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Government may need laws outlawing encryption techniques, says cyber security expert

UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 22 MAY 2015
Laws for encryption techniques

The government may need to consider outlawing all but the simplest encryption techniques if it is to stop terrorist groups such as Islamic State (IS) from targeting potential recruits with encrypted social media app messages, a Birmingham City University academic has warned.

Commenting on reports today that a 16-year-old British schoolgirl attempted to travel to Syria to join jihadists after IS used encrypted apps to send her instructions, Professor Mike Jackson, Cyber Security expert at Birmingham City University said:

"Although Government bodies have the ability to intercept huge amounts of message traffic, it will always be possible to devise sufficiently strong encryption mechanisms so that the content of the messages cannot be deciphered within a reasonable timeframe. The only potential counter to this is to pass laws which forbid all but the simplest encryption techniques.

"The investigation into the incident has revealed that instructions on how the girl should travel were sent via social media apps that encrypt messages. Use of these apps effectively means that it is impossible to read messages that have been sent without access to either the transmitting or receiving device."

Scotland Yard revealed today that it has prevented the schoolgirl travelling to Syria to join the terror group after being tipped off about her plans by a national newspaper.

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