encryption

Obama Argues Against Encryption at SXSW

Episode 1269

President Obama at SXSW on Friday said that smartphones can't be allowed to be black boxes, inaccessible to government. He said you can't take an absolutist view on this. "So if your bargain is strong encryption, no matter what, that we can and should in fact create 'black boxes,' then that I think does not strike the kind of balance that we have lived with for 200, 300 years, and it's fetishizing our phones above every other value."

The problem with this is that the math is done -- cryptography exists. And there's nothing anyone can do to stop that.

How can I keep my data on my computer from being accessible online?

Episode 1265

Bob from Calabassas, CA

Bob wants to write a document that has personal information on it and he wants to keep it offline and inaccessible to the internet. Is there any way to keep it stored to the hard drive and not be available? Leo says security is hard and thinking you can try and keep your information 100% safe is a fool's errand. Leo can think of several options to foil any defense, even not having it at all. The reality is, he'll most likely be protected through obscurity. He would also be much better off using a security tool like encryption.

Could Apple be benefitting from fighting the FBI?

Episode 1264

Michael from Canyon City, CO

Michael says that the longer Apple can appeal and resist the court order, the better it looks for Apple. Leo says yes and no, because we now know that Apple's encryption isn't one way and that they can open any phone if they choose to give in to the FBI's demands. Leo suspects that Apple will eventually give in and when they do, there are encryption programs in 70 different nations that are uncrackable.

Hollywood Hospital Pays Hackers $17,000 in Bitcoin

Episode 1263

A Hollywood hospital was hacked a few weeks ago and was essentially unable to operate. The hackers demanded 40 Bitcoins, which comes to about $17,000. This is considered "ransomware," where the hackers get you to run malicious software through a bogus updater like Flash that appears to be legitimate. This malicious software encrypts all data and threatens to delete everything unless you comply with the demands within a certain time frame.

Apple Stands Up Against Court Order to Unlock Terrorist's iPhone

Episode 1263

The FBI, through a court order, has demanded that Apple unlock an iPhone which was used by one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino mass killings. Even though Apple has opened 70 iPhones for the FBI, they have never actually altered iOS to create what they believe would be a 'back door' to every single phone. A judge agreed with the FBI that Apple must comply, but Tim Cook has taken a public stance of resistance to the court order. Even more surprising, the FBI changed the password themselves already.

Is encryption safe?

Episode 1246

Kevin from Beaumont, CA

Kevin is worried that the government is pushing to weaken encryption and that will make it far less secure. Leo agrees. He understands why the government is worried about encryption, but at the same time, weakening it helps nobody. Is it too easy to get encryption and use it? Leo says that's an interesting point. Especially since all mobile phone communications are encrypted now. Leo says that maybe the solution is that companies should hold the keys and have the power to decrypt if the law enforcement provides a warrant.

Should I be using a VPN when tethering my phone to my computer?

Episode 1244

Rob from Tarzana, CA

Rob wants to know if he should use a VPN when he pairs his smartphone to his laptop. Leo says no. Modern digital cell phones are encrypted and no one has yet hacked their way into that signal. It wasn't like the analog days when you could listen in to cell phone calls with the right software. That can't happen with digitally encrypted mobile phones.

How secure is Tor?

Episode 1243

Juan from Los Angeles, CA

Juan is looking to use Tor for encrypted security. Leo says that Tor was invented by the US Navy and it works by making your traffic obscure. Tor is used for anonymity, and it's a bit difficult to set up, but using a Tor browser makes it a lot easier. If Juan is concerned about privacy online, Tor is a good option to look into.