Network Security, Vulnerability Management

RSA 2014: Richard Clarke speaks on rebuilding trust with the NSA

Richard Clarke, chairman and CEO of Good Harbor and a member of President Obama's review group on intelligence and communications technology, kicked off the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Summit 2014 at the RSA Conference by discussing his observations about the NSA surveillance controversy.

Clarke ultimately took a positive stance regarding the NSA, explaining that the organization has been responsible for gathering intelligence on countries that have weapons of mass destruction, as well as for uprooting drug cartels and deterring various types of terrorist threats.

But following the revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the name of the game has to be about rebuilding trust, Clarke said, explaining that the NSA is comprised of talented people dedicated to protecting the United States. 

Clarke said he observed a disconnect between the policymakers' desire to collect information and the people doing the collecting, but explained that NSA workers are not randomly tapping into the emails and phone calls of Americans, even though they could. 

Some of the fallout of the NSA surveillance revelations has caused U.S. companies to lose market share in Europe and Asia, Clarke said, adding that non-U.S. companies are using the revelations as a marketing tool to deter consumers from purchasing American products.

Clarke said he does not buy into governments using the NSA revelations as a means to push the concept of localization of data – the NSA can access your data no matter where it is located, he explained – and said that, instead, the real solution to fears about hacking into cloud servers need to be addressed in improved and unchanging encryption standards.

“The real solution lies in adopting the standards of the Cloud Security Alliance, which I hope will become more formalized and more globally accepted,” Clarke said, adding that, with a growing black market for zero-day vulnerabilities, fixing those and making them immediately known to the public should be a priority.

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