Thu, Mar 13, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Security proves a big seller at CeBIT

AFP, HANOVER, Germany

Biometric matching is demonstrated at the so-called eGate at the booth of the German federal printing office at the CeBIT fair in Hanover, Germany, on Tuesday.

Photo: EPA

European IT security firms have flocked to the world’s biggest high-tech fair, CeBIT, with hopes of benefiting from the fallout from shock revelations of mass US and British spying.

German firm Secusmart, which provides the security features for the German government’s telephones, says it has now been approached by several other governments.

Secusmart chief Hans-Christoph Quelle declined to name the governments in question, but stressed his business had seen a knock-on effect from the leaks by rogue US analyst Edward Snowden.

“Our core product is mobile voice encryption. And mobile voice encryption was a nerdy feature,” the head of the company, established in 2007, said in an interview at the five-day event. “But we learned with Snowden that all voice calls are unsecure.”

Secusmart has this year teamed up with Britain’s Vodafone to create an app to allow businesses to keep all telephone communications, including conference calls, secure. Thanks to this new app, as well demand for the ability to ensure conversations are kept safe having increased “dramatically,” Secusmart is banking on 20 percent growth, Quelle said.

It is far from alone in eyeing new business in the wake of the Snowden leaks.

Among CeBIT’s sprawling layout, one entire hangar-like hall has been turned over to IT security, with around 500 companies offering specialized solutions, many from Europe and Asia.

By casting doubt on the confidentiality of data in the digital world, the scandal over mass spying “has shown consumers everywhere in the world the importance of protecting data,” said Dieter Kempf, head of German IT industry lobby BITKOM.

According to the European Information Technology Observatory, a platform managed by a subsidiary of BITKOM, two-thirds of European companies want to invest in security measures.

Security analyst Oliver Rochford at the Gartner research company said the spying scandal and the debate it had whipped up would “offer opportunities” to those European companies with products ready to hit the market.

He also spoke of a “wake-up call” for Europe, a phrase also used during a visit to the CeBIT by EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes, who is responsible for digital agenda issues. However, cashing in on the scandal that started with revelations about a mass spy program by the US National Security Agency, is a delicate path for IT firms to tread.

US-based technology and market research company Forrester Research says the US high-tech sector — the first to be hit in terms of a loss of confidence — could lose up to US$180 billion in sales by 2016.

Some companies are promoting the regional anchoring of digital data as one way to reassure consumers.

Deutsche Telekom is offering its “Made in Germany” cloud, where its remote data storage centers are located in the country.

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