Encryption can protect personal data from government intrusion, which means the government wants the key to break it.
Gavin Hanson reports: Like it or not, you are your data. In this day and age, your receipts, social media activity, public records, GPS data, and internet search history are the proof of who you are. And while you may have thought you had secrets, the Federal Government would like the rest of them.
The seemingly innocuous pieces of information we trade away every day create a detailed mosaic of our lives used to target advertising and create personality profiles that are exploited by the FBI, political operatives like Cambridge Analytica, and Russian propagandists.
And those are just the legal shenanigans! Instances of malicious hacking that jeopardize social security numbers and other important data are on the rise as well.
Encryption, to oversimplify, is the process of putting your data in a combination locked safe, and it’s becoming more popular. Like all passcodes, these combinations are best stored non-electronically.
Automatically encrypted search engines and internet services simplify the process for users. They protect individuals’ data from hacking, theft, and even the government, but they also retain a repository for all the combinations they use to lock data up.
This is the Trojan horse the NSA means to use to gain access to your private data even when it is encrypted.
But that may soon change.
If the executive agencies have their way, the NSA will have a record of every lock combination in use by every company—a skeleton key, if you will, to gain access to your digital home, papers, effects, and aspects of your person without warrant or probable cause—effectively mandating that companies hand over skeleton keys to the locks that they provide to their users, at any time: what they call “exceptional access.” Read the rest of this entry »
Forty-two years after unbreakable encryption was first conceived, these tools are more widespread than ever before. One milestone came in 2016, when the world’s largest messaging service—WhatsApp—announced it would offer default end-to-end encryption on all communications. In other words, the messages can be read only by the senders and recipients; even the platform provider can’t access them.
Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are still reckoning with this new reality. For decades, they demanded that tech companies hand over private data on their users, sometimes without obtaining warrants. So companies like Apple changed their policies so individual users were the only ones holding the keys to their data.
This new era of consumer privacy led to a standoff in 2016, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) demanded access to an encrypted iPhone belonging to Sayed Farook, a deceased terrorist from San Bernardino, California. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, had killed 14 people at a holiday office party in December 2015.
The FBI wanted Apple to write software that would weaken the iPhone’s built-in security. Apple refused, saying that such flawed software would jeopardize the security of its customers, who number in the hundreds of millions. Once a back door was created, the company claimed, the FBI could use it on similar phones—and it could be leaked to hackers or foreign enemies. “It is in our view the software equivalent of cancer,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told ABC News. Read the rest of this entry »
Research by of University of Illinois professor has revealed a surprising trend about mass murder in the United States.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Nancy Harty reports: Research by of University of Illinois professor has revealed a surprising trend about mass murder in the United States.
Contrary to what you might think, mass murders are not on the rise, according to computer science professor Sheldon Jacobson.
Jacobson said there were 323 such killings – in which four or more people are killed in one incident – between January 2006 and October 2016. The mass killings appeared to be evenly distributed over that time, meaning their rate remained stable over the past decade, and did not spike during any particular season or year.
“The data doesn’t lie. The rate of these events just is not increasing as the perception is given in the media. This is just what it is,” he said.
The professor used a decade’s worth of data from USA Today that was cross-checked by the FBI. He said his analysis also found public shooting sprees like the Las Vegas massacre are not the most common type of mass killing. Read the rest of this entry »
NASA on Sept. 8 launched the first U.S. mission to collect and return an asteroid sample, in hopes of learning more about how the solar system coalesced and life came to be.