Governments just as capable of hacking

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The allegations that governments are spying on the internet activities of their citizens should not come as a surprise (your report, 8 June).

The internet is now the world’s largest data storage area. Servers hold trillions of characters of data. Query programs can be written to select particular types of data and catalogue it; it is now an essential part of society. The major supermarkets – with their loyalty systems – know more about us than many realise. Using the likes of Google and Facebook leaves a data footprint for others to access.

It is perfectly possible that Google, Facebook, etc do not co-operate with government authorities and allow them 
access to their servers, but 
that does not mean it isn’t happening. Just as teenagers sitting in their bedrooms can hack into government agencies, so too can government hackers sitting in air-conditioned offices with multi-processor computers.

The internet’s greatest strength is that anyone anywhere can access data anywhere else if they have permission to get through the relevant protection systems – but it also means that these protection systems can be overcome with sophisticated software tools. Just as illegal cyber attacks are a significant threat in the future, government hackers using the same techniques can spy on and even interfere with the data held on their citizens.

Bruce D Skivington

Gairloch, Wester Ross