Computers, by their simple invention, launched the complexity of cryptography to levels of security that before had seemed unattainable. Ciphers could not only be computed quicker, with more efficiency, and with less chance of human error, but also the amount of cryptanalysis required to decipher encrypted text multiplied. With such advancements, the government saw its ability to monitor communications effectively slip from its hands as mathematicians such as Horst Feistel created new cryptography systems that utilized the new technology. The National Security Association, in November of 1976, created a Data Encryption Standard, or DES, that would allow businesses and people to communicate through secure processes that involved up to 100,000,000,000,000,000 keys, yet t

The adoption of the DES by the NSA was a reasonable standard, seeing as the number of keys were limited to 56-bit, a number that could only be broken by the technology available to the NSA (Singh, 250). Businesses are still able to communicate with optimal security, depending on which encryption system they use, yet, the NSA can intercept and decipher messages they perceive to be dangerous to the country. While businesses can express concern that DES could allow rival companies to be able to hack into their data and use it to their personal advantage, the NSA has determined that the DES is strong enough to protect against such actions (Singh 250). Businesses and citizens are asked a small price to pay in return for their nation’s security. The NSA uses the data they’ve collected to ensure the safety of citizens, and the enforcement of the DES is a small price to pay for what the NSA gives back. he NSA could still decipher it. The transparency required by the standard does not correlate to the government’s need to monitor all forms of communication, but rather the necessity of an efficient system of monitoring communications that could result in the harm of the United States and its citizens.Another concern that may arise when considering the justification of the NSA’s decision is whether or not limiting the number of keys invades the privacy of citizens. While such a controversial issue cannot be simply proven wrong or right, considering the issue at hand, if a person or company has the necessity of using an encryption system that not even NSA could break, then there actions may prove to be illegal, in which case the NSA has every right to know about and intercept any information communicated via ciphertext.

Image: 30 seconds of my life by Jeff Carson, Flickr