The NSA, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security have been sharing classified information with mega corporations for years — supposedly to help protect them from cyberattacks and terrorism, like a cyber bodyguard for corporations. The extent of the information being transferred from our government to these “corporate allies” is unknown.
All of this information came out in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee as the heads of the NSA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Commerce discussed cybersecurity. Senators were also given a chance to confront these titans of national defense on the recent leaks that exposed massive surveillance initiatives on innocent Americans. Here are the highlights of the event:
1. Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski Says “We are in an Enduring War”
Just as President Obama said earlier this year that the United States will begin to phase out of our mindset of perpetual warfare in the war on terror, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) says that America is in an “enduring war” against cyber-enemies who steal American Internet users’ identities, spread computer viruses, and participate in illegal hacking. How convenient. Another perpetual war. 1984, anyone?
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2. NSA Director Alexander: “Industry” and “Wall Street” Need to Help U.S. in Cybersecurity
NSA Director Keith Alexander gave his testimony in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee today to stress the following five pivotal points that require the attention of the government in order to keep America and its cyberspace and critical infrastructure safe:
1. The need for a Defensible architecture, cloud architecture, shared information between all security agencies.
2. It is necessary to see what is happening in cyberspace so that we can help us and the private sector.
3. Increased communication and cooperaton between all departments.
4. The necessity to have “trained and ready forces” so that the United States is ready for both defensive and offensive cyber-war.
5. Defining the “Rules of Engagement” in a cyber-war so the United States feels comfortable can going on the offensive.
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2. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Rand Beers Also Stresses Cooperation With Each Other and “Private Sector”
He defined the main goals for cyber security, to protect government and civilian networks, defend private sector “critical infrastructure” to create cybersecurity framework. He also wants to improve incident response between Department of Homeland Security, NSA, and FBI. This cooperation will also help provide the private sector with information that will help keep them safe. The Department of Homeland Security will also maintain their small international operation.
3.FBI Director Richard McFeely Says Cooperation in Agencies Has Not Been This Strong Since Just After 9/11
The FBI is working in tandem with international intelligence allies as well as the financial sector to take down cyberbots which spread malware. He also said that cooperation between defense and intelligence agencies has not been as good as it is now since just after September 11, 2001 and expressed the importance of briefing the private sector with any confidential information they think will help corporate allies to defend themselves. He mentioned a program called “Iguardian” that allows corporations and the government to share information on terrorists and cyber-attacks.
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4.Deputy Commerce Secretary Patrick Gallagher ‘Doing Good Cyber Security Needs to Be Compatible with Good Business’
Like the other panel members, Patrick Gallagher spoke about the importance of the cooperation between national defense and the defense of the private sector. He stressed that the United State’s governments plans for cybersecurity and physical safety need to be compatible with profit seeking corporations.
5. Edward Snowden Comes Up: ‘How Was He Given That Kind of Opportunity?’
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) brought up how a man who began as an NSA security guard rose to the ranks to the point where he would have access to such incendiary confidential intelligence. NSA Director Alexander said that he is also trying to figure that out but knows he was great at internet network work.