NSA cooperates with banks on cybersecurity


Back in November 2011, I noted that the  National Security Agency (NSA) was one of the federal law enforcement agencies working with banks to combat cyberattacks, most of which are of the Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) variety.

China was thought to be the perpetrator back then. Most now think it is Iran. The NSA can only provide assistance if requested specifically by banks. As the cyber threat heats up, it seems that more banks are taking the NSA up on its offer.

The Washington Post has reported that banks are increasingly turning to the super spy agency in the wake of the on-going DDos attacks that have targeted large banks, with some success.

"The cooperation between the NSA and banks, industry officials say, underscores the government's fears about the unprecedented assault against the financial sector and is part of a broader effort by the government to work with U.S. firms on cybersecurity," the article reports.

There's no doubt that the NSA can help out.

"Although the NSA is known mostly for its collection of intelligence, its mission includes 'information assurance' to secure both the military's computer networks and other 'national security systems.' The NSA for more than 20 years has helped companies that provide software to the Defense Department improve their security."

In the past, the NSA has helped other companies with cyber attacks, notably Google. The downside of this cooperation?

"The assistance is likely to dismay privacy advocates, who say that the world's largest electronic spying agency has no business peering inside private companies' systems, even if for the strict purpose of improving computer security." 

I would not be surprised if banks took technology pains to make sure that the NSA cannot peer into systems in a way that would allow them to view personal customer information. At a minimum, some firewalls would seem to be in order. The NSA has stoked privacy fears over its work with other industries, notably the telecom industry.

For more:
- here's the article

Related articles:
Is Wall Street ready for financial terrorism?
Cyber attack threats continue to grow
NSA, FBI helps bank against hackers

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