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The Risks of Key Escrow, key recovery, and trusted Third Party Encryption

Schneier described in his report on “The risks of key escrow, key recovery, and trusted third party encryption” (Abelson et al., 1997) that government agencies suggested a variety of requirements of these systems to conduct convert surveillance by new technologies within the changing environments. The report further inspects the essential properties of the deploying systems and outlines the costs, technical risks, and inferences of these requirements that provide government access to encryption keys.

Due to the deployment of key recovery-based encryption infrastructures, the costs of end users have been increased, and substantial sacrifices in security. It would be extremely complex, and the current capability or competency of the field is far beyond the experience required to build a secure computer communications infrastructure by these requirements to provide an adequate technological foundation. These infrastructures would require remarkable levels of human honesty. Despite the recovery systems design, these problems exist for the system of key recovery encryption, whether the services of recovery provide session keys or private keys, the databases are split with the techniques of secret sharing, the systems use public-key or private-key cryptography, and whether there are many decentralized infrastructures, a single centralized organization/infrastructure, or many other approaches.

To maintain a safe way over a prolonged time period, all of these recovery systems need a highly available secret key and an extremely sensitive number of keys. Without notice to the key owners, this system should rapidly create decryption information available to law enforcement organizations. However, according to the requirements of these systems, the key recovery may become expensive and difficult, costly, and insecure for many users and applications.

Before spending huge investments and imposing new security risks, the public should first study the benefits and costs of the key recovery encryption system. Considers the forceful adoption of key recovery encryptions via domestic or import use regulations, export controls, or international standards.


Abelson, H., Anderson, R. J., Bellovin, S. M., Benaloh, J., Blaze, M., Diffie, W., … Schiller, J. I. (1997). The risks of key recovery, key escrow, and trusted third-party encryption. World Wide Web Journal, 2(3), 241–257.



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