There have been several rumors in the past detailing how the National Security Agency (NSA) can decrypt a substantial portion of encoded Internet traffic.

This should not come as a surprise to some after Edward Snowden leaked files resulting in one huge debacle.

An article posted back in 2012 by author, James Bamford, quoted an anonymous former NSA employee who stated that the agency had created an advanced computing breakthrough that gave them "the ability to crack current public encryption." While the Snowden documents did not outright claim the NSA is capable of this, it did state the agency has the capabilities to intercept and decrypt VPN traffic using extensive infrastructures.

We've also come to understand the NSA can also decrypt some HTTPS and SSH whenever it needs to.

The attacks are commonly used on implementations of the Diffie-Hellman important exchange algorithm with 1024-bit primes.

For now, the document is only speculation and hearsay because it does not go into detail on how this new NSA breakthrough works. Despite that, stories of broken algorithms and possible backdoors have been widespread in the tech community for years.

There is some good news for those who might be worried. Since the time the research was initially published, major browser vendors have updated their software to protect users from any possible attack that might stem from the NSA, has removed support for 512-bit Diffie-Hellman. However, 1024-bit Diffie-Hellman is still supported for the time being despite the reports of the NSA being capable of exploiting it for its own gain.

How to protect yourself:

First computer users will need to make sure you're using the strongest crypto, and to do this, we recommend a magnificent tool called How's My SSL?. It is designed to test users' browser cipher suite support, but it is not perfect so it cannot be relied upon. When the test is complete, it is critical that the text "_DHE_" is not visible in the list of cipher suites.

Should the text file be visible, follow these simple instructions to remove it from your web browser.


Open a new tab page and type the following into the address field. "about:config." After that, type ".dhe_" in the search box and press "Enter." Right away, there should be two displayed settings look like this: "security.ssl3.dhe_rsa_aes_256_sha" and "security.ssl3.dhe_rsa_aes_256_sha". Double click on both to change the value from "true" to "false."

Google Chrome (Windows 10):

Right-click the Chrome shortcut, click properties and then add the following to the "target." "security.ssl3.dhe_rsa_aes_256_sha" and "security.ssl3.dhe_rsa_aes_256_sha". After this, computer users should from now on open Google Chrome from this shortcut to stay protected on the web from possible NSA exploits.

Bear in mind that we have only tested this in Firefox and Chrome on Windows 10, but users can test other operating systems and web browsers.

Photo: Dennis Skley | Flickr

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