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Reported NSA actions raise serious questions about tech industry partnerships

Ellen Messmer | Sept. 11, 2013
Revelations that the National Security Agency may be pressuring vendors to put hidden backdoors in their software and hardware for espionage purposes casts a huge shadow over many programs run by the NSA to interact with the high-tech industry for purposes of evaluating, testing and accrediting products that use encryption.

Overall, there's a kind of gloom in the high-tech industry and wariness among business customers about the  implications of what the NSA is said to be doing in its zeal to be able to conduct intelligence gathering for purposes of national defense.

Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst at consultancy IT-Harvest, says given how badly the NSA's purported actions have hurt U.S. industry, lawsuits should fly. He adds, "Like many well-intentioned government efforts, the NSA has singlehandedly done more damage to the reputation of U.S. technology companies than any other event in the brief, meteoric rise of U.S. dominance. The implication that the most powerful and well-funded intelligence service can leverage its relationship with U.S. companies such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and even Apple, to get foreknowledge of vulnerabilities or backdoors into their information systems, is going to kick off a new era of tech mercantilism. All U.S. tech companies are going to be asked tough questions by their global clients. I am already hearing from tech giants that they are being asked to attest to the absence of an NSA presence in their data centers. Competing cloud services and security products from European and Nordic states are going to see rapid growth."


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