The NSA Story Just Won’t Quit…Will We Be Sorry?

Early in 2013, the director of the National Security Agency, General Keith Alexander, was getting ready to propose a new private cybersecurity initiative to Congress and the public. Meanwhile, Edward Snowden was also getting ready, but for something else. He was getting ready to release the classified NSA documents he had accessed.

Cut to February, 2014, and the Snowden scandal is all over the news. But whatever happened to Alexander’s cybersecurity proposal? A recent Los Angeles Times article is shedding some light on that.

According to the article, Alexander had planned to use the NSA’s powerful equipment and techniques to help protect private U.S. computer networks against cybersecurity breaches. Alexander wanted to use the NSA’s capabilities to scan Internet traffic for any malicious software code, and he said the NSA could do this without reading consumers’ emails, texts or Internet searches. The NSA could destroy viruses and any other digital threats without infringing on people’s privacy.

So what happened? Snowden happened.

After Snowden leaked information, Alexander’s proposal basically fell through the cracks amid soaring levels of distrust and heated debates. And his proposal was not the only one to get sidelined.

According to the article, several Obama administration initiatives in both Congress and diplomacy were either set back or stopped entirely by the Snowden situation.

Cybersecurity expert James Lewis spoke to the LA Times.

“All the things (the NSA) wanted to do are now radioactive, even though they were good ideas,” said Lewis.

He works for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Alexander’s plan sounds like it could have been a valuable tool in preventing cybersecurity attacks, which are obviously on the rise. The highly publicized stories of the Target data breach and the Neiman Marcus cyber attack are just two examples of cybersecurity issues starting to hit closer to home and closer to the general consumer public.

Thanks to Snowden’s leaks, the NSA has come under international fire for previous spying incidents. This makes it all the more difficult for the NSA to instate cybersecurity initiatives.

Was it right to scrap Alexander’s initiative? Should it be dusted off and implemented now?

 

For more information on the issues surrounding the NSA, see the original LA Times article here http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-snowden-cyber-20140202,0,5845248.story#axzz2sHlgQlzq.