Will the NSA Scandal Change Online Security?

Edward Snowden’s revelations about what data big companies like Facebook, Google or Skype give to the NSA -- and therefore to the US Government -- confirm what many already know: the internet is not a safe place.

Snowden’s leaks set alarms off in the business world, too. Even though people think our personal conversations and what we post online is monitored, many were unaware that company communications are also intercepted for espionage purposes. The USA and UK take the lead in this practice, but recent news suggests these governments aren’t the only ones. Other countries -- such as France -- have their own intelligence projects.

Online security is already a hot topic, and this sector has a high potential for future growth. Companies in this field are going to benefit greatly from what has happened during the past few weeks.

Companies have no excuse now not to protect themselves online, because it could actually cost millions. In Germany, it is estimated that industrial espionage causes around 4.2 billion euros worth of loss yearly.

For this reason, we can expect to see the following things in the next few years:

International Guidelines on Online Privacy. Some institutions are already calling for the creation of an international organization that watches over the interests of both individuals and companies. This organization will create clear guidelines for online privacy, especially for sensitive topics that include national security. Although not all countries will stick to these regulations, at least having an institution like this gives a legal framework to operate online, argue supporters.

Safer Internal Networks. We can expect an improvement in not only the security of external communications, but also the internal communications. New ways to encrypt messages and protect the networks from external attacks will be developed.

One technology that is quickly gaining popularity is called biometric recognition. This technology is already used in the banking sector, and allows for authenticating a person through facial, voice or fingerprinting recognition.  It may become a more mainstream security measure. An example of this technology is found in new security software recently released by McAfee.

Employee Training on Privacy: No matter how much money companies spend on online security systems, without proper training of employees data will remain vulnerable. For this reason, businesses -- especially big corporations -- will likely start training their employees on how to protect themselves online and how to avoid leaking information.

The main concern is how to protect external communications from being intercepted at this point, and the solution is likely similar to what companies are doing to protect their communications internally. The challenge here is much bigger, however: should companies rely on sending encrypted messages through traditional channels or will it be necessary to build secure communication channels every time a negotiation is going to take place between two parties?

Only time will tell. Right now it seems clear that the concept of Internet freedom has changed permanently, and like a modern-day Cold War, we must be wary of Big Brother once again.

Photo Credit: Pavel Ignatov/Shutterstock

Miguel Rojas works for Conflict International, a private detective agency that provides a wide range of investigation services all over the UK and has rapid response teams throughout the globe. Conflict International specialises in corporate intelligence and security amongst other services.

This article originally appeared on TechPolitik.

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