Security Advisor

Survey: 55% of IT Pros Believe Gov. Accesses All Cloud Data

More than half of readers say Microsoft allows government access to everything stored in its cloud services.

There is quite a disconnect between reported details surrounding the NSA's surveillance program PRISM and what IT pros actually believe, according to a Redmond reader survey conducted last month.

According to the report, which is featured in the October issue of the magazine, 54.8 percent of the 300 IT pros surveyed said that the U.S. government is accessing "all personal and corporate data stored through Microsoft." This includes all data stored in Office 365, Outlook.com, SkyDrive and Windows Azure.

Interestingly, only 10 percent believe the government is only accessing metadata -- the info that a recent white paper released by the Obama administration said it only collects.

"This information is limited to telephony metadata, which includes information about what telephone numbers were used to make and receive the calls, when the calls took place, and how long the calls lasted," according to the white paper's executive summary. "Importantly, this information does not include any information about the content of those calls -- the government cannot, through this program, listen to or record any telephone conversations."

The cause for mistrust is understandable, seeing as every day brings new allegations of how far of a reach PRISM and similar electronic surveillance programs have gone in the name of national security. Just recently, engineers who had a hand in creating BitLocker said they were repeatedly approached by the FBI to create a permanent backdoor for monitoring purposes. While the team did not comply, they did say they provided tips on gaining access by targeting user encryption keys.

If true, this directly contradicts numerous Microsoft statements that say the company only provides specific user data to law enforcement when requested through a court order.

However, just as the case with the leaked documents by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the nature of the information cannot be taken without a certain level of scrutiny due to the nature of how the information is reaching the public. And when companies like Microsoft say one thing and allegations say another, it's easy to understand how IT would be left to doubting all information available.

Find more of our reader survey results and see how security experts weigh in here.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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