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After Paris, Encryption Will Be a Key Issue in the 2016 Race

When the Democratic presidential contenders gathered on the debate stage in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, just hours after a series of terrorist attacks in Paris left at least 129 people dead, the candidates spent the early portion of their time on stage examining issues related to national security. They spoke of boots on the ground, regime changes, what role the United States ought to play in the fight against ISIS, and whether or not they use the term radical Islam.

But curiously, throughout the lengthy discussion, the one issue that was never mentionednot oncewas encryption. Thats lucky, at least for the candidates. As the world continues to reel from the Paris attacks, the debate over whether tech companies like Apple and Google are allowed to fully encrypt users communications will, no doubt, become one of the central dramas of the national security conversation going into the 2016 presidential race. It may also be among the toughest issues for the candidates, especially Democrats, to navigate.

Encryption may be among the toughest issues for the candidates, especially Democrats, to navigate.

Just yesterday, CIA director John Brennan said that he hoped the Paris attacks would serve as a wakeup call to those who oppose government surveillance in favor of personal privacy.

There are a lot of technological capabilities that are available right now that make it exceptionally difficult both technically as well as legally for intelligence security services to have insight that they need to uncover it," he said, adding that terrorists have gone to school to figure out ways to evade intelligence officials.

Brennan attributed that fact, in part, to Edward Snowdens disclosures of the National Security Agencys bulk data collection programs, saying they tipped would-be terrorists off to surveillance tactics. In the past several years, because of a number of unauthorized disclosures and a lot of hand-wringing over the governments role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists, he said, there have been some policy and legal and other actions that make our ability, collectively, internationally, to find these terrorists much more challenging.

This, of course, is not the first time weve heard these concerns from government officials. Just a day before the Paris attacks, the NSAs former general counsel, Matt Olsen, told an audience gathered in Des Moines that after Snowden came forward, the agency lost track of terrorists. Meanwhile, FBI director James Comey has been an outspoken critic of encryption, arguing that it enables criminals to go dark.

Whether encryption is really the security risk the government makes it out to be, of course, is still up for debate. We at WIRED have debated it plenty. Now it's time for the presidential candidates to do the same.

Until now, the Democratic candidates in particular have been light on detail about where they stand on encryption and surveillance. This reticence stands to reason. By aligning themselves too closely with Washington's intelligence community, they could alienate their Silicon Valley base, which is increasingly powerful in politics. But if they cater too much to the interests of tech companies such as Apple and Google, they could lose favor among voters who increasingly see national security as the country's most pressing issue.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has walked an uneasy line on the subject of surveillance in the past. On one hand, she was a supporter of the controversial PATRIOT Act as a senator back in 2001, a decision that's been widely criticized by Bernie Sanders' camp. This summer, she also said that cybersecurity legislation such as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, which is already highly unpopular among privacy advocates, doesn't go far enough in encouraging tech companies to share information with the US government. And during the first debate, she said Snowden "stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into a lot of the wrong hands," and that he shouldn't return home "without facing the music."

'I think there are really strong, legitimate arguments on both sides.'

Hillary Clinton

At the same time, however, she has endorsed the USA Freedom Act, which would end the NSA's bulk data collection program, calling it "a good step forward in ongoing efforts to protect our security and civil liberties." And at a conference earlier this year, Clinton told Re/Code's Kara Swisher that encryption is "a classic hard choice," but she hedged before offering up her plan for what to do about it. "I would be the first to say I don't have the answer," she said. "I think there are really strong, legitimate arguments on both sides."

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has been far more outspoken in his opposition of government surveillance. He received a round of applause at the first Democratic debate for voting against the PATRIOT Act and has said that, as president, he would shut down the NSA's surveillance program altogether.

But national security is considered Sanders' major weak spot. Even those who support his stance on inequality sometimes question his ability as commander-in-chief. The more fearful Americans become of the threat ISIS poses, the weaker Sanders' stance on surveillance may appear to the electorate beyond Sanders' base. After all, a recent poll showed that 56 percent of voters said they would give the government access to some personal data if it meant protecting the country from a terrorist attack.

On the other side of the aisle, candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, and Chris Christie have all spoken out against encryption and the need for government surveillance. The one notable exception, of course, is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who said at a conference last week that he believes governments should require warrants to access people's communications. Still, that policy doesn't apply to companies like Apple, which promises users that their data is encrypted so that it can't be accessed even with a warrant.

The battle over how to balance security and privacy, of course, is nothing new in politics. Just last month, the Obama administration backed away from legislation that would have forced tech companies to decrypt messages for law enforcement. The move was seen as a win for technologists and privacy advocates alike.

Those same advocates are now hoping that fear won't cause politicians to resume the fight against encryption. "The Paris attacks are absolutely tragic, but the response must not be to undermine cybersecurity for digital services on which many millions of people depend," said Harley Geiger, senior counsel and advocacy director for the Center for Democracy & Technology. "Weakening encryption will also not prevent organized groups from using strong encryption. Difficult-to-crack encryption and apps will continue to be available on the Internet, even if governments seek to ban them."

And yet, as calls for stronger national security spread post-Paris, candidates that support encryption may face added pressures from both the public and their Republican opponents to reevaluateor at the least, delineatewhere they stand on encryption. And when they do, they may find it's not so easy to keep both sides happy.

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Does Encryption Really Help ISIS? Heres What You Need to …

There's the war on terrorism, and then there's the war on how to fight the war on terrorism.

With recent attacks in Paris, Beirut and Mali, some in governments and law-enforcement agencies are renewing their calls to expand electronic surveillance to thwart potential attacks. Communications that cant be tapped or unscrambled pose aseriousnational-security risk, authorities argue, because they can be used by terrorists tohidetheir activitiesand planning. Technology companies and cybersecurity experts generally takeadifferent view: If encrypted communications can be accessed by the government or a company -- or anyone other than the sender and intended recipient -- they inherently are vulnerable to bad actors and prying eyes.

Why is this such a complex and often heated debatewith noapparentresolution in sight? For starters, encryption is really complicated. Here's what you need to know to understand the issues:

Encryption, sometimes called crypto by techies, is a fancy word for a type of code. Encryption schemes transform words into seeming gibberish. Heresa mereportionofencrypted textthat,if printed in full,would translate to"happyholidays:"

hQIMA2dX93ZaYL95AQ//ZSZ/n0VSK7ZZ9kkRk3X8nn+m2YLzHj5L4zrsrCesPOKw ZQG5FXuHz9/02Be3tyXelAiFpGdCh+Tdnx0r1wLOChitSPaydW0hcReG6cp9Nplk QZL5sYRr0NYWjx2EkwFO0j6lNcGMNo3qAoxMNe3rfENPjxpv1UCRl6nHfEmSk1BO swjBOUXrsWxbbphdJqSZtdWoPLlOnFftRjgqLe9hC9rmWF/Q7/RIkZ5TEYmSfJkI aGB3Vrf/XEwXOHuss+HgE9z/XalJtaNLCZeCgNgO/Lk26nVyS0R5XfNz9VtFszhT pjk2rpxMecOlCs4a62oSYykI63E04G0OZkZaPrUlir4GoSV4OVivFgbFDNtIq5Lk hX1TF3y/PsuVb8bF7XhvqCt/q9HF0n0LY9v+tJfMOT885c6uNX9Rm6ZUUFR++jgv X4EfNYSmX6HjmYTflqQyivWeTpGl13tQP7b+UppJr0v9vH7Wd0PmRdvLDhKHqCiq

Only a user or machine with the so-called encryption key can unscramblethe message to get its meaning. So the same phrase -- "Happy Holidays" -- would be encrypted differentlydepending on the software used and the people involved.

Once the province of spies, encryption is widely used on the Internet. The little padlock next to a Web address indicates the connection is encrypted. Wi-Fi routers, Gmail, Yahoo mail, Snapchats, tweets and 4G cellular phones all use some form of encryption,to protect personal information, such as passwords, location coordinates, bank-account and credit-card numbers and sometimes -- depending on the type of encryption used -- the text of messages and other content.

In addition to those receiving the data who need to decipher it, the companies that employ this technology typically hold keys, sothey canget to the information if they need to. Among other things, this letscustomers reset passwords, etc.It also allows companies to decrypt messages for the authorities when faced with lawful requests for customer records or the contents of communications.

In the past few years, several tech companies have adopted encryption schemes for which they say they dont hold the keys. Most notably, Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.s Google in 2014 released smartphone operating systems that, by default, they said precluded them from unlocking phones for law enforcement, even with a warrant.That's because the companies said they would no longer maintain a key to unlock their devices' encryption. Those keys would only be on the devices themselves and could only be unlockedwith users' passwords.Before the switch, companies could comply with court orders to unlock phones, and usually did.

Here is FBI Director James Comey -- who has called these actions an assault on law enforcement --testifying before Congress on the issue:

But tech and telecommunications companieswerecriticized after documents leaked byEdwardSnowden showedsomefirms cooperating with governmentsto allow access to some of their users' communications. Companies also said the government was overstepping its monitoring activities without their knowledge, compromising user confidence in the privacy of their information. A lot of trust between the two sides was broken. Companies say that thenew encryption protocolswill make their products safer, because thieves and spies would have a harder time seeingand stealingtheir contents or communications.

Here's Apple CEO Tim Cook, making this point at the Wall Street Journal's WSJDLive tech conference in October:

The debate has widened as U.S. and European officialsalsostarted criticizing makers of apps designed to encrypt messages, such as Wickr, Signal and Telegram.Makers of theseapps have not changedtheir systemssince the Paris attacks.ButTelegram, which features both private chat and a Twitter-like public bulletin feature, saidrecently thatit had deactivated some public channels linked to the Islamic State. The shift, if small, was notable given Telegram founder Pavel Durov's previous statements that his company "shouldn't feel guilty" for reports that the app has been used by terrorists.

There is no evidence it played a role in the shootings and bombings in Paris. To the contrary, French media have reported some of the attackers coordinated using ordinary SMS text messages, which usually are easy for law enforcement to tap. However, Islamic State members have documented that they use some messaging apps that rely on strong encryption. Some U.S. officials have said this is a problem if the goal is to prevent another Islamic State attack. Here's a tutorial used by the Islamic State to rate the relative strength of various communication apps:

Several reasons. One, technology companies in general chafe at the idea of the government telling them how to make products. When the Clinton administration in the 1990s proposed a system where the government would maintain the ability to decipher commercial communications through a so-called "Clipper chip," the proposal was beat back due to civil liberties concerns. One alternative would have technology companies maintain all or part of the so-called master key, which they would only use if faced with a court order. Technology companies don't like this solution because they fear it makes the key a target for hackers. In short, if someone steals the digital key,everything is potentially lost.It's also unclear how such a system would work in practice.

Privately,some government officials say technology companies are overstating the risks of creating such a system. But technology companies counter the risks are real. The catch is that a lot of the risks are assumed and hypothetical. Building extra keys and loopholes into secure systems could, for example, introduce weaknesses from bugs, but it's hard to know what those bugs are ahead of time. "The complexity of todays Internet environment, with millions of apps and globally connected services, means that new law enforcement requirements are likely to introduce unanticipated, hard to detect security flaws," wrote 15 cryptographers in a paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this summer. There is some precedent though for this concern. Washington once required American firms sell foreign customers only weaker, more easily cracked encryption to help U.S. spies keep tabs on overseas targets. Even though that requirement was dropped in the 1990s, the weakened encryption can still be found on computers and can now be exploited by other hackers. Lobbyists for tech firms such as Apple argue these problems would only be worse now. Because companies do more business overseas, they would likely have to replicate any deal they make with the United States. For instance, Apple sells a lot of iPhones in China. What if overseas governments demand the same types of keys?

In that case, all bets could be off. For instance, if an iPhone user uses iCloud backups for the content on their phone, Apple is able to hand over the latest backup if faced with a court order, the company says.Some cloud providers automatically erase such data after a period of time, but policies and procedures vary.

In January, Mr. Obama said, If we find evidence of a terrorist plot and despite having a phone number, despite having a social media address or email address, we cant penetrate that, thats a problem. The president and Mr. Comey have said they believe Silicon Valley should be able to come up with a solution. Congress also is examining the issue. On the other hand, former NSA Director Mike McConnell and other retired national security officials have publicly said that finding a way to maintain access to encrypted communications could be bad for security. The Obama administration has indicated that, for now, it doesnt want to issue orders to tech firms or push Congress for new laws.

Here's Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, at the WSJDLive conference urging government and the tech industry to bridge the gaps:

In 1999, a federal appeals court more or less ended the first "Crypto wars" when it ruled computer code, including encryption schemes, is protected speech under the First Amendment. Apple is fighting the Justice Department in a New York federal court over whether it should be forced to figure out a way to unlock an encrypted iPhone.

White House and congressional staffers have reached out to some Silicon Valley executives, asking them to come to Washington, D.C., for another round of encryption talks. Some lawmakers are seeking a so-called "Blue Ribbon" committee that would include experts from both sides of the debate. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) has pledged to conduct hearings on the matter and pursue legislation. The British parliament meantime is exploring a new spy powers measure that could give authorities more power to force companies to be able to unscramble customer data.

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AES and RSA Encryption Explained

This is How Encryption with Boxcryptor Works

We encrypt files and thus provide increased protection against espionage and data theft. For encryption, we use a combination of AES-256 encryption and RSA encryption. Here we explain the two algorithms.

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is one of the most frequently used and most secure encryption algorithms available today. It is publicly accessible, and it is the cipher which the NSA uses for securing documents with the classification "top secret". Its story of success started in 1997, when NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) started officially looking for a successor to the aging encryption standard DES. An algorithm named "Rijndael", developed by the Belgian cryptographists Daemen and Rijmen, excelled in security as well as in performance and flexibility.

It came out on top of several competitors and was officially announced the new encryption standard AES in 2001. The algorithm is based on several substitutions, permutations and linear transformations, each executed on data blocks of 16 byte therefore the term blockcipher. Those operations are repeated several times, called rounds. During each round, a unique roundkey is calculated out of the encryption key, and incorporated in the calculations. Based on the block structure of AES, the change of a single bit, either in the key, or in the plaintext block, results in a completely different ciphertext block a clear advantage over traditional stream ciphers. The difference between AES-128, AES-192 and AES-256 finally is the length of the key: 128, 192 or 256 bit all drastic improvements compared to the 56 bit key of DES. By way of illustration: Cracking a 128 bit AES key with a state-of-the-art supercomputer would take longer than the presumed age of the universe. And Boxcryptor even uses 256 bit keys. As of today, no practicable attack against AES exists. Therefore, AES remains the preferred encryption standard for governments, banks and high security systems around the world.

RSA is one of the most successful, asymmetric encryption systems today. Originally discovered in 1973 by the British intelligence agency GCHQ, it received the classification top secret. We have to thank the cryptologists Rivest, Shamir and Adleman for its civil rediscovery in 1977. They stumbled across it during an attempt to solve another cryptographic problem.

As opposed to traditional, symmetric encryption systems, RSA works with two different keys: A public and a private one. Both work complementary to each other, which means that a message encrypted with one of them can only be decrypted by its counterpart. Since the private key cannot be calculated from the public key, the latter is generally available to the public.

Those properties enable asymmetric cryptosystems to be used in a wide array of functions, such as digital signatures. In the process of signing a document, a fingerprint encrypted with RSA, is attached to the file, and enables the receiver to verify both the sender and the integrity of the document. The security of RSA itself is mainly based on the mathematical problem of integer factorization. A message that is about to be encrypted is treated as one large number. When encrypting the message, it is raised to the power of the key, and divided with remainder by a fixed product of two primes. By repeating the process with the other key, the plaintext can be retrieved again. The best currently known method to break the encryption requires factorizing the product used in the division. Currently, it is not possible to calculate these factors for numbers greater than 768 bits. That is why modern cryptosystems use a minimum key length of 3072 bits.

Boxcryptor implements a combined encryption process based on asymmetric RSA and symmetric AES encryption. Every file has its own unique random file key which is generated when the file is being created.

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AES and RSA Encryption Explained

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Explainer: What is a quantum computer …

A quantum computer harnesses some of the almost-mystical phenomena of quantum mechanics to deliver huge leaps forward in processing power. Quantum machines promise to outstrip even the most capable of todaysand tomorrowssupercomputers.

They wont wipe out conventional computers, though. Using a classical machine will still be the easiest and most economical solution for tackling most problems. But quantum computers promise to power exciting advances in various fields, from materials science to pharmaceuticals research. Companies are already experimenting with them to develop things like lighter and more powerful batteries for electric cars, and to help create novel drugs.

The secret to a quantum computers power lies in its ability to generate and manipulate quantum bits, or qubits.

Today's computers use bitsa stream of electrical or optical pulses representing1s or0s. Everything from your tweets and e-mails to your iTunes songs and YouTube videos are essentially long strings of these binary digits.

Quantum computers, on the other hand, usequbits, whichare typically subatomic particles such as electrons or photons. Generating and managing qubits is a scientific and engineering challenge. Some companies, such as IBM, Google, and Rigetti Computing, use superconducting circuits cooled to temperatures colder than deep space. Others, like IonQ, trap individual atoms in electromagnetic fields on a silicon chip in ultra-high-vacuum chambers. In both cases, the goal is to isolate the qubits in a controlled quantum state.

Qubits have some quirky quantum properties that mean a connected group of them can provide way more processing power than the same number of binary bits. One of those properties is known as superposition and another is called entanglement.

Qubits can represent numerous possible combinations of 1and 0 at the same time. This ability to simultaneously be in multiple states is called superposition. To put qubits into superposition, researchers manipulate them using precision lasers or microwave beams.

Thanks to this counterintuitive phenomenon, a quantum computer with several qubits in superposition can crunch through a vast number of potential outcomes simultaneously. The final result of a calculation emerges only once the qubits are measured, which immediately causes their quantum state to collapse to either 1or 0.

Researchers can generate pairs of qubits that are entangled, which means the two members of a pair exist in a single quantum state. Changing the state of one of the qubits will instantaneously change the state of the other one in a predictable way. This happens even if they are separated by very long distances.

Nobody really knows quite how or why entanglement works. It even baffled Einstein, who famously described it as spooky action at a distance. But its key to the power of quantum computers. In a conventional computer, doubling the number of bits doubles its processing power. But thanks to entanglement, adding extra qubits to a quantum machine produces an exponential increase in its number-crunching ability.

Quantum computers harness entangled qubits in a kind of quantum daisy chain to work their magic. The machines ability to speed up calculations using specially designed quantum algorithms is why theres so much buzz about their potential.

Thats the good news. The bad news is that quantum machines are way more error-prone than classical computers because of decoherence.

The interaction of qubits with their environment in ways that cause their quantum behavior to decay and ultimately disappear is called decoherence. Their quantum state is extremely fragile. The slightest vibration or change in temperaturedisturbances known as noise in quantum-speakcan cause them to tumble out of superposition before their job has been properly done. Thats why researchers do their best to protect qubits from the outside world in those supercooled fridges and vacuum chambers.

But despite their efforts, noise still causes lots of errors to creep into calculations. Smart quantum algorithmscan compensate for some of these, and adding more qubits also helps. However, it will likely take thousands of standard qubits to create a single, highly reliable one, known as a logical qubit. This will sap a lot of a quantum computers computational capacity.

And theres the rub: so far, researchers havent been able to generate more than 128 standard qubits (see our qubit counter here). So were still many years away from getting quantum computers that will be broadly useful.

That hasnt dented pioneers hopes of being the first to demonstrate quantum supremacy.

Its the point at which a quantum computer can complete a mathematical calculation that is demonstrably beyond the reach of even the most powerful supercomputer.

Its still unclear exactly how many qubits will be needed to achieve this because researchers keep finding new algorithms to boost the performance of classical machines, and supercomputing hardware keeps getting better. But researchers and companies are working hard to claim the title, running testsagainst some of the worlds most powerful supercomputers.

Theres plenty of debate in the research world about just how significant achieving this milestone will be. Rather than wait for supremacy to be declared, companies are already starting to experiment with quantum computers made by companies like IBM, Rigetti, and D-Wave, a Canadian firm. Chinese firms like Alibaba are also offering access to quantum machines. Some businesses are buying quantum computers, while others are using ones made available through cloud computing services.

One of the most promising applications of quantum computers is for simulating the behavior of matterdown to the molecular level. Auto manufacturers like Volkswagen and Daimler are using quantum computers to simulate the chemical composition of electrical-vehicle batteries to help find new ways to improve their performance. And pharmaceutical companies are leveraging them to analyze and compare compounds that could lead to the creation of new drugs.

The machines are also great for optimization problems because they can crunch through vast numbers of potential solutions extremely fast. Airbus, for instance, is using them to help calculate the most fuel-efficient ascent and descent paths for aircraft. And Volkswagen has unveiled a service that calculates the optimal routes for buses and taxis in cities in order to minimize congestion. Some researchers also think the machines could be used to accelerate artificial intelligence.

It could take quite a few years for quantum computers to achieve their full potential. Universities and businesses working on them are facing a shortage of skilled researchersin the fieldand a lack of suppliersof some key components. But if these exotic new computing machines live up to their promise, they could transform entire industries and turbocharge global innovation.

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Quantum computing is coming: Heres why we need to get our …

University of Washington graduate students Katherine McAlpine and Daniel Gochnauer work in the Ultracold Atoms Groups lab to study ultracold atoms and quantum gases. (UW Photo / Dennis Wise)

Editors note: Tom Alberg is a co-founder and managing director at Seattle-based venture capital firm Madrona Venture Group. He is a member of Challenge Seattle and sits on the Amazon board of directors.

Commentary: This week I had the opportunity to speak at the Northwest Quantum Nexus Summit, co-sponsored by Microsoft, the University of Washington and Pacific Northwest National Labs. The Summit brought together, for the first time, the large network of quantum researchers, universities and technology companies working in quantum information science (QIS) in our region to share quantum developments and to work together to establish the Pacific Northwest as one of the leading quantum science centers in the world.

Quantum computing has the potential to transform our economies and lives. As one of the Summit speakers said, we are on the cusp of a quantum century. Quantum computers will be able to solve problems that classical computers cant solve, even if they run their algorithms for thousands of years. Quantum computers are not limited to the on-or-off (one-or-zero) bits of todays digital computers. Quantum computers manipulate qubits that can be one-and-zero simultaneously, which allows exponentially faster calculations.

Quantum computers are expected to be able to crack present-day security codes, which is already causing scientists to work on devising new encryption protocols to protect consumer and business data and national security. Applications developed for quantum computers likely will help us overcome existing challenges in material, chemical and environmental sciences, such as devising new ways for sequestering carbon and improving batteries.

Even though the Seattle area is one of the top two technology centers in the U.S., along with the San Francisco Bay Area, we have to make investments now to ensure we become a leading quantum center. To achieve this goal, I argued that we will need to substantially increase financial support to build up the UWs quantum research capacity and equally important, to create an extensive quantum information science curriculum. The UWs Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering began this year to offer a course teaching Microsofts Q# language, but one course is not enough if we are to make our area one of the major quantum centers of the future.

Fortunately for our region, Microsoft is one of the acknowledged leaders in quantum computing and is committed to building our regional network. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gives credit to former Microsoft chief technology officer and research leader Craig Mundie for launching Microsofts quantum initiative 10 years ago.

Microsofts goal is no less than to build a general-purpose quantum computer the holy grail of quantum computing. In the meantime, they are supporting efforts to build a cadre of researchers who are familiar with quantum and capable of writing quantum programs. They have developed and launched a quantum computer language, Q#, as well as a quantum development kit and Katas, which are computing tasks that classical computer scientists can use to learn quantum computing skills. They are also building an open source library of quantum programs and have launched the Microsoft Quantum Network to provide assistance to quantum startups and developers.

The federal government has recently launched the National Quantum Initiative, which will provide $1.2 billion over the next five years primarily to quantum researchers. The president signed the new law in December after the bill was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate and a 348-11 vote in the House. Among the purposes are to build a quantum-smart workforce of the future and engage with government, academic and private-sector leaders to advance QIS.

This federal funding is welcome, even though its less than required for a Manhattan-style project equivalent to Chinas national quantum initiative. It will be highly important to our region that our congressional delegation, several members of whom are particularly tech-savvy, advocate our case for a fair share of this funding. Our Washington State Legislature should support this by making appropriations for quantum computing and education at the UW as a down payment showing local support.

There is also a role for private companies to support our quantum efforts beyond what Microsoft is already doing. I am reminded of the grants by Amazon to the UW in 2012 during the Great Recession, engineered by then-UW computer science chair Ed Lazowska to recruit two leading professors, Carlos Guestrin from Carnegie Mellon and Emily Fox from the University of Pennsylvania, to strengthen the UWs machine learning expertise. The two $1 million gifts created two endowed professorships. Inflation has certainly raised the price for endowed professorships, but perhaps this could be repeated.

Another way to build our regions quantum expertise would be for a local tech entrepreneur to follow the example of Paul Allen, who endowed five $100 million-plus scientific institutes, one of which is the Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence, headed by former UW professor and current venture partner at Madrona, Oren Etzioni.

Building a quantum workforce begins in K-12 schools with teaching computer science, which is a stepping stone to quantum information science. K-12 schools in the U.S. are woefully deficient in teaching basic computer science. Nationally, only 35 percent of high schools offer a computer science course, according to And in low-income and minority schools this is even lower since the 35 percent reflects a lot of suburban schools which are more likely to offer computer science courses.

We are beginning to address this gap in high schools, but a much larger commitment is needed. Private companies can help fill part of the gap. Amazon recently announced its Future Engineers program, which includes a $50 million investment in computer science and STEM education for underprivileged students. As part of this program, a few weeks ago, Amazon announced grants to more than 1,000 schools in all 50 states, over 700 of which are Title 1 schools. Studies have shown that if a disadvantaged student takes an advanced computer science course in high school, they are eight times as likely to major in computer science at a university.

In addition to Amazon, Microsoft and other tech companies have programs to increase the teaching of computer science. One of those programs, backed by Microsoft, is TEALS, which organizes employees and retired employees as volunteers to teach computer science in schools. Amazon, Microsoft and other tech companies are big financial supporters of, which is having a significant effect on increasing the teaching of computer science in public schools.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer science related jobs needing to be filled, but only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to apply for those jobs. Only a tiny percentage of the 400,000 are minorities or from low-income families. A similar need exists in Washington state, with a gap of several thousand between the jobs to be filled and the number of annual graduates.

In Seattle and other tech centers in the U.S., we have been fortunate that we have been able to attract and retain a very substantial number of computer scientists from other countries to fill these jobs. But with immigration and trade uncertainties, this flow is uncertain and may not be as robust as needed.

Even more important, by not providing the opportunity for our kids, particularly disadvantaged children, we are short-changing them. The best way to close the income gap is to improve our public educational system so a broader segment of our population can qualify for the jobs of the future. Organizations such as the Technology Access Foundation are attacking this problem head-on by creating curriculum, recruiting minority teachers and building schools. We need to support these organizations and implement their approach broadly.

At the university level, we are also deficient in educating a sufficient number of computer scientists. Even at universities such as the UW, with large and high-quality computer science schools, we are unable to fill the demand for computer scientists. The Allen School graduates about 450 undergraduate students annually. Although this is double what the school produced a few years ago, it is woefully short of the several thousand needed annually in our state. This needs to be doubled again, but funding is lacking.

In short, our region needs to recommit to building our computer science workforce beginning in our K-12 schools, and undertake a new effort to build our quantum expertise and workforce.

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Encryption: What it is and why its important – Norton

Encryption is the process of helping protect personal data by using a secret code to scramble it so that it cannot be read by anyone who doesnt have the code key. Today, vast amounts of personal information are managed online and stored in the cloud or on servers with an ongoing connection to the web. Its nearly impossible to do business of any kind without personal data ending up in a networked computer system, which is why its important to know how to help keep that data private.

Most legitimate websites use what is called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which is a form of encrypting data when it is being sent to and from a website. This keeps attackers from accessing that data while it is in transit. Look for the green padlock icon in the URL bar, and the S in the https:// to make sure you are conducting secure, encrypted transactions online.

Its a good idea to access sites utilizing SSL when:

3 reasons why encryption mattersWhy is encryption important? Here are three reasons:

1. Internet privacy concerns are real Encryption helps protect privacy by turning personal information into for your eyes only messages intended only for the parties that need them and no one else. You should make sure that your emails are being sent over an encrypted connection, or that you are encrypting each message. Most email clients come with the option for encryption in the settings menu, and if you check your email with a web browser, take a moment to ensure that SSL encryption is available.

2. Hacking is big businessHackers arent just bored kids in a basement anymore. Theyre big business, and in some cases, theyre multinational outfits. Large-scale data breaches that you may have heard about in the news demonstrate that people are out to steal personal information to fill their pockets.

3. Regulations demand it Healthcare providers are required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to implement security features that protect patients sensitive health information. Institutions of higher learning must take similar steps under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), while retailers must contend with the Fair Credit Practices Act (FCPA) and similar laws. Encryption helps businesses stay compliant as well as helps protect the valuable data of their customers.

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Internet security Great-West Life –

We recognize and respect the importance of information security. This Internet Security Statement covers the measures that Great-West Life takes to help secure your personal information. Its subject to change without notice to you, as we remain always vigilant in protecting our systems and your information, so we recommend you regularly review GRS Access > About Us > Products & Services > Internet Security. This information is current as of Jan. 1, 2016.

If upon investigation, it was determined that a loss to an account was a result of a security incident that resulted from a failure of Great-West Lifes systems or infrastructure, Great-West Life will restore the account.

Should the loss be a result of a circumstance outside of Great-West Lifes control, each incident will be reviewed, investigated and decided upon based on its own merits.

There are a few steps Great-West Life requires to protect online accounts.

These steps include:

Encryption technology is designed to secure personal and confidential communications between your computer and Great-West Life servers, such that they are protected from being read by any third parties. This is achieved by scrambling communications so that they are unreadable by anyone other than Great-West Life or yourself. GRS Access supports 256-bit encryption and all previous modes (such as 128-bit encryption). You can verify that a Great-West Life website is encrypted by looking for the lock or key icon or other displayed indicators in your browser window, which is used by most browsers to indicate a secure connection.

Cookies are small items of data that websites store in your browser. These data files contain information the site can use to track and organize the pages you have visited, and to gather information. Some Great-West Life websites use cookie technology to measure site activity and tailor information to fit your personal interests. This helps us deliver a superior website experience that is fast, secure and personalized. Your account/personal and security information is never contained in these cookies.

GRS Access requires you to sign in using an Access ID and password. If your GRS Access session is idle for an extended period, you will be automatically logged out. This is to help protect your information from unintended access by a passerby or other people who use your computer.

Be cautious of email and websites purporting to represent a legitimate company and that ask you to provide confidential or financial information. Its not Great-West Lifes practice to ask you to provide or confirm your user ID or password, or other confidential or financial information over email, unless its in response to an inquiry initiated by you. If you receive such a request, or have any concern about the validity of an email from Great-West Life, a website purporting to be a Great-West Life website or our online security, please notify us immediately at 1-800-724-3402 or Please attach any suspicious email in its original form, or in the case of a website please include the URL (address of the website) in your notification.

For information on various types of email fraud, visit Public Safety Canadas website at

You can also contribute to the security of your information by following a few straightforward principles:

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Internet security Great-West Life -

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How and where do I report Cryptocurrency coin-to-coin …

Follow these steps in the Premier Edition:

OR if the jump-to link is not working

Pleasesee this FAQ with more details:

Reporting cryptocurrency is similar to reporting a stock sale. You'll need to report your cryptocurrency if you sold, exchanged, spent or converted it.

You have to do this for every trade you made. If you bought coins at different prices or sold partial amounts, then you have to keep track and record the difference of what you sold. Cryptocurrency exchanges are not required to provide a 1099-B or summary tax statement for cryptocurrency transactions. Its your responsibility to keep records of your transactions. The most common way to do this is to download your order or trading history from your exchanges website. You may need to do this a few times throughout the year due to limits on how far back you can get information.

Once you have your figures:

There's an upload limit of 250 cryptocurrency transactions in TurboTax. If you have more than that, youll need a transaction aggregator. Well walk you through that in the cryptocurrency section.


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Quantum computing will break your encryption in a few …

Modern public-key encryption is currently good enough to meet enterprise requirements, according to experts. Most cyberattacks target different parts of the security stack these days unwary users in particular. Yet this stalwart building block of present-day computing is about to be eroded by the advent of quantum computing within the next decade, according to experts.

About 99% of online encryption is vulnerable to quantum computers, said Mark Jackson, scientific lead for Cambridge Quantum Computing, at the Inside Quantum Technology conference in Boston on Wednesday.

Quantum computers those that use the principles of quantum entanglement and superposition to represent information, instead of electrical bits are capable of performing certain types of calculation orders of magnitude more quickly than classical, electronic computers. Theyre more or less fringe technology in 2019, but their development has accelerated in recent years, and experts at the IQT conference say that a spike in deployment could occur as soon as 2024.

Lawrence Gasman, president of IQT, compared the current state of quantum computing development to that of fiber-optic networking in the 1980s a technology with a lot of promise, but one still missing one or two key pieces.

Optical amplifiers were what got optical networking going, he said. Without them, theyd really have never turned into what they are today.

Pure research, the military, and the financial sector are the prime movers behind quantum computing in general and quantum security in particular, according to Gasman. The latter, in particular, has been an enthusiastic early adopter of the technology.

If you look at the amount of money lost to credit card fraud, thats a huge driver, he noted.

A shift to either different types of classical encryption some algorithms have proven to be resistant to quantum computing or to quantum computing-based security is going to be necessary.

Quantum computing-based security technology is effective because it relies on two of the best-known properties of quantum physics the idea that observing a particle changes its behavior, and that paired or entangled particles share the same set of properties as the other.

What this means, in essence, is that both parties to a message can share an identical cipher key, thanks to quantum entanglement. In addition, should a third party attempt to eavesdrop on that sharing, it would break the symmetry of the entangled pairs, and it would be instantly apparent that something fishy was going on.

If everything is working perfectly, everything should be in sync. But if something goes wrong, it means youll see a discrepancy, said Jackson.

Its like a soap bubble, according to Brian Lowy, vice president at ID Quantique SA, a Switzerland-based quantum computing vendor mess with it and it pops.

At some point, youre going to have to factor [quantum computing], he said, noting that, even now, bad actors could download encrypted information now, planning to crack its defenses once quantum computing is equal to the task.

The precise day of the shift will vary by industry, according to Paul Lucier, vice president of sales and business development at quantum computing security vendor Isara.

Devices that have short usage life like smartphones arent in immediate danger, because quantum security technology ought to be sufficiently miniaturized by the time quantum codebreaking is powerful enough to undercut modern public-key encryption.

Its verticals like the automotive industry and the infrastructure sector that have to worry, Lucier said. Anything with a long service life and anything thats expensive to repair and replace is potentially vulnerable.

Thats not to say that its time to rip-and-replace immediately. Standards bodies are expected to approve quantum-safe encryption algorithms at around the same time experts are predicting that quantum-powered decryption threatens modern security, so a hybrid approach is possible.

But the threat is very real, so much so that the National Quantum Initiative Act became law in December of last year. The act calls for official advisory groups to be formed by the executive branch, and directs research funding for further exploration of quantum computing technology.

So be prepared, the experts at the IQT conference all agreed.

We think by 2026, if youre not ready with your systems prepared, youre taking a giant risk, said Lucier.

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