Breadcrumbs

Researchers argue backdoors violate encryption principles

30 August 2018

Researcher, Dr Michael Dizon.

Based on an ongoing project, University of Waikato researchers contend that building backdoors into encryption contravenes important encryption principles and should not be pursued as a matter of law and policy.

According to the principal investigators, Dr Michael Dizon, Associate Professor Wayne Rumbles and Associate Professor Ryan Ko, encryption is designed to preserve the objectives of protecting the confidentiality, integrity and authenticity of data and communications. Any legislative proposal that requires the creation of backdoors contravenes all these three cybersecurity objectives because a backdoor is akin to introducing a known weakness in the system.

“Backdoors are also at odds with another key principle that encryption should be resistant to attacks. They compromise a computer system’s security and resilience”, Dr Dizon explains. Their position against backdoors is supported by the recently proposed Assistance and Access Bill 2018 in Australia, where the Australian Government declares that it “has no interest in undermining systems that protect the fundamental security of communications. This includes a prohibition on building a decryption capability. So-called ‘backdoors’ weaken the digital security of Australians and others”.

The Waikato researchers also note that encryption is adversarial in nature. Historically, encryption is a cat-and-mouse game between codemakers and codebreakers. Based on this finding, the researchers suggest that innovation in cybersecurity should be prioritised and continuous improvements to encryption should be encouraged since these are essential to stay ahead in the arms race. The researchers also believe that caution should be exercised when imposing legal obligations on technology providers that end up dissuading them from keeping their systems safe and secure.

The research project on encryption is funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation’s Information Law and Policy Project (ILAPP), which is intended to explore and develop law and policy to help New Zealand adapt to future changes in the information age, and the University of Waikato’s Strategic Investment Fund – Research.


Related stories

Warren

Law alumnus honours grandfather through new judge role

When University of Waikato law alumnus Aidan Warren was five years old, he sat on…

COP26: time for New Zealand to show regional leadership on climate change

As the UN climate summit in Glasgow kicks off on Sunday, it marks the deadline…

sam-fellows

Scholarships a springboard to a brighter future for Sam

Sam Fellows received several scholarships during his studies at Waikato, which he credits with helping…

Celebrating 30 years of new frontiers: Te Piringa Faculty of Law

In 1991, when Te Piringa - Faculty of Law at the University of Waikato opened…

Wayne Hofer

Law alumnus is grateful for lessons learned at Waikato

Wayne Hofer is grateful to Te Piringa - Faculty of Law for the places his…

Courtney Dick web

Three, two, one, lift-off – launching law at Rocket Lab

Waikato alumna Courtney Dick is the in-house lawyer for Rocket Lab where she has to…

After the last ‘summer of terrible drugs’ it’s time to make NZ’s temporary drug checking law permanent

With the summer music festival season approaching (COVID willing), hopes are high that the current…

Zachary Katene with his wife and their children

Set big goals and be inspired

Lawyer Zachary Katene has set big goals and he's ticking them off his list.

ioane-tuupo

Pacific heritage important to alumnus and government advisor

When Ta'atiti Ioane Tuupo was 13, he went to his older brother’s university graduation ceremony…

Grant and Marilyn Nelson, Siouxsie Wiles, Al Gillespie

Sought-after legal expert recognised as ‘critic and conscience’ of society

University of Waikato Law Professor Alexander Gillespie has been named the joint winner of this…

Group photo

Chief Human Rights Commissioner recognised with Honorary Doctorate

New Zealand’s Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt has received an Honorary Doctorate from the…

Benny Jones graduation

Pure grit gets law student to graduation

Hearing law graduate Benny Jones speak about her journey is almost like attending a life…