Experts are saying that America has enough problems with cyber security without the FBI mandating backdoors into encrypted internet communications.
Charlie Savage of The New York Times reported today how the FBI plans to push domestic surveillance to the internet with mandated backdoors into web-communications platforms.
Almost immediately, information security specialists voiced concerns.
Many have also been critical of the proposal’s impact on security — exposing systems to wiretaps could also open up more surface area to hackers and others trying to gain access illicitly. “I think it’s a disaster waiting to happen,” said Columbia University Computer Science professor Steven M. Bellovin.
Old wiretapping techniques literally required hard-wiring into phone lines locally on telephone poles. Eventually that turned into coordinating with phone companies (of which, there are few — whereas there are many web entities) to listen in on cell phone calls.
Each required a warrant. The FBI’s public argument for web-tapping says that obtaining permission will remain the same — though Declan McCullagh of CNET reports otherwise based on internal memos.
Setting aside the (semi?) legal justifications for a second, even the Times’ own reportage contains an expert dubious about the possibilities of exploits built into a system:
“I think the F.B.I.’s proposal would render Internet communications less secure and more vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves,” said Gregory T. Nojeim of the centre for Democracy and Technology.
With this latest move for web-wiretapping, it should come as no surprise that the quarterback behind the design of the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing And Protections Act, Rep. Mike Rogers, has gained recent support to head up the FBI.
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