Edward Snowden well and truly threw a spanner in the works of internet security machine back in June 2013. The internet security industry took a brutal bashing as businesses, governments and internet users alike once again feared for the safety of their online data – a phenomenon that hasn’t been seen since the introduction of online payment gateways half-way through the 1990’s.

As a result of Snowden’s actions and the relentless media coverage that followed the leaks, any data shared on the Internet was being labelled vulnerable and unreliable as everyday people and businesses began to worry about who was looking into their online data. With the fear residing over online data storage, some corners of the market began to draw away from online data storage solutions such as cloud, and opt for more traditional data storage methods.

One of those companies that publicly moved away from the cloud was AKQA, a global digital services agency. Who are trialling a new Storage Connection platform that allows access to files across a business but behind a fire-wall.

The heightened media attention as noted previously successfully instilled fear into businesses that replied on the internet for mass data storage, the big questions businesses are still asking now is whether these ‘revelations’ around NSA protocol are really ground breaking or have governments merely contemporised the ways in which they spy on their enemies and allies.

Governments and officials have been digging into confidential information for decades, one of the most well-known administrative scandals, Watergate dates back to the 70s. Now that an estimated 2,405,518,376 people around the world have regular access to the internet, users are able to access information instantaneously thus improving the transparency of what is happening within our boundaries.

Within recent years governments now have had the rights to request that popular browsers like Google, Bing and Yahoo disclose information about its users upon request. In 2010 Google began to publish transparency reports, with Googles bi-annual 2013 transparency report showing that 67% of data requests were at least partially handed over to the British government. The United States exceeded the British by divulging over 81% of the data, depending on most of the request made.

Even though most of the general public were already aware of the lengths and money spent on government surveillance, Snowden discoveries hadn’t taught us nothing new, but in fact reinforced our beliefs and scepticism over governmental procedures. The very nature of the revelations shows that the main and most threatening weaknesses lie within companies, not for the everyday users. The scandal has demonstrated how much harm a rogue employee with access to confidential data can be to an organisation, regardless of its size or importance.

Snowden is believed to have stored further, unreleased data of both U.S and allied intelligence personnel behind a sophisticated encryption with multiple passwords. It now appears that the one place that government agencies cannot access is the cloud, which is where the information is believed to be held. The reason why Snowden is keeping the information under virtual lock and key is that he sees the information as a get out of jail free card as he uses the unpublished material to protect himself against arrest or physical harm.

Both the WikiLeaks and Snowden leaks have illustrated how encryption can make data impenetrable and safe from hackers but not from employees. The Ex-U.S Army officer Bradley Manning is the only known contributor to WikiLeaks. He currently is serving a 35 years sentence after relieving information around the Afghan war logs to fellow soldiers, he has never given up the encryption codes and the code has never been broken!

Whilst it is of course advisable to check how secure your information is online before sharing it, perhaps it is time to look closer to home when looking for securer ways to protect our data.