The FBI’s Accidental Argument for Using Blackberry Phones
This week there was another FBI scandal. This one was on how the FBI massively overinflated the numbers of phones they needed access to in order to “protect the nation.” For some time now, they’ve been arguing that they need to be able to have a “secret key” to breach the encryption on smartphones even though it would put the vast majority of high risk US citizens, like politicians and highly-placed executives, at extreme risk. This also seems incredibly hypocritical because, at the same time, they are arguing we shouldn’t use certain Chinese phones because that government may have done the exact same thing (there is no proof—just suspicion). This apparently showcases that they not only don’t realize that if they got a key every major government would also want one, but also that if that key existed its value would be so high it would be virtually impossible to secure.
The FBI Position Puts The Nation At Risk
If there were a universal key to break smartphone encryption the value of that key would make it virtually impossible to protect given state-level players would all want it. Almost any key short of a Quantum Key (which doesn’t really exist yet) can be brute force discovered with enough computing power and governments have access to the latest supercomputers. However, given how relatively easy it has been for hackers to gain access to otherwise secure government documents, they probably wouldn’t have to go to such lengths. Simply spear phish someone that had access, bribe or blackmail them and they key could be had from almost any government agency. We simply aren’t that secure.
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NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT Review.