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Ellis Mason Technical Support Apprentice

All of our Apprentices get the opportunity to experience a variety of roles within Entanet as part of our training and development programme. We’ve recently welcomed Ellis Mason, a Technical Support Apprentice, for work experience within our marketing team. During his time with us, he had the opportunity to research and write a blog post which he enjoyed enormously and we’re pleased to share.

We’re at risk of losing our privacy. This is a key topic of discussion for the tech industry at the moment – and should be yours too if you think your private conversations should stay private. With recent events such as the terror attacks in London and Manchester, this topic has become more heated and more controversial. Our Government is wanting a ‘free pass’ through encrypted communications, in order to provide higher levels of safety to the public. However, this may put everyone at risk from more threats – such as the risk of personal information and bank details being stolen, which would increase the risk of fraud dramatically.

The detail behind this is that the Government wants ‘backdoors’ into popular services such as Whatsapp and Twitter, who encrypt the messages that you send and receive. Encryption means people can transfer valuable and private information between each other, knowing that there is no threat of anyone else accessing the information without permission. However with the way the Government wants it, someone that you don’t know would have access to this information on request – all in the name of your protection. With this reduced security, what is stopping this data being compromised and stolen? The only true extent to what damage this can cause will be revealed when it eventually happens in the future.

We understand it is within the Government’s greatest interest to try and protect citizens, especially as terrorism becomes a growing problem. Home Secretary Amber Rudd stated that “this [encryption] protection of privacy offers a zone for terrorism to thrive and organize attacks on the public”. We believe there are other ways that these attacks can be prevented and focusing on everybody’s privacy is a step backwards. Edward Snowden, the former CIA technical employee who is known for being the source of documents published about the NSA’s secret surveillance programmes, considers the Government’s plans “the most extreme surveillance in the history of Western democracy“.

It’s not just the thought of the Government having access to this data which is worrying. What is causing a lot of debate is what the Government is going to do to defend this invaluable data. What security measures are going to be put in place to ensure that this data won’t be compromised? Recent events such as the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware have shown how devastating leaked information can be, when it infected thousands of computers within the NHS. It has been rumoured that this virus was able to be created using an exploit named ‘EternalBlue’, which was leaked by the Equation group, believed to be part of the United States National Security Agency (NSA). The question needs to be raised: how safe will our information really be?

This not only affects your conversations which happen to have end to end encryption, it’ll impact us at Entanet too. Any information that we store and encrypt for any of our customers will be at risk. The Government’s plans mean that we would have to notify them of any new services or products that we deploy in order to allow ‘technical’ changes to software and systems. ‘Technical changes’ is just a more palatable way of saying that a backdoor will be inserted into the service to cripple any encryption.

Have your say!

Tell us your view on these proposals from the UK Government. Do you believe that companies should provide backdoors to disable encryption, or should privacy be kept private? Comment below and let yourself be heard.

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