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Silent Circle Chief Urges Privacy Control

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Saturday, April 18th, 2015


Phil Zimmerman, President of the encrypted communications firm Silent Circle and creator of the most widely used email encryption tool “Pretty Good Privacy”, has urged corporations as well as ordinary people to be more aware of the privacy threats and take control of their data. The company behind NSA proof Smartphone Blackphone and Silent Circle suite of privacy apps also released a video (aptly titled ‘Spoken Permissions’) to mark the occasion of International Data Privacy Day (the video can be viewed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcjtEKNP05c).

The aim of the video released by Silent Circle was to show how Smartphones as well as the apps installed on them have emerged as the greatest privacy threat in the recent past. The video focuses on the privacy threats posed by apps available at popular app stores and alerts people about the permissions requested by them. People from various walks of life were surveyed in the video and were asked to read the terms of service for the apps installed on their phones and the kind of permissions demanded by those apps. Most survey participants were shocked to learn about the permissions the apps were asking for and admitted that they never really thought about data privacy and assumed that their data was safe on their phones.

As well as releasing the above mentioned video, Silent Circle’s Chief wrote a letter to the CEOs of the world’s most renowned firms and asked them to stop thinking about security problems and start focusing on privacy issues. In his letter, Phil also talked about the recent Sony hack where tons of enterprise data was leaked by the hackers. He said that while the security measured deployed by Sony Corporation, including but not limited to security policies and procedures, anti-virus software, firewalls, corporate VPNs as well as sophisticated intrusion detection systems; were effective in protecting data that was getting delivered to the organization’s servers, they ultimately failed when the same data was leaked by the attackers.

Phil said that by focusing more on data privacy than on security, corporations should be able to make better choices that would ensure the security of data that they don’t want others to see. He also noted how data that doesn’t need to be stored at all was being stored by corporations for a long long time and cautioned about the impact of breach of such data.

The video and letter published by Silent Circle serves as a timely reminder about the privacy threats faced by individuals and corporations. For corporations, the impact of privacy breach could be especially severe as showcased by the recent Sony hack. The video also reminds us that we should never take our privacy for granted and make sure to go through the permissions requested by the apps that we are interested in using. As a member of the Smartphone generation, we should also keep in mind that our sensitive data is always at risk and we need to take stringent measures to ensure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.


April 18, 2015
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