Cyber security becomes major issue discussed by professors and students

Cyber security has become a major issue within the law. Apple Inc. has been asked to develop a “backdoor” that could give the FBI access to data that could potentially assist in finding terrorists. (Illustration by Dalton Johnson)

Sovereignty in cyber security expanded from computer science majors to the field of political science. Professors and students are becoming more aware of cyber insecurity and are speaking out about how to deal with the issue.

In a recent controversial incident, the FBI asked Apple Inc. to create software to open an iPhone that could potentially provide evidence against a terrorist threat.

Apple has recognized the danger of creating the software that could open up any iPhone and has refused to do so. The company has even sent out a company letter informing the public on the current situation and its stance on the matter.

BYU computer science professor Kent Seamons, said technology companies such as Apple, which holds the information of everyone with an Apple product, need to secure the trust they hold with customers.

“Apple systems have recently provided increased privacy to users in a way that Apple claims they cannot circumvent,” said Seamons, who is also the director of BYU’s Internet Security Research Lab. “They can offer these features more easily than other large companies because they build both the hardware and the software of iPhones.”

Apple has refused to provide a backdoor or access to private information from the iPhone that belonged to the San Bernardino shooter, Syed Rizwan Farwook. This information could contain evidence of a terrorist attack and help prevent future attacks.

Seamons explained if Apple provides this information, those who discover this technique to access private information could use it to attack any iPhone user. 

He also said it is nearly impossible for users to have any guarantee that the government, other companies or attackers haven’t compromised their systems. He said it can be expected for users “to have less confidence that they have any real privacy as time goes on.”

Christophe Giraud-Carrier is also a professor in the computer science department but teaches on machine learning and data mining. Giraud-Carrier has done research on topics that include social capital and social media applications.

It’s amazing to me how many people put very personal information on social media,” Giraud-Carrier said. “They add very detailed information about their location, attitude and opinions. Websites such as Twitter can locate exactly where you are.” 

He mentioned people are sometimes skeptical the government has access to their personal information and aren’t mindful when websites like Google does.

“There are interests and trends that show over time our sensitivity to privacy seems to decrease. Our grandparents would shred their letters to avoid people knowing their address, but now that mentality is gone,” Giraud-Carrier said.

Giraud-Carrier said people tend to feel secure when their information is given to provide coupons or discounts, but when it is given not knowing what will be done with it, a sense of tension and insecurity seems to rise.

He also said this decade has seen much ambiguity with the topic of cyber security and can expect more of it as time continues. Cyber security has not only become an issue in the computer science department, but also in the political science realm. 

Haley Peterson, a sophomore in political science, said she thinks it is important for other students to become aware of how it affects millennials.

“With so much terrorism going on, there’s so much cyber affiliation going in national security, specifically like ISIS recruiting over social media,” Peterson said. “We have to start taking action now before it gets too late because we don’t know where the line is and can’t cross it.”

She said there is a large problem trying to keep track of individuals who are committing crimes between countries.

“With issues like dealing with human and drug trafficking, cyber security finds a need to facilitate cooperation and communication between countries without invading their sovereignty,” Peterson said.

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