TAMPA BAY, Fla., June 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- IT pro and former National Security Administration (NSA) analyst, Edward Snowden, recently leaked word of the NSA's blanket surveillance programs – the "whistleblower" reportedly detailed the NSA's practice of secretly obtaining court orders to track telephone calls and emails. According to a new Washington Post survey, a majority of Americans agree with the NSA's security procedures. Internet security awareness training firm, KnowBe4, maintains that the general public does not understand the severity of the issue – Knowbe4 officials yesterday conducted a survey of 1,300 information technology (IT) professionals and the findings dramatically rebuked the Washington Post's poll. The results of the Washington Post survey show that most Americans back the NSA's secret tracking of phone records and online activity:
- 56% of Americans said the practice is "acceptable;"
- 45% said the government should be allowed to go further than it already is;
- 45% said the government should be able to monitor "everyone's email and other online activities" (1).
In direct contrast, KnowBe4's survey (an exact mirror of the original survey by the Washington Post) displays the thoughts of IT professionals:
- 70% said the practice is "unacceptable;"
- 63.7% said the government should not be allowed to intrude on personal; privacy even if it limits the ability to investigate threats
- 77.4% said the government should not be allowed to monitor the public's email and online activities.
Internet security expert and founder of KnowBe4, Stu Sjouwerman, says it's the job of IT professionals to better understand and explain the long-term effects of this type of monitoring and the potential threats it poses to personal information and privacy.
"The general public is unaware of the ramifications an invasion of privacy can present – in the fight against terrorism and security threats, the government is potentially compromising sensitive personal information," said Sjouwerman. "The cornerstone of security is privacy and the [NSA's] practice is essentially robbing the public of that. What would happen if hackers get ahold of [personal] data?"
IT Code of Conduct
Sjouwerman maintains that it is the responsibility of IT professionals to ensure that the fight against terrorism does not come at the sacrifice of American privacy. Sjouwerman advises IT professionals to consider the following when weighing the pros and cons of potentially invasive monitoring programs:
- Is public privacy and confidentiality being respected?
- Is data collection being conducted professionally and with integrity?
- What are the long-term liabilities of such actions?
For better protection against the possible leak of sensitive information, Sjouwerman recommends all civilians and organizations limit the amount of sensitive information shared online via email or social networking sites.
"Anything posted online, or even shared over the phone, can be a detriment to your personal security," said Sjouwerman. "Being cautious, maybe even overly so, will pay off in the long run. Anything that gets posted on the Internet essentially stays there forever."
In addition to responsible online practices, Sjouwerman suggests Americans invest in security awareness training for their entire families. Knowbe4 has primarily been in the business-to-business market, but noticed that American families were also becoming susceptible to security threats, such as stolen identities and cyber-attacks via online banking and social media.
Sjouwerman partnered with Kevin Mitnick, once "The World's Most Wanted Hacker," who now applies his expertise to help organizations and individuals defend against security breaches. The duo created next-generation security awareness training and testing to help small-to-medium enterprises and American families protect themselves against the increasingly urgent security problem of social engineering.
While security training suffices for immediate safety concerns, Sjouwerman urges the public to take action by contacting their State Senators, members of Congress and NSA leaders directly and pushing for a change. The long-term effects of the system as-is leave Americans "safe" at the expense of their civil right of privacy. Sjouwerman says constituents taking action to flood their elected officials with phone calls, letters and emails regarding the protection of their civil rights is vital in shaping government decisions that could adversely affect Americans' liberties.
For more information, visit KnowBe4 online at http://www.knowbe4.com.
About Stu Sjouwerman and KnowBe4
Stu Sjouwerman is the founder and CEO of KnowBe4, LLC, which provides web-based Internet Security Awareness Training (ISAT) to small and medium-sized enterprises. A data security expert with more than 30 years in the IT industry, Sjouwerman was the co-founder of Inc. 500, Company Sunbelt Software, an award-winning anti-malware software company that he and his partner sold to GFI Software in 2010. Realizing that the human element of security was being seriously neglected, Sjouwerman decided to help entrepreneurs tackle cybercrime tactics through advanced security awareness training. He and his colleagues work with companies in many different industries, including highly-regulated fields such as healthcare, finance and insurance. Sjouwerman is the author of four books, with his latest being Cyberheist: The Biggest Financial Threat Facing American Businesses Since the Meltdown of 2008.
- "Majority Say NSA Tracking of Phone Records "acceptable"" Washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post, 10 June 2013. Web. 12 June 2013. washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2013/06/10/National-Politics/Polling/release_242.xml.
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