The chief research officer of Finnish anti-virus firm F-Secure has boycotted the RSA annual conference after rumors prevailed that the security company accepted a deal to create a back door for the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) in exchange of money.
Mikko Hypponen was scheduled to deliver a speech titled "Governments as Malware Authors" at the RSA Conference USA 2014 in San Francisco from February 24 - 28, 2014.
However, on Monday, December 23, Hypponen released a letter on F-Secure's weblog addressed to Art Coviello, the Executive Chairman, RSA and Joe Tucci, the CEO of EMC (parent company of RSA). Hypponen's letter confirms that he is boycotting the event and also expressed his disappointment towards the allegations made on RSA.
"I don't really expect your multibillion dollar company or your multimillion dollar conference to suffer as a result of your deals with the NSA. In fact, I'm not expecting other conference speakers to cancel. Most of your speakers are american anyway - why would they care about surveillance that's not targeted at them but at non-americans. Surveillance operations from the US intelligence agencies are targeted at foreigners. However I'm a foreigner. And I'm withdrawing my support from your event," said Hypponen in his letter.
RSA has been mired in controversy after rumors hinted that the company entered into a $10 million deal with the NSA to weaken its security products and created a back door for NSA to easily decrypt encrypted messages or communications.
However, RSA has denied the claims and has also issued an official statement dismissing the allegations put on the company. Rumors point fingers at RSA that the company agreed with NSA and adopted its Dual Elliptic Curve algorithm (also known as Dual EC DRBG) as a default option in its products, which is supposed to generate random numbers.
Hypponen says that he had spoken eight times at either RSA Conference USA, RSA Conference Europe or RSA Conference Japan. He also points out that RSA has also featured his picture on its walls of conference halls among the industry experts.
Hypponen is the first speaker who has boycotted the event. RSA Keynote speakers also include executives from top technology companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, Juniper, McAfee, Symantec, and more. It will be interesting to see if more speakers will follow Hypponen in boycotting the RSA Conference 2014.
RSA has not commented on Hypponen's decision.
Shares of EMC were trading 0.24 percent down at $25.01 on the NYSE on Tuesday afternoon.