The long answer is actually very long and very technical. The easiest summary is available in an article dated November 30th 2011 from the Bureau Of Investigative Journalism. In a nutshell, while progress has been made in cryptography and in protecting devices such as PCs and smartphones against malicious software via anti-viruses and similar software artefacts, other portions of the communication channels that we inadvertently use are much less secure than we think….
The main aspect is that the article is not only dealing with the presence of some technical vulnerabilities but also on whether somebody is actually using them. The unfortunate answer is yes, and this includes Governments and Government agencies. The article doesn’t explicitly say it but the impression is that there is no overarching control or independent verification – such as Court orders – on this aspect.This news is uncomfortable because we all would like to take advantage of what the new technologies offer us and of what they enable us to do, far more easily than a few years ago: just think for a minute at mobile banking…. The public and private institutions are also investing in enabling themselves and the services they offer on a new technological approach.
However, these news are not more unsettling than the ones that we were receiving a few decades ago about credit cards: though credit card frauds are still there – and actually increasing – the Western world continues to expand their usage. Moreover, the good news is that there is enough understanding of these issues to bring obvious solutions; these solutions, though, are not only technological (e.g. cryptography) but also behavioural: one needs to know what threats are being run at any point in time and needs to behave in a way that minimises them.