As crypto wars begin, FBI silently removes sensible advice to encrypt your devices




Pathetic, insecurity for “security”.


I don’t suppose it’s occurred to any of these law enforcement types that just thirty years ago, there wouldn’t have been any way to track all this data anyhow? It would all have been stuffed in file folders at the perp’s place of residence, and none would have been the wiser.

It’s so hypocritical that they’ll come down like a tonne of bricks on on-line piracy, but want all that and more for themselves.


Eventually … in order to stop all of the problems with no-knock warrants the ATF & DEA will have outlawed front door locks.


The FBI’s new mission to make us all less safe is a remarkably obvious step in the wrong direction. However, this change is most certainly not “As the crypto wars begin.” The crypto war began, at the latest, with the strong crypto export controls, the fight against PGP and the attempt to require clipper chip crypto.


Far earlier than that, my friend. As early as the turn of the 70’s, I was passing encoded notes to my chum in grade four, when teacher demanded to know what the note said and proscribed any further communiques in that format. We didn’t yield.

Our official secrets pact expired a decade ago, so I can tell you now that it said “If we’re still doing cursive letters today, I swear, I’m eating my notebook at lunch”. Rest assured, though, that the content of that message has remained concealed until the very revelation I make to you today.


I’m pretty sure the kidnappers, pedos, terrorists, and narcos have pretty much figured out how to do security by now-- you’d think the mighty cyber warriors of the NSA and FBI would have pretty much scooped up all the ones who haven’t.

What the FBI doesn’t want is dumb innocent civilians using crypto. Perhaps because they are the only ones they can catch?


I’d love a world where pedophiles, kidnappers, drug dealers aren’t seen. But I can’t see congress, NSA, or the CIA wanting to lower their visibility.


I think Cory is referring to the “second” crypto wars, though it could be argued that the first round with the clipper chip and export control were not really “won” even if many thought they were at the time.


I think the fact that the legacy of the export controls is still with us, making the FREAK exploit possible, shows us that the cyrpto war was never over. And given Cory’s well established penchant for playing fast and loose with facts in his BB post headlines, I very much doubt that he thought it through as much as you hypothesize.


I was being generous, and if you reread my point you might notice I was suggesting they weren’t really over either. We can have a nice informed discussion about this, or you can keep picking on the headlines.


Not actually mutually exclusive.


Fair enough. So I’ve heard some refer to this stage as the second crypto wars, and even among those who are fairly well informed such as Bruce Schneier, I’ve heard the terminology shift. While it’s pretty obvious the struggle was never “won” in the '90’s, there is some added tension now.

Those who do not want the general public to use strong crypto are digging in their heals, and many people who didn’t know or understand what the struggle was about before actually have more knowledge of the stakes.

The FREAK exploit seems to me more a sad commentary on people not taking security seriously. In a lot of areas crypto is just a checkbox for the devs. I don’t think it’s really a sign of the crypto wars at all, just humans doing what’s easy, as usual.

So, what of any of this has to do with the FBI changing it’s recommendations? I don’t think properly defining where / when the “wars” started really distracts from the fact they are suddenly dropping crypo from the guidelines.


I’m not so sure that the removal of the advice is anything to do with so-called “crypto wars”.

The original FBI article was on a page regarding “New E-scams and warnings”, amongst Holiday Shopping Tips etc, and dated Oct 2012, they’ve not edited the article to remove information about encryption but rather the entire page’s content has been removed.

It does however remain at their partnered IC3 site:


“Tech execs say privacy should be the paramount virtue,” Comey continued, “When I hear that I close my eyes and say try to image what the world looks like where pedophiles can’t be seen, kidnapper can’t be seen, drug dealers can’t be seen.”

…blacks can’t be seen, women can’t be seen, gender-queer people can’t be seen, dissidents can’t be seen, poor people can’t be seen…


Let’s wait when Russians spies will get US industrial and military secrets.


It occurred to me that it might look like I’m grouping blacks, women, etc. in with pedophiles, kidnappers, etc. My intention was that in his vision of forcing pedophiles into the light by removing encryption (not that that’s remotely possible), it makes everyone else, especially vulnerable groups, that much easier to make “disappear”.


Well, the former is often interesting and inclusive, while the latter is often petty, purposefully obtuse, trite, overly pedantic and a useless bore that divides people for no good reason and often to no good effect. Seems like a pretty stark difference to me.


I see your point, but I still find the timing of its removal rather interesting. Either way, the FBI only has itself to blame for being the object of derision and suspicion from the American public in regards to encryption.


Right, because you are the poster person for non-divisive, friendly conversations.