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The Guardian/AFP/Getty ImagesTHE GUARDIAN / AFP - Getty Images

In documents provided to the Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could 'break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.'

The effort to build 'a cryptologically useful quantum computer' - a machine exponentially faster than classical computers - is part of a $79.7 million research program titled 'Penetrating Hard Targets.'

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