In a move that is poised to become extremely unpopular with privacy advocates, the National Security Agency -- you may remember them from the warrant-less wiretapping scandal -- is launching a program dubbed "Perfect Citizen" to detect cyber attacks on private companies running critical infrastructure like the electricity grid or nuclear plants. All companies have to do is let the NSA deploy a bunch of sensors within their networks, and trust that the nation's best eavesdropping agency won't abuse the system.
Both the NSA and Raytheon, who was awarded the initial contract to develop the surveillance effort (valued at up to $100 million), are naturally being very hush-hush about Perfect Citizen. But according to the WSJ, it seems the system would rely on a series of sensors physically installed within networks that would allow the NSA to monitor activity for the telltale signs of an impending cyber attack.
The NSA insists the failsafe measures would only kick in when suspicious activity arises and would not continuously monitor the data streaming through a private company's networks. But there's a Big Brother aspect to Perfect Citizen that has some in government and industry grumbling about an intrusion by the government in to private affairs.
But it might be the kind intrusion that is necessary. Government officials are constantly worried about the capabilities of Chinese cyber warriors (not to mention those employed by rogue states or terror groups), and the patchwork nature of American utilities and other key infrastructure providers makes it nearly impossible for the government's security arms to provide a common defense. One military official claims the violation of privacy is no greater than that caused by traffic cameras, as the sensors will more or less keep an eye out for suspicious patterns in network traffic among other things.
For now, Perfect Citizen is not a mandatory program, and that should allay some privacy concerns. The look of the finalized program is still unclear, as the NSA is working with private companies to persuade them of the gravity of the threat and come to agreeable terms with the government on how best to implement the sensors. Some companies might install their own sensors and then offer the NSA restricted access, a deal that might be far more agreeable to those IT departments worried about having Big Brother wandering the cyber hallways.
Next thing you know it will have legs and arms and OMG - its the freakin Terminator!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!
How long till a RFID Impant is mandatory for all humans at birth?
"All companies have to do is let the NSA deploy a bunch of sensors within their networks, and trust that the nation's best eavesdropping agency won't abuse the system."
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!! Lord...that's funny as hell.
I couldn't care less, if they monitor me, let them, won't find anything but . unfortunately this only provides paranoia fuel for annoying conspiracy theorists
really??? yea the government has never done anything illegal or immoral... i am just going to assume you are kidding
Further proof to Obama's supporters that Obama is anything but a progressive.
What happens when prefect citizen is hacked?
Anyone who thinks that this type of garbage is "okay" needs to read their history books. And not the ones supplied by the Government! Look, don't get me wrong. I have a great respect for our Gov. but that does not mean I will ever trust them. The future is fast approaching and it does not include private lives. Nor does it hold in any regard the individual or their God given right to self control. The future is a controlled lab where the "fruit" is grown on an as need basis. More crap for the conspiracy nut, yes indeed! Your children will hate you for letting this type of injustice to happen. It always starts small. Then booms into the common place swiftly. Once this is allowed...What's next?
In some states already you are not allowed to record a Police Officer while being arrested. This means about the same to me. I would like transcripts of what they recorded. By the way, anyone who say's they have nothing to hide should start running now!
A "perfect" citizen is one that can be completely controlled by the government. That will be fun.
"We Entertain When It Rains"
Perfect Citizen just may be the most ominous name they could have given to a project- I means its so creepy on so many levels. *shudder* I don't really care what they're doing just because I'm stuck on the title...
"All companies have to do is let the NSA deploy a bunch of sensors within their networks"
I am a little confused here...
If this is meant to monitor cyber attacks, why are the sensors INSIDE the private networks?
Since most (if not all) cyber attacks will come from the outside, why not just place the sensors just outside the private network firewalls to monitor traffic?
I am still against it, but at least it keeps network traffic inside the company private and under their control.
It should always be a requirement of the company to monitor their internal network traffic for security issues.
And before anyone tries to slam me that the NSA can still monitor traffic with their sensor just outside the network, let me remind you of the fact that they CAN monitor internet traffic now without the sensor...
So adding a specialized sensor on the outside wont change much in that respect.
At least this way, the company can keep thier internal information private (to whatever extent that is).
And yes...the name they chose for it is creepy and a bit ominous.
I'm glad that this article is somewhat critical of the what the government will do with this power. But, if you look under the hype there is no "cyber-war". It's a term made up by people who make billions selling the government a solution. Techdirt(dotcom) has some great articles concerning this issue where they try to find any instances of critical internet infrastructure being compromised. All they keep finding is some script kiddies breaking stuff (a criminal matter, not national security) and some basic espionage. No one has taken over a nuclear plant or shut down the power grid. If these networks are so vital, put adequate security in place at those sites. Don't cripple the internet. Once the government controls more of it, we'll never get it back.
There aren't any grand conspiracies. People are just privy to the idea that they hold information that others don't. I can't blame the author for playing that angle. I mean otherwise the story is rather boring. You have to think though. Who do you trust more with electrical and nuclear infrastructures? Private companies looking to make a profit or the government who's whole being is based on the purpose of protecting its citizens. Me personally, I like to know someone is watching over these private bodies. I think we should stop acting like rebellious teenagers. The government is not out to embarrass you in front of your friends and take away your freedoms. It may seem like it at times, but it is for best interests. Remember, the government is ran by its citizens. Neither are separate. Conspiracy theorists always act as if the government is some single evil entity. If you don't like the government be a part of it. Make your own change.
On the other hand, if you're an IT administrator of one of these networks with an internet porn addiction...well you might be in trouble.
@ a posteriori
I can't agree with anything that you said. sorry, but our best interests are not the same as the government's best interests. not even close. but you may go ahead and allow them to control every facet of your life, no questions asked.