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Devices/smartphones

Mobile Encryption Under Scrutiny After Paris Attacks

Smartphone makers and communications apps developers could feel the knock-on effects of Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris, as law and security officials in the US complain that modern encryption on devices puts them in the dark on terrorist communications.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton has been most vocal about these issues. He took to the Sunday politics talk shows in the US to vent his frustration about law enforcement not having a back door into encrypted communications on devices like the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone or messaging apps like Facebook 's WhatsApp.

"These apps, these devices that now allow these terrorists to operate without fear of penetration by intelligence services," Bratton said on CBS show Face The Nation. "This is the first example of this."

End-to-end encryption means that a communication is scrambled on one device, transmitted and then unscrambled at the other end.

Bratton had previously said on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos that he didn't yet know what devices and apps -- if any -- the attackers had used in coordinating the Paris attacks.

Prior to the Paris attack, Apple CEO Tim Cook had already blasted UK plans to unlock encrypted communications. "If you halt or weaken encryption, the people that you hurt are not the folks that want to do bad things," the CEO told The Daily Telegraph.

In fact, there are already claims Daesh -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- used the dark web to coordinate the Paris attacks. The terror group is also thought to have developed its own encryption software.

What all this means at the moment is not fully clear. "We are not seeking specific legal authorities at this juncture. I'm certainly not proposing a specific remedy," NYPD boss Bratton told National Public Radio on Monday.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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DHagar 12/8/2015 | 12:25:57 PM
Re: Mobile Encryption Under Attack Susan, well stated.  Everyone needs to take responsibility for who has access to the data and how it is used.  We truly need a public education campaign.

Even then, there is no 100% security protection - so you have to assess the risks.
Susan Fourtané 12/8/2015 | 7:30:15 AM
Re: Mobile Encryption Under Attack DHagar, yes, I agree, security is always very important, but it's also true that anything can guarantee you 100% of security and privacy. Taking that into account, then getting the bext possible security and privacy needs to always be the goal. As said, before, trusting the company where you have your data stored is of paramount importance. -Susan
Susan Fourtané 12/8/2015 | 7:25:23 AM
RE: Mobile Encryption Under Attack Thanks, DHagar. It's all about building businesses to become consumer centric. -Susan
Susan Fourtané 12/7/2015 | 3:03:03 AM
Re: Mobile Encryption Under Attack mendyk, that would be a good change. -Susan
mendyk 12/3/2015 | 8:48:48 AM
Re: Mobile Encryption Under Attack Change is inevitable, and not always controllable. But in this context, I think it's important to call out people whose public statements directly contradict their actions.
Susan Fourtané 12/3/2015 | 3:45:33 AM
Re: Mobile Encryption Under Attack mendyk, then there is no chance of change when everyone is just guarding his own garden, right? -Susan
mendyk 12/2/2015 | 3:18:17 PM
Re: Mobile Encryption Under Attack One irony is that some of the most visible privacy protection advocates run businesses that make lots of money by exploiting their customers' behavior patterns, which they monitor very closely.
Ariella 12/2/2015 | 3:10:33 PM
Re: Mobile Encryption Under Attack <The point is that if you are looking for something, you don't start by putting on a blindfold. But you do make it as difficult as possible for your enemy - and it's reasonable to call organized terrorists an enemy at this point -- to execute its plans> Radical idea @Mendyk, at least to the sort of thinking I see expressed by some that seems to demand blindfolds. 
mendyk 12/2/2015 | 2:58:27 PM
Re: Mobile Encryption Under Attack The point is that if you are looking for something, you don't start by putting on a blindfold. But you do make it as difficult as possible for your enemy -- and it's reasonable to call organized terrorists an enemy at this point -- to execute its plans. The killers near St. Denis were found through a simple wiretap. Without that, their happy ending would most likely have been very different.
Ariella 12/2/2015 | 2:50:52 PM
Re: Mobile Encryption Under Attack I thought that the findings of the investigation indicated that the question of encyrption did not relate to this particular attack. Was that not the case?  
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