Going Dark – Encryption Challenges

Encryption is a hot topic these days, in large part due to our everyday reliance on increasingly networked devices and services.  It is an essential feature of everything from the credit cards you carry, to the fob you use to access your home or office or unlock your car, from protecting your Wi-Fi from a piggy-backing neighbour, to securing data on your laptop, tablet, smartphone or USB drive.

Long the topic of discussion among IT and security professionals, encryption jumped to the mainstream earlier this year when the FBI sought to compel Apple’s assistance to circumvent (or perhaps more accurately, facilitate a more efficient brute force attack on) the encryption protecting the contents of an iPhone used by the perpetrators of a terrorist attack. Apple’s resistance to cooperate highlighted what’s known as the “going dark” problem, referring to the reality that as personal use of encrypted devices and services increase, governments and law enforcement have a decreasing ability to gain visibility into encrypted data (which can be a necessary component of their role in preventing and investigating crime).

As a result of its ubiquity, use of strong encryption is also a given for many startups using or developing technology deal with, without the clout and social goodwill of Apple. Understanding the issue can be very important when making your encryption decisions.


Recently, my colleagues Rohan Hill and Mitch Koczerginski took a look at this issue in their article “Going Dark” – No Easy Answers on the Cybersecurity Horizon, or view their video on the subject: