that explains how the NSA could be breaking trillions of secure connections - Technical.ly Philly

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Oct. 16, 2015 10:21 am

A Penn prof co-wrote this paper that explains how the NSA could be breaking trillions of secure connections

“This state of affairs puts everyone’s security at risk,” wrote Penn professor Nadia Heninger and her co-author Alex Halderman.
Nadia Heninger, Penn professor.

Nadia Heninger, Penn professor.

(Photo by Flickr user Simon Law, used under a Creative Commons license)

Penn professor Nadia Heninger, whom TechCrunch once dubbed “the Chuck Norris of the crypto world,” is one of 14 researchers behind a paper that’s making waves in the internet security community.

The report, which won the prize for best paper at the this week’s ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, suggests a solution to what the authors called a “technical mystery.” If the rumors of the National Security Agency’s mass decryption powers are true, how is the agency doing it? The answer has to do with a flaw in a method of secure communication, as well as the NSA’s multi-billion-dollar budget.

“This state of affairs puts everyone’s security at risk,” Heninger and co-author Alex Halderman wrote in a blog post on Freedom to Tinker. “Vulnerability on this scale is indiscriminate—it impacts everybody’s security, including American citizens and companies—but we hope that a clearer technical understanding of the cryptanalytic machinery behind government surveillance will be an important step towards better security for everyone.”

Read the full post

The news hit the top of HackerNews yesterday.

Read more about the paper on BoingBoing and Ars Technica.

Heninger is one of a handful of internet privacy experts in Philadelphia, where an internet freedom scene is brewing.

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