1950, Nineteen Eighty-Four, 2015
What do these dates have in common?
The Stasi, The Eastern German Secret Police was founded in 1950 with a mandate of mass surveillance of the East German population. Administration 12 was the unit that monitored Mail and Telephone calls. Lots of Mail and Telephone calls.
Nineteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell’s depressing, dystopian novel published in 1949 which introduced us to the idea of Big Brother watching us with The Ministry of Love on hand to brainwash and torture us until we thought right.
2015 is the year in which Theresa May, the United Kingdom Home Secretary announced changes to the Investigatory Powers bill to introduce mass surveillance of the Internet activity of every citizen.
Far be it for us to take a political view on the matter, no no, we will leave that to others. What we are interested in is the costs mentioned in the announcement.
Ms May indicated that the costs for the project would be £247 million over ten years. To snoop on the whole UK population. Now either that means that they are already doing this or have access to nearly free storage. Perhaps they were planning on using the (now withdrawn) unlimited Microsoft OneDrive storage and will have to have a rethink?
We have known for years that Governments the world over participate in a data collection exercise, sometimes referred to as Echelon (which obviously doesn’t exist), that focuses on the source and destination of traffic, be it telephony, data, mail, whatever and uses this data to build a spiders web of communication which can be used to identify a pattern or anomaly indicative of trouble. We also presume that this is supported by wiretap requests.
What is curious then is that in a world of HTTPS, IPSEC VPN, TOR, TunnelBear and other anonymising techniques, that are used legitimately by businesses, and illegitimately by criminals and terrorists, what is the point of recording the whole nation’s browsing details?
The question has to be asked – is your cryptography secure?
Many legitimate users of crypto set it up ages ago, have never updated the settings, maybe using weak keys, a weak protocol and have never changed these settings. These communications are very much accessible by Nation States or hackers.
ITC can give you some sound advice about how to ensure that, to the best of our knowledge, your comms remain private. Please contact us (not if you are a member of ISIS or any similar organisation) on:
020 7517 3900 or email email@example.com.