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An Israeli security group claims it can access all of your encrypted slider data. Here's why it's an even bigger deal than you might think

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In the cat-and-mouse game that we all apparently play in keeping the information safe online, the Israeli security company NSO announces advertising to governments that the Pegasus software can crack encrypted shooters, including iCloud, OneDrive and Google Drive.

In a statement to AppleInsider, the company said, "We do not offer or market any kind of hacking or bulk acquisition capacity to any cloud applications, services or infrastructure."

However, it has not denied that it has such technology, and the Financial Times report indicated that its Pegasus software was found on devices in the wild. I traveled to the company, but didn't get an immediate answer.

First, some good news. In order for the technology to work, the company must have root access to the device. That means that to install software that gives control over the iPhone or Android device, it needs access to the core subsystems of the device, as opposed to just downloading a regular app.

Since NSO claims it only provides software to Government agencies, it means that it is very unlikely that your device is at risk unless it falls into the hands of law enforcement or an intelligence agency.

If so, there is a good chance that your iCloud account is not your biggest immediate concern.

The government will keep an eye on your data.

But that's bad news, and it's actually a pretty big deal. NSO says it only markets its technology to governments, which is actually a bit of a consolation that at least it's not likely to end up in the hands of criminal hackers. But is it really something less confusing?

Because really what that means is that the government regularly looks for ways to invade your privacy if it finds it necessary. The only reason why a product like this would exist is that governments are not encryption fans because it means they cannot access the contents of the mobile device or cloud storage.

Well, maybe you say, the government just wants to get the information from the guys, right? Except it doesn't matter. Encryption that can be freely corrupted when used by villains is not really encryption. It's an illusion.

And the illusion does not actually protect us from anything.

The illusion of privacy.

Ironically, most of us walk around with the illusion of privacy, or protection, every day. The fact that most of us have not broken our information is just a factor of random happiness. It's basically because no one has actually tried.

It would be like painting on the outside of a deadbolt lock on the door, and then assuring yourself that you are safe. You are not, but you feel that you are because no one has ever broken into your home.

But they could, if they just tried a little.

It is basically the state of your personal information when end-to-end encryption has a backdoor, or can be broken by a government using a master key or brute force software.

These are hardware or software tools that either specify a global "unlock" password that works on any device, or tool that specifies password options in order of one works.

Device makers like Apple, Samsung and Google are constantly working to counter the advances in breaking the encryption used to secure your smartphone or cloud storage account, but it's clear that the government is working just as hard to keep its ability to stick its nose in things.

Google responded with a spokesperson's statement:

"We haven't found any evidence of access to Google Accounts or systems, and we continue our investigation. We automatically protect users against security threats, and we encourage them to use tools like our security control, 2-step verification and our advanced protection program if they think they can be at particularly high risk of attack. "

I also went to Apple, Microsoft and Dropbox about whether or not you think theirs Systems are at risk of being compromised but did not receive responses before publishing.

It is up to you to protect your data.

See, your data is in great demand. Businesses like Google and Facebook make huge amounts of profits by targeting ads it determines is relevant based on the information collected. Bad actors will have very much access to sensitive information such as bank cards and credit card credentials, or even medical records.

They would be bad enough, but honest, at least there are protections that can counter their attempts. At least public opinion and the free market can intervene when companies go a long way, and the law gives some degree of complaint when they attack.

What is far frightening is the idea that the government is very interested in making sure it can get your information if it wants to.

Update: Google responded with a statement.

The views expressed here by the Inc.com column are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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