1 Jul 2017

Calls for strong encryption in 'Five Eyes' countries

6:06 pm on 1 July 2017

More than 80 different organisations and individuals from 'Five Eyes' countries are calling for strong encryption in order to protect online privacy and security.

Keyboard, computer, cyber attack

Photo: 123rf

One of the groups involved, Internet NZ, said a ministerial meeting was held in Canada earlier this week between the Five Eyes countries, which include New Zealand, about potential law changes to encryption.

Its deputy chief executive Andrew Cushen said the group has signed an open letter asking government officials to defend strong encryption because it was vital for everyday life, such as through bank transactions and online messages.

He said possible law changes might allow back doors to be built in encryption for officials to look into private information to prevent or stop terrorist threats.

Mr Cushen said while that was important, others could also exploit those backdoors for their own purposes.

"If you want to build some way that people can get in and have a look, but only the good guys, then how can you actually prevent the bad guys from getting in and having a look too?"

The 'Five Eyes' refer to an alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Meanwhile, the American government has warned industrial firms about a hacking campaign targeting the nuclear and energy sectors.

It comes during a week of heavy hacking activity and highlights the power industry's vulnerability to cyber attacks.

Acording to a joint report from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, hackers have used tainted "phishing" emails to "harvest credentials" to gain access to the networks of their targets snce at least May.

A virus dubbed "NotPetya" this week spread from initial infections in Ukraine to businesses around the globe.

It encrypted data on infected machines, rendering them inoperable and disrupting activity at ports, law firms and factories.

And the energy-industry news site E&E News report that US investigators were looking into cyber intrusions this year at multiple nuclear power generators.

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