What Do the Latest NSA Leaks Mean for Bitcoin?

(Motherboard) Could the intelligence community have a secret exploit for Bitcoin? It’s rather obvious that Bitcoin presents a very strong financial incentive to break its cryptography, since such a vulnerability could allow an attacker to claim large amounts of virtual currency for themselves. But given the decentralized nature of the currency, it may also be a target for intelligence officials looking for ways to track its use.

Last week, we learned that the National Security Agency has led an aggressive effort to “break widely used Internet encryption technologies.” ​The Office of the Director of National Intelligence claims it “would not be doing its job” if it didn’t try to counter the encryption used by terrorists and cyber-criminals. There is speculation that many protocols or crypto implementations have been compromised, deliberately weakened, or have had backdoors inserted. In doing so, the NSA has made the Internet less safe for us all, perhaps including those that wish to take advantage of Bitcoin’s privacy benefits.

Earlier this year, the U.S Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued its guidelines on virtual currencies — which many within the Bitcoin community regarded as an overreach and an attempt to bring it under regulation.