Some people wrongly associate encryption with something sinister. They suspect anyone who would go to such lengths to keep a secret must be hiding something dark. In many cases, the exact opposite is true!
In countries across the globe, people are fighting for a better world, but they face resistance. For human rights activists working in dangerous places, keeping their work confidential can be a matter of life and death. What if a death squad raids their offices and learns the names of activists and local witnesses who worked with the group? In such circumstances, privacy takes on another magnitude of importance.
We’ve all seen spy movies where secret agents with the backing of their government have elaborate ways to send and receive confidential messages. Until the early 1990s, smaller organizations didn’t have the resources for such tools, and they were at a serious disadvantage.
Philp Zimmermann changed that by creating the most widely-used encryption software in the world — Pretty Good Protection, known as PGP. An American computer scientist and cryptographer, PGP enabled human rights groups and activists worldwide to conduct their operations in safety. The emails Zimmermann received from grateful users on the ground attest that PGP has saved numerous lives.
Myntex was inspired to become a leader in PGP encryption technology after reading about the pioneering work of Philp Zimmermann and the impact he made. We’re proud to carry on this work today,
Please read these stories about PGP technology making an impact below to better understand the importance of confidentiality.
Grateful feedback from the brother of a rebel freedom fighter in Kosovo during the 1998 war puts into sharp relief PGP encryption’s importance. Here is an excerpt from the letter. Names have been withheld, and the letter is lightly edited for brevity.
“The peasant guerillas of KLA took heavy casualties during fall 1998…they had to rely on couriers to pre-coordinate any action, which in effect made them simply too slow. Phones, faxes, emails were, according to him, all taped by the government…which, he says, surveilled a great many call/min and got activated with code-words…And then, some within KLA came up with the PGP!
“…My brother is totally convinced that it saved the lives of hundreds of good men, who otherwise would have had no chance…I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m grateful to have my brother back alive.”
Today, Myntex creates end-to-end encrypted communication tools that offer the same level of security, but they’re even easier to use.
Another letter from a grateful PGP user testifies to the life-saving ability of real encryption. The names of the people and organization involved were deleted out of privacy concerns, which will seem understandable after reading their story:
“We are part of a network of not-for-profit agencies, working among other things for human rights in the Balkans. Our various offices have been raided by various police forces looking for evidence of spying or subversive activities. Our mail has been regularly tampered with and our office in Romania has a constant wiretap.
“…The security police raided our office and confiscated our computers in the hope of retrieving information about the identity of people who had complained about their activities.
“In every instance, PGP has allowed us to communicate and protect our files from any attempt to gain access to our material as we PKZIP all our files and then use PGP’s conventional encryption facility to protect all sensitive files.
“Without PGP we would not be able to function and protect our client group. Thanks to PGP I can sleep at night knowing that no amount of prying will compromise our clients.
“I have even had 13 days in prison for not revealing our PGP pass phrases, but it was a very small price to pay for protecting our clients…Your work protects the innocent and the weak, and as such promotes peace and justice…”
The Need for Encryption, Today
The above letters may reference the breakup of the old Soviet Union, but there is still a critical need for encryption worldwide, including in modern North American society. The US government monitors whistleblowers before they even decide to blow the whistle.
Telecom companies and tech giants can piece together people’s day-to-day activities with extreme accuracy by stitching together their metadata. Even assuming these corporations do not read your emails, your smartphone can tell them your location at specific times, what websites you browsed, and other information which, taken together, completes a full picture.
Public servants in the US desperately tried to expose what they felt was government wrongdoing, and in response, the president wanted them punished and publicly outed. If employees of the federal government felt outmatched, it’s not hard to imagine how private citizens, activists, and human rights organizations with even fewer resources must feel.
Privacy for All
Everybody has valuable confidential data that identity thieves and others would love to access. Unfortunately, with a little bit of time and effort, they can — an experienced hacker only needs about 15 minutes to break into your Gmail.
Citizens have a wealth of data that could potentially be exploited for blackmail. Journalists need encryption to keep sources confidential. Banking and finance professionals have loads of sensitive information about their companies, clients, and personnel.
Those in pharmaceuticals, defence, activism, and many others need secure communication tools. There have been enough leaks in each of these sectors to demonstrate the value of preventing them before they occur.
For example, internal emails show that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has a list of 89 indigenous activists it tracks. The lists of these activists lay dormant until the government announced the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Unfortunately, even Canadian governments spy on citizens when controversial infrastructure projects are announced.
You may not think you have valuable secrets, but your private information could be used against you in ways you may not immediately imagine. Even if you aren’t a rebel fighting a civil war or an activist opposing a multi-billion-dollar pipeline, Myntex encryption lets you communicate securely.