Facebook CSO says Snowden disclosures brought security to forefront

The disclosures made it easier to have a conversation about security, according to Joe Sullivan

Facebook continues to upgrade its security infrastructure while also closely scrutinizing law enforcement requests, said CSO Joe Sullivan.
Facebook continues to upgrade its security infrastructure while also closely scrutinizing law enforcement requests, said CSO Joe Sullivan.

Facebook was already implementing stronger security controls when the U.S. National Security Agency's expansive surveillance program was revealed in June, its chief security officer said Thursday.

The social networking site has continued upgrading its security infrastructure, said Joe Sullivan[cq], who spoke to IDG News Service by phone from the Hack in the Box security conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's disclosures "maybe made it a little bit easier to have that conversation publicly and show the effort that has been going on behind the scenes all along," Sullivan said.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the NSA was collecting email and instant messaging address books as the lists are transmitted on the Internet from services including Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google.

The company said it was unaware that data was collected and did not assist. Sullivan said information such as chat contact lists are now encrypted, as Facebook has enabled TLS (Transport Security Layer), or "https" encryption by default. That would shield the data unless the interceptor could decrypt it, although Facebook just turned on that feature for all users in July.

Facebook's security roadmap includes moving from 1,024-bit to 2,048-bit RSA encryption, Sullivan said. It also plans to implement Perfect Forward Secrecy, an encryption feature that limits the amount of data that can be decrypted if a private key is compromised in the future. Sullivan said he hopes that work is finished by year's end.

Facebook was one of many companies, including Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Apple, that were wrapped into NSA's Prism program, which collected a wide variety of electronic data from service providers, according to slides published by the Washington Post.

After discussions with the U.S. government, Facebook and other technology companies were allowed in June to release some figures related to data collection requests from the U.S Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and National Security Letters.

But Facebook, Google and Yahoo are pushing to disclose more. The companies filed petitions on Sept. 9 asking the U.S Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for permission to release more information on orders and directives.

Sullivan said Facebook has had in place "very robust practices around scrutinizing every single law enforcement request so that when we had an opportunity to be transparent, we could feel good about that."

In August, the company released its first Global Government Requests Report. In many cases, Facebook didn't turn over data to a government despite a request.

Law enforcement often don't know how to ask for the information they're looking for, such as not being specific enough about what user they're seeking information on, Sullivan said. Other times, the account requested doesn't exist or can't be identified.

All requests are reviewed manually by a team to ensure they meet legal standards, which can be incredibly complicated. "As is apparent from the statistics, a decent percentage of requests that we get are not legally sufficient," Sullivan said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Disruption Down Under – What’s Amazon’s real competitive advantage?

Savvy shoppers wait in anticipation, while Australian retailers are gearing up for the onslaught. Amazon’s arrival is imminent.

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve

Traditionally the non-executive board of a company acts in an advisory capacity - attending monthly board meetings to offer overarching advice and guidance typically focusing on:

Jodie Sangster

CEO, ADMA

The most desirable customers you’ve overlooked

“What will really move the needle?” This is a question that keeps leaders awake at night. And at the intersection of some of their top priorities – finding pockets of growth, redefining the customer experience, and making an emotional impact – lies a latent market: Their diverse customers.

Being aware of regulations or guidlines is just the start. As our CEO Emma Lo Russo stated exactly two weeks ago at an event we supported...

Alan Smith

​Are the Wild West days of influencer collaboration over?

Read more

Rebranding is always nice solution to get better organisation. Businessman may apply certain special services (for example, https://www.l...

David Hill

CMO interview: Spearheading the global rebranding of OFX

Read more

Thank you so much for sharing this article.Top Digital Marketing company in Bangalore

Way To DM

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Thanks for the great article Jodie, agree many boards and senior execs are operating in outdated modes, just as we need some reverse soci...

sharyn

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve - Data-driven marketing - CMO Australia

Read more

I'm looking forward to Marketo moving toward providing these type of engagement metrics. The vision is there - what happens next to the p...

Emily Dick

Marketo CEO: Stop using outdated metrics, start basing marketing on engagement

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in