Vormetric Survey Reveals 91% of Americans Have Concerns with “Backdoor” Encryption Access for Government
Nearly 2 out of 3 polled (63%) in favor of encryption back doors to respond to national security threats
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Sept. 10, 2015 – Vormetric, a leader in enterprise data security for physical, virtual, big data and cloud environments, today announced in conjunction with Wakefield, the results of its survey on how Americans view “backdoor” access by government entities to the encrypted data of private businesses. Ninety-one percent of Americans recognized that there were risks to encryption backdoors, but also felt that it is justified in some circumstances.
Encryption is one of the most effective ways to achieve data security – especially when combined with access controls and data access monitoring. Organizations’ use of encryption directly reduces their risk of exposure to data breaches and theft. Enterprises recognize this; as shown by the results of another recent survey by IANS, 84% of businesses are considering encrypting all sensitive data. But adding backdoors to encryption compromises the technology, and this has not gone unnoticed by the American public. According to the survey respondents:
- Data accessed through a “backdoor” could be abused by hackers (69%)
- Data accessed through a “backdoor” could be abused by government entities (62%)
- U.S. businesses could lose their competitive advantage (34%)
“Adding backdoors to encryption solutions has the potential to create additional threats from criminals and terrorists,” said Vormetric CSO Sol Cates. “Simple implementations are vulnerable to access keys being discovered or extorted and then exploited. Safer (but not completely safe) and more complex methods require so heavy an infrastructure burden as to be infeasible.”
In certain circumstances Americans are in favor of “backdoor” access. This may be due to the strong “pro backdoor” language coming from the White House and senior federal law enforcement officials. Respondents were in favor of back door access:
- In response to a national security threat (63%)
- As part of a federal investigation (39%)
- As part of a state or local investigation (29%)
Recent headlines have revealed major tensions between government agencies and private businesses regarding the rights of government entities – including federal, state and local law enforcement – to access and use encrypted data for government investigations. One of the most vocal proponents against end-to-end encryption is FBI Director James Comey, who has repeatedly stated encryption technology is leaving criminal investigators in the dark. The results also suggest that much of the population polled does not understand that opening backdoors to encryption also opens up backdoors for cyberterrorists.
“Our overall position is that you can’t turn a backdoor over to any government. It can be dangerous,” said Vormetric Vice President of Marketing Tina Stewart. “Companies have very good reasons for expanding their usage of encryption. In this incredibly risky cybersecurity environment, it’s one of the smartest moves they can make. As we all know by now, breaches and theft of data can cause major legal, financial and reputational harm – or even ruin – for both human beings and businesses. Americans have good reason to be skeptical about the government’s rhetoric.”
The Vormetric Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,002 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 21+ between August 25th and August 31st 2015, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.
Vormetric (@Vormetric) is the industry leader in data security solutions that protect data-at-rest across physical, big data and cloud environments. Vormetric helps over 1500 customers, including 17 of the Fortune 30, to meet compliance requirements and protect what matters – their sensitive data – from both internal and external threats. The company’s scalable Vormetric Data Security Platform protects any file, any database and any application’s data —anywhere it resides — with a high performance, market-leading solution set. For more information, please visit: www.thalesesecurity.com.