Saturday, 01 December 2018 05:49

AWS ready for court over encryption


AWS chief information security officer Steve Schmidt says the company is prepared to take the Australian Government to court if the proposed encryption legislation requires it to build backdoors.

He told journalists at this week's AWS re:Invent conference that the best way to protect data from state access was to encrypt it with keys that stay under the user's control.

Schmidt expressed hope that the proposed Australian legislation reflects a desire to not do anything that would harm security.

"It is possible to do the right thing at the right time," he said, but it is a bad idea to deliberately introduce vulnerabilities into a system as "that will put us all at risk".

While AWS encrypts data at rest and in motion, it has to be decrypted for processing. One concern is that the government might seek access to data at that point.

In that case, AWS would take them to court, he said, arguing that the potential harm resulting from bad actors taking advantage of the vulnerability would outweigh any benefit of access by government.

Schmidt also pointed out that AWS is contractually obliged to alert customers to such activity. However, legislation can be written to prohibit such disclosures.

iTWire is providing extensive coverage of the progress of the encryption bill.

Disclosure: The writer attended AWS re:Invent as a guest of the company.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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