N.S.A. Leaks Make Plan for Cyberdefense Unlikely

Sanger, D. August 12, 2013 N.S.A. Leaks Make Plan for Cyberdefense Unlikely. New York Times.

The National Security Agency has lobbied inside the government to deploy the equivalent of a “Star Wars” defense for America’s computer networks, designed to intercept cyberattacks before they could cripple power plants, banks or financial markets.

But administration officials say the plan, championed by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency and head of the Pentagon’s Cyber Command, has virtually no chance of moving forward given the backlash against the N.S.A. over the recent disclosures about its surveillance programs.

Senior agency officials concede that much of the technology needed to filter malicious software, known as malware, by searching incoming messages for signs of programs designed to steal data, or attack banks or energy firms, is strikingly similar to the technology the N.S.A. already uses for surveillance.

”…It may be Snowden’s biggest single victim,” one senior intelligence official said recently, referring to the former N.S.A. contractor who released documents revealing details of many of the agency’s surveillance programs.

“Whatever trust was there is now gone,” the official added. “I mean, who would believe the N.S.A. when it insists it is blocking Chinese attacks but not using the same technology to read your e-mail?

On Friday, the N.S.A. reported for the first time that it “touches about 1.6 percent” of all the traffic carried on the Internet each day. I

To find potential cyberattacks “the government would latch into the giant “data pipes” that feed the largest Internet service providers in the United States, companies like A.T.&T. and Verizon. The huge volume of traffic that runs through those pipes, particularly e-mails, would be scanned for signs of anything from computer servers known for attacks on the United States or for stealing information from American companies. Other “metadata” would be inspected for evidence of malicious software.

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