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Cyber expert bares encryption pitfalls

Discussions on net malpractice

By Debraj Mitra in Calcutta
  • Published 27.03.19, 3:11 AM
  • Updated 27.03.19, 3:11 AM
  • a min read
Abhijan Bhattacharyya at the event. Sanat Kumar Sinha

End-to-end encryption secures communication and ensures privacy but can become a safe haven for criminals and terrorists to communicate bypassing the security radar.

A packed audience at Rotary Sadan on Monday listened to a city-bred researcher’s assertions on how the Internet was bringing the world together and at the same time taking it apart.

“The Internet has a set of core values, like an end-to-end principle. When I send some data, it should reach the end destination. I don’t care about the intermediaries, what happens to it en route,” Abhijan Bhattacharyya, a scientist in the network embedded infrastructure research group at Tata Consultancy Services in Calcutta, said.

“Universal access and freedom of expression are some of the other core principles of the Internet.”

Bhattacharyya has steered several projects in India and abroad on the implementation of protocol layers of digital wireless communication standards.

He was speaking on “The Business and Social Impact of Malpractices in Cyber Universe” as part of a Knowledge Exchange Series presented by the CMA in association with The Telegraph.

But the guiding principles are like double-edged swords, he said.

“Terrorists, flesh traders, hate speech and fake news mongers take advantage of these principles to serve their purpose,” Bhattacharyya, who did his BTech from Calcutta University before a Master’s from Jadavpur University, said.

He cited the end-to-end encryption of messages, much touted as a method of secure communication that prevents third parties from accessing data while it’s transferred from one end system to another.

It effectively means that no third party, including the Internet service providers, would be able to see the communication, he said.

“But this cloak is a shield for terrorists and flesh traders. From the perspective of law-enforcement agencies, it is a nightmare to track their virtual communication,” Bhattacharyya told the audience, comprising mainly management students.