NSA chief admits risk in decrypting smartphone data

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Hillary Clinton’s private email use would be ‘opportunity’ for foreign spies, says NSA.

The head of the NSA has acknowledged that if the government acquired encryption keys, it “creates more opportunities for malicious actors or foreign hackers to get access to the key.” He made the admission during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

It would present an “opportunity” for spy agencies if the foreign minister of Russia or Iran were to use a private email server for official business, the chief of the US National Security Agency said on Thursday. The comments by Admiral Mike Rogers were in response to questions during a US Senate hearing about former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for email. After all, the Navy admiral was tapped in early 2014 to lead Washington’s most secretive spy shop through its perhaps most devastating scandal — the leaks of former contractor Edward Snowden, which revealed the agency was collecting the communications of American citizens en masse.

But while Rogers appears to have paid his dues performing damage control, his congressional overseers reminded him Thursday that in Washington, you’re never safe from being dragged into someone else’s scandal. Rogers, America’s top cybersecurity official, spoke hours before President Obama prepared to sit down at a working dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who arrived in Washington Thursday afternoon for a state visit. When asked about cyber threats from China, Rogers said that Chinese officials were behind the theft of US commercial data, and regularly access private digital communications and data flowing through China. “We have been very up front,” Rogers told the Senate panel. “We cannot sustain a long term relationship” if China continues unrestrained cybertheft of US intellectual property.

During the dinner, and in more formal talks at the White House on Friday, aides said Obama will press U.S. concerns about Chinese-backed intrusions of U.S. computer networks. We can’t sustain a long-term relationship, the kind of relationship we want if this is the approach, that the privacy of individuals, the access to intellectual property is just viewed as something the state can do at the time and place of its choosing.

It goes totally against our framework,” he said Rogers’ warning comes in the wake of new revelations that show the number of people whose fingerprints were stolen in a historic breach of federal files has skyrocketed — from just over 1 million to an estimated 5.6 million, according to the federal agency that was hacked. U.S. intelligence officials believe hackers based in China have stolen U.S. security clearance files on more than 20 million Americans, as well as vast troves of health insurance and banking data, since 2014. The information was part of an array of sensitive files, including Social Security numbers, swiped in a hack estimated to have affected 21.5 million people total — including people who applied for security clearances and their families. On Wednesday, the Office of Personnel Management said hackers also stole 5.6 million fingerprint records collected as part of background checks for sensitive government jobs, including intelligence, law enforcement, military service and the judiciary. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked, “If an NSA employee came to you and said, ‘Hey, boss, we have reason to believe that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov or Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is conducting official business on a private server,’ how would you respond?” But it was a topic Rogers was anything but eager to discuss.

Rogers said, when asked where the US is in terms of preparedness against a cyberattack on a scale of 1-10: “On average right now, depending on the sector we’re probably at a 5 or a 6. Rogers, I’d like to set up a private, non-governmental server and use that to conduct official business,” he responded, “You really want to drag me into this one?” Rogers, also the commander of U.S. The U.S. government says it does not share foreign intelligence with American companies. “They clearly don’t have the same lines in the sand, if you will, with that regard,” Rogers said. “I watch some of my counterparts there do things I could never do.” China’s security agencies believe they have a right to collect and analyze all conversations and information that move across China’s borders, Rogers said.

Cyber Command, then told Cotton that he would tell the person to “make sure you are complying with the applicable recommendations and structures for your department” but added that he was not familiar with every agency’s guideline. Cotton: “The NSA is in charge of information assurance operations for the federal government, meaning that the NSA is in charge of ensuring our national security system.

The widely held suspicion is that the Clinton server was compromised after a series of “problems” documented in the last round of released emails, including being slow or offline.Clinton claimed for the first time this week that her Denver based IT company had assured her there was no compromise of data. Communications to and from senior U.S. officials are valuable to foreign intelligence agencies, and protecting them should be a priority, Rogers added without commenting directly on the Democratic presidential candidate.

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