Why companies should protect their data from spying

After the revelations of former CIA and NSA affiliated individual ‘Edward Snowden’ regarding PRISM, the gigantic spying program of the American government, users have realized the danger against their digital data. An increasing number of internet users, companies and individuals, now use electronic services (mailbox, social networks etc.) which guarantee the protection of private digital data against their unwanted publication by a third party.

A 2012 report by the virus protection company Symantec showed that the techniques of world cybercrime had improved and that the target of spies and hackers had evolved. Spies are now more interested in R&D services and target small and medium SIZED businesses.

Consultant Mathieu Poujol from Pierre Audoin Consultants cabinet explained that companies have realized their digital vulnerability and how important is it now to protect data  – thanks to the PRISM affair. This expert declared that no business was safe against digital spying and hacking: all economic sectors are concerned. Poujol also explained that there is a dichotomy between large corporations such as Sony for instance, which are able to protect themselves, and small businesses, less aware of the risks, and therefore less armed to face the problem.

Last September, during an event organized by the New America Foundation, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt commented that spying has been a reality for years. He pleaded for a greater transparency from the American government concerning the exploitation of digital data and digital surveillance, but he refused to comment on spying operations. 

The declarations of Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering, in an interview with U.K. publication The Observer should also worry all users of Google. In this interview, Kurzweil explained that in about 15 years from now, “Google will provide answers to your questions before you even ask them. It will read every email you wrote, every document you’ve checked, and every search entry you’ve put in its system. Google will know you better than your spouse or companion, better than yourself probably. Computers are about to understand the semantics of what they read.”

Finally, companies should know that European and American privacy laws differ greatly. Belgium enjoys one of the strictest privacy laws. Private Life Law of December 8, 1992 protects citizens against any abusive use of his/her private data. It created an independent control body (Commission de la protection de la vie-Commission for the protection of private life) which ensures that personal data is used in conformity with the respect of privacy, with the precautions it implies, in order to protect data and citizens’ privacy.

In the USA, the NSA has infringed privacy laws thousands of times during the last months. According to The Washington Post, the NSA has collected hundreds of thousands of email addresses in 2012

It is therefore important for users, companies and individuals alike, to protect themselves against such practices, by storing their data on highly secured European servers which guarantee the respect of their privacy and act legally.

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Avatar for Patrick De Schutter

Patrick De Schutter

Patrick is the co-founder of Mailfence. He's been a serial entrepreneur and startup investor since 1994 and launched several pioneering internet companies such as Allmansland, IP Netvertising or Express.be. He is a strong believer and advocate of encryption and privacy. You can follow @pdeschutter on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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