Thursday 10 September 2015

SumRando Speaks: 5 Questions with SumRando’s CEO

Today marks the inauguration of SumRando Speaks, an interview series geared towards introducing readers to the background, insights and expertise of cybersecurity, digital privacy and net neutrality professionals around the globe.

Our first installment features a conversation with SumRando Cybersecurity's Founder and CEO, who offers a rare glimpse into SumRando's history as well as a uniquely global perspective on the current state of digital privacy. Read on, surf secure and stay Rando!

Why SumRando Cybersecurity?
SumRando Cybersecurity grew from a desire to motivate everyday Internet users to employ better practices when online. The public and private sectors are shuffling and scuffling to create a cooperative framework to serve the public, but with very little to show for it. Every year new and larger threats mount, leaving the average Internet user ill-equipped to deal with hacks, surveillance and the like. I wanted to provide a service that would meet the needs of users in countries dealing with unsecured Wi-Fi and data collection as well as in countries where censorship and persecution for civil disobedience are rife. SumRando’s suite of privacy tools gives users everywhere the ability to proactively manage something they were never taught to protect: their data.
What is SumRando Cybersecurity’s greatest success to date? 
It was exciting to see usership spike in Iran in 2011 and Turkey in 2013 in response to government suppression and to know that we were virtually on the ground, helping the average citizen exercise his basic civil rights. Our greatest success, however, has been the universal adoption of SumRando. The fact that we have users all over the globe is a testament to my team’s ability to serve a diverse community with diverse needs and demonstrates our capacity to be anywhere we are needed in the future.
SumRando Cybersecurity is based in Africa, but has servers and users all over the globe. From your perspective, is there a singular debate regarding digital privacy and net neutrality, or does the conversation differ from region to region? 
There is an overarching theme, for sure. While technology bounds ahead and rewards are reaped across borders and classes, a conversation has begun about how to regulate these advances effectively, fairly and legally. Intuitively, we all perceive that the problems a businesswoman in Uganda has searching the internet are qualitatively different than those of a businesswoman in London. This contrast is reflected in the shifting priorities throughout the world regarding cybersecurity: in Africa, we’re wrapped up in a conversation about internet access that sometimes overlooks net neutrality and digital privacy; in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, we focus on censorship and infringement of freedom of expression rather than data collection and data breaches; and in North America, we fear hackers and advertisers, and believe that censorship and access are issues for another time and place. Nonetheless, it’s an oversimplification to think that one country’s concerns and policies exist in isolation, especially when someone like Egypt’s al-Sisi cites increased government surveillance in the United States as reason to enact August’s oppressive “anti-terrorism” laws.
What individual, organization or law should be recognized for its work in support of (or against) digital privacy rights and net neutrality? 
I’ve seen a lot of positive momentum regarding network neutrality in 2015, but the regulations recently put in place still aren’t enough. The United States’ revised net neutrality rules were lauded as a step in the right direction and the European Commission self-labeled its regulations the “strongest and most comprehensive open Internet rules in the world.” Regardless, both sets of regulations leave far too much control in the hands of Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The deep packet inspection powers given to ISPs in the United States, for example, are so invasive that even the FCC recommends everyday users protect themselves with a VPN.
What's your #1 reason to use SumRando Cybersecurity's VPN? Web proxy? Secure messenger? 
At this point, it’s difficult to picture using the internet without our services, but there certainly are moments that stand out. Travel is an inherent part of my job, which means that I rely on our VPN to secure my internet connection in hotels, airports and cafes all over the world and also to keep up with news and sports back home. I frequently use our web proxy for a quick webpage look up on the run and our secure messenger to send notes to my team. 

SumRando Cybersecurity, SumRando CEO and Founder, SumRando Speaks, net neutrality, digital privacy, civil rights

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