Today, the vulnerable state of electronic communications security dominates headlines across the globe, while surveillance, money and power increasingly permeate the ‘cybersecurity’ policy arena. With the stakes so high, how should communications security be regulated? Deirdre Mulligan (UC Berkeley), Ashkan Soltani (independent, Washington Post), Ian Brown (Oxford) and Michel van Eeten (TU Delft) weighed in on this proposition at an expert panel on my doctoral project at the Amsterdam Information Influx conference. [Read more…]
The big NSA revelation of last week was that the agency’s multifaceted strategy to read encrypted Internet traffic is generally successful. The story, from the New York Times and ProPublica, described NSA strategies ranging from the predictable—exploiting implementation flaws in some popular crypto products; to the widely-suspected but disappointing—inducing companies to insert backdoors into products; to the really disturbing—taking active steps to weaken public encryption standards. Dan wrote yesterday about how the NSA is defeating encryption.
To understand fully why the NSA’s actions are harmful, consider this sentence from the article:
Many users assume — or have been assured by Internet companies — that their data is safe from prying eyes, including those of the government, and the N.S.A. wants to keep it that way.
In security, the worst case—the thing you most want to avoid—is thinking you are secure when you’re not. And that’s exactly what the NSA seems to be trying to perpetuate.