Indiana University

News Release

Friday, September 6, 2013

Last modified: Friday, September 6, 2013

IU expert: NSA's anti-encryption efforts compromise U.S. security

  1. Print this page

Sept. 6, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- U.S. National Security Agency efforts to overcome encryption of online data weaken American security, undermine the government's duty to protect its own cyberinfrastructure and suggest intelligence agencies may not be cooperating at nearly the levels they promised to in a post-9/11 world, says Indiana University legal and cybersecurity expert Fred H. Cate.

Secret documents provided by Edward Snowden and disclosed by The New York Times confirm that the NSA -- through a top-secret program code-named Bullrun -- has not merely cracked most encryption, but compelled system operators and equipment manufacturers to install backdoors to facilitate surveillance; broken into corporate networks; and even introduced compromised encryption tools into the market so it could later exploit those vulnerabilities.

The Times on Thursday reported that the NSA has "circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records and automatically secures the emails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world."

According to Cate, of IU's Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research and Maurer School of Law, this disclosure raises significant challenges, including:

Cate is an internationally recognized expert on cybersecurity law and policy and personal privacy. He is a member of the inaugural U.S. Department of Homeland Security Data Privacy and Integrity Committee Cybersecurity Subcommittee and one of the founding editors of the Oxford University Press journal International Data Privacy Law. He can be reached at 812-855-1161 or

Web Version

IU News Room
530 E. Kirkwood Ave., Suite 201
Bloomington, IN 47408-4003