Apple Should Not Comply with the FBI, say IT Security Pros
Two-thirds IT security professionals believe that government surveillance is so pervasive that they do not expect to be able to have a private conversation on any device, according to new research from AlienVault.
The research analysed the views of over 1,500 IT security professionals about privacy issues and the Apple vs. FBI debate, in which the FBI wants Apple to provide access into an iPhone used by one of the gun men in the San Bernardino shootings last year. The study revealed that half (51 percent) of the cyber security professionals questioned believe that the FBI is using the case to set a new legal precedent, while only a third (33 percent) believe that if Apple complies with the demands, it will help law enforcement to catch criminals before it’s too late. In fact, the majority (61 percent) believe that if Apple complies, it will only weaken the security of its product.
The survey also revealed that only a third (34 percent) of IT security professionals support government surveillance for national security purposes. This is a startling contrast to the 60 percent of the general public in Britain who think that the government should be able to monitor mass communications, according to a study commissioned by pro-consumer website Comparitech. This contrast in opinion may be due to the fact those in the cyber security space are better able to see the wider implications of this lack of privacy. When asked what those implications could be, the largest group (58 percent) believes that mass surveillance could in fact lead to governments prosecuting people for different types of crime based on their private conversations, and almost half (48 percent) believe that people will stop trusting companies as a result.
Javvad Malik, security advocate for AlienVault, explained: “Those in the IT & security industries are uniquely positioned to comment on privacy, because they understand the tools and processes that are frequently used to circumnavigate security protocols. We often find that the same vulnerabilities used by intelligence agencies to spy on global citizens can also be exploited by criminals to steal your passwords. This gives them a unique perspective on privacy debates and explains why they often have quite different views when compared to the general public.”
The IT security industry was also found to be sceptical about how widely privacy legislation is being adhered to with only a third of respondents (34 percent) citing tougher privacy legislation as a viable means of protecting privacy. A vast majority (64 percent) actually wanted to see stronger encryption being put into place and almost half (49 percent) suggest that people should not exchange sensitive information online at all if they want to make sure it stays private, while others (30 percent) suggested that using anonymous tools like TOR could offer protection.
The full report can be found here: https://www.alienvault.com/docs/whitepapers/rsa-2016-privacy-report.pdf
  Comparitech survey, February 2016: http://www.computerweekly.com/news/4500276373/Majority-of-Britons-support-government-surveillance-for-national-security