Apple leads other tech companies to resist government’s backdoor entry


The US government is gearing up, again, with a new set of ‘weapons’ against the cybersecurity.

This is not the first time government has come back prying to the tech companies. Actually, the government’s lust for busting encryption’s kneecaps never went away. The US has clearly been positioning itself for an(other) assault on encryption.

This time they’ve made certain new proposals to break the end-to-end encryption offered by the companies in their devices and services according to Reform Government Surveillance aka RGS.

The Reform Government Surveillance, RGS; is a coalition of tech companies which urges the world’s governments to adopt surveillance laws and practices that are consistent with established norms of privacy, free expression, and the rule of law. RGS counts Apple as one its members, along with other well-known firms, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Oath, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Evernote, Snap, and Twitter

The state of Georgia is all set to decriminalize hacking-back and criminalise the intentional poking around with the security which included finding bugs or working for bounties. A bill which was overwhelmingly passed by the General Assembly – SB 315, would decriminalize what it states as “cybersecurity active defence measures that are designed to prevent or detect unauthorized computer access,” which is apparently known as hacking-back.

In mid-April, Google and Microsoft sent a letter to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, urging him to veto the bill.

RGS claim that the FBI FBI and Justice Department members had met with security researchers on ways to enable “extraordinary access” to encrypted devices and claim that they’ve found out a way which enables a backdoor entry without jeopardising the security of the user.

The new ‘sought’ technique, apparently involves using a special access key that is generated whenever a device encrypts itself, which would be used to detour around passcodes. The generated key hence is stored locally in a separately encrypted space, similar to the Secure Enclave on iOS devices.

However, as the secret-secret key is stored with the organisation, it would require a large number of people to manage it. Each organisation has to invest a decent number of man force for this hence exposing the security threat of billions of users because of that. The idea doesn’t look very convincing.

RGS recently added a sixth core principle to its list, to guide its future advocacy efforts. The principle, titled “Ensuring Security and Privacy through Strong Encryption,” states governments to stop attempting to force companies to add backdoors to their devices, apps, and services.

“We’re not looking for a backdoor”, said  Christopher Wray, director of FBI. “We just want you to break encryption”, he said. He further added, “security means to access evidence on devices once they’ve shown probable cause and have a warrant. How that gets done is up to you smart people in technology. Brightest minds doing and creating fantastic things.”

RGS said, “Forcing technology companies to create vulnerabilities that work against encryption would undermine the security and privacy of our users, as well as the world’s information technology infrastructure.”

The option of adding vulnerability purposely for backdoor entry is unsafe on so many levels. Moreover, if the key responsible for user’s security gets into the hand of someone with malicious intent, the privacy is gone then and there. Not to mention hackers and other government agencies can alter and misuses the data.

Apple‘s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi said “Proposals that involve giving the keys of customers’ device data to anyone but the customer injects new and dangerous weakness into product security. Weakening security makes no sense when you consider that customers rely on our products to keep their personal information safe, run their businesses, or even manage the vital infrastructure like power grids and transportation systems.”

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An engineering graduate, Harry turned to writing after a couple of years of experience in core technology field. At The iBulletin, Harry covers latest updates related to trending apps & games on the app store.


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