Encryption is the state of the art solution to ensure confidentiality/integrity of data and IT systems. In general, cryptography relies on random numbers to generate long-term secret keys for encryption and signatures. For instance, cryptographic nonces (an arbitrary number used only once in a cryptographic communication) are used for digital signatures and authenticated encryption. There is a variety of providers offering crypto services such as encrypted mail and encrypted cloud storage, both enhancing the user’s privacy. However, being the state of the art solution for ensuring confidentiality of data, law enforcement agencies have a high interest in accessing encrypted data in order to allow for an efficient law enforcement. Topics like key escrow and exploitation of back doors through law enforcement agencies and intelligence services will be an important factor in the future, especially as the usage of encryption technology through citizens and companies increases, and might have an impact on the efficiency of encryption products and services.

Crypto-currencies

One advantage of cash payments compared to electronic payment services is that cash payments allow anonymity. While “traditional” payment services rely on processing financial data online, crypto-currencies can help to minimise threats to the user’s privacy by anonymising the payment process. Consequently, there is no need for the user to reveal his credit card or bank account details for certain transfers. However, crypto currencies might incorporate certain risks of their own: There are no regulations regarding crypto currencies and it might be unclear whether payment information is secured properly by payment providers. The level of protection also depends on the currency – for instance, all Bitcoin transactions are stored publicly and permanently on the Bitcoin network, which means that anyone can see the balance and transactions of a Bitcoin user. While the identity behind a user remains unknown, maintaining anonymity is in the responsibility of the user. All in all, crypto currencies can offer protection for certain payments; however, it has to be noted that they can also cause risks for user’s privacy, in particular if they are unexperienced.