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Australian encryption-busting Bill fatally flawed: UN Special Rapporteur

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The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy has called for Australia’s Assistance and Access Bill to be set aside, and a new approach to be taken to addressing the challenges faced by law enforcement from the use of encryption.

“The Assistance and Access Bill is unlikely to be workable in some respects, and is an unnecessary infringement of basic liberties in other,” Cannataci wrote in a submission [PDF] to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. “Its aims do not justify a lack of judicial oversight, or independent monitoring, or the extremely troubling lack of transparency.

“This Bill needs to be put aside. It is fatally flawed.”

Cannataci said the Bill is an example of “a poorly conceived national security measure that is equally as likely to endanger security as not”, and that it is technically questionable whether it can achieve its aims without introducing vulnerabilities.

The Special Rapporteur was dismissive of the oversight and transparency measures in the Bill, particularly the lack of judicial oversight and the ability for heads of agencies to approve actions by their own people.

“It is asserted that ‘The people who occupy these positions are trusted to exercise suitable judgment about the propriety of requests and well equipped to consider the reasonableness and proportionality of any requirements’,” Cannataci wrote.

“While heart-warming that such a state of trust exists in Australia, greater confidence would be generated in domestic and international quarters if the legislation established an independent mechanism that verifies proper conduct and use of far-reaching power by decision makers.”

Must read: Why Australia is quickly developing a technology-based human rights problem (TechRepublic)

Cannataci echoed concerns that a lack of privacy protections in Australia could see the nation be used a conduit for other countries to gain data.

“In the absence of a prohibition on or independent oversight to approve such requests, it will be important to establish conclusively that Australia is not becoming a ‘launderer’ of international requests for data,” he said.

On the technical front, the Special Rapporteur said it is “extremely questionable” whether access to encrypted content would be able to be restricted to one device.

“There are technical concerns around the assumption that it is possible to contain a vulnerability to one device or devices associated with one person,” he said. “The strong feeling is that ultimately, it would affect all users of that product and result in weaker security for everyone.”

Speaking last week, Director-General of Security at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) Duncan Lewis said persistent monitoring would not fall under the auspices of the Assistance and Access Bill.

See: The race to ruin the internet is upon us

“In order to enable us to get through the encryption and understand what the content is behind the communication, it is very important we have the assistance of the company — nobody would be better informed as to how the system operates than the company themselves — but importantly it is not systemic, it doesn’t have an enduring time, it doesn’t have a breadth of — it’s not going to be ubiquitous across the community, it’s quite specific,” Lewis said.

Under the proposed law, Australian government agencies would be able to issue three kinds of notices:

  • Technical Assistance Notices (TAN), which are compulsory notices for a communication provider to use an interception capability they already have;
  • Technical Capability Notices (TCN), which are compulsory notices for a communication provider to build a new interception capability, so that it can meet subsequent Technical Assistance Notices; and
  • Technical Assistance Requests (TAR), which have been described by experts as the most dangerous of all.

Under the proposed laws, Lewis would be able to approve requests and assistance notices for ASIO.

In consultation on the Bill, a number of submissions have called for increased judicial oversight and for protections existing for the issuing of TCNs to be extended to TANs and TARs.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) specifically asked for the judicial oversight and disallowing of systemic weaknesses to be extended to voluntary requests for assistance, particularly in the case of small providers that may not have the resources available to determine whether complying to a TAR would introduce a systemic weakness.

“If passed, the Bill would invoke exceptions to the Australia Privacy Principles,” the OAIC said.

The ASIO chief said that although he can issue a TAN, and would only need the approval of the attorney-general for a TCN, often a warrant would already be in place.

“The only time the attorney-general [would] be invoked in any way in that equation [in issuing a TAN] would be if request for assistance involved us then looking for content,” he said. “But to tell you the truth, it normally happens the other way around: We would get the warrant for the content, and then discover that we had to approach the company to access that content.”

Related Coverage

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Australia’s anti-encryption legislation fails to address human rights concerns: Committee

The Australian Parliament’s own human rights watchdog committee has identified a raft of concerns with the Assistance and Access Bill 2018, and is ‘seeking additional information’.

Dutton frames Encryption Bill debate as battle between protecting Silicon Valley or protecting Australians

Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton claims the Bill is already watered down, and Labor should support it.

Australian industry and tech groups unite to fight encryption-busting Bill

The new mega-group has called on Canberra to ditch its push to force technology companies to help break into their own systems.

Encryption Bill sent to joint committee with three week submission window

Fresh from rushing the legislation into Parliament, the government will ram its legislation through the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Home Affairs makes changes to encryption Bill without addressing main concerns

Services providers now have a defence to use if they are required to violate the law of another nation, and the public revenue protection clause has been removed.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating Unified Endpoint Management

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Endpoint management is one of the most significant challenges in the enterprise today. An increasingly large percentage of our workforce is distributed and demands flexibility to work wherever they want, whenever they want. We must respond by giving them access to the services they require to do their jobs effectively. The alternative is that we, as a business, will suffer, lose good people, and become less competitive. However, we must achieve this essential access while maintaining security and control of our business’s data assets.

An appropriate endpoint management strategy is key to addressing these issues. Our approach should be holistic and unified, bringing together control of devices, management of applications, security of data, and access controls.

Unified endpoint management (UEM) is the approach to meeting this challenge. It has evolved from traditionally disparate solutions for endpoint management, application delivery, and security into a single platform. This single platform delivers a consistent end-user experience across all devices, applications, and locations while maintaining security and control of data assets. The leading solutions allow us to enroll devices easily into our control, provide support, and ensure constituency and compliance while managing access to our applications and data.

This GigaOM Key Criteria Report describes UEM solutions and identifies key criteria and evaluation metrics for selecting such a solution. The corresponding GigaOm Radar Report identifies vendors and products that excel in this sector. Together, these reports give decision-makers an overview of the market to help them evaluate existing platforms and decide where to invest.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Data Storage for Ever Changing Business Needs

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Join GigaOm analyst Enrico Signoretti and CTERA CTO Aron Brand in this one-hour live webinar as they explore file storage trends and dynamics through the lens of IT infrastructure modernization projects.

The file and cloud experts will discuss the limitations of traditional NAS architectures in today’s corporate environments and how organizations are implementing distributed cloud file storage to solve remote collaboration, ransomware protection, and unstructured data growth challenges.

Signoretti and Brand will also examine the recently published GigaOm Radar for Distributed Cloud File Storage, in which CTERA was named the leader. They will review the report’s key criteria and evaluation metrics for choosing a distributed cloud file storage platform, helping IT leaders to understand which vendors are most aligned to their needs today as well as 12-18 months down the road.

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High Performance Application Security Testing – Cloud WAF Security Platforms

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research features analyst Jake Dolezal and will focus on comparing Web Application Firewall (WAF) security platforms in an enterprise with high performance needs.

This webinar will discuss web application security mechanisms deployed in the cloud. The cloud enables enterprises to differentiate and innovate with microservices at a rapid pace. However, the cloud is just as vulnerable, if not more so, to attacks and breaches as on-premises APIs and apps are. Our focus is specifically on approaches to securing apps, APIs, and microservices that are tuned for high performance and availability. We define “high performance” as companies that experience workloads of more than 1,000 transactions per second (tps) and require a maximum latency below 30 milliseconds across the landscape.

In this webinar, we will reveal the performance tests of security mechanisms on NGINX, AWS, and Azure, specifically: ModSecurity, NGINX App Protect WAF, AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF), and Azure WAF.

Register now to join GigaOm and NGINX for this free expert webinar.

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