COVID 19 Digital Theme

Episode 185: Attacking COVID, Protecting Privacy

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In this episode of the podcast (#185), DigiCert Chief Technology Officer Jason Sabin joins us to talk about how the COVID epidemic is shining a spotlight on the need for strong digital identities – for everything from virus contact tracing to remote work.


The COVID pandemic is remaking everything from family relationships to schools and the workplace. It’s also accelerating the adoption of technologies and practices that previously were looked on with suspicion and concern.

Jason Sabin is the Chief Technology Officer at DigiCert
Jason Sabin is the Chief Technology Officer at DigiCert

Consider mass digital surveillance of the kinds used in repressive countries like China and Russia. The vast networks of cameras and sensors are mostly seen as tools of oppression. But in recent months, they’ve proven very useful in enforcing quarantines: identifying the COVID sickened and tracking their movements in crowded cities.

In more freedom-loving countries like the United States, calls for tools to battle COVID have been answered by firms like Google and Apple, which have stepped up to help manage contact tracing and other logistic challenges presented by COVID. But such efforts raise questions, as countries that value individual freedom and civil liberties wrestle with the question of how to attack COVID while simultaneously defending the privacy of individuals and their data. 

Episode 178: Killing Encryption Softly with the EARN IT Act. Also: SMBs Struggle with Identity

Our guest in this week’s podcast, DigiCert Chief Technology Officer Jason Sabin, says that public health and privacy are not mutually exclusive. One solution to the problems posed by COVID, Sabin says, is greater use of public key infrastructure (PKI) the same technology that uniquely identifies web sites, applications and billions of devices on the Internet of things. Sabin said that existing PKI technologies can and are being adapted to the challenge of tracking individuals. COVID, he said, presents unique opportunities to apply technology to solving a big public health challenge, but that governments and companies have to be mindful of both security and privacy, unless efforts to manage the spread of COVID produce a second epidemic of data and identity theft. 

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In this conversation, Jason and I talk about how DigiCert is adapting to the post -COVID world, how PKI technology might help facilitate public health initiatives like contact tracing. We also talk about how the shift to work from home has impacted demand for PKI services. 


(*) Disclosure: This podcast was sponsored by DigiCert. For more information on how Security Ledger works with its sponsors and sponsored content on Security Ledger, check out our About Security Ledger page on sponsorships and sponsor relations.

As always,  you can check our full conversation in our latest Security Ledger podcast at Blubrry. You can also listen to it on iTunes and check us out on SoundCloudStitcherRadio Public and more. Also: if you enjoy this podcast, consider signing up to receive it in your email. Just point your web browser to securityledger.com/subscribe to get notified whenever a new podcast is posted. 

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