The agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, the documents show.
I knew burying cash in mason jars was the way to go, but they all laughed at me...
The "printing wafers" thing is interesting. Basically, what the NSA would do is design and fabricate their own chips instead of buying commodity. Large portions of each processor go to the ordinary housekeeping chores of being a processor, the circuitry for all the instructions, etc; if you have a chip that all it does is factor, then you don't need that other stuff.
I'm not sure about that $10M figure, if it were that cheap and easy we'd have seen other people making custom factorization hardware by now. But if you had a whole percent of the US GNP to throw behind such a project, it doesn't seem out of the question.
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