Gartner Blog Network


Why the Government needs to leave Apple and Google Encryption Alone

by Avivah Litan  |  February 17, 2016  |  4 Comments

The cat is already out of the bag with all of the advancements in encryption software. Even if Apple or Google were to make it possible for the government to unlock an iPhone or Android phone and read their encrypted communications, there are other encryption applications terrorists and criminals could use on most smartphones that Apple and Google could not help the government crack.

These would be independent encryption programs that are not dependent on a smartphone’s operating system. So in effect these represent encryption engines that live inside an application.

I think Open Whisper is one such encryption program. Snowden recommends using it.

Of course, these ‘operating system-independent encryption engines’ are expensive to build, and a clever hacker could likely find an exploit that enables him or her to ‘crack’ it, so this type of software would cost a lot of money to develop, maintain and keep secure. Nothing is perfect.

But it doesn’t make any sense to put so much pressure on Apple or Google when in the end, they don’t control all the keys to the kingdom, even for apps on their smartphones.

Category: 

Avivah Litan
VP Distinguished Analyst
19 years at Gartner
34 years IT industry

Avivah Litan is a Vice President and Distinguished Analyst in Gartner Research. Ms. Litan's areas of expertise include endpoint security, security analytics for cybersecurity and fraud, user and entity behavioral analytics, and insider threat detection. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Why the Government needs to leave Apple and Google Encryption Alone


  1. Kevin Wren says:

    Avivah ,
    Can a scan of an active mobile device detect the presence or use of an encryption program ?

  2. avivah litan says:

    Hi Kevin, sorry for delayed response. I don’t know the answer to that. I’ll try to find out though. thanks for the great question. Avivah

  3. […] “The government should accept that encryption advances are well underway, so trying to force Apple and Google to open backdoors for them is a futile exercise,” Litan said. “The cat is already out of the bag,” she wrote in a recent blog. […]

  4. […] "The government should accept that encryption advances are well underway, so trying to force Apple and Google to open backdoors for them is a futile exercise," Litan said. "The cat is already out of the bag," she wrote in a recent blog. […]



Comments are closed

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.