Larry Magid: Breached Trust Changes Tone At Moscone Center’s RSA Cyber-Security Conference

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(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

LarryMagid01-228 Larry Magid
Larry Magid is a technology journalist and an Internet safe...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— There was a big difference in tone at this year’s RSA security conference, being held at The Moscone Center in San Francisco this week. The cyber-security firm has been an innovator, but recently came under criticism for taking a payment from the National Security Agency (NSA).

A report from Reuters alleges that the security company accepted $10 million from the NSA as part of a secret contract to use encryption software with a “back door” that would allow the government to spy on secured websites.

Have you ever heard the expression, ‘I’ve met the enemy and he is us?’ In a way the us could stand for U.S. I’ve been going to this conference for many years and they’ve always talked about criminals and maybe foreign threats of hacking. But this year a lot of the talk was about the lack of trust from within based on the activities of the NSA.

A corporate executive from Juniper Networks went on about the outrage and I almost thought he was going to start building barricades. I think his sentiments were shared by many who feel that RSA are supposed to be acting as security professionals, whose job is to ensure encryption and that we are using secured networks we can trust.

Many of the attendees at the conference have worked for the NSA, but in their minds the government agency is violating rights to security. A lot of these people in the industry weren’t surprised by the news of the NSA alleged payment, but they were surprised by the level of detailed data being collected.

Edward Snowden revealed a lot in his leak, but that doesn’t mean everyone anti-NSA is necessarily pro-Snowden. Some said the whistleblower did a lot to damage the United States’ foreign surveillance system.

Richard Clarke, who had served under three presidents including Barack Obama, on the National Security Council, said he wanted more transparency. He said if there had been basic transparency that a lot of these issues wouldn’t have happened.
Others who spoke said the U.S should be enforcing, not breaking encryption.

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