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 newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Why doing your job well is the key to innovation

The words ‘power company’ and ‘innovation’ probably don’t seem like a natural combination. In fact, when I first went for a marketing role with an electricity company, I semi-dreaded the work I thought I’d be doing.

Catherine Anderson

Head of marketing, Powershop Australia

The great unlearning: How brands can assist with the adoption of voice

Mainstream adoption of voice technology will be all about what consumers are learning not to do.

Ash Mustchin

Director, digital and experiences, Principals

Why getting intimate is key to creating a great customer experience

According to CMO’s State of the CMO 2017 research, 83 per cent of CMOs believe customer experience to be central to their role. An interesting stat considering few of us experience great brand experiences.

Pip Stocks

CEO and founder, BrandHook

'to lesson screen time'LOL someone needs a lesson on how to lessen typos.

Andrew Ward

Golden Circles invests in content play to drive brand purpose

Read more

Hey Nadia, interesting read. We have all read about what your chatbots should offer or have but haven't came across with anything about w...

Ashish K Jain

What not to do when building chatbots and voice-based brand interactions

Read more

There are some many other great solutions compared to the ones you listed here. Our clients left some of those and switched to MARA (getM...

Alexandru Rada

CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 9 June

Read more

Charming Shane. You know this is a public forum, right ?

Peter Strohkorb

​CMO Interview: Why aligning sales and marketing drives innovation at Konica Minolta

Read more

I agree customer intimacy is a great way of creating better customer experience. Especially in the Insurance and Financial industry. Her...

Jessicalopez1989

Why getting intimate is key to creating a great customer experience and optimising customer value

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in