Former NSA chief undercuts FBI’s desire for encryption backdoors

The former head of the NSA says the U.S. is better served by strong encryption than it would be by encryption schemes with backdoors that allow law enforcement to decrypt the content of communications, according to reports, and he should know.

Under Michael Hayden’s watch as director of the NSA, the agency exploited back doors into phone switches in Greece in order to spy on calls including those made by the Greek prime minister and the mayor of Athens.

The legal-intercept capabilities baked into the switches are supposed to be used only under strict legal supervision, but they can be abused. According to a story by James Bamford for The Intercept, documents stolen by Edward Snowden help show that the NSA took unauthorized advantage of legal-intercept backdoors in the Greek phone system to eavesdrop on what calling parties assumed would be private communications.

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Network World Tim Greene