Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tech Giants Are Countering Government Spying

USA Today (12/01/13) Jon Swartz

Leading technology firms such as Microsoft, Google, Twitter, and Facebook, mirroring an industry-wide trend, are investing in new security technology to thwart U.S. government surveillance of their computer systems. Gartner predicts that cybersecurity IT budgets will jump to $93 billion in 2017, up from $65 billion this year. "This may be the first time a computer-security problem has had such sustained interest on a national level," says ESET North America's Stephen Cobb. Although many tech executives are reluctant to openly discuss their efforts to counter government spying, they fear consumer backlash from the revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency's attempts to monitor their data systems. In fact, new polls show that consumers are responding to the news. For example, a recent Harris poll of about 2,000 people found that four out of five people have changed the privacy settings of their social media accounts in the past few months. Meanwhile, the spying revelations have prompted 19 percent of consumers to do less banking online and 14 percent to cut back on online shopping, according to an ESET-commissioned survey of 362 American adults in September. "It's a fundamental, overnight change in behavior—I have not seen this type of reaction to virus or hacking" in more than 20 years, Cobb says.