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Cyber after Snowden

Kacy Zurkus | Oct. 27, 2016
The damage, scar tissue, and cleanup process in a post-Snowden world

Polygraphs, Christy said, work as deterrents and should be a part of any background check. "Decades ago, all of the bad actors were motivated by greed and money. Now, people are motivated more by social issues than by financial issues. That is a huge ship the government is trying to turn."

Change is a slow process, though, and while cyber plays a role in protecting data, the weak link is people. "If you look at the last two spies--the big ones--both had clearances, both were insiders, both did it for social not financial motivations. The generations have changed. Communications have changed," said Christy.

The reality is that in today's digital world, a cybercriminal has a great advantage. Instead of releasing 200 documents on a microdot, they can release hundreds of thousands to the entire world.

These leaks emboldened other actors, whether insiders or hackers. The line of what is acceptable to leak is currently up to the attackers.

Michael Borohovski, co-founder of Tinfoil Security

Christy said, "Known associates today are people you have never met because it's easy to be anonymous and spoof or catfish using social media. Only this year has the government included social media in background checks."

Michael Borohovski, co-founder of Tinfoil Security, said, "These leaks emboldened other actors, whether insiders or hackers. The line of what is acceptable to leak is currently up to the attackers."

As a result, the mindset of security practitioners has also had to change. "People are starting to focus on encrypting all data, especially customer data. They are focusing on the insider, using more training and additional safeguards," said Borohovski.

Encryption is one of those safeguards that will continue to be a part of the ongoing clean up in a cyber after Snowden world. "End to end encrypted messaging. Encrypting information that passes through their servers to ensure that a government can’t intercept the information," said Borohovski.

Joseph Carson, head of global strategic alliances at Thycotic, agreed that many enterprises have had to evaluate and modify their data collection and privacy policies. "We have seen continuous legal situations with Microsoft, Apple and Facebook when they have been subpoenaed for data about their users and have appealed those on several occasions," Carson said.

Trust is the pain point

Trust seems to be the pain point that reverberates the loudest as the world continues to grapple with privacy regulations and the digital exchange of information. Carson said that the revelations that EU privacy laws weren't being met under NSA surveillance practices has impacted international relations as well.

"Snowden’s actions have had huge extensive damage across the globe, it even continues to strain the relationship with Russia as they have given Snowden asylum and many are concerned about what Snowden has shared," Carson said.

 

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