There's the war on terrorism, and then there's the war on how to fight the war on terrorism.
With recent attacks in Paris, Beirut and Mali, some in governments and law-enforcement agencies are renewing their calls to expand electronic surveillance to thwart potential attacks. Communications that cant be tapped or unscrambled pose aseriousnational-security risk, authorities argue, because they can be used by terrorists tohidetheir activitiesand planning. Technology companies and cybersecurity experts generally takeadifferent view: If encrypted communications can be accessed by the government or a company -- or anyone other than the sender and intended recipient -- they inherently are vulnerable to bad actors and prying eyes.
Why is this such a complex and often heated debatewith noapparentresolution in sight? For starters, encryption is really complicated. Here's what you need to know to understand the issues:
Encryption, sometimes called crypto by techies, is a fancy word for a type of code. Encryption schemes transform words into seeming gibberish. Heresa mereportionofencrypted textthat,if printed in full,would translate to"happyholidays:"
hQIMA2dX93ZaYL95AQ//ZSZ/n0VSK7ZZ9kkRk3X8nn+m2YLzHj5L4zrsrCesPOKw ZQG5FXuHz9/02Be3tyXelAiFpGdCh+Tdnx0r1wLOChitSPaydW0hcReG6cp9Nplk QZL5sYRr0NYWjx2EkwFO0j6lNcGMNo3qAoxMNe3rfENPjxpv1UCRl6nHfEmSk1BO swjBOUXrsWxbbphdJqSZtdWoPLlOnFftRjgqLe9hC9rmWF/Q7/RIkZ5TEYmSfJkI aGB3Vrf/XEwXOHuss+HgE9z/XalJtaNLCZeCgNgO/Lk26nVyS0R5XfNz9VtFszhT pjk2rpxMecOlCs4a62oSYykI63E04G0OZkZaPrUlir4GoSV4OVivFgbFDNtIq5Lk hX1TF3y/PsuVb8bF7XhvqCt/q9HF0n0LY9v+tJfMOT885c6uNX9Rm6ZUUFR++jgv X4EfNYSmX6HjmYTflqQyivWeTpGl13tQP7b+UppJr0v9vH7Wd0PmRdvLDhKHqCiq
Only a user or machine with the so-called encryption key can unscramblethe message to get its meaning. So the same phrase -- "Happy Holidays" -- would be encrypted differentlydepending on the software used and the people involved.
Once the province of spies, encryption is widely used on the Internet. The little padlock next to a Web address indicates the connection is encrypted. Wi-Fi routers, Gmail, Yahoo mail, Snapchats, tweets and 4G cellular phones all use some form of encryption,to protect personal information, such as passwords, location coordinates, bank-account and credit-card numbers and sometimes -- depending on the type of encryption used -- the text of messages and other content.
In addition to those receiving the data who need to decipher it, the companies that employ this technology typically hold keys, sothey canget to the information if they need to. Among other things, this letscustomers reset passwords, etc.It also allows companies to decrypt messages for the authorities when faced with lawful requests for customer records or the contents of communications.
In the past few years, several tech companies have adopted encryption schemes for which they say they dont hold the keys. Most notably, Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.s Google in 2014 released smartphone operating systems that, by default, they said precluded them from unlocking phones for law enforcement, even with a warrant.That's because the companies said they would no longer maintain a key to unlock their devices' encryption. Those keys would only be on the devices themselves and could only be unlockedwith users' passwords.Before the switch, companies could comply with court orders to unlock phones, and usually did.
Here is FBI Director James Comey -- who has called these actions an assault on law enforcement --testifying before Congress on the issue:
But tech and telecommunications companieswerecriticized after documents leaked byEdwardSnowden showedsomefirms cooperating with governmentsto allow access to some of their users' communications. Companies also said the government was overstepping its monitoring activities without their knowledge, compromising user confidence in the privacy of their information. A lot of trust between the two sides was broken. Companies say that thenew encryption protocolswill make their products safer, because thieves and spies would have a harder time seeingand stealingtheir contents or communications.
Here's Apple CEO Tim Cook, making this point at the Wall Street Journal's WSJDLive tech conference in October:
The debate has widened as U.S. and European officialsalsostarted criticizing makers of apps designed to encrypt messages, such as Wickr, Signal and Telegram.Makers of theseapps have not changedtheir systemssince the Paris attacks.ButTelegram, which features both private chat and a Twitter-like public bulletin feature, saidrecently thatit had deactivated some public channels linked to the Islamic State. The shift, if small, was notable given Telegram founder Pavel Durov's previous statements that his company "shouldn't feel guilty" for reports that the app has been used by terrorists.
There is no evidence it played a role in the shootings and bombings in Paris. To the contrary, French media have reported some of the attackers coordinated using ordinary SMS text messages, which usually are easy for law enforcement to tap. However, Islamic State members have documented that they use some messaging apps that rely on strong encryption. Some U.S. officials have said this is a problem if the goal is to prevent another Islamic State attack. Here's a tutorial used by the Islamic State to rate the relative strength of various communication apps:
Several reasons. One, technology companies in general chafe at the idea of the government telling them how to make products. When the Clinton administration in the 1990s proposed a system where the government would maintain the ability to decipher commercial communications through a so-called "Clipper chip," the proposal was beat back due to civil liberties concerns. One alternative would have technology companies maintain all or part of the so-called master key, which they would only use if faced with a court order. Technology companies don't like this solution because they fear it makes the key a target for hackers. In short, if someone steals the digital key,everything is potentially lost.It's also unclear how such a system would work in practice.
Privately,some government officials say technology companies are overstating the risks of creating such a system. But technology companies counter the risks are real. The catch is that a lot of the risks are assumed and hypothetical. Building extra keys and loopholes into secure systems could, for example, introduce weaknesses from bugs, but it's hard to know what those bugs are ahead of time. "The complexity of todays Internet environment, with millions of apps and globally connected services, means that new law enforcement requirements are likely to introduce unanticipated, hard to detect security flaws," wrote 15 cryptographers in a paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this summer. There is some precedent though for this concern. Washington once required American firms sell foreign customers only weaker, more easily cracked encryption to help U.S. spies keep tabs on overseas targets. Even though that requirement was dropped in the 1990s, the weakened encryption can still be found on computers and can now be exploited by other hackers. Lobbyists for tech firms such as Apple argue these problems would only be worse now. Because companies do more business overseas, they would likely have to replicate any deal they make with the United States. For instance, Apple sells a lot of iPhones in China. What if overseas governments demand the same types of keys?
In that case, all bets could be off. For instance, if an iPhone user uses iCloud backups for the content on their phone, Apple is able to hand over the latest backup if faced with a court order, the company says.Some cloud providers automatically erase such data after a period of time, but policies and procedures vary.
In January, Mr. Obama said, If we find evidence of a terrorist plot and despite having a phone number, despite having a social media address or email address, we cant penetrate that, thats a problem. The president and Mr. Comey have said they believe Silicon Valley should be able to come up with a solution. Congress also is examining the issue. On the other hand, former NSA Director Mike McConnell and other retired national security officials have publicly said that finding a way to maintain access to encrypted communications could be bad for security. The Obama administration has indicated that, for now, it doesnt want to issue orders to tech firms or push Congress for new laws.
Here's Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, at the WSJDLive conference urging government and the tech industry to bridge the gaps:
In 1999, a federal appeals court more or less ended the first "Crypto wars" when it ruled computer code, including encryption schemes, is protected speech under the First Amendment. Apple is fighting the Justice Department in a New York federal court over whether it should be forced to figure out a way to unlock an encrypted iPhone.
White House and congressional staffers have reached out to some Silicon Valley executives, asking them to come to Washington, D.C., for another round of encryption talks. Some lawmakers are seeking a so-called "Blue Ribbon" committee that would include experts from both sides of the debate. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) has pledged to conduct hearings on the matter and pursue legislation. The British parliament meantime is exploring a new spy powers measure that could give authorities more power to force companies to be able to unscramble customer data.
- What is On-the-Fly Memory Encryption? - Electropages - August 8th, 2020
- AFP says it made three requests for assistance in breaking encryption in 2019-20 - iTWire - August 8th, 2020
- Blue Canyon Technologies Tapped to Build QETSSat Encryption Satellite - Via Satellite - August 8th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market Report to Share Key Aspects of the Industry with the Details of Influence Factors- 2024 - Owned - August 8th, 2020
- Exorcist Ransomware and CIS Exclusion - Security Boulevard - August 8th, 2020
- Beyond Krk: Even more WiFi chips vulnerable to eavesdropping - We Live Security - August 8th, 2020
- Comprehensive Analysis on Endpoint Encryption Software Market based on types and application - The Daily Chronicle - August 8th, 2020
- This hardware-encrypted USB-C drive is rugged, inexpensive, and can run Windows - TechRadar UK - August 8th, 2020
- Zoom's COO is not concerned by app bans in India, says end-to-end encryption for all by year end - Economic Times - August 8th, 2020
- Jihadi Use Of Bots On The Encrypted Messaging Platform Telegram - Middle East Media Research Institute - August 8th, 2020
- Thoughts on encryption legislation - and the real 'link' between 5G and coronavirus - Cloud Tech - July 21st, 2020
- Twitter Urged To Beef Up Encryption 07/20/2020 - MediaPost Communications - July 21st, 2020
- Encryption Software - Market Share Analysis and Research Report by 2025 - CueReport - July 21st, 2020
- Encryption Management Solutions Market 2020 Global Share, Growth, Size, Opportunities, Trends, Regional Overview, Leading Company Analysis And... - July 21st, 2020
- Research Report on Data Encryption Service Market by Current Industry Status, Growth Opportunities, Top Key Players, and Forecast to 2025 -... - July 21st, 2020
- Bill That Mandates Cyber Backdoors Will Leave Front Doors Wide Open - CPO Magazine - July 21st, 2020
- These encrypted iStorage hard drives and flash drives are the ultimate peace of mind for your data - Boing Boing - July 21st, 2020
- Virtual and face-to-face connect to coexist: Zoom COO - Fortune India - July 21st, 2020
- Facebook's Rolling Out Touch ID and Face ID Lock Options for Messenger - Social Media Today - July 21st, 2020
- Global Cloud Encryption Technology Market Expeted To Reach xx.xx mn USD With growth Rate of xx by 2025| Pandamic Impact Analysis : Gemalto, Sophos,... - July 21st, 2020
- Encryption Software Market 2020 Comprehensive Analysis With Top Trends, Size, Share, Future Growth Opportunities & Forecast By 2027 - Connected... - July 21st, 2020
- Cryptocurrencies Have 'No Way' to Comply With US Anti-Encryption Bills - CoinDesk - CoinDesk - July 17th, 2020
- Encryption Key Management Market: Find Out Essential Strategies to expand The Business and Also Check Working in 2020-2027 - Jewish Life News - July 17th, 2020
- Email Encryption Market Worth $9.9 Billion by 2025 - Exclusive Report by MarketsandMarkets - PRNewswire - July 17th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market Overviews With Key Players, Size Growth Drivers As Well As Industry Challenges Opportunities To 2027 - Connected Lifestyle - July 17th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market 2020 | Covid-19 Impact Analysis and Industry Forecast Report Till 2024 - 3rd Watch News - July 17th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market 2020 Overview by Size, Share, Financial Services, Applications, Sales Data and Investment Opportunities till 2025 - Apsters... - July 17th, 2020
- Flash drives and hard drives with military-grade encryption on sale - Mashable - July 17th, 2020
- Hardware Encryption Market: Size, Share, Analysis, Regional Outlook and Forecast 2020-2025 - Express Journal - July 17th, 2020
- IoT Security Solution For Encryption Market Growth By Manufacturers, Type And Application, Forecast To 2026 - 3rd Watch News - July 6th, 2020
- Endpoint Encryption Software Market Growth By Manufacturers, Type And Application, Forecast To 2026 - 3rd Watch News - July 6th, 2020
- Global Hardware-based Full Disk Encryption (FDE) Market Report 2020 by Key Players, Types, Applications, Countries, Market Size, Forecast to 2026... - July 6th, 2020
- Explained: WhatApp calls End-to-End Encrypted, but what does it mean for you? - India Today - July 6th, 2020
- The booming business of encrypted tech serving the criminal underworld - Telegraph.co.uk - July 6th, 2020
- Hardware Encryption Devices Consumption Market Growth By Manufacturers, Type And Application, Forecast To 2026 - 3rd Watch News - July 6th, 2020
- Network Encryption Market Growth By Manufacturers, Type And Application, Forecast To 2026 - 3rd Watch News - July 6th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market Worth $20.1 Billion by 2025 - Exclusive Report by MarketsandMarkets - Yahoo Finance - June 18th, 2020
- Zoom says free users will get end-to-end encryption after all - The Verge - June 18th, 2020
- Zoom To Offer End-To-End Encryption For Video Calls, Trials To Start In July - NDTV - June 18th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market 2020-2025: Types, Services, Cost Structure, Application, Statistics, Emerging Trends And Regional Analysis - Owned - June 18th, 2020
- Zoom to offer end-to-end encryption for all users, trial to begin in July - Reuters India - June 18th, 2020
- Cloud Encryption Market Will Generate Massive Revenue In Future- A Comprehensive Study On Key Players - Surfacing Magazine - June 18th, 2020
- Global Cloud Encryption Gateways Market Research with COVID-19 After Effects - Cole of Duty - June 18th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market 2020 By Trends, Demand, Business Opportunities, Development Factors, Applications, Overview with Competitive landscape... - June 14th, 2020
- IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON Encryption Key Management Software RESEARCH, GROWTH TRENDS AND COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS 2020-2026 - Cole of Duty - June 14th, 2020
- Move over Zoom, this encryption company just released the first fully end to end encrypted conferencing solution #105518 - New Kerala - June 14th, 2020
- Cloud Encryption Software Market to witness high growth in near future - GroundAlerts.com - June 14th, 2020
- Three secure ways to surf the internet - Gadgets Now - June 14th, 2020
- Will Zoom Bring Encryption to the People Who Need It Most? - EFF - June 13th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market Size Scope and Comprehensive Analysis by 2028 - 3rd Watch News - June 13th, 2020
- Federal-grade encryption from the comfort of home - GCN.com - June 13th, 2020
- Hardware-based Full Disk Encryption Market Growth Prospects, Revenue, Key Vendors, Growth Rate and Forecast To 2026 - Jewish Life News - June 13th, 2020
- Congress introduces EARN IT Act, which would end encryption programs but violates the Constitution - NationofChange - June 13th, 2020
- IBM kit wants to keep your data encrypted while in use - ITProPortal - June 13th, 2020
- Commercial Encryption Software Market Growth Prospects, Revenue, Key Vendors, Growth Rate and Forecast To 2026 - Jewish Life News - June 13th, 2020
- Nearly 500,000 say Congress shouldnt kill encryption with the EARN IT Act - The Daily Dot - June 13th, 2020
- COVID-19, Security and WFH: Myths and Misconceptions - Security Boulevard - June 13th, 2020
- Privacy News Online | Weekly Review: June 12th, 2020 - Privacy News Online - June 13th, 2020
- Global Optical encryption Market Insights and Forecast 2020 to 2025 - Jewish Life News - June 13th, 2020
- Hong Kong is number one in Asia for enterprise encryption, with customer personal information the top data protection priority, reports nCipher... - May 27th, 2020
- Are social giants morally obligated to break encryption? - ACS - May 27th, 2020
- Facebook plot to encrypt ALL chats will help child abusers to hide, former police chief warns - The Sun - May 27th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market To Expand At A Robust 14.27% Cagr Of 2020 | Sophos,McAfee,Check Point Software Technologies,Proofpoint,Trend Micro - 3rd... - May 27th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market Forecast Revised in a New Market Expertz Report as COVID-19 Projected to Hold a Massive Impact on Sales in 2020 | Long-term... - May 27th, 2020
- Global Homomorphic Encryption Market Analysis 2020-2025: by Key Players with Countries, Type, Application and Forecast Till 2025 - Cole of Duty - May 27th, 2020
- COVID-19 Impact ON AES Encryption Software Market: Size, Market Analysis, Application, Growth Drivers, Trends, status and Research Report by 2025 -... - May 27th, 2020
- Cloud Encryption Software Market 2020: Potential growth, attractive valuation make it is a long-term investment | Know the COVID19 Impact | Top... - May 27th, 2020
- Global Encryption Key Management Market 2020 Insights, Key Player's Competition, Trends, Sales, Revenue, Supply, Demand, Growth Analysis and Forecast... - May 27th, 2020
- Starting to look at email security. Looking for guidance - Encryption Methods and Programs - BleepingComputer - May 25th, 2020
- Global Cloud Encryption Technology Market Projected to Reach USD XX.XX billion by 2025- Gemalto, Sophos, Symantec, SkyHigh Networks, Netskope etc. -... - May 25th, 2020
- Impact of Covid-19 on Cloud Encryption Technology Market is Expected to Grow at an active CAGR by Forecast to 2025 | Top Players Gemalto, Sophos,... - May 25th, 2020
- Zoom will seek public feedback on plan for stronger encryption - The Indian Express - May 16th, 2020
- Encryption Software Market Research Report 2020 By Size, Share, Trends, Analysis and Forecast to 2026 - Cole of Duty - May 16th, 2020
- Almost half of organisations have been reported to the ICO for a potential data breach - ResponseSource - May 16th, 2020
- VPN Tunnels explained: what are they and how can they keep your internet data secure - TechRadar - May 16th, 2020
- The Week in Ransomware - May 15th 2020 - REvil targets Trump - BleepingComputer - May 16th, 2020
- WhatsApp Video Calls Will Soon Support 50: This Is Why 8s The Limit For Your Security - Forbes - May 16th, 2020
- How to Use Encryption for Defense in Depth in Native and Browser Apps - InfoQ.com - May 14th, 2020
- Analyzing Encrypted RDP Connections - Security Boulevard - May 14th, 2020
- Analysis on Impact of COVID-19-Global Cloud Encryption Software Market 2020-2024| Increasing Use of In-built Cloud Encryption Solutions to Boost... - May 14th, 2020