Menu
Harvard study refutes 'going dark' argument against encryption

Harvard study refutes 'going dark' argument against encryption

Unencrypted data, which will be accessible to law enforcement, will continue to dominate the Internet

A study from Harvard released Monday largely refutes claims that wider use of encryption in software products will hamper investigations into terrorism and crime.

It predicts that the continued expansion of Internet-connected devices -- such as smart TVs and vehicles, IP video cameras and more -- will offer fresh opportunities for tracking targets. 

"Law enforcement or intelligence agencies may start to seek orders compelling Samsung, Google, Mattel, Nest or vendors of other networked devices to push an update or flip a digital switch to intercept the ambient communications of a target," it said. "These are real products now."

The study comes from Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet Society and was signed by well-known figures, including security expert Bruce Schneier, Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard Law School and Matthew G. Olsen, former director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center.

All are members of the Berkman Center’s Berklett Cybersecurity Project, which studies surveillance and cybersecurity issues.

The technology industry has come under increasing pressure from some government officials in the U.S. and U.K., who contend that bolstering data security, primarily through encryption, will diminish their capabilities to fight terrorism and crime, and will result in those sources "going dark."

While law enforcement can gain access to data held by service providers through warrants, some systems have been designed in a way that the service providers can't provide any information at all.

These so-called end-to-end encryption systems leave users in sole possession of the decryption keys. Without a password, law enforcement would have to use other means to try to decrypt data.

The study, titled "Don't Panic: Making progress on the encryption debate," does acknowledge encryption will poses challenges in some instances but by no means will dictate the landscape of future technology products.

"To be sure, encryption and provider-opaque services make surveillance more difficult in certain cases, but the landscape is far more variegated than the metaphor suggests," it said. "There are and will always be pockets of dimness and some dark spots -- communications channels resistant to surveillance -- but this does not mean we are completely 'going dark'."

For example, many consumer Web services are unlikely to enable end-to-end encryption because their business models rely on analyzing data and then monetizing it through advertising.

Also metadata -- the information surrounding communications that makes it possible to technically transfer it -- is usually not encrypted and probably won't be on a large scale. Metadata includes email headers, phone call records and location data from phones.

"The trajectory of technological development points to a future abundant in unencrypted data," the study said.


Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours

The channel came together for another round of After Hours, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and partners descending on The Jefferson in Auckland. Photos by Maria Stefina.​

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours
Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland

Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland

Emerging start-up Consegna has officially launched its cloud offerings in the New Zealand market, through a kick-off event held at Seafarers Building in Auckland.​ Founded in June 2016, the Auckland-based business is backed by AWS and supported by a global team of cloud specialists, leveraging global managed services partnerships with Rackspace locally.

Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland
Veritas honours top performing trans-Tasman partners

Veritas honours top performing trans-Tasman partners

Veritas honoured its top performing partners across the channel in Australia and New Zealand, recognising innovation and excellence on both sides of the Tasman. Revealed under the Vivid lights in Sydney, Intalock claimed the coveted Partner of the Year 2017 (Pacific) award, with Data#3 acknowledged for 12 months of strong growth across the market. Meanwhile, Datacom took home the New Zealand honours, with Global Storage and Insentra winning service provider and consulting awards respectively. Dicker Data was recognised as the standout distributor of the year, while Hitachi Data Systems claimed the alliance partner award. Photos by Bob Seary.

Veritas honours top performing trans-Tasman partners
Show Comments