Internet Engineers Plan a Fully Encrypted Internet

Responding to reports of mass surveillance, engineers say they’ll make encryption standard in all Web traffic.

In response to the public outcry over mass Internet surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA), the engineers who develop the protocols that underpin the Internet are deep into an effort to encrypt all Web traffic, and expect to have a revamped system ready to roll out by the end of next year.  Continue reading →

On the NSA, And the Campaign Against Encryption

Let me tell you the story of my tiny brush with the biggest crypto story of the year.

A few weeks ago I received a call from a reporter at ProPublica, asking me background questions about encryption. Right off the bat I knew this was going to be an odd conversation, since this gentleman seemed convinced that the NSA had vast capabilities to defeat encryption. And not in a ‘hey, d’ya think the NSA has vast capabilities to defeat encryption?’ kind of way. No, he’d already established the defeating. We were just haggling over the details.

Oddness aside it was a fun (if brief) set of conversations, mostly involving hypotheticals. If the NSA could do this, how might they do it? What would the impact be? I admit that at this point one of my biggest concerns was to avoid coming off like a crank. After all, if I got quoted sounding too much like an NSA conspiracy nut, my colleagues would laugh at me. Then I might not get invited to the cool security parties.

All of this is a long way of saying that I was totally unprepared for today’s bombshell revelations describing the NSA’s efforts to defeat encryption. Not only does the worst possible hypothetical I discussed appear to be true, but it’s true on a scale I couldn’t even imagine. I’m no longer the crank. I wasn’t even close to cranky enough.

Continue reading →

All Along the Watchtower

Allstate’s Senior Vice President of Public Relations Marci Kaminsky opened the floor at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center for a discussion on “Transparency in the New Economy” by reassuring the audience that the talk was planned in advance of the recent privacy debacles concerning the IRS and the NSA. The irony of the lecture’s scheduling serves as a reminder that the issue of privacy in a technology-driven world, although more or less physically intangible, gains momentum and yields real repercussions for Americans every day.

In a capstone to illustrate the growing importance of the issue of privacy, the headlining debut of Heartland Monitor’s 17th quarterly poll disclosed a prevailing discomfort among Americans about information sharing, as well as the lag time in innovation between increasingly “smarter” technology and adequately stringent privacy measures. In presenting the data, Edward Reilly, global CEO of Strategic Communications at FTI Consulting, highlighted a key finding of a “negative gut reaction to big data” among 1000 respondents surveyed between May 29th and June 2nd of 2013—just 4 days before the controversial release of Edward Snowden’s report on the government’s PRISM program in The Washington Post and the Guardian.

Continue reading →

fbi2

FBI’s Secret NET-Surveillance

The FBI has recently formed a secretive surveillance unit with an ambitious goal: to invent technology that will let police more readily eavesdrop on Internet and wireless communications.

The establishment of the Quantico, Va.-based unit, which is also staffed by agents from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency, is a response to technological developments that FBI officials believe outpace law enforcement’s ability to listen in on private communications.

Continue reading →