Way back in the day encryption was considered munitions by the government and could not be exported. These days, everything is encrypted and secure on the internet to give users more privacy and security for both transactions and communications. But that same encryption technology can be used for good and evil. Just like guns.
What? Backdoors Already?
Your iPhone, Mac, iPad, and many new internet connected devices use encryption all over the place. That helps to keep our communications, files, and data safe from hackers, criminals, and the government.
It’s the latter that is causing the so-called encryption problem because encryption works well for good guys and bad guys. Government agencies and politicians want technology companies to give them backdoor access to encrypted technology.
What could go wrong?
As it turns out, it already has, and many are pointing a finger at… insert drum roll here… the U.S. government. Juniper, a major manufacturer of security networking equipment, found a backdoor in its software; a backdoor that infected many of the most secure machines in the world. A simple password– a master key, if you will– was all that was needed for anyone to hack into very secure computer systems and networks.
Who put the backdoor in Juniper’s previously secure code?
Fingers are being pointed at the NSA.– the National Security Agency, a quasi-autonomous government agency in charge of snooping on bad guys. And good guys. Juniper has a large number of very large and important customers that range from major banks, telephone companies, internet service providers, plus the Defense Department, Justice Department, FBI, and even the Treasury Department.
In essence, the very backdoor the government wants to use to unlock your iPhone if it wants to has already been used to infiltrate large and secure computer systems and networks. How many other equipment providers, computer systems, and networks have already been compromised by backdoor access that enables criminals, terrorists, hackers, and government agencies to access previously secure information?
We may never know. The U.S. government? Russia? China? North Korea? Iran? Terrorists? They all have the capability and the desire. Yet governments in so-called free and democratic countries want those backdoors built in, and they want access.
What could go wrong?
It’s already gone wrong, and it’s likely to go wrong again and again. How easy is it for government authorities, or criminal and terrorist organizations, to put pressure on a company or organization or employee to develop a hidden backdoor opening in encrypted devices and networks? Or else.
The scenario could go something like this, and be repeated again and again.
Five men in dark suits drive up to a technology company headquarters in two black SUV’s late at night. The conversation with technology executives is simple and brief.
Insert this code into this device. We know where you live, where your children go to school, and how quickly life can change when loved ones meet with an accident. When asked about this conversation you will deny all knowledge. The penalty for breaching this agreement will be swift, severe, and final.
It could happen. It’s likely it has happened. How do we know that our iPhones do not already have a backdoor that even Apple doesn’t know about?