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This article was published on January 3, 2014

    The NSA is reportedly working to develop a computer that can crack most types of encryption

    The NSA is reportedly working to develop a computer that can crack most types of encryption Image by: AFP/Getty Images
    Kaylene Hong
    Story by

    Kaylene Hong

    Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in touch via Twitter or Google+.

    Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt said last year that “the solution to government surveillance is to encrypt everything” — and boldly predicted that government censorship can be ended within a decade.

    However, the US government is said to be putting in much effort as it seeks to build a quantum computer, which would have the power to break all current forms of public key encryption, including those used on secure Web sites and those used to protect state secrets, the Washington Post reports. 

    The Post notes that according to documents provided by whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the government agency is carrying out some of its research in “large, shielded rooms known as Faraday cages, which are designed to prevent electromagnetic energy from coming in or out” which are needed “to keep delicate quantum computing experiments running.”

    These efforts are reportedly part of a $79.7 million research program known as “Penetrating Hard Targets.”

    However, the documents that Snowden provided show that the NSA is not any closer to successfully building a quantum computer than others in the scientific community, according to the Washington Post.

    The fact remains though that there is no lack of trying on NSA’s part — and Internet companies may have to prepare for the possibility that encryption may not even be enough to keep surveillance at bay in the future.

    Classifying NSA quantum computing efforts [Washington Post]

    Headline image via Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images