We’ve been hearing a lot about data security, cyber security (the Sony Hack), and protecting your identity in the news lately. We all know that there are criminals out there deliberately seeking out our information, but what about those less-than-desirables that use some of our newest technology and applications to just talk amongst themselves?
After the recent tragedy in France, British Prime Minister, David Cameron said he would consider banning the use of encrypted messaging applications because they are “safe spaces” for the bad guys. Encrypted messaging is included in many of the most popular apps and allows users to keep their conversations off the record so that only authorized parties can view, or in some cases completely deletes an image/document after a certain period of time.
If a ban were to ever take shape, what apps would it really affect? Surprisingly enough, this would affect some of the applications many of us use daily, including Snapchat, WhatsApp, Wickr, FaceTime, and iMessage, just to name a few. So, what would life be like without these apps? Or better yet, what would an intelligence agency get out of tracking them?
Snapchat has been there for life’s moments that you don’t want to save, but you want to share. How would we send a super ugly selfie that includes our double chin in less than glamorous lighting? No one would receive the daily “snap” of your adorable sleeping puppy. How could one prove the party was getting started without that cocktail-sipping selfie? So, what do we do when there’s the chance that these images could be saved or even shared with an intelligence agency? Our best guess is the intelligence agency will quickly become less intelligent after seeing some of these.
Igniting relationships with those we forgot about, one instant message at a time. Life without the “Last Seen” function in WhatsApp, will allow you to live a life free of that notification telling your “friends” how long you’ve ignored their message. Just think of all the time you will have when you don’t have to go through the various groups you are a part of to see what the 19 notifications were about that you woke up to. While communicating around the world for free in an instant message format seemed simple, the levels of intertwined friendship can get complicated. If intelligence agencies want to keep tabs on your “Last Seen” status regarding that message you’re avoiding from your 6th grade boyfriend or girlfriend, they’ll be watching that one for a while.
Remember when you were once locked to your laptop (or desktop) to video conference with colleagues or video chat with faraway friends? FaceTime made it so that we can not only just talk, but actually see people via video as we go from room to room, or conference room to desk. It eliminates distance and allows you to watch that ridiculous reality TV show with your friend who is across the country, facial expressions and snarky comments included. And, if your grandma is extra savvy, you’d be enjoying some one-on-one time without the 4pm early bird special. Maybe the intelligence agencies will want to chime in on the latest episode of The Bachelor or how Granny’s tennis match went.
Without getting political, it is a long shot that your favorite encrypted apps will ever be banned or watched by a government agency. But, as we move to a world where cloud-based applications, like the Samanage IT service desk and asset management solution, are regularly used by not only consumers but businesses, we will continue to see encryption as an important aspect of online security.
About Danielle Livy
Danielle is the Senior Director, Marketing, ITSM at SolarWinds. She has wide-ranging experience in content production, social media marketing, public relations, and brand messaging. Her happy place is sitting by the lake with a cold beverage in hand, with the occasional water ski session.
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