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Bringing end-to-end encryption to the masses

Posted: 18 Mar 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Fraunhofer  encryption  surveillance  cryptography 

After a number of reports that intelligence agencies have been conducting mass surveillance activities, various sectors from both the industry and society are looking for workable encryption solutions that protect businesses and individuals. Previous technologies have not been successful due to cost and complexity. As such, Fraunhofer has launched an open initiative called "Volksverschlüsselung."

Encryption is the most effective antidote to unwarranted, mass surveillance of people, companies and authorities. Although there are any number of computer programmes designed to, say, make e-mail communication more secure, most people find them to be too much of a hassle. This is why the German government made establishing universal and easy-to-use encryption part of its Digital Agenda.

Public encryption

The aim of public encryption is to bring end-to-end encryption to everyone. (Fraunhofer SIT)

A research team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT in Darmstadt developed a public encryption concept that factors in user friendliness from the outset. The software automatically installs the cryptographic keys in the right places on your computer. The researchers are also working on an infrastructure that will be available to everyone and is compatible with existing encryption services.

"With this initiative and what it's developing, Fraunhofer is supporting the German government's efforts to better protect people and companies," said Michael Waidner, head of Fraunhofer SIT. This is why "Volksverschlüsselung" is to be made available as open-source software.

Key allocation for beginners

The software is the centrepiece of the solution. It relieves the user of the previously difficult task of allocating keys by recognising which applications, different e-mail programs, for example, on your computer, smartphone or tablet can use cryptography and automatically allocates the right key to each one. The software also generates cryptographic keys that can be used to encrypt e-mails or files.

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