Crypto-Health of Your Device: Should You Care?

Cryptography weakens over time.

I can compare this cryptographic zoo on your system to membrane proteins in biological organisms or to cement mortar holding together bricks in a wall. Why? Because this is what happens to cryptography: it starts as novel and robust and eventually becomes obsolete and vulnerable. New types of attacks evolve, available computing power increases, and, once safe, cryptographic algorithms yield their positions and fall prey to adversaries. The protective armor weakens over time and needs replacement. But because it takes time and effort, even clean installs of operating systems or software packages may contain already expired or self-signed certificates, poorly implemented or broken cryptographic algorithms and hashes. These are examples of weak cryptography.

What is Crypto-Health?

Let’s coin the definition of crypto-health of a device: it is a degree of strength of cryptography that can be accessed by an intruder. Together with network security, crypto-health is part of the overall cryptosecurity of your device. In an ideal world, all cryptography in your device’s system would be strong. Unfortunately, our world is not the case, as there is a certain lag in patching or rewriting operation systems and applications to replace weakened or obsolete cryptography. And even if one company moves its apps to a higher security standard, there might be compatibility issues with other software products that can’t operate at a new level. Often, there is a trade-off between functionality and relative security as of here and now. Good crypto-health means that strong cryptography is properly implemented to guard the boundary of your device’s system, the way toughened skin protects living organisms. The sturdy brick walls must guard all perimeters, but inside the safe bubbles, you may still be fine with straw and paper.

Takeaways

  • Cryptography is present on all your devices.
  • Cryptography weakens over time.
  • Your smart home devices are smarter than you think.
  • Crypto-health of a device reflects the strength of cryptography that can be accessed by an adversary.
  • Good crypto-health of your devices means that your device has strong cryptography at the potential attack perimeters and points.

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Tali de York

Tali de York

I am a [technical] writer, poet, and engineer. My domains are IT, Cryptography, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cloud Computing.