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US Crypto Laws cripple Euros




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                  U.S. Crypto Laws Cripple Euros, Expert Says
                  (09/17/97; 5:00 p.m. EDT)
                  By Douglas Hayward, TechWire
                  [Image]
                  CAMBRIDGE, England -- The U.S. government's    Related
                  strategy of monitoring the computer networks   Stories:
                  of hostile governments is damaging the
                  communications infrastructure of its allies,   The
                  a leading encryption expert said.              Governmen t
                                                                 Eyes
                  The American enthusiasm for using              Encryptio n
                  "information warfare" strategies has resulted
                  in a weakening of the U.K. and European        Capitol H ill
                  civilian communications, said Ross Anderson,   Girds For  Key
                  an academic at Cambridge University, at the    Clashes O ver
                  International Symposium on Economic Crime      Encryptio n
                  held in Cambridge, England, on Tuesday.
                                                                 Computer
                  Information warfare -- the act of monitoring   Industry
                  or sabotaging an enemy's communications and    Riled Up  Over
                  computing infrastructure -- gained widespread  FBI Chief 's
                  attention during the Gulf War when the U.S.    Suggestio n
                  military hacked its way into Iraqi
                  communication networks.                        FBI Insis ts
                                                                 On Crypto
                  Anderson was a co-author of a highly critical  Access
                  report published in May that attacked the
                  Clinton administration's encryption export     Criminal
                  control policies. The report, written by a     Informati on
                  group of encryption experts, said an attempt   On The Wi res
                  to prevent users from getting access to
                  uncontrolled encryption products would result  [*] = L ink to
                  in substantial sacrifices in security and
                  cost.                                          our
                                                                 tech
                                       The Clinton               encyclope dia
                    -------------------administration, advised   for more
                    "We have to        by the U.S. National      info.
                    question the       Security Agency (NSA),    [Image]
                    wisdom of          wants to be able to
                    introducing        continue monitoring the
                    weaknesses into    communications of
                    our national       potentially hostile
                    infrastructures."  countries or groups. To
                    -- Ross Anderson   do this, it wants to
                    Cambridge          prevent these groups from
                    University         using unbreakable
                    -------------------encryption programs.

                  This policy, dubbed Offensive, means the U.S.
                  government insists on maintaining strict
                  controls over the export and use of
                  encryption to ensure that hostile governments
                  and groups don't get access to strong         [[Image]
                  encryption tools.

                  But this NSA-backed policy on restricting the
                  spread of strong encryption software has held
                  back the development of secure commercial and
                  governmental communications networks in
                  Europe, Anderson said.

                  Civilian communications networks whose
                  security has been weakened as a result of
                  U.S. policy include the Europewide Global
                  System for Mobile Communications telephone
                  networks, commercial banking networks, and
                  television broadcasting.

                  "We have to question the wisdom of
                  introducing weaknesses into our national
                  infrastructures," Anderson said. Europeans
                  are going to have to take more control over
                  industrial aspects of encryption, he said,
                  and develop policies with less input from the
                  people in the Pentagon.

                  "In the long term, the United Kingdom and its
                  European partners have to start thinking
                  carefully about the defensive vs. offensive
                  aspects of this business, Anderson said. "The
                  time is right for a fundamental realignment
                  of resources in this field."

                  Restrictions on encryption use mean the
                  British Patent Office has to use a weak form
                  of encryption when communicating with its
                  counterparts overseas, Anderson said. "They
                  use the size of keys I give to my students to
                  break as exercises," Anderson said.

                  The result is that highly confidential
                  information, including very valuable details
                  of intellectual property, can be intercepted
                  and decoded, he said. [TW]

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