Here’s How Australian Police Spy On Your Online Activities
Modelled after Britain’s Investigatory Power Act, the Australian government had proposed a new cybersecurity law that will require large companies such as Google and Facebook to allow the police and other law enforcement agencies to access encrypted messages of users suspected of extremist and criminal activities.
Telecommunication companies currently have the same obligation to the government – the police can access the messages and call logs of users with a warrant. This policy advocates data retention Australia. Giving this same requirement to global technology companies by law will enable the police to go through encrypted messages as long as they have a warrant.
“We need to ensure that the internet is not used as a dark place for bad people to hide their criminal activities from the law,” Turnbull said adding that this legislation is needed in order for the law to keep up with the advancement in technology.
George Brandis, the attorney general, said as much in the following statement, “It is vitally important that the development of technology does not leave the law behind.”
However, this leaves us with a question: will this proposed law continue protecting those who are not involved in any criminal acts, or will everyone be vulnerable to it.
Cybercrimes have developed and advanced over the years, even as technology and the internet have progressed. Petty crimes of before such as stalking and doxing have evolved into more sophisticated and even scarier crimes. We are talking about identity theft, child pornography, ransomware, email phishing, and many more cybercrimes that are getting more and more difficult to trace and prevent.
Of course, these crimes are easier to dodge with the use of encryption. When the data packets you send and receive are heavily encrypted, it is impossible for anyone, including your Internet Service Provider of ISP, to decrypt it and know all the details of your transaction.
Therefore, when you are transferring money from your bank account to another using an online portal, hackers and scammers will not be able to see your sensitive financial details such as your bank account number, home address, birthday, and even your name. Without encryption, all these private details are vulnerable to anyone who have the technical know-how.
When a file is encrypted, only those who have the secret password or key can read or decrypt it. Therefore, only authorized people can open the encrypted file or data. Encryption is the most effective method to protect online privacy.
Even when the NSA or governments use supercomputers, they cannot decrypt the encrypted data in a reasonable amount of time. It will take around 1 billion years for the fastest supercomputer in 2011, the Fujitsu K computer in Japan, to break through a 128-bit AES encryption.
Even the NUDT Tianhe-2 computer in China, the most powerful and fastest supercomputer in 2016, will need millions of years in order to crack a single 128-bit AES key. If you use encryption to protect your data, then you should be feeling safe.
Now, the law proposed by the Australian government threatens the security that encryption provides. Even when we say that they cannot decrypt the data packets, the thought the they can access the logs of encrypted communication is scary enough. And who knows the lengths they will go in order to decrypt any data? After all, they have all the resources to fund studies and purchase equipment that can give them access.
Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner Mike Phelan mentioned that a large number of their investigations right now contain encryption. “Whether that’s encryption of phones, whether it’s encryption of computers that we seize or whether, it’s traffic that goes between conversations over the internet, then that’s the sort of thing that we need to get behind. At the end of the day, what has happened here is legislation has yet kept pace with technology.”
The Australian law enforcement agency has laid out the need to get hold of encrypted messages, especially those that are suspected to involve terrorism and other criminal acts. Internet surveillance is at the core of all these. This leaves us the question of whether or not this privilege to be given to the police will be used properly and in the right way.
“As soon as you start to build in weaknesses into the design of encryption, you put it at risk for everyone,” said Troy Hunt, an independent security researcher. The danger of undermining the encryption system for law enforcement agencies is that it becomes a fair play for everyone. Ultimately, encryption will not provide security to people who are using it precisely for security purposes.
The Bottom Line
The Australian Police – or any other agency that has enough power – can spy on your online activities. This fact is true for both encrypted and unencrypted data packets, especially with the new cybersecurity law that has been proposed.
The silver lining in this seemingly bad news though is that they cannot access heavily encrypted data packets, especially when the encryption keys are hidden from your Internet Service Provider, or large tech companies like Facebook and Google.
One of the ways to encrypt your data packets is by using a virtual private network or a VPN. Some VPN service providers, such as LimeVPN, even make use of military graded encryption which is impossible to crack.
Virtual Private Network
When using a vpn network, your computer will need to connect to a third party server before finally establishing a connection to the website or application you are trying to access.
The purpose of the third party server is to hide your real IP address, thereby hiding your true identity as well. The benefits of using best vpn service are the following:
- A vpn protects your privacy. It allows you to hide your identity, making you anonymous to stalkers and advertisers. If these people can’t find you in the web, then they can’t get your personal information, which means that there is nothing about you that can be published and used to threaten or shame you.
- A secure vpn protects you from cybercrimes and data breaches. These days, anyone can fall prey to cybercrimes. Using a vpn will help you feel more secure, especially when doing financial transactions online.
- Because a vpn protects your privacy, it is a great tool against censorship and geo-restrictions.
These are just three basic benefits of using a vpn network – anonymity, privacy and security. A vpn is a great way to maintain the freedom that should be enjoyed by everyone using the internet.
So it goes without saying that the only way to stop the police from spying on you is to use a virtual private network or a VPN. This way, you hold the key to the encryption. Thus, even when they get hold of your encrypted communications over the internet, they have no way of accessing it and breaking through the encryption, unless they get hold of the encryption key.