Mark Collins – “US Intel Community Taps [Canadian!] Encryption-Busting Tech Firm for Digital Spying”

The Americans seem to have leaped in where our dozy governmentis slow and cheap to tread:

The venture capital arm of the CIA is buying in to a Canadian company that says it can access certain encrypted technologies.

Amid growing terrorist threats from groups like ISISand increasingly successful cyberattacks from nation states like China, the U.S. intelligence community today announced it will invest in a company that produces digital forensics software.

In-Q-Tel, the IC’s technology investment arm [website here], did not disclose how much funding it will provide the Canadian-based Magnet Forensics [in Waterloo, Ontario–website here], but officials said they believe the company and its flagship product, the Internet Evidence Finder, are promising examples of innovation in the expanding field of digital forensics.


Internet Evidence Finder, the 4-year-old company’s most popular product [more here], is used by 2,700 public safety organizations across 92 countries, primarily for law enforcement purposes. It recovers and analyzes unstructured data, like social media posts, text from chat rooms and emails from computers and other Web-connected devices.


The company bills its software as useful for “cybercrime, terrorism, child exploitation and insider threats,” but it’s likely the first two avenues are the most interesting for In-Q-Tel. Use cases for such technology include both predicting terrorism or cyberattacks and piecing together the digital pieces after an event.


Comments made recently by Jad Saliba, founder and chief technology officer of Magnet Forensics, suggest another interest In-Q-Tel might have in the company: mitigating encryption…

One wonders how much consultation the Americans had with, say, CSIS or the Communications Security Establishment.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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