[Cryptography] What is encryption good for? - was Re: Hillary on encryption: 'maybe the back door isn't the right door'

Peter Fairbrother peter at m-o-o-t.org
Tue Dec 22 11:16:07 EST 2015

On 20/12/15 17:20, Henry Baker wrote:

> By T.C. Sottek on December 19, 2015 10:16 pm @chillmage
> Democrats have strange ideas about the internet, too.  At tonight's
> ABC News presidential debate, candidates offered a number of vague,
> borderline-illiterate thoughts about technology, especially Hillary
> Clinton.  It all started when ABC gave her an inane prompt,
> characterizing encryption as a "terrorist tool used in the Paris
> attacks."

Well, encryption undoubtedly _is_ used by terrorists. At least 
occasionally, eg when they visit ATMs or do internet shopping.

Encryption may well also be used by terrorists for more direct terrorist 
purposes, though that use doesn't actually seem to be widespread (and 
those who do seem to be at the cleverer end of the spectrum, and won't 
be put off by a law demanding backdoors - everybody who has made even a 
cursory study of the field knows how to do unbreakable end-to-end 

However, what I am interested in, which should perhaps be emphasised a 
bit more,  is the use of encryption by ordinary folk who are not 
terrorists, for lawful purposes.

So, what is encryption good for?

Some suggestions:

internet banking
internet shopping
protection against identity theft

use by enterprises keep customer details confidential
cloud services
keep mobile calls private
modern car locks
conditional access to computers, databases etc - anything needing a password

Any more?

-- Peter Fairbrother

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