My cousin Susan Landau, along with her co-worker at Sun Microsystems, Whitfield Diffie, have an article in this month's issue of Scientific American magazine. The title is "Internet Eavesdropping: A Brave New World of Wiretapping". You can pick it up in the September issue at your favorite newstand or bookstore, or read it here. It's a special single-topic issue, which I think SciAm has done every September in my memory, on the topic of privacy. Susan is extraordinarily well qualified as an expert on policy and technology issues related to privacy, security, cryptography, and DRM as well as various topics in pure mathematics, as you can easily see from her Sun home page. She and Diffie recently published a revised edition of their book, Privacy On The Line, which came out initially ten years ago.. Amongst her numerous articles, is A Gateway for Hackers, published in the Washington Post last year, in which she wrote:
Grant the NSA what it wants, and within 10 years the United States will be vulnerable to attacks from hackers across the globe, as well as the militaries of China, Russia and other nations.
Such threats are not theoretical. For almost a year beginning in April 2004, more than 100 phones belonging to members of the Greek government, including the prime minister and ministers of defense, foreign affairs, justice and public order, were spied on with wiretapping software that was misused. Exactly who placed the software and who did the listening remain unknown. But they were able to use software that was supposed to be used only with legal permission.
And by the way, if the name of her co-author, Whitfield Diffie, isn't instantly recognizable to you, he is the co-inventor of Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange, which was the first public key cryptographic protocol known outside of national intelligence agencies.