ORLANDO: The growing threat of data falling into the hands of intelligence agencies or criminal groups has made business leaders re-evaluate their cloud requirements, according to SAP CEO Bill McDermott.
McDermott told V3 he has noticed a marked change in enterprise executives' approach to the cloud following revelations about the NSA's PRISM operations, during a question and answer session at the firm's Sapphire 2014 trade show.
"Quite recently I called the CEO of a bank that had planned to roll out a well known best-of-breed cloud application [but didn't do it]. What happened was they found [the company] hadn't created the security software, they'd just described it, and that of course ruled them out as a choice and they dropped them," he said.
"For me this shows more and more the idea that all clouds were not created equal is dawning on people."
The NSA's PRISM campaign was revealed in 2013 when whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked documents to the press proving the intelligence agency was using technology firms to siphon vast amounts of web user data.
SAP executive board and global managing board member Bernd Leukert said SAP had already taken adequate steps to protect its users from data stealing campaigns before the PRISM scandal hit the news.
"Within the press you see many other members of our industry in the headlines, but SAP's never there," he said.
"Security is something we work on all the time. We designed it into the platform itself. Every single element of data, end to end, is encrypted. So even if someone somehow got in and took data, all they'd get is this horrid, unusable, mixed salad of gobbledygook. They could never use the data. You have to do this if you work on critical processes."
Leukert is one of many technology professionals to stress the importance of encryption as a way businesses can protect their data. Google began encrypting data flowing on many of its services, including search and Gmail, in a bid to protect its users from campaigns like PRISM earlier this year.
Snowden said encryption is a key way web users and businesses can block campaigns like PRISM, during a video feed in a privacy discussion at the SXSW conference in Texas in March.
However, encryption is no panacea. In April, researchers uncovered evidence suggesting the National Security Agency (NSA) exploited a flaw in commonly used RSA security technology to crack encryption keys. A critical flaw in the popular OpenSSL protocol, codenamed Heartbleed, was found a few weeks later.
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