Risk
2/25/2014
02:06 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

NSA Spying Scandal Darkens Cloud Discussions At RSA

From Europe's efforts to create regulations for data localization to worries over the security of the cloud, the leaks of the past eight months have cast a shadow over cloud providers

RSA CONFERENCE -- San Francisco -- Last summer's revelations of the extent to which the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) collected data on American and foreign targets has caused rifts between global businesses that are hindering efforts to secure the cloud, said Richard Clarke, CEO of Good Harbor and a former U.S. cyberczar, at the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Summit on Monday.

RSA Conference 2014
Click here for more articles about the RSA Conference.

The steady leak of documents during the past eight months detailing the operations of the NSA intelligence collection activities has damaged both U.S. policy efforts abroad and the business of a variety of multinational companies, especially cloud providers. Efforts to implement strong security guidelines for the cloud will have to overcome efforts by other nations to implement data residency restrictions to hinder competition, Clarke said.

"Non-U.S. companies are using the NSA revelations as a marketing tool," he said. "There is a great deal of hypocrisy in all of this. People are suddenly amazed that intelligence agencies were collecting intelligence."

Requirements to force cloud providers to keep data in the country of origin and not allow data to transit through the U.S. amount to technological nationalism and, worse, do not make the data any appreciably safer, Clarke said. Data hosting in Europe will be just as easy to get access to as data hosted in the U.S. or another country, Clarke said.

"I'm not revealing away any secrets here if I say that the NSA, and any other world-class intelligence agency, can hack into databases, even if they are not in the United States," he said. "If you think that by passing a law making data localization a requirement for databases in the EU or Argentina or Venezuela or wherever stops the NSA from getting into those databases, think again."

Yet Europe's own technical guru, Udo Heimbrecht, executive director of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), an EU agency that works to enhance information security, argued that data that travels through the U.S. is at greater risk of interception.

"If you are sending an e-mail from Germany to Estonia, why should it go through the U.S.?" he said. "And that is the idea that we keep our data in Europe."

[Companies need cloud providers to delineate responsibilities for the security of data, provide better security information, and encrypt data everywhere. See 5 Ways Cloud Services Can Soothe Security Fears In 2014.]

Clarke served on President Obama's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, the five-member group that issued a 308-page report on the U.S.'s intelligence-gathering efforts. The report underscored that the competing goals of the U.S. intelligence community -- protecting liberty and the right to privacy while at the same time rooting out and combatting terrorism -- could not always be met simultaneously.

Clarke voiced support for the NSA's mission, but underscored that there was a disconnect between policy makers and the intelligence collectors. While legislators gave the NSA powers to accomplish certain goals and missions, the intelligence collectors sought all manner of information that would help them achieve those goals. The technological infrastructure, however, could be used for laudable aims as well as nefarious, he said.

"We may have created, along with the CIA and FBI and other intelligence agencies, and with all these technologies ... the potential -- the potential -- for a police surveillance state," Clarke said. "We are not there yet, but the technology is."

For most companies that put their data into cloud services, there are more practical concerns of data security. Questions of security boil down to questions of trust, said David Miller, chief security officer at Covisint, a cloud identity provider.

"Do I trust the cloud? That's a little bit of a broad statement," Miller said. "I trust some vendors on the cloud; I don't trust other vendors in the cloud. I do know that we are at a point where we are going to have to use it."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Robert Lemos is a veteran technology journalist of more than 16 years and a former research engineer, writing articles that have appeared in Business Week, CIO Magazine, CNET News.com, Computing Japan, CSO Magazine, Dark Reading, eWEEK, InfoWorld, MIT's Technology Review, ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7407
Published: 2014-10-22
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in the MRBS module for Drupal allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of unspecified victims via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-3675
Published: 2014-10-22
Shim allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (out-of-bounds read) via a crafted DHCPv6 packet.

CVE-2014-3676
Published: 2014-10-22
Heap-based buffer overflow in Shim allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted IPv6 address, related to the "tftp:// DHCPv6 boot option."

CVE-2014-3677
Published: 2014-10-22
Unspecified vulnerability in Shim might allow attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted MOK list, which triggers memory corruption.

CVE-2014-3828
Published: 2014-10-22
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Centreon 2.5.1 and Centreon Enterprise Server 2.2 allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via (1) the index_id parameter to views/graphs/common/makeXML_ListMetrics.php, (2) the sid parameter to views/graphs/GetXmlTree.php, (3) the session_id...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.