RSA CEO Art Coviello abandoned his scheduled keynote presentation on identity at the company’s flagship conference Tuesday to address the simmering controversy involving his security company and its alleged collaboration with the NSA. His presentation, however, included little defense of RSA. The company said in December that it “categorically denies the allegations” that it took $10 million from the NSA to provide a backdoor into its security software.
Making his first public comments about a controversy that rocked his company last year, Art Coviello, the head of security firm RSA, suggested that tech companies should avoid working with U.S. intelligence agencies until it’s clear they can be trusted. Accused last year in a report by Reuters of leading a company that colluded with the National Security Agency, Coviello said RSA’s work with the agency has been a matter of public record for years. In a Dec. 20 story, Reuters alleged that RSA accepted a secret $10 million payment in exchange for inserting a compromised formula for generating random numbers, one that the NSA favored, in its products. RSA has denied the payment and the collusion.