Going Dark: Implications of an Encrypted World

July 2019 No Comments

“Going Dark: Implications of an Encrypted World

Speakers: Wagner, A. (Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism); D’Antoine, S. (Margin Research)

Date: 23 July 2019

Speaker Session Preview

SMA hosted a speaker session presented by Dr. Abraham Wagner (Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism) and Ms. Sophia D’Antoine (Margin Research) as a part of its SMA DHS Speaker Series. Dr. Wagner set the context for the talk by reminding listeners that in the mid-1990s, the world was in a period of transition from analog to digital and that today, we live in a connected world that adapts to demand. In modern society, encryption is needed for privacy and security purposes; however, it also presents a challenge for law enforcement. The Internet’s user base has greatly expanded; however, this population has also become far more computer literate and savvy, which adds to the difficulty of law enforcement. Dr. Wagner also explained that in solving the cybersecurity problem, low-cost technical solutions should be implemented that have marginal to zero cost to users. He stated that devices from the “Old World,” such as Enigma, were so costly to assemble and difficult to use that ultimately, consumers did not want to purchase them. Dr. Wagner then presented Wagner’s law, which states that users will avoid encryption if it is costly, inconvenient, and/or degrades quality. He also mentioned that control of encryption is largely beyond US governmental control today. Ms. Sophia D’Antoine then offered a tech perspective on the issues surrounding encryption. Currently, technologists have two means for bypassing encryption: either obtaining the key for the system or using alternative means (i.e., acquiring the data before or after it is encrypted). Research is currently being conducted on how to bypass encryption protecting telegram messages sent via smartphones, in addition to different encryption algorithms that look for holes in a system to break encryption codes and/or bypass them. She concluded by discussing the problem of mass data collection and the inability to pinpoint a specific user or device. In the future, this will only become more difficult, and exploitation will become more prevalent, Ms. D’Antoine stressed.

Speaker Session Audio File

Download Dr. Wagner and Ms. D’Antoine’s Biographies, Study, and Slides


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