Feds seek new ways to bypass encryption
CNET has an interesting article today entitled, Feds seek new ways to bypass encryption. While Declan included some interesting tidbits in his article, he completely missed a key point essential to the intensifying debate.
Any mechanism that allows the Government easier access allows criminals and foreign Governments easier access as well. The point of hard drive encryption, to name one example, is that it protects sensitive information if someone steals your computer. Whether that someone is a junkie, stalker, unethical competitor, or law enforcement officer with a warrant is irrelevant from a technical security perspective.
The issue of key escrow for “lawful” access will certainly be raised again and the answer is simple: Given the security breaches that many governments have suffered, they have proven themselves incapable of protecting their own sensitive information. Why should we trust them with more?
Businesses must ensure that they retain the ability to access encrypted information in the event that the user leaves or forgets their password. In that instance, the law enforcement solution is to serve a court order on company.
Personal computers, smart phones, and similar devices are becoming increasingly that — personal. They have become an extension of ourselves. Law enforcement agencies need to come to terms with this new reality and understand that their access will continue to decline. The cost of gaining access to such devices will continue to increase exponentially until it is impractical for all but the most serious investigations. The tricks Declan outlined in this article will become less effective as criminals quickly learn about them and implement countermeasures.
Back when I studied Criminology I learned that the average IQ of inmates was just slightly lower than the overall community average and that many criminologists believed it was because people with slightly lower than average intelligence were more likely to commit the type of crimes that could land one in jail. Twenty years of experience suggests another scenario: We’re much better at catching and convicting criminals with below average IQs.
Organized crime and terrorists have employed countermeasures such as encryption for decades. But what what appears to really make some law enforcement types uncomfortable is that you, me, and dumb criminals can now do it too.