Putting a ban on the way in which companies protect user data may help crime fighters, but it also puts the users at a greater risk.
Digital security is something we all worry about. Attacked by hackers and having your personal information stolen is an ever growing concern as we use the internet and digital services to go about our day. That concern grows even more as US President Donald turns his attention to the manner in which companies implement their security.
Last week, it was reported that senior white house officials had met to discuss the possibility of introducing government legislation that would ban technology companies from using certain encryption methods to protect products and their users. The most prominent of these methods is end-to-end encryption, which has long been used by the likes of Facebook, Google, and Apple to secure data and user information.
Here’s a basic example of this method. If you open up a Whatsapp chat on your phone, you might see a message that says your contact’s security code has changed. This may be due to a couple of things, like the contact has reinstalled Whatsapp on their phone or has replaced their phone entirely. This code ensures that messages sent between the two contacts are secure when in transit, and can only by accessed by the people on the opposite ends of the line. This is what is meant by end-to-end encryption.
End-to-end encryption offers protection for several ways that hackers and criminals try to collect information. One of the more common methods is the Man-in-the-middle attack. This is when a hacker intercepts the messages between two people and makes them believe that they are still talking directly to each other, when they are in fact talking to a third party that could alter their messages and the communication. There have been several cases where customers think they are talking to a business but instead, have been hijacked and are sending out unauthorised information.
End-to-end encryption became a popular means of security in 2014 after former NSA employee, Edward Snowden, revealed that the United States government was collecting and storing large amounts of data on it’s citizens. A ban on end-to-end encryption means that tech giants would have to lower the levels of security used in order for law enforcement agencies to have easier access to the information of suspected criminals or terrorists. A disadvantage of this legislation would be that the information of private users will be at a higher risk of being stolen by hackers.