In wake of the tragedies in Paris , a new realm of security issues has been forced into the spotlight: Cybersecurity. What is the balance between online privacy and security and keeping nations safe?
The Islamic State, ISIL is largely dependent on social media and other digital means to fuel their propaganda, recruitment, and coordination of operations. After the sophisticated attack in Paris, security experts realized they needed to improve their methods for monitoring and preventing extremist actions. But how, in a world where technology is becoming increasingly encrypted?
TELEGRAM–THE APP OF TERRORISTS?
Telegram is a messaging app which allows users to communicate in secret. The company does not save any messages on their servers, and all messages are encrypted, making it nearly impossible to access them from the outside.
Unintentionally, the app quickly became a favorite of ISIL. The group has several public accounts on Telegram in which they post propaganda videos. Several arrests around Europe of suspected terrorists with links to the extremists have reportedly communicated with Islamic State’s headquarters via the app.
The app has recently cracked down on public content published by the terror organization, but commented that they can not do much to shut down private uses of the app, such as group chats and other messages.
GOVERNMENTS WARY OF ENCRYPTION
Because of apps like Telegram, governments have long been worried encryption could be a major threat to security. However, they’ve faced many obstacles in trying to regulate encrypted apps. Civil rights groups argue encryptions and security is necessary for protecting the privacy of all digital users–from the Government and hackers alike. Series of hacks in 2014 and 2015 have left digital users afraid of their digital footprint and increasingly wanting apps with the promise of privacy.
Governments have pleaded with app companies and others who make any type of messaging platforms to create some kind of “backdoor ” which would allow them to access crucial messages. But app developers argue right back that a “door” wouldn’t be exclusive to the good guys, and would leave messages vulnerable to hackers and other individuals who wish to take advantage of them.
Instead, governments have begun to funnel resources into developing their own encrypted apps in an effort to stay ahead of terrorists. They believe with a better understanding of encryption code, they may be able to hack into encrypted apps in the future.
CYBER WARFARE AND CYBERSECURITY
Now hacker groups have allied in order to stop virtual terror operations. The hacking group Anonymous promised to launch its “largest operation ever” against ISIL. It’s goal is to take down social media accounts to stop the spread of extremist propaganda and ruin their ability to recruit. They also want to hack into ISIL’s websites and take them down.
Is a part of the new battlefield cyberspace? How important is it to regulate and control the online world? Cybersecurity encompasses so many faucets. It’s protecting the everyday user from hacker or “intrusive” government listening. But it’s also protecting large companies and governments from those who want to steal important data.
Cybersecurity boils down to privacy. The right to keep what we wish to ourselves without fear of someone stealing it or accessing it without our consent. And in our efforts to maintain this right, we’ve developed technologies with impossible encryptions. We can achieve “cybersecurity”. But what of national security? What is more important?
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