Risk
2/25/2014
08:21 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Coviello: RSA Security's Work With NSA 'A Matter Of Public Record'

RSA chairman calls for global intelligence community reforms, spinning IAD off from NSA

RSA CONFERENCE 2014 -- San Francisco -- RSA Security executive chairman Art Coviello in his keynote address here today addressed publicly for the first time the security company's relationship with the National Security Agency (NSA), which he said mainly has entailed working with NSA's Information Assurance Directorate (IAD), the cyberdefense arm of the agency.

RSA Conference 2014
Click here for more articles about the RSA Conference.

Coviello stopped short of specifically addressing details of the December Reuters report that the NSA in 2006 had paid RSA $10 million in a secret contract to use the Dual EC DRBG random-number generator algorithm in its Bsafe software in order to facilitate the NSA's spying programs. The encryption algorithm reportedly was one that the NSA was able to crack.

"We've been doing business with the NSA for a long time. It's a matter of public record," Coviello said in an interview with Dark Reading after his keynote. "We have worked with the IAD on the defense side of the house. My purpose in the speech was to really get us past the NSA issue and the raise the level of the dialogue."

In a Dec. 22 blog post responsing to allegations of an NSA secret contract, RSA dismissed reports that it had a secret pact with the NSA, stating that "we have never entered into any contract or engaged in any project with the intention of weakening RSA's products, or introducing potential 'backdoors' into our products for anyone's use."

Coviello in his keynote today said RSA supports NIST's new proposal for creating encryption standards, as well as the recommendation by the President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies that calls for spinning off the NSA's IAD. The goal of removing IAD from the spy agency is to narrow the NSA's role as a foreign intelligence agency.

"Sadly, much of the great work of the IAD is getting lost in the feeding frenzy around this controversy," Coviello said in his speech. "It's not only sad, it's dangerous for the country. However it's done, creating greater separation between the offensive and defensive roles of the NSA would go far to repair relations and to rebuild trust."

The RSA executive also called for several reforms to the international intelligence community. "All intelligence agencies around the world need to adopt a governance model that enables them to do more to defend us and less to offend us," he said.

Coviello called for some "societal norms" for the digital world: the rejection of the use of cyberweapons and for using the Internet for war; international cooperation in the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of cybercriminals; the protection of commerce and intellectual property on the Net; and the preservation of privacy of individuals.

"It's not just NSA. All of the intelligence agencies have to come to grips that these digital norms don't exist and they need to be created," he told Dark Reading.

He says the NSA "missed the opportunity" to provide transparency of its operations. "If they need to encroach on privacy in some form or fashion, it needs to be strictly governed, and so people feel comfortable about that process, it needs to be transparent so people can get visibility into how that governance model is actually being acted upon," he said in the interview. "The NSA missed the opportunity to give people that transparency. A lot in the press about the NSA is just not accurate."

Coviello's keynote kicked off an RSA Conference abuzz with isolated speaker boycotts of the event due to the RSA-NSA allegations and an alternative conference, called TrustyCon, planned for Thursday next door to the convention center housing the RSA Conference. Many of the speakers and discussions have centered around the debate over the scope of the NSA's surveillance programs in the wake of NSA documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In September, NIST recommended that software developers refrain from using the Dual EC DRBG algorithm in the wake of the Snowden leaks, and RSA "immediately ... took steps to remove the algorithm from use," Coviello said in his keynote.

Marc Maiffret, CTO of BeyondTrust, says most security firms have worked with NSA's IAD in security standards efforts, for example, and he doesn't think there was any conspiracy associated with the NSA's involvement in security standards work.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading, January 2015
To find and fix exploits aimed directly at your business, stop waiting for alerts and become a proactive hunter.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7402
Published: 2014-12-17
Multiple unspecified vulnerabilities in request.c in c-icap 0.2.x allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via a crafted ICAP request.

CVE-2014-5437
Published: 2014-12-17
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in ARRIS Touchstone TG862G/CT Telephony Gateway with firmware 7.6.59S.CT and earlier allow remote attackers to hijack the authentication of administrators for requests that (1) enable remote management via a request to remote_management.php,...

CVE-2014-5438
Published: 2014-12-17
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in ARRIS Touchstone TG862G/CT Telephony Gateway with firmware 7.6.59S.CT and earlier allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the computer_name parameter to connected_devices_computers_edit.php.

CVE-2014-7170
Published: 2014-12-17
Race condition in Puppet Server 0.2.0 allows local users to obtain sensitive information by accessing it in between package installation or upgrade and the start of the service.

CVE-2014-7285
Published: 2014-12-17
The management console on the Symantec Web Gateway (SWG) appliance before 5.2.2 allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary OS commands by injecting command strings into unspecified PHP scripts.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.