The Mirage of Safe Backdoors in Encryption Technology

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The Mirage of Safe Backdoors in Encryption Technology

As Governments around the world demand more backdoors in encrypted technology, creating reliable and foolproof backdoors seems like a distant dream.

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If you are an entrepreneur working on encryption technology, you might want to familiarize yourself with the EARN IT Act. The Act strongly pushes technology companies to use backdoors in their encryption, under section 230. The guidelines in this section can be interpreted as a potential weakening of the current encryption practices, as it is the guide for organizations to protect themselves from criminal and civil liabilities. Moreover, the ambiguity in the Act can create more uncertainties for businesses in the near future.

The acts and growing attempts of governments to gain backdoors into people’s lives raises important questions. Do you think companies like Apple, and Facebook should build a backdoor into their encryption system? What if these demands are for the prevention of child abuse, and terrorism? Can organizations trust the governments to secure these backdoors with their life, if needed to be? Most people might agree on providing government leeway as necessary for the greater good. However, did you know that NSA lost its stockpile of Windows Zero-day vulnerabilities in 2016? Yes, moreover, there is another way to serve the greater good for governments.

Many agencies like the FBI have technical prowess necessary to navigate through encryption technology to find the data they need. Governments around the world are asking technology companies to create a magic door into their secure encryption technology. In addition to the risk of data finding its way into the hands of criminals through this door, such an encryption method will likely lead to imperfections in encryption technology. Moreover, with active cyber-crime rings in operations, these loopholes will also be likely exploited by cybercriminals.

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This is probably why companies like Facebook and Apple have implemented full-proof encryption technology in their products.  Now with WhatsApp’s new encryption, only users, and chosen receivers can gain access to the chats.

Despite the on-going movements in the encryption sphere, it is fair to say – governments are moving fast to have a say in the encryption technology. In 2018, Australia passed legislation compelling companies to build backdoors in their technology. The new backdoors present somewhat of a master key for security agencies to gain access to any user information necessary. It remains to be seen what the impact of these measures will be on businesses and technology innovation in general. But, for now, it is fair to assume the attempt to find a backdoor in encryption technology is being challenged by technology companies with end-to-end encryption with new messengers like Google’s embedding RCS protocol, leaving governments in a limbo.