Encryption is in a key role in the protection of electronic communications

Encryption is in a key role in the protection of electronic communications

Press release 09.03.2018 17.04 fi sv en

The Ministry of Transport and Communications has ordered a report that discusses the protection and encryption methods of electronic communications. The report was completed as a part of the implementation of the Data Security Strategy.

A summary of the methods of encryption and protection in electronic communications and the opportunities and risks that are connected to them is included in the report. Furthermore, the report discusses the future prospects of encryption and protection technology, and defines the key concepts relevant to encryption.

Encryption technologies are in a key role in the protection of electronic communications Their task is to ensure the confidentiality of communications and integrity of data when a message is transmitted from a sender to a recipient. Confidentiality means that a message can only be read by its intended recipient. Integrity implies that it is not possible to edit the contents of the message.

Ensuring the confidentiality of communications is important, as the right to privacy and the secrecy of confidential communications are basic rights laid down in the Constitution of Finland. It is the responsibility of official authorities to actively promote the realisation of basic human rights, including the right to privacy and confidential communications.

The importance of protecting the integrity of information will increase in the future, in traffic safety among other applications. Vehicles are already connected to various data systems and each other. In the near future, vehicles will interact with other vehicles and their surroundings. In such an environment, it is vital that the messages stay intact.

The use of encryption methods can help to improve consumer confidence in digital services. Nowadays, there are various technical solutions available for the encryption of communications. Increasingly many services that consumers like, such as instant messaging applications, have introduced strong encryption methods that help to keep communications better protected from outsiders. The report states that it is estimated that approximately half of all network traffic is encrypted.

According to the report, it is recommended to use communication methods that use end-to-end encryption and protection of data integrity. This means that a message is encrypted by the transmitting device and only decrypted in the recipient device. Thus, the devices and systems transmitting the message cannot read or edit the message contents.

The report also emphasises that demanding the availability of backdoors, i.e. intentionally weaker encryption methods, can risk the right to privacy and data security. Despite the backdoors, strong encryption will be available for those who prefer to use it. They will, however, make ordinary users more vulnerable to threats.

The future prospects emphasise the fast-pace development of the encryption methods and applications and their opportunities in the Internet of Things. The risks generated by quantum computers and quantum computing must be taken into account when future encryption methods and applications are selected.

The report is prepared by the Technical Research Centre of Finland and commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

A link to the whole text of the report, in Finnish (Sähköisen viestinnän salaus- ja suojausmenetelmät, Publications by the Ministry of Transport and Communications 2/2018) on the website is available below.

Further information:

Senior Officer Maija Rönkä, tel. +358 (0)295 34 2039