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RSA: Juniper Security Chief Blasts Apathy

In RSA keynote, Juniper Networks security exec Nawaf Bitar urges more innovation and active defense.

Wednesday at RSA, Juniper Network's security honcho urged security professionals to be bolder in their outrage for what is happening to their information, and to take risks on approaches that challenge current conventions.

"Our privacy is being invaded, our IP is being stolen, the public trust is at an all-time low, and the attack on our information is outrageous," said Nawaf Bitar, senior VP and general manager of the security business unit at Juniper. "But you know what? I don't think we give a damn. I'm fed up with talking about outrage."

In his keynote at the show, Bitar pointed out that American society in general suffers from what he calls First World Outrage, in which people show only token signs of caring about circumstances that they truly think little about and act not at all to change. Compared to extreme acts of outrage and resistance such as Tibetan self-immolation and the Tiananmen Square protests, First World Outrage looks meaningless.

[For more from RSA, see RSA Conference 2014: Complete Coverage.]

"'Liking' a cause on Facebook is not outrage. Retweeting a link is not outrage. Posting a bad review is not outrage. Not showing up at a conference is not outrage," he said, specifically taking a swipe at those boycotting the RSA Conference over RSA's cooperation with the NSA.

Most people don't take true action from outrage unless family or income is threatened by circumstances, he told the audience. But he believes a third major concern should spur more of us to true action: threats to our information.

Read the rest of this article on Dark Reading.

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

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Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2014 | 4:07:12 PM
Re: Make up your mind, Mr. Bitar
The tech community's response should be to encrypt everything, all the time. Of course some companies like Google won't want that -- you can't target ads when you don't know anything about the data -- but that's the answer.

Thr legal and political communities also need to play a role. The issue isn't so much that people are apathetic. It's that they fail to recognize why our founders sought to impose constitutional limits on our government. America risks downfall not from terrorism but from constitutional erosion.
Marilyn Cohodas
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
2/27/2014 | 8:47:05 AM
Re: Make up your mind, Mr. Bitar
There is plenty of room for outrage over the NSA surveillance programs and the industry should be more proactive and transparent about how they are dealing it them. However Juniper's Nawaf Bitar is a little short on exactly what that would look like.  As Wendy Nather, research director for security at 451 Research opined in the full article on Dark Reading:

 "He draws these great parallels with all these other people who are being killed, imprisoned and oppressed in daily life, but what are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to set fire to our ones and zeros? It's great to say we should all be outraged. [But] he didn't really say what we should be doing."

So let me put the question to you, dear readers: How should the tech industry respond? What are companies doing right and what more should they be doing.

A Ciizen
A Ciizen,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/26/2014 | 7:15:51 PM
Apathy on the part of Americans
I would agree that most Americans are very apathetic, but would go on to say not without some good reasons.

The truth is that our so called 'public servants' are every bit a brutal as any other body of Government in any other nation on the planet. Of course our medias will suggest that our 'servants acted' justly and within their job discriptions no matter how outrageious their actions where.

Sure we have written laws that allegedly secure our rights and protect us from outragious brutality conducted against Citizens at the hands of their servants.

The truth is that our servants don't honor their commitiments to the Citizens to actually protect those rights. At a very early age I was taught that you cannot fight City Hall no matter how outrageious or contradictory to the fundamental laws their actions where.

The rule books (laws) go right out the window when a Citizen or small group of Citizens try to stop the tyranny.

"When the people fear City Hall you have tyranny when City Hall fears the People you have liberty." (Authors name withheld)

The willful 'ignorance' of our system of laws combined with apathy, and genuine fear is how we have came to be where we are. 'United the People Stand' and fact is We are very divided over trivial sh . . while our 'servants run ruffshode' all over us.
Isaac Holden
Isaac Holden,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/26/2014 | 5:42:18 PM
Re: Make up your mind, Mr. Bitar
Drop the hyperbole.  You don't honestly think the RSA keynote speaker doesn't "spent any time at all monitoring the web" do you?  He's just trying to galvanize the security community against the NSA's offenses, same as you.  Sounds to me like he did a pretty good job, too.
User Rank: Ninja
2/26/2014 | 3:01:40 PM
Make up your mind, Mr. Bitar
Methinks Mr. Bitar protests too much.  He dismisses th RSA Conference boycott by certain high profile entitites as a direct result of NSA warrantless surveillance at the same time he protests the apathy exhibited by security professionals.  Additionally, he also dismisses the power of social media to get the word out.  If he spent any time at all monitoring the web, instead of making a point to complain at a security conference, then he would know that thanks to the endeavors of those who tweet, et al. even more ppl are aware of the systematic destruction of the US Constitution by the federal government. Notwithstanding Snowden.
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