As most of us now know, much of what we do on the Internet can be monitored by pretty much whoever decides we are of interest. Whether or not you agree with government surveillance, no one can really deny that we enjoy the security that our governments provide us with (if you are lucky enough to live in such a country). A growing issue with the Internet and communications technology, however, is that increasing surveillance is also resulting in decreased security, both overall and for the individual layperson (that’s you and I).
If you’ve read @War by Shane Harris (and you should), you’ll know that certain agencies have been stockpiling zero days and building backdoors into commerical tech and software for years. You may or may not know that banks, commercial giants, and, you know, hackers of the black-hatted variety have been and are doing this as well.
The problem that this creates for the rest of us is that if there is a backdoor, it can be broken into by people who may not have the specific keys. The Internet, particularly, is not exactly built on sturdy foundations. Comunications technology, from my point of view, is starting to look like Swiss cheese. The UK government is having a go at banning corporations from offering end-to-end messaging encryption as it currently exists; bye-bye, WhatsApp, toodle pip Apple iMessage. What you would get is a service with built-in weaknesses, that will allow reading of communications previously unaacesable even to the firms that wrote the code for the software.
Hilariously, the Manhattan Defense Attorney, in one of the best examples of wishful thinking I have seen in years, is also advocating for something like this to happen in the US. More thankfully, Obama isn’t having a bar of it…..officially, anyway. Unofficially, well…..
Despite the current state of communications infrastructure, I remain optimistic. My phone is still functioning perfectly. As for the rest of it; call me naïve, but unless you have something you really don’t want the government to know, stressing out about something you only just discovered when it’s been happeneing for years is a waste of energy. And as for weighing in on the surveillance and security debate and advocating agency transparency; unless you’ve taken at least an Intro to Security class or have been an active politician or scholar, what do you know about national and international security?
Intelligence agencies, people. #SecretsAreUs.