But recently, with the scandals about the (in)filtrations, I read that the NSA (and of course others, but I'm not particularly worried about NSA) is able to break SSL and track your data.

It is true? What can I do about that, given I do not know much about cryptography?


closed as primarily opinion-based by e-sushi, DrLecter, Maarten Bodewes, rath, AFS Apr 27 '14 at 14:06

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ It is more realistic (easy) to circumvent breaking the cryptographhy if you are NSA - as we have seen - (MITM, etc.). However, there are also lots of cryptographic "issues". These slides of a keynote by Kenny Paterson on cryptographic issues with SSL/TLS from this year's Indocrypt are quite nice. $\endgroup$ – DrLecter Dec 20 '13 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ Pray… /* Jokes aside: most things wrong with SSL haven't been solved due to the (s)low adaption rate. */ [+1] on your question though. $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Dec 20 '13 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ The older SSL/TLS protocol, the less safe. $\endgroup$ – Abzac Dec 20 '13 at 18:19

I don't think NSA can break the underlying encryption primitives. What they may do is record the whole SSL traffic and decrypt the whole traffic using server private key. So you can use introduce perfect forward security as the blog article “SSL/TLS & Perfect Forward Secrecy” suggests.
In addition man in the middle can be performed with fake certificates. This is relatively easy and not only NSA, but also a hacker can do this. So if you consider other parties except NSA you should look in to this.


Good brief topic on security of this protocol for each version can surprisingly easy be found in Wikipedia.

Also, please take a look on blog posts about SSL-stripping attack, also BEAST and SSL Recognition Attacks.


According to some sources, NSA is actually able to perform man-in-the-middle attacks using fake certificates to impersonate websites. Some people said that they somehow managed to hack a CA and stole compromised certificates. Since SSL/TLS relies mainly on certificates for authentication. With a valid "spoofed" certificate, users are easily tricked into believing that the visited website is authentic. So, the CA themselves are the single point of failure and Achilles heel of a PKI due to its design. But for ordinary users, I don't think anyone will put in so much effort and resources to track you. So no need to worry too much :)


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