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Encryption is a process for making information unreadable by an adversary who does not possess a specific key that is required to make the encrypted information readable. The inverse process, making information that has been encrypted readable, is referred to as decryption. Cryptography has become widespread and is used by private as well as governmental actors. It also enables authentication and underlies the safe use of the Internet and computer systems by individuals and organizations worldwide. Emerging cryptographic technologies offer capabilities such as the ability to process encrypted information without first decrypting it.

At the request of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, this report identifies potential scenarios that would describe the balance between encryption and decryption over the next 10 to 20 years and assesses the national security and intelligence implications of each scenario. For each of these scenarios, Cryptography and the Intelligence Community identifies risks, opportunities, and actions. Attention to the findings should enable the Intelligence Community to prepare for the future and to recognize emerging trends and developments and respond appropriately.

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Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Cryptography and the Intelligence Community: The Future of Encryption. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26168.

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Publication Info

140 pages | 8.5 x 11 | Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-309-49135-8
DOI: https://doi.org/10.17226/26168

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