Infosec 2014 Accusations that the revelations from rogue National Security Agency sysadmin whistleblower Edward Snowden have damaged the US technology industry are misplaced, according to influential security guru Mikko Hypponen.
Hypponen, chief research officer at security firm F-Secure, said that the disclosure that US tech was either "booby-trapped or monitored" may have had a damaging effect on the US cloud industry. But blaming this on Snowden was misplaced and akin to "blaming Al Gore for global warming".
Snowden's action represented the single largest leak of top secret information in history. "Top secret information almost never leaks and that's why the Snowden leak was extraordinary", according to Hypponen. All the information leaked by Private Manning, by contrast, was classified either secret or below.
During a keynote speech on whistle-blowing, Hypponen told delegates to the Infosec conference that while wanting to believe that Snowden was a selfless hero, some of the circumstances of the case troubled him. For example the initial leaks were on 5 June 2013, two days before US president Barack Obama was due to meet face to face with his Chinese counterpart to discuss cyber-espionage. The timing might have been a coincidence but it couldn't have come at a good time for the US side, according to Hypponen.
The security guru, a vocal critic of the NSA, added: "The whole timeline of the leaks bothers me."
At any rate, it appears that the outcry in Europe and further afield over privacy has not had much effect. Europe continues to use US tech services from the likes of Microsoft and Google even after revelations about the NSA's dragnet surveillance programmes, and this is because it has no choice, the security expert told the crowd at Infosec in London.
The European tech industry has failed to produce viable alternatives, he claimed. Even in cases where a tech firm makes it big - such as Skype - these firms get bought by Microsoft or other US tech giants, Hypponen concluded. ®