Saturday 01 July 2017

The Dark Side Of Data Encryption

Our increasing reliance on digital information has made the use of data encryption a necessity to protect our privacy and ownership of our personal data. Encryption ensures that only authorized personnel who possess the decryption key can fully access our data. Moreover, it allows our financial and medical information to be kept safe by third parties such as banks and hospitals and free from being abused by malicious threat actors. While the security benefits of data encryption are undeniable, recent cyberattacks by nefarious attackers using malwares to encrypt user data without permission also highlight the dangers from misuse of such practice. In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack crippled computer systems worldwide by spreading through a previously unknown exploit in the target computers’ operating system that was leaked by hackers. The ransomware encrypted user data and then demanded a ransom payment in exchange for data recovery. The cyberattack received unprecedented media attention because of the significant service disruptions and economic losses resulted from its impact on hospitals, manufacturing plants, transport companies, financial institutions, government agencies, and elsewhere affected by the attack. Although the cyberattack was mitigated soon after its initial outbreak, the fallout had since led to a call by both governments and academics for an urgent need to establish the ethics on the responsible use of data encryption. This way, we can feel assured that our private data will be protected from intruders who seek to destroy the footprints of our digital life.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under Tech • Under World
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