Professional Practices Online Course (MGMT6051)
3 June 2014
Security In The News
The latest security leaks coming from Edward Snowden, American whistleblower, dissident and fugitive who was reportedly obtained millions of documents from his former employer National Security Agency (NSA)1, reveal the amount of hypocrisy American officials have being portraying in dealing with alleged cyber security issues in recent years. United States Government has made a public case about the dangers of buying Information Technology equipment from the largest Chinese telecommunications giant, Huawei, however revelations by Snowden show that NSA was actually creating its own backdoors directly into Huwaei's networks2. The agency has successfully hacked into the company's Chinese headquarters , and obtained information about the workings of giant routers and complex digital switches that are used to connect a third of the worlds' population to the internet, and also monitored communications of all company executives3. Operation was code-named "Shotgiant," and aim was to find links between Huawei Corp and Chinese People Liberation Army4. However, plans went further into exploiting technology so that when Huawei sold their IT equipment to other countries, both allied and non-allied, the NSA could freely browse through foreign computer and telephone networks to conduct unlimited surveillance5. All of this raises another important question beside legitimacy of these actions all together. Is NSA also involved in classic corporate espionage in order to help US based companies of choice to perhaps improve their technological competitive levels in both domestic and international markets? A White House official, Caitlin M. Hayden, stated the flowing: " We do not give intelligence we collect to U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line. Many countries cannot say the same.6" While American and Chinese establishments are repeatedly hacking each other with high degree or reciprocity around the clock, they are also supposedly trying to deescalate tensions in their cyber cold war7. This raises another question, who will protect basic privacy rights of an average law-obeying internet user? Why does governments think they have right to spy without any limits on general population and not face any consequences while doing so? In his latest appearance via video link during TED conference in Vancouver, BC (Technology, Entertainment and Design converged) Snowden has proposed standardization of usage of SSL cryptographic protocols in all internet browsers8. While such proposal seems rather reasonable and achievable in the immediate future, it only patches the issue and does not even tackles root cause of a problem itself. The permanent solution would be some sort of digital bill of rights, perhaps an United Nations resolution or treaty signed by the governments around the world and adopted in their respective national institutions (parliaments). This idea was initially propped by Tim Berners-Lee, one of the world wide web founders9. Berners-Lee believes that the concept of the open web is under constant threat from the governments and corporations that want to have control over internet10. His proposal is part of the larger campaign currently underway, called Web at 25 (25th anniversary of the world wide web)11. Current situation of unlimited and unsupervised cyber espionage done by everyone on everyone is not sustainable in the long run. There is a big possibility that certain countries may resort into limiting and restricting internet connections with the outside world due to outgoing security issues. Another point of view comes from hacktivist entities such as Anonymous group, who are justifying their own activities as "protest in digital space12". Their view on the US state today is that it reassembles a nexus of power solely for corporate interests. Since it...