This is not a new report. Despite our reassurances from some of the free encryption services we cannot know at this point what exactly the NSA can penetrate.
Is it possible that the 'Reset the Net' project is already behind the times as far as encryption is concerned?
The Washington Post uses a source to say that we are years away from Quantum computers yet, so what's the truth?
A working quantum computer would open the door to easily breaking the strongest encryption tools in use today, including a standard known as RSA, named for the initials of its creators. RSA scrambles communications, making them unreadable to anyone but the intended recipient, without requiring the use of a shared password. It is commonly used in Web browsers to secure financial transactions and in encrypted e-mails. RSA is used because of the difficulty of factoring the product of two large prime numbers. Breaking the encryption involves finding those two numbers. This cannot be done in a reasonable amount of time on a classical computer.
In 2009, computer scientists using classical methods were able to discover the primes within a 768-bit number, but it took almost two years and hundreds of computers to factor it. The scientists estimated that it would take 1,000 times longer to break a 1,024-bit encryption key, which is commonly used for online transactions.
A large-scale quantum computer, however, could theoretically break a 1,024-bit encryption much faster. Some leading Internet companies are moving to 2,048-bit keys, but even those are thought to be vulnerable to rapid decryption with a quantum computer should one be built successfully. Evidence suggests that at least on type has already been built in the private sector. It would be a stretch for anyone to suggest that the NSA didn't already have at least one itself.