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The chilling effect: Snowden, the NSA, and IT security

Former NSA technologist Edward Snowden rocked the IT world in 2013 when he leaked classified documents revealing the agency's digital surveillance programs. Here are the three biggest impacts.
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Written by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief on

When we look back at 2013 a decade from now, the one technology story that's likely to have the biggest long-term impact is the Edward Snowden revelations.

While there were major password breaches at Adobe, Evernote, and Twitter as well as the Healthcare.gov debacle, nothing rocked the IT world more than the 200,000 classified documents that Snowden leaked to the press, uncovering the NSA's startling digital surveillance programs that reach more broadly across the internet than even many of the most extreme conspiracy theorists would have feared.

While the U.S. government defends the program as court-supervised and a powerful tool that has thwarted terrorist attacks and protected citizens, there's no doubt that the Snowden revelations have had a chilling effect on the technology world.

Here are the three biggest impacts: 

  1. Organizations are re-thinking how to effectively encrypt their most sensitive data
  2. International organizations are looking at ways to do less business with U.S. companies, since the NSA has direct backdoors into many of them.
  3. The brakes are being put on cloud computing by some organizations, as they consider whether they want their data so easily accessible to surveillance agencies.

 As one IT architect said, "The USA's global surveillance efforts have done more to damage cloud deployments than any amount of FUD."

To dig deeper on this topic, see the links below. Then, join the discussion in the comments.

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ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener

ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. As a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet's global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and the United States.

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This article was originally published on TechRepublic as Understanding Snowden's impact on IT... in 2 minutes.

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