Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Ensuring Privacy Online: The Individual’s Dilemma

Ensuring Privacy Online

In order for true online privacy, encryption is used to isolate users’ conversations and data from uninvolved parties. Simple enough, right? Now, when a crime is committed, and law enforcement needs to be involved, this privacy may need to be compromised in service of the law.

That also makes sense. Here’s the rub—customarily, law enforcement agencies have long lobbied for back doors to be built into encryption in the event they need to decrypt data in the course of a criminal investigation. While this doesn’t seem too troubling on the surface, deeper contemplation reveals how this weakens ensuring privacy online for everyone.

The Issue with Backdoors

Firstly, let’s look at what a backdoor is in terms of encryption. This is a purposefully designed weakness in an encryption system. In the event that encrypted data needs to be accessed by law enforcement, the backdoor can be used.

Now the issue with backdoors is pretty simple: they create weaknesses. For this reason, the truly secure-minded online users open-sourced encryption. This is encryption that has no deliberate points of weakness.

Secondly, if government organizations can gain access to your encrypted data, it stands to reason that hackers and other malicious actors can too.

After all, a backdoor isn’t a weakness that only those with good intentions can use. So, that leaves a problem with no acceptable solution, or does it?

A New Solution

The UK’s surveillance agency created what it thinks is a novel solution. Before communications are encrypted, allow the government access to all communications, then apply encryption.

This makes the information both safe from hackers (because strong encryption can be used) and available to government agencies if necessary. Now, while this seems like a perfect solution on paper, it really isn’t.

In the first place, it assumes that government agencies and their employees will always act legally and ethically. No government can provide its citizens this promise with complete assurance.

Furthermore, this strategy won’t work for all encrypted technology, including: email, hard drives, or apps. The inability to apply this in a widescale manner would defeat its purpose in general, necessitating the argument for backdoors yet again.

Ensuring Privacy Online
Finally, many companies are unwilling to consent to such a violation of its users’ privacy. Certainly, we would never grant the government access to our users’ data.

The issue boils down to how much privacy does an individual deserve—and most individual users consider their privacy a fundamental human right.

Ensuring Privacy Online

Reducing the privacy of individuals online in the service of aiding the government doesn’t seem worth it.

Especially when you consider that governmental surveillance hasn’t made any of us that much safer. Ensuring privacy online is the cornerstone of Trustwire’s values. Choose Trustwire because we take your security seriously.

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