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This Is How Fear of Government Snooping Takes Its Toll on Tech Companies

clarence s lewis/Shutterstock.com

Two very different technology offerings were dropped on Thursday because of fears that the US and China might be trying to spy on the customers using them.

In Baltimore, Maryland—just down the road from the headquarters of the National Security Agency in Ft. Meade—a US company called CyberPoint International lost a contract to provide a videoconferencing system to the federal government after US Customs determined that CyberPoint’s offering was in fact Chinese, substantially made by telecom equipment maker ZTE. A US House Intelligence panel has recommended that government agencies and contractors should avoid using equipment made by ZTE and its larger Chinese counterpart Huawei, because of fears that they might have ties to the Chinese military that could compromise the security of federal computer networks. ZTE and Huawei have strenuously denied the claims.

Meanwhile, another US company called RSA Security—a unit of computer storage giant EMC—quietly told its customers to stop using a software encryption algorithm that it had long recommended. According to documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA, which helped create the Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator (or Dual EC DRBG for short), had secretly introduced vulnerabilities into the algorithm so it could exploit them later.
Experts have long suspected that Dual EC DRBG, which generates a quasi-random string of numbers to be used in encryption, was intentionally flawed.

(Image via clarence s lewis/Shutterstock.com)

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