New research has highlighted a huge divide between the views of IT professionals and ordinary voters on government surveillance and strong encryption – with just one third of IT pros believing their government should be able to monitor mass communications for national security purposes.
AlienVault interviewed over 1,500 IT and security professionals at the recent RSA Conference and in the UK to better understand their views on some of the most hotly debated topics in the industry today.
The majority (58%) claimed mass surveillance could lead to the authorities prosecuting individuals based on their private conversations, while nearly two-thirds (64%) said they wanted to see stronger encryption being made available.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given that IT pros are more likely to understand the privacy and security implications of undermining such encryption, the majority came down in favor of Apple in its current legal tussle with the FBI.
Two-thirds (63%) said the firm shouldn’t back down over allowing access to the device in question. Half (51%) said they thought the FBI is actually using the case to set a new legal precedent with which it can force the hand of US tech companies in the future, while 61% said that if Apple accedes it will weaken the security of its products.
This is in strong contrast to the views expressed by the US and UK public.
In the UK, 60% support mass surveillance for national security according to a Comparitech survey in February, while in the US, Pew Research in the same month found that only 38% of Americans support Apple’s stance versus the FBI.
AlienVault security advocate Javvad Malik, was confident that despite this level of popular support, the authorities in the UK and US will be forced to reconsider their hardline stance on mass surveillance and undermining strong encryption.
“The fallout to technology companies will likely be far too great a risk for them to cave into the FBI’s demands. So, no, I don’t think the FBI will ‘win the day’ so to speak under the current guise,” he told Infosecurity.
“Perhaps we’ll get to see some form of compromise or alternative solution proposed. I do think, and hope, that push back from technology companies and extra parliamentary scrutiny will allow a more measured response to be taken.”