NSA to Help Google Fend Off Cyber Attacks

Dennis Faas's picture

According to reports, Google and the National Security Agency (NSA) are teaming up in the name of cyber security. Under the agreement, the NSA would help Google defend against attacks like the one that targeted the search company (along with Adobe and several other firms) from China several weeks ago.

Google announced publicly that their systems had been hacked beginning in December. The Google intrusions targeted Google source code and extended to more than 30 other large tech, defense, energy, financial and media companies. Gmail accounts of human rights activists in Europe, China and the United States were also compromised in the cyber attacks.

Alliance Includes Information, Defense Pooling

Anonymous sources say the security alliance will be designed to allow both organizations to share critical information without violating Google's policies or laws protecting the privacy of Americans' online communications.

Neither Google nor the NSA would comment on the partnership, but according to the anonymous sources, the deal does not mean the NSA will by spying on Google users or that Google will be sharing proprietary information.

At issue is how to balance privacy and national security interests. Dennis C. Blair, Director of National Intelligence, called the Google attacks a wake-up call, and noted that cyberspace cannot be protected without a collaborative effort that incorporates both the U.S. private sector and international partners. (Source: washingtonpost.com)

Information Sharing Must be Closely Monitored

Collaboration isn't easy, partially because private companies do not trust the government to keep their secrets and partially because of concerns that this type of collaboration can lead to continuous government monitoring of private communications.

Privacy advocates say that information sharing must be closely overseen and limited, and are concerned that a repeat of the NSA's warrantless monitoring of America's phone calls and emails after the attacks of 9/11 could happen again.

First-time Relationship for Google, NSA

Shortly after the China attacks, Google approached the NSA, but the sensitivity of the partnership is making the deal take weeks to resolve. If the agreement proceeds, it will be the first time Google has ever entered a formal information-sharing relationship with the NSA.

The NSA is reaching out to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to aid in defending the U.S. against cyber attacks, and to possibly help in the Google investigation.

An agreement between Google and the NSA would be designed to improve security by evaluating vulnerabilities in hardware and software, and to help see how sophisticated the Chinese cyber-attackers were.

The NSA could also help Google understand how they're being penetrated and Google would be able to share information on the types of malicious codes used in the attacks without disclosing proprietary data about what was taken.

Visit Bill's Links and More for more great tips, just like this one!

Rate this article: 
No votes yet