While most security professionals believe that government officials lack a real understanding of the threats to digital privacy, they overwhelmingly agree that governments should regulate the way social media companies collect user data.
At last week’s RSA Conference, more than 500 security professionals participated in a Venafi survey that asked myriad questions about what governments should and shouldn’t be able to regulate. The survey revealed surprising results about how industry professionals view the role of government in cybersecurity and privacy. Despite Mark Zuckerberg’s statement when he testified before the US Senate that Facebook was a force for good, not everyone agrees with the social media giant’s CEO.
Dr. Andrea C. Simmons, owner and director of i3GRC, wrote in a recent blog post, “To imagine that the big tech companies have ‘got it right,’ that they are adequately securing our data and responsibly managing them, would be, frankly, foolhardy. They are all driven by profit and the requirement to meet the needs of their shareholders.”
Survey participants must share that sentiment, as 70% agreed that it is the role of the government to protect user privacy through regulating the collection of personal data by social media companies.
However, 72% don’t believe that their government officials have a sound conception of the actual threats that impact user privacy. Additionally, 74% said that their government lacked an understanding of the wider cyber-threat landscape.
“These results are disturbing,” said Kevin Bocek, vice president of security strategy and threat intelligence at Venafi. “While security professionals agree that government officials do not understand the nuances of social media and digital privacy, they’re still looking to them to regulate the technology that permeates our daily lives.”
When it comes to regulating backdoors and encryption, the numbers dropped, though the results remain significant. Nearly half (45%) of the respondents believe governments should be able to impose encryption backdoors on private companies.
Bocek expressed concern over the number of security professionals that believe encryption backdoors are a viable security solution. “There is no question that they will undermine our global economy and make digital communication much more vulnerable. Any backdoor will be extremely lucrative, so cybercriminals will spend an enormous amount of effort to steal one. And once a backdoor is leaked, it’s certain to be available to the highest bidders on the dark web.”