The arrest of the Russian computer security expert Dmitry Sklyarov, after he allegedly released a program to crack encrypted PDF files, has set a grim precedent in the field of independent security research. The publication of the security methods, and exposing the allegedly secure PDF files as easy to crack, has lead to a counter strike by Adobe and a raid by the FBI.

Sklyarov did not crack secret documents with his program; he only exposed the fact that Adobe’s PDF format is a flaky product. It is a sad fact that independent researchers who expose the flaws in digital products face the same treatment as infamous KGB spies.

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