Security Central: Cybersecurity in Danger with FCC Privacy Repeal, MIT Researchers School Trump Thinkstock

Security Central: Cybersecurity in Danger with FCC Privacy Repeal, MIT Researchers School Trump

This week’s Security Central takes a look at the FCC privacy rules repeal and what it could mean for cybersecurity, peeks inside cybersecurity recommendations from MIT aimed at President Trump, and examines Microsoft initiatives to aid MSPs. 

Back in October of last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did something pretty cool. It passed a set of several rules that essentially blocked internet providers from being able to monitor and sell your browsing history and personal information to marketers, advertisers and other third parties without consumer permission. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? 

However, the victory was to be short-lived. Last Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal those privacy rules. The vote has led to backlash from critics, who say it will undermine online security and enable unconstitutional mass government surveillance.

Not only would the repeal compromise Americans' privacy, it would also put cybersecurity at risk, as the two go hand in hand. Privacy controls who has access to your information, and security maintains that control (Electronic Frontier Foundation). 

The order is expected to be signed by President Trump quite soon. Evan Greer, campaign director of internet rights group Fight for the Future, has spoken out against the repeal, saying that Congress has "proved once again that they care more about the wishes of the corporations that fund their campaigns than they do about the safety and security of their constituents."

He goes on to say that government spying could also be a factor, a rather scary thought when you consider the increased vulnerabilities that would result. "Gutting these privacy rules won’t just allow Internet Service Providers to spy on us and sell our personal information, it will also enable more unconstitutional mass government surveillance, and fundamentally undermine our cybersecurity by making our sensitive personal information vulnerable to hackers, identity thieves, and foreign governments.”

The FCC is making the argument that the move will increase competition and make it a more even playing field for internet providers. Less of a "picking favorites" scenario. “Last year, the Federal Communications Commission pushed through, on a party-line vote, privacy regulations designed to benefit one group of favored companies over another group of disfavored companies,” Ajit Pai, head of the FCC, said in a statement. “Appropriately, Congress has passed a resolution to reject this approach of picking winners and losers before it takes effect.” Interesting take.

Pai also noted that the FCC would work with the Federal Trade Commission to ensure consumers’ online privacy would be protected through a “consistent and comprehensive framework." Let's hope that's true... if the repeal does indeed go through, it may be a tough and shaky landscape to navigate for providers. 

Our second story brings gladder tidings. Last week, 500 partners across different business models flocked to Microsoft's 13th annual Cloud and Hosting Summit to discuss and explore the popular topics of digital transformation and hybrid cloud. A few important themes emerged during the conference, but the overall message was clear: Microsoft wants to help MSPs win. 

The conference began with a presentation from Aziz Benmalek, Microsoft vice president of worldwide hosting & managed service providers, who shared findings from a survey conducted recently with 451 Research. Benmalek stated that when it comes to end-customer cloud transformation projects, service providers are “vital." According to the survey, stated Benmalek, 89 percent of customers said they are willing to pay handsomely to have a service provider help them implement and maintain their hybrid cloud. “That puts you at the center of the opportunity as we move forward,” Benmalek said.

This is key, as the cloud has completely transformed the traditional VAR model in recent years - it’s all about ongoing services now. According to an article by Talkin' Cloud, Benmalek stated that Microsoft has seen huge growth in its Hosting & Managed Services over the past five years. “This ecosystem is one of the fastest growing channels [for Microsoft],” Benmalek told Talkin’ Cloud in an interview. “All signs are showing continued growth in that space.” 

According to the 451 Research report, organizations will also be increasingly looking for professional services to help them reach their goals around digital transformation. This includes integrating legacy business processes and systems with SaaS functionality, and modernizing applications. 

We close out the week with a few tips for Trump... from MIT. On Tuesday, a group of MIT researchers released a set of eight key cybersecurity recommendations for President Trump, titled, "Keeping America Safe: Toward More Secure Networks For Critical Sectors." The report was published by MIT’s Internet Policy Research Initiative in conjunction with MIT’s Center for International Studies.

The report takes a close look at the potential security cracks in American infrastructure in areas such as communications, energy and banking. In the outline, the researchers plead with President Trump, urging him to make cybersecurity a vital issue within the federal government, but also privately-owned critical infrastructure.

“The nation will require a coordinated, multi-year effort to address deep strategic weaknesses in the architecture of critical systems, in how those systems are operated, and in the devices that connect to them,” the authors write (as reported by MIT News). “But we must begin now. Our goal is action, both immediate and long-term.”

To determine what a better security environment would look like, the researchers conducted several workshops intended to get a critical view of deeper cyber challenges and vulnerabilities. The workshops brought to light the high level of difficulty involved with quantifying the level of risk across different sectors, and the ROI for specific cybersecurity measures. 

“Connecting [these operations] to the Internet has brought undoubted efficiencies to electricity generators and other industries, but it has also created dangerous vulnerabilities in the systems that keep the lights on and power the economy,” states the researchers. 

The authors are taking a glass half full approach to Trump's reception of the report, given the supposed shared goal to fix America's shaky security infrastructure. “Our recommendations complement their attention to federal systems,” Brenner says. “Our current cyber insecurity is a national disgrace, and we must defend the networks that the safety of our nation depends on.”

The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Penton Media or The VAR Guy editorial staff.

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