Security concept: computer keyboard with word Email Security on enter button background, 3d render
January 19, 2017 Home Page

President Barack Obama will soon be succeeded by President Elect Mr Donald Trump. One of the many glaring contrasts existing between the two American leaders is their differences in opinion regarding technology and how and when it should be used.

Mr Obama has supported the use of technology, within his government, during his presidency. He has embraced and incorporated technology within the Whitehouse to improve both efficiency and responsiveness. Mr Obama appreciated the importance of staying abreast of evolving technology for communications and day-to-day functioning. His creating of a post for a chief technology officer (for the Whitehouse) further emphasises this.

In contrast, Mr Trump seems rather sceptical of embracing technology-with the exception of Twitter-of course (He has taken quite a liking to that)! It is suggested that Mr Trump rarely uses computers or email.

Nonetheless, keeping up with Donald Trump is not difficult at all. Everything he says seems to hit the media instantaneously, regardless of how pointless the comment is. One comment in particular stood out recently:

 “You know, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way. Because I’ll tell you what: No computer is safe,” Trump told reporters.

Mr Trump aspires to use a courier service!

Like Mr Trump, who prefers a courier service for delivery of his sensitive information, the Romans too utilised this service. The Romans however, perhaps a step ahead of Mr Trump, ingeniously used ciphers such as ROT-13 to encrypt the contents of a message into cipher text, before sending it on (not having the benefit of the technologies and cybersecurity tools we have today).

Couriers, physical beings, cannot be infected with malware (yet) to obtain information, however couriers are hardly a fail-safe method either. Can couriers be completely trusted or physically protected to guarantee that the information (especially highly sensitive information) is never compromised?

According to officials, an integral part of tracking Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s leader, was attributed to gaining crucial information from his courier network.

If couriers do not have a price to release the information, they may at the very least spend some time in hospital for their troubles when they refuse to give it up.

No matter whether technology or courier is utilised, additional layers of security will always be necessary. Data needs to be risk assessed. It is not viable to send all types of information via courier; this would be inefficient and wouldn’t be a good solution in the modern day.  Would you send top secret information via courier? Not unless there is heavy security and separation of duties throughout.

There must be authentication at both ends-that isn’t a shared secret (password/key) but has been created to ensure secrets stay independently confidential to the individuals involved. There needs to be a cryptography mechanism, to ensure that anyone who handles the information cannot interpret it until it reaches the intended recipient who is then able to decrypt it. Moreover, there needs to be an element of security in the deliverance of data, to ensure that the data does actually reach its destination.

Using a courier instead of secured email is a choice. But if you choose to resort to a tool of the past-at least learn from the Romans and take additional security steps. Convert to cipher text first! That is, if you wish to do as the Romans do…. or did!