NSA puts new anti-leak measures into place

(AP)

(AP)

The National Security Agency is implementing new security measures because of the disclosures by former NSA-systems-analyst-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden, top defense officials said Thursday.

NSA chief Keith Alexander said his agency had implemented a “two-man rule,” under which any system administrator like Snowden could only access or move key information with another administrator present. With some 15,000 sites to fix, Alexander said, it would take time to spread across the whole agency.

“Some of your sites are small … and you only have one system administrator, so you’ve got to address all of those, and we are working our way through it,” he said after speaking to an audience at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

Alexander said that server rooms where such data is stored are now locked and require a two-man team to access them — safeguards that he said would be implemented at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies after a pilot program at the NSA.

Snowden leaked to the media information revealing that the NSA was gathering millions of U.S. phone records and intercepting some U.S. Internet traffic.

“This was a failure to defend our own networks,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at the forum.

“In an effort for those in the intelligence community to be able to share with each other, there was an enormous amount of information concentrated in once place. That’s a mistake,” Carter said. “The loading of everything onto a server creates a risk.”

Carter said they are also looking at how to better monitor individuals with access to that kind of information and suggested the Pentagon might monitor intelligence workers just as it monitors staff at nuclear installations.

“When it comes to nuclear weapons, you watch people’s behavior in a special way. We don’t let people all by themselves do anything,” he said. “There is always some aberrant individual and you’ve got to recognize that.”

Alexander said he hoped to more quickly implement a new intelligence sharing system in which all such information uploaded to a server was encrypted, such that only analysts that needed access to certain information would have the code to read it.

Alexander, Carter and National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen all said the Snowden leaks damaged national security. Olsen said during the forum that al-Qaida and related groups are seeking to change how they communicate to avoid U.S. detection and surveillance because of Snowden’s leaks. Previously, U.S. officials have said anonymously that Snowden’s leaks to the media have been damaging and prompting terrorists to change their ways.

“We have concrete proof that terrorist groups and others are taking action, making changes, and making our job tougher,” Alexander said.

His comments and those of the other officials seemed at odds with testimony only a day earlier by John C. Inglis, the deputy director of the NSA. He told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that while the impact of Snowden’s disclosures can be very harmful, “it’s too soon to tell whether, in fact, adversaries will take great note of the things that he’s disclosed.”

Alexander defended the surveillance and data collection programs Snowden disclosed, one that gathers U.S. phone records and another that monitors U.S.-based Internet servers for foreign terrorist or espionage-related activity.

He told the Aspen audience that the secrecy about how the programs work was needed “not to hide it from you, it’s to hide it from those who walk among you and are trying to kill you.”

Alexander said the congressional intelligence committees were looking at whether it was feasible in terms of cost for the private companies to hold the data themselves instead of handing it over to the NSA. He said it would take an act of Congress to require them to hold the data, and added that he thought his agency could figure out how to process and analyze the information if that’s what Congress deemed necessary.

In a separate development, Alexander and Carter both said the Pentagon is close to launching a 4,000-person cybersquad of both offensive and defensive teams that would both protect Defense Department systems and launch cyberattacks against enemy networks when the White House orders it.

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Copyright  © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

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5 Responses to "NSA puts new anti-leak measures into place"

  1. Carl Nemo **==  July 19, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Does anyone remember the John Deutch debacle, a former CIA director appointed on Bill Clinton’s watch. It was discovered that his laptop computers were storing classified documents.

    What Deutch did was not only irresponsible, but a criminal infraction of OPSEC; I.E., operational security. The year was 1996.
    You’d think our intel agencies would have perfected techniques from this happening, but we’ve witnessed many cases of the same since then with the latest being the Edward Snowden flap.

    Of course Mr. Deutch got a pass from President Clinton via a pardon during the last days of the Clinton presidency. Mr. Deutch also had dual citizenship between the U.S. and the State of Israel. There were polite suspicions that he was passing info on to our ‘ally’, which they are not when it comes to the compromise of our nation’s secrets. Everyone is fair game no differently to Israel than the State of Israel is to the U.S., along with our other so-called allies.

    Does anyone remember Jonathan Pollard and USN intel analyst who sold our holy grail of secrets; I.E., the NSA’s RASIN (Radio Signal Notations) which was a 10 volume compilation of all SIGINT/ELINT signatures gathered across all platforms and handed them over to an Israeli MOSSAD ‘handler’ all for cash and baubles? He’s considered a state hero in Israel and they relentlessly seek his release from life imprisonment.

    Note: The RASIN is the virtual ‘Holy Grail’ of electronic intel signatures. It’s compromiise cost our government billions in mid 1980’s dollars and no doubt hundreds of billions today.

    ***

    “Deutch left the CIA on December 15, 1996 and later that year it was revealed that several of his laptop computers contained classified materials designated as unclassified. In January 1997, the CIA began a formal security investigation of the matter. Senior management at CIA declined to fully pursue the security breach. Over two years after his departure, the matter was referred to the Department of Justice, where Attorney General Janet Reno declined prosecution. She did, however, recommend an investigation to determine whether Deutch should retain his security clearance. President Clinton pardoned Deutch on his last day in office.” …extract from web article

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_M._Deutch

    ***

    The point being that seemingly their ‘anti-leak measures’ are for naught either due to serial ‘bumbling’ or lax protocols concerning such security.

    In my time, dealing with such materials from the lowest Confidential to Top Secret Cryptographic document or higher was on a “Need to Know” basis. Individuals were not allowed to march willy nilly through file cabinets reading anything and everything while taking snapshots with a Minox cam. Nowadays it’s far simpler by downloading huge amounts of sensitive data in milliseconds or less.

    Every file should be keyed to some form of biometric clearance before it can be opened. If that individuals biometric ‘print’ isn’t placed upon the file, then it cannot be opened. Biometrics are simply used for door security at this point, but my suggestion can be accomplished if they have the will to do. It’s up to the custodian of records to achieve such security. There seems to be a lack of creativity concerning the securing of our national secrets of which there are far too many.

    Carl Nemo **==

    • Keith  July 19, 2013 at 10:29 am

      The point being that seemingly their ‘anti-leak measures’ are for naught either due to serial ‘bumbling’ or lax protocols concerning such security.”

      Perhaps.

      But the same all-pervasive technology that allows these gormless snoops to sweep up anything and everything electronically has also now become their biggest “Achilles Heel”.

      The “system” has become so all-pervasive that even the US Congress can no longer control it, let alone one or two “directors”. And, to borrow a phrase from one of the Star Trek movies a while back, “The more complex the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the pipe.”

      REGARDLESS of these new so-called “controls” that are being put in place (AFTER the “horse” has already left the “stable”…what a joke!) the inconvenient truth is it is absolutely impossible to keep tabs on EVERY one of the 1.2 Million persons in the USA who now hold security clearances.

      No way, no how.

      As I’ve said, there are still probably hundreds (if not thousands) of persons in the “system” just like Mr. Snowden who are becoming ever more aware of the pumped up chicanery, blatant theft of personal freedoms, and unadulterated waste of tax dollars that’s still going on…all in the name of “national security”

      Sooner or later, those same folks (they aren’t stupid…after all, they got HIRED because of their keen technological skills!) are going to figure out a way around these new “safeguards”.

      And, once they do, they, too, will be “blowing the whistle” on all this unconstitutional chicanery just like Mr. Snowden did.

      As I’ve said, government “secrets” are the most fleeting of all. They always have been, and they always will be.

      Mr. Alexander would do well to remember that fact.

  2. Bill Cravener  July 19, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    The National Security Agency is implementing new security measures because of the disclosures by former NSA-systems-analyst-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden, top defense officials said Thursday.

    I am truly surprised this traitor is still alive and not floating face down in the Moskva River. This coward Snowdon is now claiming he has full knowledge of NSA operations and is willing to release that information. The risk in doing that is increasingly dangerous to America’s national security. He will be selling national secrets of encryption capabilities, data gathering techniques and locations of signal intelligence stations located thru-out the world.

    Freelancing as this anemic looking dweeb is doing poses threats that are too great to have him wandering in foreign countries and the US authorities must put a stop to it now. His naive supporters have been hood-winked and Snowdon will go down in US history as the most damaging foreign spy of all time unless he is found and either brought back to the states for prosecution, or better yet, floating face down in the Moskva River!

    • Keith  July 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      A traitor?

      Since when has exposing rampant Government lies and fraud make one a “traitor”, a “coward” or make such revelations a “treasonable” offense?

      In my mind, Mr. Snowden has shown unusual courage in speaking out against the US Government’s blatant attempts to trample all over the 4th Amendment of our beloved Constitution, all in the name of perpetuating a top-secret, totally out of control, Trillion-dollar-a-year, “security” empire that has become the government equivalent of squashing gnats with hammers.

      And his flight to Hong Kong (and now to Russia) is simply making it that much harder for the US Government’s “goon squads” to grab him and shut him up.

      Clearly, the US Government “security” empire’s blatant bungling in trying to retrieve Mr. Snowden is yet MORE proof (as if we needed any) that their elephantine bureaucracy has now grown so large that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Indeed, these gormless idiots couldn’t even spell the man’s NAME correctly on their extradition request to the Chinese!

      To me, THAT’S the “clear and present danger” in all this. Our so-called “national security” empire has now grown so large that NO US citizen’s life, liberty or privacy is safe from the prying eyes and ears (not to mention the bureaucratic bungling) of the USA’s “Big Brother” snoopers.

      The bottom line here is that, ANY way you cut it, Mr. Snowden is a HERO. And the US Government’s bumbled attempts to now retrieve him and shut him up would be comic if the depth of its paranoid institutionalized insecurity weren’t also so horrifically dangerous to individual freedom.

      Indeed, as noted author and PBS lecturer Wayne Dyer once said, “Only the insecure strive for security.”

      • Carl Nemo **==  July 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm

        Extremely well stated Keith and I concur wholeheartedly. : )

        What people forget is that our founders, George Washington & Co. were considered traitors to the British crown in the 18th century and would no doubt concur with a Tory personality such as the entity you are responding too in terms of an outcome for the rebels; I.E., to be summarily shot or found face down in the Potomac.

        Unfortunately for us now, very ungrateful modern era Americans have forgotten our roots and the price of Freedom; I.E., it’s priceless…! : |

        Freedom is not free and of there’s any price, it’s eternal vigilance against those entities who would snatch such from us. Unfortunately these cunning one’s in high places have been troweling in the bricks of our prison, now electronically surveilled during the post WWII era while our people wallowing in luxury; I.E., bread and circuses, no longer understand what true freedom means, nor seemingly do they care.

        Carl Nemo **==

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