Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Computer Science

First Advisor

Margaret McCoey




Law officers across the country and around the world are being left in the technological dust by their criminal counterparts. They have no problem obtaining evidence, however they run into issues accessing this information due to various encryption techniques being used. This phenomenon has been dubbed the “Going Dark” problem. James Comey describes the Going Dark problem as, “We have the legal authority to intercept and access communications and information pursuant to court order, but we often lack the technical ability to do so” (Comey, 2014).

The Going Dark problem is a relatively new problem facing law enforcement officers (LEOs) that has roots going back to the Crypto Wars of the early 1990s. At its core, the Going Dark problem is really just an issue of how to attack encrypted data. Data is either at rest, or in motion, and can be attacked several different ways depending on which state it is in. Recently, the FBI has found some success using a man-in-the-middle attack on criminals’ cell phones, but since they sold the cell phones themselves, they were able to attack data both at rest and in motion. Today, LEOs are trying to solve the Going Dark problem by attacking encrypted data using a variety of tactics, and by trying to amend the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to include email and social media.