Just like in the movies, smart cyber criminals will simply use Russian technology instead.
The majority of encryption products on the market today are developed outside the United States, according to a new report, raising serious doubts about whether the U.S. government could actually limit encryption tools by building backdoors for law enforcement access.
Of the 865 hardware or software products incorporating encryption that the report’s authors surveyed, 546 products originate from foreign countries. If the U.S. passes a law requiring encryption products to have backdoors for law enforcement, what’s to stop the bad guys from using an encryption tool from a country that doesn’t have such a law?
There’s nothing too Earth-shattering about a report that simply takes inventory of encryption products available worldwide. Moreover, the authors are quick to note that their tally is a work in progress and is probably on the low side. But it comes at a pivotal time in the debate over how much access law enforcement should have to citizens’ data in the U.S. and other Western nations.
Apple, Google, and other companies are embroiled in a tussle with the FBI, which wants access to iMessage and other communications tools for investigative purposes. To facilitate this, state lawmakers in New York and California have introduced bills that would ban the sale of encrypted smartphones, though Congress is pushing back on that.
Law enforcement agencies face numerous challenges as they try to outmaneuver the most advanced cyber criminals and terrorists, who will be savvy enough to avoid encryption tools from countries that pass backdoor laws. The problem is ensuring that law-abiding citizens aren’t caught in the crossfire.
As the report’s authors wrote, “Any national law mandating encryption backdoors will overwhelmingly affect the innocent users of those products.”