By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Earlier this year, former NSA worker Edward Snowden leaked top-secret government information to the British newspaper The Guardian. According to their reports, the NSA has been watching the phone calls and internet habits of US citizens!
As you can imagine, not too many people liked the idea of being tracked, and several wanted a way to protect their privacy. If that’s the case, they may be interested to hear about the latest project from Sang Mun, a former NSA contractor. He created special computer fonts called ZXX, which will make it difficult for computers to read our stuff!
“I decided to create a typeface that would be unreadable by text scanning software [whether used by a government agency or a lone hacker],” said Mun. His typeface comes with 4 different fonts – Camo, False, Noise and, Xed – and they all have their own awesome protective design.
Camo decorates letters with spots, kind of like those found on a cheetah’s fur, while Noise features characters covered in tiny dots. If you want to use something even more secure, Xed marks a giant “X” over each typed letter, and False mixes two characters together. For example, let’s say you hit the “H” on your keyboard. Instead of just that letter, there will be a smaller letter “s” right below, hiding under the H’s cross. This mix-up confuses text scanning software quite a bit!
Overall, the 4 fonts are designed to be easy to read with the naked eye, but difficult for computers to recognize, effectively protecting whatever it is you want to keep secure! Mun’s certain that ZXX is a simple way to protect your privacy, however, there are others who believe the software is easy to crack. “For standard optical character recognition that’s tuned to read traditional typefaces and handwriting, yes, I think [these fonts] will be confusing …” said Matthew Green, Research Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University. “But if the NSA really wants to detect this data? Not really.” Well, why not? Apparently, it’s because the characters are not randomized. Every time someone clicks the “A” key using the “False” font, the same “tricky” character will always come out. This makes the code very easy to crack.
With that said, I still think it’s a pretty good idea, if not to protect your message from the government, at least to have a fun type of font to play with. I definitely give Mun props for trying.
Images and video courtesy of Sang Mun on Vimeo.