Recently, I noticed one of the most popular messaging apps, Whatsapp introduced an encryption system onto our phones.
Apple’s battle with the FBI over the federal order to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter and Apple’s refusal to follow suit started another debate over privacy and security in the digital age we live
in. Amidst the controversy, Whatsapp decided to introduce this encryption service to its customers, sending a loud message that they stand firm with Apple and other tech giants and oppose setting a precedent to complying with the government’s security concerns.
The current Whatsapp encryption tool means that the service will encrypt all messages, phone calls, photos, and videos moving among groups or between two persons. It applies on all phones that have the updated version of the application. With end-to-end encryption is now in place, even WhatsApp’s employees or its management cannot read the data that’s sent across its network. In wake of the federal order sent to Apple this new system makes the company unable to comply with such demand. With this encryption, WhatsApp also hopes to tap into the corporate sector.Therefore, making business, financial or chats with your doctor secure and you don’t have to worry about eavesdroppers.
In the wake of the San Bernardino attack where an alleged ISIS inspired terrorist who killed 14 people while injuring 22 others the FBI has wanted to hack into the IPhone of one of the perpetrators’. However, Apple strongly refused to provide the software that could be installed toallow the investigators to break into the phone. The security hole that Apple is looking to mend, and which the FBI is trying to exploit, is part of a troubleshooting system that allows the company to automatically install software updates on personal phones. The company says a win for the FBI could set a troublesome precedent. Following Apple’s refusal a court order was sent to the company. However, Apple announced they would oppose it. In a recent interview with ABC News, Apple CEO further clarified their concerns by stating, “If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write, maybe it’s an operating system for surveillance, maybe the ability for the law enforcement to turn on the camera”.
However, later the FBI announced that thanks to the skills of an unknown third party, the Department of Justice was able to access data on the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. This raised further issues for Apple who realised that their products aren’t as secure as they claim and is prone to be hacked.
In a field where technology advances are constantly changing to be better than those trying to hack is the game changer.
Though the US government has officially withdrawn from its battle against Apple the case raised issues about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy in a global sphere. Apple was not alone in this debate, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and WhatsApp all were outspoken in stating that be it the federal government or otherwise this is a troubling precedent and effect the core values of civil liberties. All the Tech giants are also aware their growth and success has been due to the sense of security one has when posting something among their friends on social media. Their customer base is also global which raises more issues about which governments can be trusted which aren’t.
Apple is one of several technology companies that have introduced encryption in an attempt to restore customer trust after whistleblower and recent hacks into celebrity ‘cloud’ accounts and published their personal pictures. To further stress how the tech world stood shoulder to shoulder with Apple, Twitter chief executive tweeted that: “We stand with @timcook and Apple “Any backdoor is a backdoor for everyone,” he said. “Everybody wants to crack down on terrorists. Everybody wants to be secure. The question is how. Opening a backdoor can have very dire consequences.”
The fall out continues to grab headlines last week, Microsoft announced that it would now notify their windows uses if their accounts have been targeted or compromised by a government. They further added “We’re taking this additional step of specifically letting our customers know if we have evidence that the attacker may be ‘state-sponsored’ because it is likely that the attack could be more sophisticated or more sustained than attacks from cyber criminals.” said Scott Charney, a vice president at the company, said in a blog post.
The company already notified users if their accounts were compromised, but does not specify if a government was thought to be behind the attack.
Microsoft is adding a new feature to its Windows Defender line of anti-hacking tools as well. The feature will allow users to identify the attacks and stop them before it eats up everything.
Cyber attack is now serious as many hackers are taking advantage of vulnerable devices. As a nation we were all shocked to hear the blatant hack on the Bangladeshi Central Bank. Cyber criminal stole$ 81million through a series of transfer from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Attempts to steal an additional $850-$870 million were only prevented after suspicions were raised due to the nature of the transactions and misspellings in the bearer account.
Yes be it the secured site as a bank or our personal phone’s the reality is we are more connected to the web than ever before. This raises the questionof how vulnerable our data and our transactions are? As tech companies tries to make us feel more secure with new encryption tool for those who want to hack into this is another benchmark to be better at.