WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S.-based cyber agency Symantec (SYMC.O) is not permitting governments to overview the supply code of its software program due to fears the agreements would compromise the safety of its merchandise, Symantec Chief Government Greg Clark stated in an interview with Reuters.

Tech corporations have been beneath growing stress to permit the Russian authorities to look at supply code, the carefully guarded interior workings of software program, in change for approvals to promote merchandise in Russia.

Symantec’s choice highlights a rising rigidity for U.S. know-how corporations that should weigh their position as protectors of U.S. cybersecurity as they pursue enterprise with a few of Washington’s adversaries, together with Russia and China, in keeping with safety consultants.

Whereas Symantec as soon as allowed the evaluations, Clark stated that he now sees the safety threats as too nice. At a time of elevated nation-state hacking, Symantec concluded the chance of shedding buyer confidence by permitting evaluations was not well worth the enterprise the corporate may win, he stated.

The corporate’s about-face, which got here to start with of 2016, was reported by Reuters in June. Clark’s interview is the primary detailed clarification a Symantec government has given concerning the coverage change.

In an hour-long interview, Clark stated the agency was nonetheless prepared to promote its merchandise in any nation. However, he added, “that may be a totally different factor than saying, ‘Okay, we’re going to let individuals crack it open and grind all over it and see the way it all works’.”

Whereas Symantec had seen no “smoking gun” that international supply code evaluations had led to a cyberattack, Clark stated he believed the method posed an unacceptable threat to Symantec clients.  

“These are secrets and techniques, or issues essential to defend (software program),” Clark stated of supply code. “It’s finest saved that manner.”

As a result of Symantec’s market share was nonetheless comparatively small in Russia, the choice was simpler than for opponents closely invested within the nation, Clark stated.  

“We’re in an excellent place that claims, ‘You understand what, we don’t see lots of product over there’,” Clark stated. “We don’t must say sure.”

Symantec’s choice has been praised by some western cyber safety consultants, who stated the corporate bucked a rising development in recent times that has seen different corporations accede to calls for to share supply code.

“They took a stand they usually put safety over gross sales,” stated Frank Cilluffo, director of the Middle for Cyber and Homeland Safety at George Washington College and a former senior homeland safety official to former President George W. Bush.

“Clearly supply code might be utilized in methods which can be inimical to our nationwide curiosity,” Cilluffo stated. “They took a principled stand, and that’s the appropriate choice and a brave one.”

Reuters final week reported that Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) (HPE.N) allowed a Russian protection company to overview the interior workings of cyber protection software program often known as ArcSight that’s utilized by the Pentagon to protect its pc networks.

HPE stated such evaluations have taken place for years and are carried out by a Russian government-accredited testing firm at an HPE analysis and improvement heart outdoors of Russia. The software program maker stated it carefully supervises the method and that no code is allowed to go away the premises, guaranteeing it doesn’t compromise the protection of its merchandise. A spokeswoman stated no present HPE merchandise have undergone Russian supply code evaluations.

ArcSight was bought to British tech firm Micro Focus Worldwide Plc (MCRO.L) in a sale accomplished in September.

    On Monday, Micro Focus stated the evaluations have been a standard business apply. However the firm stated it will prohibit future evaluations of supply code in its merchandise by “high-risk” governments, and that any overview would require chief government approval.

“SLIPPERY SLOPE”

Earlier this yr, Beijing enacted a cyber safety legislation that international enterprise teams have warned may adversely affect commerce due to its information surveillance and storage necessities. The legislation has additional fueled concern that corporations more and more want to decide on between compromising safety to guard enterprise or threat shedding out on doubtlessly profitable markets.

Clark stated Symantec had not acquired any requests to overview supply code from the Chinese language authorities, however indicated he wouldn’t comply if Beijing made such a requirement.

“We simply have taken a coverage choice to say, ‘Any international authorities that wishes to learn our supply code, the reply is not any’,” Clark stated.

The U.S. authorities doesn’t usually require supply code evaluations earlier than buying commercially out there software program, in keeping with safety consultants.

“As a vendor right here in the US,” Clark stated, “we’re headquartered in a rustic the place it’s OK to say no.”

Some safety consultants worry heightened requests could additional splinter the tech world, resulting in an surroundings the place shoppers and governments solely really feel secure shopping for merchandise made in their very own international locations.

“We’re heading down a slippery slope the place you’re going to find yourself balkanizing (data know-how), the place U.S. corporations will solely have the ability to promote software program to components of Europe,” stated Curtis Dukes, a former head of cyber protection on the Nationwide Safety Company now with the non-profit Middle for Web Safety, “and Russia gained’t have the ability to promote merchandise within the U.S.”

Further reporting by Jack Stubbs in Moscow; Enhancing by Paul Thomasch

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