Friday, May 08, 2009

NSA Director on RSA Conference

On 21 April, Lieutenant General Keith Alexander gave a talk at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco. Cryptome published the transcript of his talk of which the main topic was cyber security. Keith Alexander is the director of the National Security Agency, so he knows what he's talking about. The talk was a strong pleading for cooperation between the government, industry and academia.

There's a need to protect one country’s networks. The cyber attacks on countries like Estonia, Latvia, and more recently Georgia have shown how devastating these attack can be, and how cyber crime evolved to cyber warfare. Can we provide early warning for such attacks? NSA protects military and intelligence networks, but what’s the NSA’s role in securing the other networks that are vital to the US? How do they assist the Department of Homeland Security? Lots of questions to solve.

That’s where the Comprehensive National Cyber Initiative comes in. But they face tremendous challenges and problems. According to Alexander, the NSA will have to work closely together, not only with other government departments, but also with the industry and academia. However, this means sharing knowledge and technology that needs to be kept secret. That's not obvious. And what's the right balance between civil liberties, privacy and a nations security?

There's a long way to go and it's easy to criticise the government, but they have a tough job. It's clear that the NSA director reaches out to the academics to help fight cyber crime and warfare. Critics will say NSA is recruiting the public (opinion), but still, there's a war to be fought on the Internet, and who's going to fight it?

You can watch the video of the talk on the RSA Conference Webcast and his talk is written out and published on this Cryptome page. Worth while reading. More information about Lieutenant General Keith Alexander is found on this NSA biography page.

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