Keith Alexander: NSA Makes The Entire Internet Weaker To Protect You From Terrorists
from the those-codes-are-our-codes dept
We’ve had plenty of discussions about how the NSA has weakened our infrastructure and put us all at much greater risk. A big part of the problem, we’ve noted, is the dual role of the NSA and US Cyber Command, in which there’s a combined offensive and defensive role to crack the technologies that “bad guys” are using… while (they tell us) protecting the technologies that we’re using.
In a new interview, former NSA boss General Keith Alexander attempts to defend this weakening of internet security — and, instead, proceeds to explain why it’s such a huge problem:
“When the government asks NSA to collect intelligence on terrorist X, and he uses publicly available tools to encode his messages, it is not acceptable for a foreign intelligence agency like NSA to respond, ‘Sorry we cannot understand what he is saying’,” Alexander told the Australian Financial Review, which he inexplicably granted a 16,000-word interview. “To ask NSA not to look for weaknesses in the technology that we use, and to not seek to break the codes our adversaries employ to encrypt their messages is, I think, misguided. I would love to have all the terrorists just use that one little sandbox over there so that we could focus on them. But they don’t.”
Here’s the problem with that statement though. In admitting that the NSA has to “seek to break the codes our adversaries employ to encrypt their messages,” he’s admitting that they need to do the very same for us. Because the problem for the NSA is that we’re all using the same damn technology. He’s right that he’d prefer it if the “bad guys” used different technologies. But they don’t.
The major issue is that Alexander sees this as an excuse to make everyone less safe. Others who understand security recognize that the cost associated with that is much larger than any benefit. Alexander is admitting that he’d prefer to keep us all less safe if it means being able to read one terrorist’s email. I’m not sure that’s a worthwhile tradeoff, and I’m almost certain that it reflects the opposite view of what the 4th Amendment of our Constitution was designed to portray.