The Ultimate Solution Against Encryption

nsa_gchq_logoHere at the Dark Android Project, we often talk about some of the very complex ways that the NSA/FBI/CIA/GCHQ/etc. can get past some of the best encryption that has ever been created and/or get to the data they want. From (potentially) quantum computers, to commandeered nodes, to XKEYSCORE, to corporations selling out and screwing their customers, to splicing into server farms, to RIPA, to TAO, there are many (creepily) impressive methods that get used. Many of the times these will also be highlights on my science and tech podcast–Sovryn Tech.

But sometimes, I ignore the very simple–dare I say classic–ways that these organizations can get the heavily encrypted information they need, no technical wizardry required. Consider…the “$5 dollar wrench”

securityphoto credit: xkcd

And that’s all it could take. At a tech panel I was hosting at Keenevention in 2013, this very idea was brought up by one of the panelists, as well as another panelist saying that passwords can be had by just a tiny camera placed in the right spot to see the login credentials getting typed in. It’s a fair point (and to bolster that point, mosquito drones, perhaps? Just look at the snopes entry on them).

But the overall point being, tried-and-tried true methods of information extraction that have been around for thousands of years are all that is necessary. It can be humorous (like it is in the above comic), but it is also a reality check. It also highlights the importance of anonymity (which I push for endlessly), and not just security. Anonymity is the only thing that keeps the “$5 dollar wrench” from knowing who to hit.

Anyway, as real as this is, no need for this post to be too serious. I thought the comic was incredibly clever and it got a rise out of me, and I wished to share it. So please, keep on encrypting…everything. The “$5 dollar wrench” doesn’t actually “break” encryption, because the math is solid as Hell. And every little bit can make the “$5 dollar wrench” scenario a little more expensive.

Carpe lucem!