Tech companies will likely face added scrutiny under Trump’s administration (AAPL, GOOG, GOOGL, MSFT)

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US tech companies will likely face increased government scrutiny under a Trump presidency if the president-elect’s first two choices to head law enforcement and intelligence agencies are any indication, Bloomberg reports.

As Trump’s transition team has announced, Republican senator Jeff Sessions is the president-elect's pick for Attorney General, and Republican representative Mike Pompeo is expected to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The news comes amid wider movements both nationally and internationally that give governments greater authority over tech companies. For instance, the FBI’s Rule 41 comes into effect this week providing the Department of Justice with new hacking powers, and the UK passed the new Investigatory Powers Bill on Tuesday giving law enforcement agencies the authority to force communication service providers, including ISPs and mobile carriers, to store user information for 12 months.

Decreasing data protection, whether by the government or not, could have a negative impact on US tech companies’ operations. That’s because it reinforces consumers’ concerns about the lack of privacy regarding their personal data. End users are sharing an increasing amount of personal data and need to feel confident that their data — and privacy — are protected. When asked how important it is that information entered into apps and online is kept secure and private, 84% of respondents said “very important,” according to Purple Insights. Requiring companies to provide backdoor access to governments would violate consumers' trust and likely lead to a decline in users of these companies’ products.

Moreover, a reluctance to provide user information could hurt the development of burgeoning tech such as voice assistants and chatbots. These technologies need vast amounts of user data not only to function, but also to be useful to consumers. Data such as payment and location information needs to be stored in order to provide context, conversational baselines, and intuitive capabilities for the technology. Threatening this future could result in significant pushback from the tech industry on the new administration.

However, the appointments are not completely surprising — many tech companies expected the new administration to require they provide backdoor access to the government.Trump supported the court order calling for Apple to facilitate access to an encrypted iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter, and asked consumers to boycott the company until it complied. Law enforcement agencies argue that tech companies have a responsibility to comply with investigations.

All of this will bring conversations about cybersecurity to the forefront during the next four years. BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on cybersecurity that details the current landscape for companies in critical infrastructure sectors, as well as how companies can protect their control systems from hackers.

Here are some of the key points from the report:

  • Companies that operate critical infrastructure sites reported 295 cyber incidents in 2015, up from 245 in 2014.
  • Hackers are targeting the industrial control systems that operate critical infrastructure because of the enormous damage they can cause by crippling such infrastructure.
  • Industrial control systems typically weren’t designed to be connected to the internet, so they weren’t built with cybersecurity capabilities to ward off hackers.
  • The hack that caused a blackout in the Ukraine could serve as a blueprint for other hackers that want to target critical infrastructure, helping them succeed in future attackers.
  • The Ukraine hack highlighted the importance of training employees about cybersecurity and placing additional access controls on industrial control systems beyond firewalls.

In full, the report:

  • Explains the challenges that companies face in securing industrial control systems that they are connecting to the internet.
  • Breaks down what made the hack against the Ukraine’s power grid so successful.
  • Highlights how this attack will impact other companies operating critical infrastructure.
  • Details the best methods for securing industrial control systems against hackers.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of cybersecurity.

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