NSA and White House battle over cybersecurity and civilian privacy
The National Security Agency (NSA) has continually fought for an expansion on methods for protecting private-sector computer networks from any type of cyber attack, but they are routinely denied by the Obama administration because of privacy and rights concerns, according to The Washington Post.
The NSA finds that certain measures are imperative to protect American private-sector systems from any attack by China, Russia or other adversaries – or even by criminal gangs or activist groups, which could potentially acquire the tools necessary to put forth a major assault on the country’s computer systems, the Post reports.
“As a major source of the nation’s technical expertise on cyber and cybersecurity, we have a responsibility to ensure our leaders are informed and aware of what is happening in the cyber-realm,” NSA spokeswoman Judith Emmel told the news source. “We also work diligently to team with other agencies, industry and academia to find solutions to protecting our nation’s critical infrastructure.”
The latest installment of the NSA’s proposal would require hundreds of companies to provide their services in order for the NSA to scan for cyber threatening data and anything they found would then be reported to the NSA, according to the media outlet.
However, there is a fierce debate as a result of the NSA proposal, and the biggest problem surrounds infringing on people’s privacy protections. In the proposal, 300 to 500 companies with the software systems the NSA would be required to report to the government. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security, which helped draft the plan, would be the one to designate which companies were to report back.
According to The Wall Street Journal, director of national intelligence Michael McConnell said during the cybersecurity forum last week at George Washington University that there is a way to balance both ideas. McConnell believes the NSA should develop a computer monitoring software which can scan domestic networks for cyberattack code, but cannot read the content of everyday communications.
Tommy Ross, a top national-security aide, also suggested that Homeland Security take on the central role for domestic cyberdefense, while private businesses work with NSA and Homeland Security on a volunteer basis, the media outlet reports.