The UK Government Are Wrong in Reducing the Use of Encryption
Are tech companies doing enough to beat cyber-crime? This question is a hot topic in the tech world right now, as the UK government increases pressure to find effective ways to tackle online communication between hackers and extremists. This blog post is going to look at the explosion of the ‘Internet of Things’, the relevancy of encryption in the healthcare sector and the importance of enabling technology that will help make the people and physical systems of the world, smarter and more efficient.
The Internet of Things
The ‘Internet of Things’ is the interconnectivity of physical devices such as smartphones, WiFi modems and software, to the internet. IoT is a big revolution for the World Wide Web, due to the wide range of applications and variety of useful software solutions it provides, from anything from smart homes to monitoring radiation levels in nuclear plants. However, due to the nature of such devices, they are prone to hacks that either commandeer the device and program them to do something they’re not intended to do, or they can be controlled to do what they’re meant to but in a devious way.
“When nodes in wireless sensor networks are monitored through internet it becomes a part of Internet of Things. This brings in a lot of concerns related to security, privacy, standardization, power management” – ieeexplore.com
What Is Encryption?
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a system of communication where only authorised parties users can read the messages. For example, companies that use E2EE are unable to hand over texts of their customers’ messages to the authorities. A good example of this is the mobile messaging service Telegram. Telegram messages are delivered faster than any other application, are heavily encrypted and can self-destruct.
However, the UK government’s desire to gain more control on encryption would have negative consequences on the tech world as we need this technology to actually develop safer apps and to prevent the compromisation of the IoT. The optimistic outlook of the IoT versus the security threats is a risk worth taking if it enables us to continue to develop solutions to tackle hacking.
Security is the backbone of the internet, which is the reason we need passwords to access our accounts. By enforcing laws on encryption, the UK government would effectively be able to access to your personal information even potentially data from connected devices.
We have to find a balance between national security issues and safety and security of data traffic in healthcare. Healthcare data encryption is used to protect patient confidentiality when information such as medical diagnoses, surgeries and other highly sensitive data is shared between practitioners and other healthcare authorities to provide an effective service to patients.
Many companies building innovative technologies to improve security are using encryption, and as in most areas of IT and computing, innovation in security springs mostly from startup companies, so enforcing encryption laws would also negatively affect small, creative businesses who actually play a pivotal role in successfully discovering, testing, and building out clever new ways to secure cyberspace.
In summary, as much as banking apps need encryption to prevent cybercrime, health apps need encryption to maintain security and privacy. We need to maintain confidence in the sharing of personal data via technologies by further exploring and developing ways to tackle security issues, using the technology of data encryption. Allowing Governments access via backdoors compromises patient confidentiality, and would be damaging to the progress of improving cyberspace privacy.
bITjAM will use its design and programming skills to disseminate the results of a SUCCEED research project that aims to educate the general public on cybercrime. bITjAM will be creating and distributing infographics on behalf of the project team, which is being led by Staffordshire University, in collaboration with Newcastle University. The Midlands based company is hoping to educate public and private sector entities on how to minimise acts of terrorism and cybercrime across the UK.
The scale of the project means the information collected will be complex and multifaceted. bITjAM’s data to intelligence service makes data more accessible, understandable and usable, enabling businesses to make informed decisions in relation to cybercrime and terrorism threats.
bITjAM’s efforts will also focus on digital engagement with organisations across the sectors most affected by cybercrime and terrorism. This involves working alongside the project’s web developers to maximise the use of the project website.
The SUCCEED project is currently in its first phase, which aims to acquire the views of employers, particularly those working in the provision of systems supporting national critical infrastructure. Four full afternoon workshops have been organised with the goal of identifying the key threats employees should be aware of, as well as the digital skills required to deal with said threats.
“Our role in the project is to design data visualisations that share the findings in an appealing and clear way for management and staff alike,” explains Carl Plant, CEO of bITjAM. “Many employers have extremely busy schedules, so they don’t have time to read through a full research report. However, it is still important for them to be aware of the dangers and to take safety measures.
“The threat of cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructure is a global concern,” continues Plant. “There is a major risk to services such as electricity and gas, schools and hospitals, railways and airports caused by deliberate sabotage and terrorist attacks. bITjAM is working with SUCCEED to make people aware of existing threats.”