According to James Clapper, the US Director of National Intelligence, “As a result of the Snowden revelations, the onset of commercial encryption has accelerated by seven years,”
The examples for this began two years ago when both Apple and Google strengthened their encryption within their operating systems. Recently, Facebook-owned WhatsApp joined the encryption wagon, which already included chat messaging applications Signal, Wickr, and Telegram. Last week our favorite voIP voice calling app Viber followed suit too. The FBI, CIA, DEA,NSA, DOD and all those other 3 letter government organizations are obviously not happy. Their jobs just became much more difficult and you can bet they are looking for skilled hackers.
For consumers, this is all the more reassuring that our personal information, pictures, banking info, passwords, and proprietary information that resides on our devices should remain safe. Obviously, one of the main reasons that Apple and Google keep coming out with newer versions of software is to thwart the bad guys and any vulnerabilities they should discover. Hardly anybody had ever heard of the Telegram application until the FBI started complaining that they cannot crack their end-to-end encryption , making it a favorite for ISIS and other terrorist groups to communicate.
Hacking is a never ending battle and will likely never end, even as it gets more difficult. Ransomware has become the latest threat and the bad guys even have the audacity to target hospitals. That was the case recently with a Hollywood California hospital that's computer network was held hostage for a week before they paid a bitcoin ransom. My insurance company was hacked and my wireless provider's vendor, Experian was hacked. Both offered me free monitoring for a year which I didn't need. I had already had my identity stolen the year before. After filing a police report, they added an 7 year lockdown on my social security number.
In an ironic twist, the FBI is no longer seeking Apple's help to hack the San Bernardino Terrorist's iPhone 5c. They've already handled it but won't divulge how. Rumor has it that Israeli forensics company, Cellebrite did it for them. This company specializes in mobile forensics. Almost everyone in the US who has ever had their wireless carrier transfer contents from one device to another has used Cellebrite's technology. My company also utilized mobile Cellebrite machines to do mass migrations for our larger corporate clients. This equipment extracts data on one device, then allows it to be moved to the newer device.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.