Feeds

'Overplayed' privacy concerns rile Symantec boss

'IP addresses are so not private'

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Interview Consumers ought to accept that loss of privacy is the price they pay for using internet service, according to Symantec chief exec John Thompson.

Echoing Scott McNealy's opinion that "you have no privacy, get over it," the Symantec boss expressed surprise that information such as IP addresses is regarded as sensitive.

"Some people think of everything as private, including information such as IP addresses. I don't get that," Thompson told El Reg.

Quizzed about the furore raised when supposedly anonymised search result data was released by AOL and tied back to individuals making searches, Thompson stuck by his guns. "If someone is searching for cancer treatments there is nothing that links that search to the health status of an individual. They could be running the search on behalf of a friend."

Thompson questioned whether there was any likelihood of harm from the release of such information, in contrast to where financial details (for example) are exposed. People need to put privacy concerns in perspective, he contended.

"If you use the net, you are observed. Search results are tracked if you use a public search engine and even if you don't, cookies are placed on your machine to serve up ads by most websites."

Symantec's security products offer the option of deleting tracking cookies. Perhaps Symantec is simply providing customer choice, even to those its chief exec might regard as paranoid.

Thompson's essential argument is that some privacy concerns are overplayed which, he argues, gets in the way of building a more secure internet. He was quite adamant that his views go beyond a simple philosophical difference with the more privacy sensitive who he suggested "live in a cocoon not in the real world."

Symantec's chief exec is not against breach disclosure laws per se but reckons that the loss of encrypted data ought not to be covered by breach disclosure laws so that firms who have protected sensitive data are not affected by the "expense and brand damage" such public notifications bring.

"Businesses have a responsibility to protect sensitive data. The public should not expect the government to protect them," he added.

The essential guide to IT transformation

Next page: Follow the money

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.