Governments can't be trusted with access to encryption backdoors, says survey

A new study from cyber security firm Tripwire has revealed that security professionals don’t trust governments to act responsibly if technology companies are forced to give them access to encrypted data.

The study, which was carried out at this week’s RSA conference, surveyed 198 IT security professionals and revealed that 82 per cent believe it is either very likely or certain that government agencies would abuse their right to access encrypted data if technology companies are required to provide it.

The survey was carried out in response to the ongoing battle between the FBI and Apple over user privacy. The conflict has ignited a huge debate over whether government agencies should be allowed to install backdoors on devices if it will help them with investigations. Interestingly, the study also revealed that 81 per cent of survey respondents also believe that it is either very likely or certain that cybercriminals would also abuse the government’s capability to access encrypted data if technology companies are required to provide it.

In addition to this, fifty-three per cent of respondents believe technology firms should be required to provide access to encrypted data on consumer devices, if law enforcement serves them with a warrant or subpoena. However, interestingly, when respondents were asked about the impact this change would have on consumer and enterprise privacy and security, a staggering 88 per cent believe it will have a negative impact and would reduce security and privacy.

“Security professionals are very suspicious of any decision that redefines what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to security and privacy,” said Dwayne Melancon, CTO and vice president of research and development for Tripwire.

“It’s no surprise that the majority of the respondents at a security conference are concerned about this decision and, regardless of how it is resolved, it will have a lasting impact on security and privacy.”

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