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Hidden in Plain Sight

It came as a blinding flash of inspiration at a round table on security I was attending a stone’s throw from Tony’s place. All the right people were there. Police, Government, Banks and ISPs, all worrying our way through the problems of being an Internet society.

The suggestion when it came appeared from a source one would least expect. “Shouldn’t encryption be automatic”? After all, it would be more difficult to commit an electronic crime if this were the case.

In a society where both Police and Government are more than a little paranoid about strong encryption, the idea that data should be automatically encrypted in order to protect it comes as a surprise. Encryption is more frequently used to transmit data rather than store data and the problem we have with most sensitive financial and personal information is that it is readily available to anyone who is prepared to hack into the system that holds it. Take health records in our new and expensively wired NHS as an example. Shouldn’t such records be encrypted and shouldn’t any business or agency holding personal or financial data be expected, by law, if necessary to encrypt that information as a data protection measure?

One comment from the direction of Whitehall suggested that there was “A pressing need for data protection legislation to be updated to meet the needs of the 20th century” and a concession that matters were not entirely going to plan where the subjects of Internet security, authentication and identity were involved.

So there you have it, a dozen of the most influential people from both government and the private sector, appear to agree that we need to reconsider the encryption argument, from being a security problem to a security benefit which might even be embedded in future legislation.

Do you think that your NHS records and any other personal or financial details held on you should be encrypted as a matter of routine by the business or agency that holds them? Let me know.


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