The US National Security Agency has announced plans to crack encryption software that encrypts communications across all of its data centers, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.
The documents, released Monday by The Intercept, also revealed that the NSA was considering creating a new digital currency known as “crypto-coin,” which would be backed by digital currency assets, according the AP.
Crypto-coins, or digital currencies, are cryptocurrencies that do not require the use of an intermediary, such as a bank account, to be used for transactions.
Cryptocurrencies have been touted as a possible replacement for fiat currencies, a system in which the value of money is based on government control of monetary policy.
Cryptocurrencies, however, are currently based on a combination of a cryptographic key that a user needs to unlock the digital currency’s underlying code, and the amount of computational power that is required to calculate the cryptographic key.
In order to unlock a cryptocurrency, the cryptographic algorithm must be repeatedly repeated, and it takes a significant amount of computing power to do so.
The documents revealed that some crypto-currency experts were concerned about the potential of the NSA’s plans.
“Crypto coins will be a useful tool to protect the privacy of people using crypto-currencies and they will be very hard to break,” wrote David Chaum, a cryptographer and cryptographer at Cornell University.
“In other words, it will be much harder to break crypto-coins if they become widely used.”