Encryption backdoors may actually help terrorists instead of stopping them
What’s common amongst UK, US, Australia, Germany and almost every country on the planet? They all don’t like Encryption. That’s why we see repeated (and absurd) calls to curb Encryption in the name of stopping terrorism.
Seriously, that cassette has been played so many times that we’ve lost the count. London attack, Westminster bridge attack, San Bernardino attack, Paris attack…we could go all day. Every single one of these attacks prompted attacks on technology from politicians. Some of them were just empty words whereas some took it too far. But the point is – it’s outright unwise and impractical to create encryption backdoors. Period.
There is no denying that the terrorists shouldn’t be afforded a place to hide – whether it’s physical or virtual. But do encrypted apps like WhatsApp really provide “safe places” to the terrorists? Absolutely not.
Backdoors are a BAD idea
For quite some time now, politicians have been crying out for backdoors. Basically, what they want is to read the messages sent/received by the terrorists (and everyone else). As appealing as it sounds, it’s an unwaveringly bad idea. Let’s assume for a second that the government now has access to a backdoor in WhatsApp. What would terrorists do? Would they continue communicating through WhatsApp? Of course not. They are stupid but they’re not that stupid. What they would do is they would use some less-popular open-source encrypted app and the tale continues.
Now you might say ‘But this was for just one app. What if the government passes a bill and brings every other app under the hood of backdoors?’
The thing about backdoors is that it’s not possible to create a backdoor that only the government could access. If any hacker or an ill-intended person, or a terrorist group itself, get through that backdoor we’re all screwed. Big time. Super-sensitive and confidential information such as passwords, credit card details, email ids, social security numbers…pretty much everything online could be put at a tremendous amount of risk. It’d be like handing over a master key to everything – something that every hacker dreams about.
Do we really need to give such a huge incentive to hackers around the world?
Backdoors may backfire
End-to-end encryption is designed in such a way that nobody, not even Jan Koum, the CEO of WhatsApp can read the messages if he wishes to. However, there is a catch. Apparently, there’s a thing called ‘metadata’ that shows who sent the message to whom and it isn’t usually encrypted. This could prove to be highly instrumental as far as tracking terrorist activity is concerned. If terrorists use a service that doesn’t share metadata the government would have even less information than what it has right now. If such motion is made, it may well turn out to be one of the greatest backfiring moves ever.
We’d like to conclude this blog by two of the most famous lines said ever.
‘With great power, comes greater responsibility.’
‘Be careful what you wish for.’