Security expert, NSA critic Bruce Schneier departs from telco BT

The outspoken security expert has left his position as 'security futurologist' at U.K. telecommunications giant BT.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on
Credit: Rama, Wikimedia Commons

Bruce Schneier a well-known security guru and critic of the National Security Agency's activities as leaked by Snowden, has left his 8-year post as a 'security futurologist' at BT.

BT Group plc (formerly known as British Telecom) said the working relationship came to a "natural end," according to The Register. However, considering the long periods of time Schneier has spent analyzing and writing about the Edward Snowden leaks, it is possible that his commentary prompted the departure.

In an internal email leaked to the publication, BT said:

To: All people in BT Security

From: Mark Hughes, CEO, BT Security

Status: For information

Bruce Schneier to leave BT.

I would like to announce that Bruce Schneier, BT’s security futurologist, is leaving the company after eight years. Bruce joined BT in 2006 as part of the Counterpane acquisition and has been a great asset to the company.

I’d like to thank him for all of his contributions to BT and wish him success in his future endeavours.

Mark Hughes, CEO, BT Security

A BT spokesman confirmed the departure, adding that the change had nothing to do with Schneier's recent activities:

"It has nothing to do with his recent blogs. We hired Bruce because of his thought leadership in security, not because we agree with everything he says. In fact, it's his ability to challenge our assumptions that made him especially valuable to BT. We wish Bruce every success in his future endeavours and thank him for his contributions to the company and the industry."

While Hughes has downplayed BT's part in the NSA scandal, confidential files leaked to the media from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden suggest otherwise. In August, the finger was pointed at BT, for allegedly collaborating with Britain's spy agency GCHQ and passing on details of customer phone calls, email messages and Facebook entries. Documents leaked by Snowden suggested that BT, Vodafone Cable, and Verizon Business were among a number of telecom operators that gave GCHQ unlimited access to their undersea cables -- a network necessary to carry both phone calls and Internet traffic.

In one article written for U.K. publicationThe Guardian, Schneier encouraged engineers to expose exactly "how the NSA and other agencies are subverting routers, switches, the internet backbone, encryption technologies and cloud systems," and not to be afraid to blow the whistle on employers. In addition, the security expert said that "government and industry have betrayed the Internet and us," and as a result, it is necessary to re-design the web to prevent wholesale spying by government agencies from happening again.

While one of The Register's sources said that the security expert was "shown the door because of his recent comments about the NSA and GCHQ's mass surveillance activities," Schneier said:

"This has nothing to do with the NSA. No, they weren't happy with me, but they knew that I am an independent thinker and they didn't try to muzzle me in any way. It's just time. I spent seven years at BT, and seven years at Counterpane Internet Security, Inc before BT bought us. It's past time for something new.

As to the future: answer, cloudy; ask again later."

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