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Over the last several months a staggering series of revelations have been reported about the wide-reaching efforts of the United States National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept digital communications. Though not surprising to learn the NSA—an intelligence organization—is spying on global targets, the apparent scale and sophistication of their capabilities have been turning heads internationally.
Last September, troubling allegations emerged suggesting the NSA influenced the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) into standardizing a cryptographic primitive with a secret backdoor. If true, the backdoor would provide the NSA with a major advantage in its efforts to snoop communications through something known as the Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator (Dual_EC_DRBG). Although the ensuing backlash has seen the offending code yanked from most major security products, surprising details about the program continue to emerge.
In this talk we will explain why random bits are crucial to online privacy, and what you could potentially do to people whose "random" bits you can predict. We will talk about Dual_EC_DRBG, and explain how the backdoor works in general terms. Finally, we will discuss some of the implications of state-level adversaries to health privacy and offer some high-level directions for healthcare providers to pursue.