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The East African : Dec 26th 2015
26 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK DECEMBER 26, 2015 - JANUARY 1, 2016 e -AF R ICAN Planners of the Paris terror attack used encrypted apps Investigato≥s believe that the attacke≥s used Teleg≥am and WhatsApp A JOINT REPORT The Washington Post F rench counterterrorism investigators believe that the men suspected in last month’s Paris attacks used widely available encryption tools to communicate with each other, officials familiar with the investigation said. Investigators have previ- ously said that messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram were found on some of the phones of the men suspected in the November attacks that claimed 130 victims. But they had not previously said that the services had been used by the men to communicate with each other in connection with the attacks. The two services are free, encrypted chat apps that can be downloaded onto smartphones. Both use encryption technology that makes it difficult for investigators to monitor conversations. The findings of the inves- tigation were confirmed by four officials, including one in France, who are familiar with the investigation. All spoke on the condition of anonymity. A spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office, which is leading the investigation, declined to comment. The investigators’ belief that WhatsApp and Telegram had been used in connection with the attacks was first reported by CNN. The revelation is likely to add fuel to calls in Congress to force services such as What- sApp, which is owned by Facebook, to add a back door that would enable investigators to monitor encrypted communications. Such demands have grown stronger in the wake of the Paris attacks and after other attacks in the United States in which the suspects are believed to have communicated securely with Islamic State plotters in Syria. Already, security hawks in Congress, citing the likelihood that the Paris attackers used encrypted communications, have called for legislation to force companies to create ways to unlock encrypted content for law enforcement. Senator Dianne Feinstein, vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has begun working on possible legislation. And Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has promised hearings on the issue, saying, “We’re going to have legislation.” Encrypted technology FBI Director James B. Comey last week cited a May shooting in Garland, Texas, in which two people with assault rifles attempted to attack an exhibit of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. Investigators believe they were motivated by the Islamic State. Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee that encrypted technology had prevented investigators from learning the content of communications between the shooters and an alleged foreign plotter. “That morning, before one of those terrorists left and tried to commit mass murder, he exchanged 109 messages with an overseas terrorist,” Comey told the committee. “We have no idea what he said, because those messages were encrypted.” Tech firms such as Apple have opposed such calls, saying that such a requirement would render their services and devices less secure and simply send users elsewhere. Apple began placing end-to-end encryption on its chat and video call features several years ago. Then last year, in the wake of revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the scope of US surveillance, Apple announced it was offering stronger encryption on its latest iPhones. And more tech firms began to question what had once been routine law enforcement requests to comply with court-ordered wiretaps. A spokesman for Facebook de- clined to comment about whether the attackers used WhatsApp. A representative for Germanybased Telegram did not respond to a request for comment. The officials familiar with the Paris investigation did not say when the services were used, how frequently or for what purpose. One of the officials said investigators believe that the attackers used Telegram’s encrypted chat function more frequently than they used WhatsApp. It was not clear whether authorities were able to obtain “metadata,” information indicating the times and dates of chat messages from either company’s servers. Nor was it clear whether authorities had been able to recover the messages from the phones themselves. Not all encrypted apps are equal. WhatsApp offers end-toend encryption between two users on some platforms, such NOT ALL ARE EQUAL Not all encrypted apps are equal. WhatsApp offers endto-end encryption between two users on some platforms, such as Android phones. That means the chat content is not visible to Facebook but only to the sender and receiver. Telegram’s Secret Chat feature is end-to-end encrypted. However, a number of experts say that Telegram is not secure. “It’s home-brew crypto style,” said Lance James, chief scientist at Flashpoint, a threat intelligence firm. The Telegram developers have “introduced unnecessary risk by making up their own cryptography rules.” as Android phones. That means the chat content is not visible to Facebook but only to the sender and receiver. WhatsApp is in the process of a rollout for iPhones. Telegram’s Secret Chat feature is end-to-end encrypted. However, a number of experts say that Telegram is not secure. “It’s home-brew crypto style,” said Lance James, chief scientist at Flashpoint, a threat intelligence firm. The Telegram developers have “introduced unnecessary risk by making up their own cryptography rules.” He said he was “fairly certain” that advanced spy agencies could find ways around the encryption. The group chat functions on the apps do not offer end-to-end encryption, which means anyone with access to WhatsApp or Telegram’s servers can read the chats. European authorities have come under heavy criticism for failing to disrupt the Paris attacks, and it is unclear whether encrypted messaging played an important role in the plot’s success. Ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian citizen, was being monitored by European authorities but nevertheless managed to travel to Syria and back this year. Pa≥enting in the fastchanging digital age By HAYLEY TSUKAYAMA The Washington Post PARENTING IS never easy. But today’s parents have to grapple with technology in a way that no previous generation did. A new study by the Family On- line Safety Institute (FOSI) has found that most parents — 78 per cent of those surveyed — think that technology will have a generally positive effect on their children’s futures, careers and life skills. But many are still grappling with figuring out how — or if — they should limit their children’s tech use. Many, for example, said they worry that as their children use more technology, they are not as physically active. The FOSI study sketches out more details about how parents are dealing with that consumption. Although 87 per cent of parents say they have rules for their children’s technology use, the kinds of rules they set vary widely. For example, 19 per cent of par- ents limit their kids to five hours of tech use or less per week. A little more than one-third — 35 per cent — set no limits at all. Meanwhile, only 36 per cent use parental controls, with many saying they don’t see the need to because they trust their children’s judgement and other household rules to keep things in hand. Bad behaviour Three of four parents said they have taken away or limited access to the Web as a punishment for bad grades, breaking rules or other bad behaviour. But there was also a slight dip One of those terrorists exchanged 109 messages with an overseas terrorist.” James B. Comey, FBI in the number of parents who said they feel they have a handle on what their children are up to online. And 55 per cent said that they let a child under 12 open a socialnetworking account — something that is allowed only for children 13 and up. “That’s a rather challenging fig- ure,” said FOSI executive director Stephen Balkam, whose organisation designed the Good Digital Parenting initiative to educate parents about how to deal with this brave new world. Organisations like his, he said, as well as technology firms and the government must do more to educate parents about exploiting the benefits — and avoiding the dangers — of the online world. The challenge of educating parents is exacerbated by the fact that the technology is changing so quickly. Parents themselves are still French soldiers at the site of the terror attack in Paris. Picture: AFP struggling with how they manage their technology use, let alone their children’s behaviour.
Dec 19th 2015
Jan 2nd 2016