It has been nearly a year since Edward Snowden blew the lid off the American spy agency NSA and PRISM. The internet world has changed substantively as a result, with a rush of security technology companies such as Astrill and CipherCloud in explosive growth mode. Encryption is the new product golden child and everyone is investing heavily in an effort to restore confidence in cloud services.
The NSA has come under legal challenge in the US from various federated law makers and States. Several years of legal wrangling are on the cards as the country debates, challenges, and seeks to pressure the US agency. They’ve been accused of illegal tactics, breaching the American Constitution, and putting a severe damper on multi-national US-based ICT companies.
Any country that is not part of the “Five Eyes” spy network has complained, the European Union and South America the most vociferous. Multiple countries are in the process of balkanising their internet services and forcing the large US based multi-national ICT companies to relocate their services, physically, within their borders.
The NSA and PRISM debacle has spread beyond the argument that it is required to defend against terrorism, with allegations that the spying has been commercially driven and included targets such as embassies, the UN, banking systems and individual world leaders' private information.
Australian and Indonesian relations have taken a battering with revelations that spying has focused on key Indonesian leaders, including the president, with a commercial bent over various contracts, companies, and resources. An allegation that Tony Abbott does not deny, does not apologise for, and remains unrepentant.
The impact on the Cloud Computing services that are based in the continental U.S. has been high. The Europeans, the Swiss in particular, are cashing in on the fact that the NSA, via PRISM and other methods, have outed giants such as Apple and Microsoft that have shown not only let the NSA in the back door, they’ve written code to allow access past their security and encryption services.
The Europeans and the Brazilians have started the process to build connections that circumvent the US, with Brazil looking at changing its international submarine cables to bypass the Northern Americans. Balkanisation is well under way.
For the end consumer, the news is good. The amount of investment being poured into security is significant, with companies such as Microsoft deploying encryption, with the intention to do more, being a step toward privacy protection.
The end user has a range of products that now protect them - from encryption of their devices, to encryption in flight, to encryption of cloud services. Astrill is seeing a surge in growth. It encrypts all internet communications in stealth mode from your end device. That means everything is strongly encrypted as it leaves your device, enters their network and, as it exits, it spins your internet address changing it every few minutes.
The Blackphone, pictured above, released by Silent Circle, is a fully functioning phone with in-built encryption and security protections now entering the consumer market.
“It’s a phone whose existence is motivated by the need to protect your privacy,” said Zimmermann. “Geeksphone knows how to build phones, Silent Circle knows how to protect privacy. We’ve added in some apps, integrated it all in, tightened the Android settings down and hardened it against attacks.” – Source
Other companies, including Mega, promise encrypted storage and messaging for the masses. The days of text-based email are dwindling, with consumers wanting heavy encryption to protect their privacy.
CiperCloud and Fujitsu are well down the track of homomorphic encryption, the ability to process data and software as a service fully encrypted. That means cloud providers will only ever see encrypted data that the customer holds the key too.
The NSA lack the resource to crack encryption, especially given that the amount of data that is being encrypted, everywhere, over the internet, has exploded. They are now banking on Quantum Computing to bring the processing power to be able to decrypt communications.
Known as Infinity Machines, Quantum Computers operate at near absolute zero, in a locked room, to bring massive, exponential computing power to bear on complex problems. Quantum Computing breaks the old rules of computing. Traditional computing operates with a state that is either on or off. One, or zero. Quantum Computing allows for more states (Quantam Superposition). On, off and something else. Believe it or not, Quantum Computing is theorised to operate in the multiverse.
“It promises to solve some of humanity’s most complex problems. It’s backed by Jeff Bezos, NASA and the CIA. Each one costs $10,000,000 and operates at 459 degrees below zero. And nobody knows how it actually works.” - Source
Hold on to your hats here. Quantum Mechanics theorises that there are multiple universes, multiple dimensions and, as the Quantum Computer operates, it throws its calculations into multiple universes to allow for multiple processing streams to be completed at the same time, then bringing all the results back to the current reality.
Doctor Who eat your heart out.
Don’t believe me? Here’s the background.
Young’s experiment shows you some of the mind-bending theory behind Quantum Computing.
The War on Privacy continues. At ten million dollars a pop, Quantum Computers are not only available to the NSA, they are also available to the entrepreneur.
One thing is for certain, the NSA revelations are sparking a massive investment in computing power. Quantum Computing doesn’t just break Moore’s Law, it completely obliterates it.
That can only be good for the ICT industry.
Independent cloud computing consultant Ian Apperley blogs at Whatisitwellington