February 11, 2016 —The use of encryption whether in messaging applications, using Bitcoin and other methods of privacy-centric technology continues to bother global leaders. Some of these technical advances have given authorities the opinion that they are being kept in the “dark.” Now Government officials in the U.S. are proposing to increase their funding to crack today’s encryption methods and enhance security. The Obama administration’s latest proposal the “Cybersecurity National Action Plan” details that the president believes cybersecurity is a difficult challenge for America.
The White House is just one group of authority figures who wants to up cybersecurity funding. The FBI according to their recent memo would like to add $38 million more to their budget to help crack encryption. In the report, it mentions how encryption is on the rise and this, in turn, is making data collection harder. In a section called “Going Dark” addressing the issue the paper reads in request for the $38 million in funding:
“Going Dark: $38.3 million — The requested funding will counter the threat of Going Dark, which includes the inability to access data because of challenges related to encryption, mobility, anonymization, and more. The FBI will develop and acquire tools for electronic device analysis, cryptanalytic capability, and forensic tools.” — Federal Bureau of Investigation
Since the Paris attacks and other unfortunate events bureaucrats have been promoting the idea that encryption should be breakable by government officials. Many bureaucrats such as the U.K.’s David Cameron, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and others have objected against strong encryption. Officials over the past year have pressed technology related businesses to allow authorities access to cracking device encryption. Executives like Apple’s current CEO and many others have been against this approach of handing over inaccessible data over to federal agents. However in its latest press release, the Obama administration’s statement on cybersecurity says they will be partnering with giant tech companies to advance the government’s goals. Firms such as Google, Facebook, DropBox, and Microsoft are mentioned in the White House brief. However, the Obama administration bolsters the use of two-factor authentication to be used by citizens and organizations within the nation and is mentioned multiple times. But due to increased levels of malicious hacking, identity theft and terrorism the White House wants to boost funding to fight against these crimes. The press release reads:
“The Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is increasing funding for cybersecurity-related activities by more than 23 percent to improve their capabilities to identify, disrupt, and apprehend malicious cyber actors.” — White House Cybersecurity Action Plan
In a recent article from the publication, Motherboard Vice an FBI official explains that the increased funding will be used for hacking tools. In an encrypted chat Christopher Soghoian, a technologist from the American Civil Liberties Union told the online magazine, “The days of reliable wiretaps are vanishing. [Hacking] is the next best thing for the FBI.” Officials are finding that they have to compete with the level of technology to apprehend these types of criminals. The FBI believes their request for increased funding is valid and empowers their services to keep up with the technological times. The FBI states:
“This combination of authorities gives the FBI the unique ability to address national security and criminal threats that are increasingly intertwined and to shift between the use of intelligence tools, such as surveillance or recruiting sources, and law enforcement tools of arrest and prosecution. The FBI can shift seamlessly between intelligence collection and action allowing the agency to continue gathering intelligence on a subject to learn more about his social and financial network, and shift gears quickly to make an arrest if harm to an innocent person appears imminent.” — Federal Bureau of Investigation
Encryption is growing popular and governments all across the globe are feeling kept in the dark. These new proposals and policy regulations may affect technology like cryptocurrency, private messaging, and anything with a level of encryption. Many people believe that cryptography has protected our private affairs and civil liberties, so this war against the use of it will not happen without a fight.
What do you think about the federal government’s increased measures to stay ahead of encryption? Let us know in the comments below.
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Jamie Redman is a crypto writer and a dragon on Tuesdays. Follow me on twitter @jamiecrypto
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