Is it possible to make a computer totally invulnerable to the NSA?

Article Header

Published on

Having been offered a position at the agency's top offensive hacking unit, then-NSA contractor Edward Snowden was well aware of the scope of the government's surveillance abilities when he stole roughly 1.7 million classified documents and abruptly went to ground. As a result, his behaviour leading up to the theft was at times a little strange; some critics have spent quite a lot of time harping on about how he used to put a cloth hood over his head and screen, so only he could see it. To many, this is evidence of a paranoid behavior that proves he's a creepy nut - and certainly no principled whistleblower. If those people had known what Snowden knew at that time, however, they very well might have acted the same way.

Consider the data fortress created by journalists from the Guardian to house Snowden's leaked files: the encrypted documents existed only on anonymously purchased and fully encrypted laptops which had never been connected to the internet, and which were in turn kept in a guarded hotel room in which no electronics were allowed. Even so, many analysts believe the NSA has hacked its way into these machines, obtaining for themselves a full copy of the (encrypted and unreadable) leaked documents. If even these extreme measures aren't enough to keep out attackers, is real security even possible?