Feeds

Bush orders NSA to snoop on US agencies

Cyber attack fear used to expand spy grid

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Not content with spying on other countries, the NSA (National Security Agency) will now turn on the US's own government agencies thanks to a fresh directive from president George Bush.

Under the new guidelines, the NSA and other intelligence agencies can bore into the internet networks of all their peers. The Bush administration pulled off this spy expansion by pointing to an increase in the number of cyber attacks directed against the US, possibly from foreign nations. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) will spearhead the effort around identifying the source of these attacks, while the Department of Homeland Security and Pentagon will concentrate on retaliation.

The Washington Post appears to have broken the news about the new Bush-led joint directive, which remains classified. The paper reported that the directive - National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 - was signed on Jan. 8. Earlier reports from the Baltimore Sun documented the NSA's plans to add US spying to its international snooping duties.

The new program will - of course - drains billions of dollars out of US coffers and be part of Bush's 2009 budget.

During Bush's presidency, US citizens have come under an unprecedented spying regime. In addition to upping its focus on suspected criminals, the administration permitted a system for wiretapping the phone calls of Average Joes and Janes. The government is also funding specialized computers from companies such as Cray that can search through enormous databases at incredible speed. Ah, if only Stalin could see us now.

The government points to cyber attacks against the State, Commerce, Defense and Homeland Security departments as the impetus for expanding the NSA's powers. "U.S. officials and cyber-security experts have said Chinese Web sites were involved in several of the biggest attacks back to 2005, including some at the country's nuclear-energy labs and large defense contractors," the Post reported.

Critics of the new directive will point to the NSA's ability to operate in total secrecy as cause for concern.

More troubling, however, may be the Pentagon and Homeland Security's aspirations to hit attackers with counter-strikes.

Proving that a nation rather than a rogue set of attackers are behind a cyber attack will likely be very difficult. In addition, the international community has yet to address the rules of cyber war in any meaningful way. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.