Browse Definitions :
Definition

going dark

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Going dark is military lingo for the sudden termination of communication. The term used to describe a scenario in which communication appears to have ceased, but in reality has just moved from a public communication channel, where it could be monitored, to a private communication channel that prevents eavesdropping.

The term has been adopted by law enforcement to describe digital communication that cannot be monitored because of strong encryption. Mobile apps that use end-to-end encryption (E2EE) are designed to protect data at rest and in transit and keep the end user's text messages, emails and video chats private and secure. The same encryption technologies that protect end users from intruders, however, can prevent law enforcement and government agencies with the legal right to monitor transmissions from being able to do so.

In the United States, the question of how much help law enforcement and national security agencies should expect from vendors to make decryption upon demand available is under debate. The National Security Agency (NSA) has proposed vendors use split-key encryption to solve the problem of law-breakers and terrorists going dark.

In a split key encryption approach, also known as secret sharing, the technology vendor or service provider retains half the master key and law enforcement retains the other half. This approach places responsibility for deploying encryption in a way that supports lawful access on the vendor or service provider; it also provides a level of transparency, requiring the participation of both parties in order for lawful access to occur.

Opponents of this approach maintain that it would be prohibitively complex to implement and the complexity would provide points of entry that would ultimately endanger user data security. Another approach, which has been used in the past, is called lawful device hacking. In this scenario, the responsibility for decrypting dark communication is placed on law enforcement and government agencies, who must use exploits and/or external hardware/software to access the content of locked devices.

This was last updated in October 2017

Continue Reading About going dark

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Just read your definition of "going dark" and learned a few things. You guys are doing a great job!
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

SearchSecurity

  • cybersecurity

    Cybersecurity is the protection of internet-connected systems, including hardware, software and data, from cyberattacks.

  • asymmetric cryptography (public key cryptography)

    Asymmetric cryptography, also called public key cryptography, uses a pair of numerical keys that are mathematically related to ...

  • digital signature

    A digital signature is a mathematical technique used to validate the authenticity and integrity of a message, software or digital...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • disaster recovery team

    A disaster recovery team is a group of individuals focused on planning, implementing, maintaining, auditing and testing an ...

  • cloud insurance

    Cloud insurance is any type of financial or data protection obtained by a cloud service provider. 

SearchStorage

  • hard disk drive (HDD)

    A computer hard disk drive (HDD) is a non-volatile memory hardware device that controls the positioning, reading and writing of ...

  • byte

    In most computer systems, a byte is a unit of data that is eight binary digits long. Bytes are often used to represent a ...

  • network-attached storage (NAS)

    Network-attached storage (NAS) is dedicated file storage that enables multiple users and heterogeneous client devices to retrieve...

Close