Government Officials Seek Backdoor Access to Encrypted Networks

Since the rise of social media, cybercrime has become more ambiguous, and at the same time more commonplace than ever. It seems that every week a new website has had private data leaked, or a high profile celebrity or government official has had their email account broken into. Combatting such crime is becoming more and more difficult, and many law enforcement officials blame being unable to stop cybercrime on encryption.

Many encryption systems have not been cracked open, thus creating attractive avenues for cybercriminals to communicate and act out crimes. Law enforcement and United States government officials have been calling for backdoor keys to encrypted networks, especially in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015. By having a backdoor key to commonly used encrypted networks, intelligence agencies can access data, without warrant, whenever they need to in order to prevent terrorism or cybercrime.

However, asking for backdoor keys to encrypted networks at this time is futile when cybercriminals are already wreaking havoc on largely encrypted networks. The most famous act of cyberterrorism yet was the unprecedented hack and dispersal of private information in the Sony Pictures hack in November 2014. It was reported by United States intelligence that the hack was commissioned by North Korea, and they did not need a backdoor key to pull off the great data heist in history.

For backdoor keys to be given to the government would be to weaken an already weak structure, allowing for cybercriminals to break into secure networks faster than ever before.

A balance seems to have been struck by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. From 2015 through 2020, they will be building a network of technology-minded agents and ground officers to work together to prevent cybercrime and terrorism. The Mounted Police Commissioner, Bob Paulson, noted that fighting cybercrime would be easier if there could be access to encrypted data without need for a warrant; however, Canadian law currently prevents access to private data in that way.

By combining the efforts of traditional law enforcement with technology driven intelligence, prevention of cybercrime and terrorism becomes more likely. Rather than creating more vulnerability with backdoor keys, the government can respect the right of citizens to encrypt their data while seeking out those who would do harm.