A university professor who wrote a blog post detailing how the National Security Agency breaks secure internet connections was asked to remove the article from the school’s servers, inciting cries of censorship throughout the blogosphere.
Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, Maryland, penned the blog post last week after it was revealed that the NSA has spent years strong-arming companies into installing a so-called backdoor into some of the world’s most popular communications services.
He began by explaining a series of conversations he had with reporters before the leaks were published. The journalists asked Green how the NSA would install covert monitors in everyday data exchanges, assuming they had the wherewithal to do so.
“I admit that at this point one of my biggest concerns was to avoid coming off like a crank,” Green wrote of his answers at the time. “After all, if I got quoted sounding too much like an NSA conspiracy nut, my colleagues would laugh at me…Not only does the worst possible hypothetical I discussed appear to be true, but it’s on a scale I couldn’t even imagine. I’m no longer the crank, I wasn’t even close to cranky enough.”
Green goes on to explain how to break a cryptographer system (attack the cryptography, go after the implementation, then access the human side). He also details which supposedly secure codes are the most vulnerable and tells how the NSA violated the trust of Americans and much of the tech industry.
On Monday, the professor described on Twitter the ordeal that followed the post’s publication.
Countless people throughout social media and around the internet have wondered just whose fault it is. The NSA has listed Johns Hopkins as one of the agency’s Centers of Academic Excellence, in part because of cyber-security research conducted at the college.
Hours after tweeting about the Dean’s request, Green clarified his comments on the social media platform.
“So listen, I’m not trying to talk about this much because anything I say will make it worse. What I’ve been told is that someone on the [Applied Physics Laboratory] side at JHU discovered my blog post and determined that it was hosting/linking to classified documents,” he wrote.
“This requires a human since I don’t believe there’s any automated scanner for this process…All I know is that I received an email this morning from the Interim Dean of the school of Engineering schools asking me to take down the post and to desist from using the NSA logo. He also suggested I should seek counsel if I continued.”