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Symantec CEO warns of worrying trend to allow governments access to source code

Rob Horgan
Symantec CEO warns of worrying trend to allow governments access to source code

Symantec CEO Greg Clark has had an encouraging change of heart over sharing the security company’s source code with international governments. In an interview with Reuters Clark said that sharing source code poses ‘unacceptable risks’. Tech companies have been under increased pressure to allow Russian, US and Chinese governments access to their source code.

Symantec was one such company who allowed the reviews, however Clark has taken the decision to overturn that policy given that ‘security threats are too great’.

“These are secrets, or things necessary to defend (software),” Clark said of source code. “It’s best kept that way.” “We’re in a great place that says, ‘You know what, we don’t see a lot of product over there [Russia]’,” Clark said. “We don’t have to say yes. We just have taken a policy decision to say, ‘Any foreign government that wants to read our source code, the answer is no’.”

Symantec’s decision has been praised by some western cyber security experts, who said the company bucked a growing trend in recent years that has seen other companies accede to demands to share source code.

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“They took a stand and they put security over sales,” said Frank Cilluffo, director of the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University. Obviously source code could be used in ways that are inimical to our national interest. They took a principled stand, and that’s the right decision and a courageous one.”

Russian-based security firm Kaspersky faced a backlash earlier in the year after boss Eugene Kaspersky offered up his source code to win the trust of American government officials. Understandably worried that it might lose US government contracts over allegations that it is working with the Russian government, founder Eugene Kaspersky has said that he is willing to turn over source code to prove that his security company is not a cover for Russian spies. He said he will do ‘anything’ to prove his company’s intensions, including testifying in front of Congress. “Anything I can do to prove that we don’t behave maliciously I will do it,” Kaspersky added.

The Russian government has made similar requests of technology companies, in recent weeks. The likes of Cisco, IBM, Hewlett Packard, McAfee, and SAP have all agreed to give over their ‘code for security products such as firewalls, anti-virus applications and software containing encryption’, according to Reuters.

 

 

Tags: Symantec, Security, Vendors, us, russia, source code

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