Skype’s Encryption is Incidental, But Important

By Deane Barker on February 17, 2006

Skype use may make eavesdropping passe: On Skype, no one knows you’re not a terrorist. The government should rightfully be freaked out.

[…] to a large extent, Internet users haven’t felt a need for privacy that outweighed the extra effort needed to use encryption. In particular, e-mail programs such as Pretty Good Privacy have been considered too cumbersome by many.

And because such applications have had limited popularity, their mere use can draw attention. With Skype, however, criminals, terrorists and other people who really want to keep their communications private are indistinguishable from those who just want to call their mothers.

If this interests you, you should read “Crypto” by Steven Levy. It’s the story of how the government was unable to contain simple encryption and how it got into the hands of the average Joe.

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  1. The government should rightfully be freaked out.

    I’m no fan of terrorists, but I’m also not a fool. Anyone in this country naive enough to think that NSA cannot crack Sykpe’s encryption (or PGP’s, for that matter) has forgotten history. To borrow a quote from Tom Clancy, in the race between warhead and armor, warhead always wins. In this case, the armor is the encryption scheme, and the warhead is everything arrayed against it in a time of emergency. Put the resources of a nation-state to work solving a problem that has been deemed one of national security, and the problem tends to get solved – though we may not know that the solution has been reached for a long time. The military defines it as Need To Know. That rule still applies, and the public at large does not, regardless of what the fourth estate believes, need to know everything. Such government as we have now could not possibly function without keeping secrets from its own people.

  2. the government can crack every code, more than they admit, stupid would they be being honest to their exploitated and carefully supervised people. they record every bit and byte that’s ever recorded and travelling thru the internet and save all this data in giant archives, just to be sure to have the data available later when they need to take care about troublesome competitors who i.e. sell their illegal drugs at a more competetive price, or similar non-violent citizens becoming criminals with the only victims being staples of paper called the law being violated, so they violate the people. if you don’t believe that, research a little (behind the facade) and you will see that this is a fact known even by George W. Bush.

  3. Hi,

    Most encrypted message can’t be identified as encrypted. So much rubbish is sent trough the all mighty Internet that any agency has to select their “targets”. Even if the computers can keep track on all the calls that are made.. how many on NSA speak Farsi, Arabic, Isan, and Malay etc etc?? NSA would have to line up millions Arabic linguist just keep track on 300 millions of Arabs that mostly hate USA.

    Remember most of the messages sent by the japs during the WWII have not been cracked… yet. And probably never will be.

    NSA, CIA, FBI missed the 11/9 attack. A well-known opponent that made VDO-taped ‘promises’.

    PS: My English is poor, so are my spelling… maybe it hides a message??

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