Partners Applaud As IBM Sets The Record Straight On NSA Connections


Partners cheered IBM's statement that distances itself from the National Security Agency scandal that has caused such huge security and privacy waves. Partners say the definitive statement made by Robert C. Weber, IBM senior vice president, legal and regulatory affairs, and general counsel, "sets the record straight" on the issue.

"There is a comfort level you need to maintain with any customer. With this simple declarative statement, IBM goes a long way to quelling any customer concerns," said Debbie Fitzerman, president of DFC International Computing, a small Toronto-based SaaS provider and IBM partner. "Now any company that wants to know if their data is secure with IBM doesn't just have to take my word. They can also take IBM's," Fitzerman said.

Late Friday IBM's Weber posted a bold denial that Big Blue had any links to any NSA spy programs. "IBM has not provided client data to the National Security Agency (NSA) or any other government agency under the program known as PRISM."

Related: Missed FireEye Alerts Reportedly Warned Of Security Lapse At Target

Weber said IBM also has never participated in sharing customer data with other government-run programs and hasn't shared client data stored outside the U.S. government via FISA order or a National Security Letter.

"IBM has a great reputation when it comes to privacy and security," said Istian Islam, strategic alliances, Unicom Government, a large IBM partner that provides IT services to federal, state and local government customers. "There is a lot of FUD out there right now with Target and FireEye and a constant trickle of Edward Snowden document leaks. IBM, like any company, needs to go on the record and be definitive."

Islam said as IBM spends billions to ramp up its SoftLayer cloud services and expand data centers around the world it needs to be on the offensive when it comes to where it stands on protecting customer data.  

"It's unclear what specifically prompted IBM to issue these denials," said Laura Didio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence. "IBM just wants to officially go on the record and say, 'We are not part of this Snowden leak story.' "

IBM did not return inquiries as to what prompted the statement. In December German news publication Der Spiegel reported the NSA regularly intercepts new computer hardware orders to OEMs to plant wiretapping bugs and spyware. IBM was not named by Der Spiegel as one of the companies involved in the back doors.

PUBLISHED MARCH 17, 2014