In the rush to kill encryption, we could hand ISIS our house keys

id-2969037-security1-100606370-origIn the wake of the Paris attacks there are, once again, renewed calls for banning encryption despite the fact there was no evidence that it was used in the crime. It won’t be long before we see the same calls in New Zealand given we are part of the “club.”

It’s all encryption’s fault according to the right-wing U.S. hawks. We should ban it. While we are banning it, we should also hang Edward Snowden by the neck until he is dead, according to ex-CIA head James Walmsley. Nasty.

Government officials are wasting no time in attempting to exploit the tragedy in Paris to pass invasive anti-privacy laws and acquire extraordinary new powers that they have wanted for years. In the process, they are making incredibly dishonest arguments and are receiving virtually no push back from the media.

The Guardian

  • Fact # 1: American and / or French Intelligence agencies had at least seven of the identified attackers on radar prior to the attack.
  • Fact # 2: The attackers used Facebook to communicate.
  • Fact # 3: The attackers used un-encrypted SMS to communicate.
  • Fact # 4: The ringleader did an interview online that warned the attacks were coming.

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” – Rahm Emanuel

What we see here then can be nothing more than a cruel attempt to exploit one of many tragedies in order to push an increasingly surveillance global state. Strangely enough. One that is failing.

Spy agencies now collect so much data that they can’t actually analyse it.

NEW YORK — A former National Security Agency official turned whistle-blower has spent almost a decade and a half in civilian life. And he says he’s still “pissed” by what he’s seen leak in the past two years.

In a lunch meeting hosted by Contrast Security founder Jeff Williams on Wednesday, William Binney, a former NSA official who spent more than three decades at the agency, said the US government’s mass surveillance programs have become so engorged with data that they are no longer effective, losing vital intelligence in the fray.


No surprises there. Even the might U.K. spy collection system can only hold seventy two hours of data.

What is happening is the fatal (literally) consequences of outsourcing our spy machinery to automation. No doubt, to save cost. Rather than sticking to the tried and true methods of spy-craft and surveillance the world has become dependent on mass-surveillance of communications. As a result. Things get missed. A lot of things get missed.

Ain’t cost saving and outsourcing grand?

The terrorists know they are being watched. They recently issued a slew of guidelines to avoid being monitored. I won’t re-post them here, save to say, their strategy is solid.

What if we ban encryption, how bad could that be?

It could be utterly catastrophic.

If we, and our businesses, can’t access encryption then we open ourselves up to cyber-attack from everyone including the home-hacker, to cyber-criminals, and nation-states who are fighting a cyber-war with each other. We degrade one of the greatest security defenses we have.

Even if we give back doors to the Five Eyes to look inside those systems, given that those agencies leak like sieves, how long is it before a cyber-enemy gets access to those back doors?

How long is it before ISIS gets access to those back doors?

That’s right, in our rush to kill off encryption, we could hand the enemy our house keys.

What if they do ban encryption. How do you police it? It’s encryption. 

Since Snowden blew the lid on spy agencies world-wide, the number of services has exploded. Do we really think that ISIS just won’t hire a few developers to build their own encrypted communications?

I don’t know what the answer is to the issue. What I do know is that knee-jerk reactions by Dinosaur politicians will simply put us in a worse position.

Otherwise known as “playing into the enemy’s hands.”

It will be interesting to see the New Zealand government’s posture on the idea, sadly, I think I already know.

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