Thursday, February 04, 2010

Google and NSA Fulfilling 2008 Predictions

In December 2007 I wrote Predictions for 2008. They included 2) Expect greater military involvement in defending private sector networks; 3) Expect increased awareness of external threats and less emphasis on insider threats; and 4) Expect greater attention paid to incident response and network forensics, and less on prevention.

All three of those predictions are being fulfilled by the Google v China incident as demonstrated by this Washington Post story by Ellen Nakashima titled Google to enlist NSA to help it ward off cyberattacks:

The world's largest Internet search company and the world's most powerful electronic surveillance organization are teaming up in the name of cybersecurity.

Under an agreement that is still being finalized, the National Security Agency would help Google analyze a major corporate espionage attack that the firm said originated in China and targeted its computer networks, according to cybersecurity experts familiar with the matter. The objective is to better defend Google -- and its users -- from future attack.

Google and the NSA declined to comment on the partnership. But sources with knowledge of the arrangement, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the alliance is being designed to allow the two organizations to share critical information without violating Google's policies or laws that protect the privacy of Americans' online communications.


I expect to see a lot of protest from people who have knee-jerk reactions to anything associated with NSA. However, the article notes that NSA is trying to help defend Google against advanced persistent threat, which benefits Google's users. As I wrote in Notes from Talk by Michael Hayden:

The agency with the most capability to defend the nation suffers because it is both secret and powerful, two characteristics it needs to be effective. The public and policymakers (rightfully) distrust secret and powerful organizations.

If NSA can change this perception it will help them better defend American national interests.

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