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The good news is, some companies are finally expressing concern over these anti-encryption practices. And, they should. As security expert Bruce Schneier recently wrote, the NSA has undermined the very fabric of the Internet and turned it into a vast surveillance platform. If businesses can't trust that their data -- and the encryption standards that protect that data -- is safe from prying online, then the IT industry is facing a serious impediment for future growth.
It's tough to tell at this early stage what kind of negative impact the NSA revelations will have on the industry. But last month, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, released a report that predicted the NSA's Prism could cost the cloud computing industry $22 to $35 billion over the next three years.
Those losses are theoretical, of course. But, the IT industry needs to act before they become tangible losses, and that includes solution providers. The channel stands to lose as much here as any other facet of the industry -- and perhaps even more.
But, I've spoken with too many solution providers in recent weeks that have expressed a lack of concern or surprise over the recent NSA revelations. Too many VARs say they aren't surprised by the news and already assumed the government was engaged in these kinds of practices.
That kind of thinking needs to end; solution providers need to start thinking about how these practices can negatively impact their businesses. With each passing day, it's becoming evident that the purported safeguards and oversights for the NSA's surveillance program are flawed, weak, and in some cases completely non-existent. The channel can't expect that someone else is going monitor or curtail these
You may not care if the government reads your email or obtains your phone records without a warrant. But if the NSA is poking holes in security software and furtively obtaining encryption keys, then you should start asking who else can find those holes and encryption keys? We've already seen the kind of damage one government contractor can do with a data breach.
The NSA's online surveillance practices can no longer be dismissed. The channel needs to take a stand on this issue and tell the federal government to stay out of the IT industry before it starts hurting bottom lines.