According to new research conducted by Unified Security Management and crowd-sourced threat intelligence leader, AlienVault, Almost two-thirds of people who work in the IT & security industries believe that government surveillance is so pervasive that they do not expect to be able to have a private conversation on any device.
The research, which surveyed the attitudes of more than 1,500 IT & security professionals about privacy issues, found that only a third (34%) believe that the government should be able to monitor mass communications for national security purposes. This is in stark contrast to the wider public, 60% of whom support this type of government surveillance.
This difference of opinion could be because those working in the IT & security industries can see the wider implications of this lack of privacy. When asked what those implications could be, the largest group (58%) 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%) believe that people will stop trusting US firms 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.”
When asked what they thought were the most effective ways to protect personal privacy online, the largest group (64%) said that they wanted to see stronger encryption being made available. Almost half (49%) suggest that people should not communicate sensitive information online at all, while others (30%) suggested that using anonymous tools like TOR could offer protection. Only around a third of respondents (34%) cited tougher privacy legislation as a viable means of protecting privacy, suggesting skepticism among IT professionals about how widely privacy legislation is actually being adhered to.