Facebook, Google, Apple encrypt user's private data
Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013 00:09
Recently there has been a popular conception that major technology companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google are apathetic towards their clients being spied on by the National Security Agency, according to Patrick Gray from Wired.com.
According to Facebook, this isn’t the case. Their engineering team published a blog post stating that all access to their site via apps and web browsers was now SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encrypted on the same day the Guardian released detailed documents on NSA’s “X-Keyscore” collection program.
Wired.com’s sources in Facebook say it is merely a coincidence that the documents came out on the same day, and the company had been in the process of enabling the encryption across the board for years.
Andy Bennett, Director of the Center for Excellence in Digital Forensics at SHSU cautioned that while Facebook is SSL encrypted, it doesn’t mean that it is impregnable. He used Facebook as an example.
“Encrypting the traffic is a meaningless step,” Bennett said. “When Facebook says it’s encrypted, they’ve only eliminated one of the myriad of attacks. The NSA is able to cooperate with vendors. Just because they don’t have the explicit cooperation with Facebook, doesn’t mean that they didn’t have the cooperation with the developers of the app.”
Previously governments could rely on complicit or compromised certificate authorities to provide them with the means to catch encrypted traffic. Google recently made changes to their Chrome browser to curtail this practice. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is planning to follow suit.
“[They] are enabling security features that make certain types of government surveillance very difficult,” Gray said about the tension between the tech companies and the NSA. “In fact, advancements in cryptographic protocols have made anti-surveillance features relatively simple for tech companies to bake into their communications products.”
While it seems that Facebook, Google and Apple have the upper hand, there are still questions on whether the situation is settled.
“It’s not over,” Bennett said. “This is only the beginning. There’s still plenty of room for corporate America, United States government and international governments to essentially go to war over this.”