Snowden is a hero to the security biz – but not for the reason you'd expect

Whistleblower's revelations mean vendors make bank

RSA 2016 This year's RSA conference was the busiest on record, with over 40,000 people cramming the halls (and later, bars) of San Francisco, and more than a few of them were raising glasses to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"The Snowden effect has had an undeniable effect on the business," Pravin Kothari, CEO of cloud encryption specialists CipherCloud, told The Reg.

"I was on a two-day business trip overseas when the first stories broke, and we had to extend the trip to two weeks because there was so much interest in getting encrypted."

As more stories came out, interest in encryption spiked still further, he explained, with a lot of non-US companies realizing quite how exposed they were to surveillance. The Snowden effect has been very beneficial to security firms' bottom lines.

Jon Callas, cofounder and CTO of secure comms company Silent Circle, agreed, telling El Reg that the news of NSA surveillance had had a big effect on sales. However, this only really holds true for non-US sales, and to a lesser extent in the EU.

"For the last two or three years, we have been spending time on overseas sales because of the Snowden effect," he said. "It does help with US sales a bit, but the main areas where we see spikes in demand are the Middle East and Africa."

He explained that in the US, the NSA revelations weren't as strong a driver because most of the spying was done mostly overseas, not within America. Stories of Chinese hacking, the OPM breach, or the Sony breach had a much bigger effect in driving traffic to the firm's website and boosting sales domestically.

"It's the personal experience phenomenon," he said. "It's like the difference between reading about dog attacks overseas and having your neighbor down the street savaged." ®

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