What Have We Learned from the Snowden Affair?

Hacker stealing data from computer

Edward Snowden is once again in the headlines. Not that he’s necessarily ever left the news cycle, but last week’s televised interview of Mr. Snowden by Brian Williams of NBC seems to have reignited the debate around the former NSA employee.

One of the central questions we’re left to ponder is just what have we learned from the whole Snowden expose? Is he a mild mannered hero seeking freedom, truth and the idyllic American way, carrying out a one man crusade against injustice and devilish practices? Or has he now morphed into a super-spy? Is this the first signs of schizophrenia, which according to statistics affects 1.1% of Americans?

Perhaps by coming out as a CIA super-sleuth he’ll get an upgrade. Maybe like Kim Philby he’s become “disappointed in many ways” by what he has found in Moscow. As someone once said, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”

In any case should we be surprised, or did we already suspect that the US government, along with virtually every other government, is using the Internet to spy? Well, given that every country or government has done this since time began, maybe we should be comforted by the ancient words that “there is nothing new under the sun.”

Perhaps this is why Caesar used encryption to send messages back to Rome from Gaul. Did he by chance suspect that he had Snowden’s ancestors hiding in the ranks, looking to expose his dastardly deeds to the enemy?

Snowden is the Ultimate Security Software Pitchman

As far as the security industry is concerned, Snowden has provided a goldmine. Every security vendor is selling Snowden. He should have employed an agent before getting on the plane to ensure that he got paid royalties for the use of his image. His picture is supporting a burgeoning industry of “Next Generation Threat Protection” solutions. Every organization is being told it probably has a “Snowden” working for them. And yet the threat to our everyday life of identity theft, corporate attacks on intellectual property, and the rest go on unabated. What Snowden has done is provide a distraction that allows many vendors to sell more FUD, and solve less problems.

As for what we’ve learned, certainly some of Snowden’s revelations have shed light on the fact that actually there are some really clever geeks in the NSA who are able to do some really cool stuff. Most of all, it seems he’s shown us how totally ineffective much of the security technology is that’s being foisted on an unsuspecting market.

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