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Prying Eyes: Inside the Nsa's War on Internet Security

An aeriel view of the NSA's new data center in Bluffdale, UT.

New Snowden documents show that some forms of encryption still cause problems for the U.S. National Security Agency.

Credit: AP/dpa

When Christmas approaches, the spies of the Five Eyes intelligence services can look forward to a break from the arduous daily work of spying. In addition to their usual job -- attempting to crack encryption all around the world -- they play a game called the "Kryptos Kristmas Kwiz," which involves solving challenging numerical and alphabetical puzzles. The proud winners of the competition are awarded "Kryptos" mugs.

Encryption -- the use of mathematics to protect communications from spying -- is used for electronic transactions of all types, by governments, firms and private users alike. But a look into the archive of whistleblower Edward Snowden shows that not all encryption technologies live up to what they promise.

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