The information technology space and the world of spying are getting scarier, especially for ordinary citizens.
In its bid to secure America from online and other perceived threats, the US National Security Agency (NSA) is reportedly racing against time to build a quantum computer capable of breaking every imaginable encryption codes known to humans.
Based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the The Washington Post Thursday disclosed the information on NSA’s quantum project.
Reportedly NSA is on its way to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” that is exponentially faster than conventional computers in breaking secure encryption.
The NSA program codenamed “Penetrating Hard Targets” is part of $US79.7 million project which is being built under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Maryland in the US.
That means quantum technology would equip the NSA with the ability to protect its communications and eavesdrop on the data of foreign governments, even consumers’ bank accounts effortlessly.
According to a report in Brisbane Times, newer technologies makes the NSA capable of easily “turning iPhones into eavesdropping tools and use radar wave devices to harvest electronic information from computers, even if they weren’t online.”
The full extent of the agency’s research remains unknown. Reportedly, the NSA declined to comment on the quantum computers.
The revelations come amid continuing controversy over the NSA’s efforts to collect massive phone records and Internet communications of private citizens, despite public outrage and debate over the legality and constitutional validity of such missions.
Six months after the first of Snowden’s revelations appeared in The Washington Post and The Guardian, it seems the internet is becoming a less friendly place.
The news of quantum capabilities in the armoury of NSA predicts that online public data could become like candy stores for US intelligence agencies to cherry pick and manipulate according to its needs.
At least Snowden has enabled a frank public debate about the powers of our governments and the lurking dangers of allowing these powers to continue mushrooming in secret that could directly threaten democratic governance.
Further, Snowden’s disclosures have triggered stringent debates in the US and across the Atlantic over how much latitude US government should have to collect information on the pretext of perceived threat and fighting terrorism.
While data revolution enables a great deal of consumer surveillance by private companies, the threat lies in security agencies acquiring the power to snatch freedom and basic privacy-rights from ordinary citizens.
Now the question is fundamentally for citizens to make sure how governments should get access to consumer data by pursuing valid legal orders and within the purview of constitutional principles.
Unless we are planning a return to typewriters to avoid electronic surveillance, there arises an ever-increasing need to be aware of the changing information-security landscape.
The news of NSA’s quantum aspirations is a taste of what’s to come in future. Are we ready?
*Sources linked to within text.