Encryption & Key Management , Governance & Risk Management , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development

Paris Attacks Reignite Encryption Debate

Would Backdoor Access Have Helped Law Enforcement Foil ISIS Assault?
Paris Attacks Reignite Encryption Debate
CIA Director John Brennan discusses ISIS's use of information technologies.

The terrorist attacks in Paris likely would have occurred even if intelligence and law enforcement agencies could have broken encryption the Islamic State attackers used in their communications to plan the assault that killed at least 129 people.

"Encryption matters most if you already know who the bad guys are," Jason Healey, senior research scholar on cyber conflict at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, says in an interview with Information Security Media Group. "We didn't know who these guys were."

In this audio report (click player beneath photo to listen), you'll hear:

  • Healey explain the value of collecting metadata from phone conversations and other communications in identifying terrorists set to attack;
  • James Lewis, senior fellow at the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, discuss the high-tech support terror groups like ISIS provide its members;
  • CIA Director John Brennan lament the way terror groups hide their communications by exploiting the latest technologies.

"There has been a significant increase in the operational security in a number of these operatives and terrorists networks as they have gone to school on what it is that they need to do in order to keep their activities concealed from the authorities," Brennan says.

Also heard in the report are FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Timothy Murphy, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and cryptographer and IT security author Bruce Schneier.

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