Risk
9/26/2013
03:58 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

NSA Chief: Don't Dump Essential Security Tools

Gen. Keith Alexander defends National Security Agency practices, argues for advances in cybersecurity cooperation.

Iris Scans: Security Technology In Action
Iris Scans: Security Technology In Action
(click image for larger view)
The head of the U.S. Cyber Command had come to talk about the state of cybersecurity in America. But Gen. Keith Alexander, who also directs the National Security Agency, took the offensive, delivering an impassioned defense of NSA practices Wednesday, in the wake of recriminations over the agency's collection and handling of Americans' phone records.

He also asked government and industry executives, gathered at a cybersecurity summit in Washington, for their support in maintaining the NSA's data-collection and surveillance efforts.

"In the last week, over 950 people were killed in Kenya, Iraq, Yemen" and elsewhere in the world as a result of terrorist attacks, he said. "We've been fortunate to have avoided that in the U.S., but it's not just because of luck," he added, referring to the work of analysts and agents at the NSA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.

Alexander said the data gathering and analytic tools the U.S. intelligence community has assembled since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks have been instrumental in averting at least 54 terrorist attacks in the U.S. and overseas. But in light of growing demands by legislators and privacy advocates to end the NSA's data collection practices, he acknowledged, "We're going to have a debate in this country on do we give up those tools. I'm concerned we're going to make the wrong choice."

[ Is the NSA tapping your smartphone? Read NSA Vs. Your Smartphone: 5 Facts. ]

The NSA director tried to dispel what he called sensationalized media reports about the NSA's activities, explaining that when the NSA collects phone records, it only sees the phone numbers, time of day and duration of each call. "There is no content and no names," he said, insisting NSA analysts are not collecting the content of America's communications.

"We'd need a warrant to do that," said Alexander, pointing to provisions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), authorized in 2008. Warrants are issued when Americans are shown to be in contact with foreign targets overseas, and that occurred fewer than 300 times in 2012, he said. Alexander acknowledged that NSA analysts had made technical and operational errors that counted as conduct violations, but insisted that over the past decade, "we've had only 12 willful violations" where individuals used NSA systems wrongfully, mainly in pursuit of foreign nationals, and "we held them accountable."

Information released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has exposed the NSA to criticism that NSA analysts have been able to skirt FISA rules. Lawmakers, including Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), have introduced legislation that would end the program that allows the NSA to collect domestic phone records.

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
rman23
50%
50%
rman23,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/26/2013 | 9:03:18 PM
re: NSA Chief: Don't Dump Essential Security Tools
Right. This is from the guy that said they didn't collect phone records from American citizens.
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Must Reads - September 25, 2014
Dark Reading's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of identity and access management. Learn about access control in the age of HTML5, how to improve authentication, why Active Directory is dead, and more.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2003-1598
Published: 2014-10-01
SQL injection vulnerability in log.header.php in WordPress 0.7 and earlier allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the posts variable.

CVE-2011-4624
Published: 2014-10-01
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in facebook.php in the GRAND FlAGallery plugin (flash-album-gallery) before 1.57 for WordPress allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the i parameter.

CVE-2012-0811
Published: 2014-10-01
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Postfix Admin (aka postfixadmin) before 2.3.5 allow remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via (1) the pw parameter to the pacrypt function, when mysql_encrypt is configured, or (2) unspecified vectors that are used in backup files gene...

CVE-2012-5485
Published: 2014-09-30
registerConfiglet.py in Plone before 4.2.3 and 4.3 before beta 1 allows remote attackers to execute Python code via unspecified vectors, related to the admin interface.

CVE-2012-5486
Published: 2014-09-30
ZPublisher.HTTPRequest._scrubHeader in Zope 2 before 2.13.19, as used in Plone before 4.3 beta 1, allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary HTTP headers via a linefeed (LF) character.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Chris Hadnagy, who hosts the annual Social Engineering Capture the Flag Contest at DEF CON, will discuss the latest trends attackers are using.