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Security execs voice concern over Trump travel ban

Maria Korolov | Feb. 1, 2017
Senior security industry professionals weigh in on the implications of the travel ban imposed this weekend by President Trump

Senior security industry professionals weighed in about the travel ban imposed this weekend by President Trump, and worried that the repercussions could go far beyond the handful of countries singled out so far.

The nation's cybersecurity posture would be hurt in numerous ways, they said, citing increased anti-American sentiment spurring more hacking attacks, hurting international cyber enforcement cooperation efforts, discouraging foreign students from coming here to study, hurting recruitment efforts, and influencing organizers of international cybersecurity conferences to look at other countries for meeting locations.

And while most of these effects will take time to be realized, some companies have already felt the impact of the ban.

San Jose-based cloud security company Zscaler, Inc. will be holding a sales event next month, and an employee who originally came from Iran might not be able to make the event, said company CEO Jay Chaudhry.

Chaudhry flew from Amsterdam to London on Monday for business meetings, and was shocked at how much Trump's travel ban dominated every conversation.

"Generally, when you go to business meetings, it's not for political talk," he said.

"But I had a few business meetings today and every meeting would start with, 'So, America, you're closing down? You're going to build a wall around yourself?' I'm not sure we're gaining much from this. But we have a lot to lose."

The U.S. is a country of immigrants, he added.

"Every country out there used to look at America as a role model," he said. "This goes against our fundamental values. Reagan went to Berlin and said, 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!' Now we've come full circle."

ValiMail, a San Francisco-based email security vendor, was in the process of transferring an employee who had an H1-B visa and was in the process of applying for a green card.

"She -- and we -- had to immediately start making calls to make sure the process and application are in no way impacted," said company CEO Alexander Garcia-Tobar. "To date, we are still in limbo. Nobody seems to know the exact extent of the order as it is worded in overly broad terms."

And those seven countries could be just the start, said Morey Haber, VP of technology at Phoenix-based BeyondTrust, inc.

"The president did indicate that others will be added as needed," he said. "Any company or project that works in the Middle East should take note."

In addition, groups of American employees participating in international events may also become more attractive targets for terrorists, he said.

The listed countries could retaliate against the U.S. with travel bans of their own, he added.

Several security experts also pointed out that the annual RSA Conference is coming up in two weeks. Attendees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen will have to rethink their plans.


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