Crypto-Experts Slam FBI’s Backdoor Encryption Demands

Crypto-Experts Slam FBI's Backdoor Encryption Demands

A group of world-renowned cryptography experts have backed a senator’s demands that the FBI explain the technical basis for its repeated claims that encryption backdoors can be engineered without impacting user security.

Senator Ron Wyden, who sits on the powerful Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the letter following a heated committee debate with FBI director Christopher Wray.

The letter is signed by Bruce Schneier, Paul Kocher, Steven Bellovin, and Martin Hellman — who won the 2015 Turing Award for inventing public key cryptography.

“We understand and sympathize with the frustration that law enforcement has to deal with when evidence may exist but cannot be accessed due to security mechanisms. At the same time, our extensive experience with encryption and computer security makes us cognizant how much the details matter: a seemingly minor change in an algorithm or protocol can completely undermine the security aspects of the system,” they write.

“Instead of vague proposals that sound reasonable yet lack details, the FBI needs to present the cryptographic research community with a detailed description of the technology that it would like implemented. That would allow the technology to be analyzed in an open and transparent manner so that its advantages and disadvantages can be weighed.”

Wyden sent a letter to Wray demanding the same on January 25, shortly after the FBI boss made his first speech. in which he repeated previous requests for tech experts to achieve what they say is impossible.

He claimed that the FBI has nearly 7800 devices it can’t access because of encryption, describing the situation as an “urgent public safety issue.”

Wray and the DoJ are not alone in their calls; British home secretary Amber Rudd has been widely ridiculed in the past for calling for the same, whilst admitting that she doesn’t understand the technology.

She was in the news again this week, after it emerged that there has been significant progress in another anti-terror initiative, involving the automated identification and removal of extremist content via an algorithm developed by London-based ASI Data Science.

Source: Information Security Magazine