CNET news is reporting today that, according to Reuters reports, the NSA has been helping Wall Street banks ferret out hacking attempts. The reports say that Wall Street financials have been under attack for a long time, but do not say that any attacks have resulted in breaches.
A couple of troubling things pop out at me right away. The first is that threats against these financials are not very clearly qualified. To say that “banks have been under attack for years” is equivalent to saying that I’ve been under attack for years. We all have, but the NSA isn’t helping me out with my anti-virus protection. I have no doubt that the attacks against banks are much more serious, but the credibility of the argument leaves a lot to be desired. And throwing the name “China” around is not convincing, either.
But the second and more serious concern is that the government is actually working directly with banks to help them avoid breaches? Isn’t that the sort of thing that companies spend a lot of time and money doing? Is that not a responsibility of those Captains of Industry? It seems like, if the NSA is going to regard the security integrity of Wall Street banks a matter of national security, the better route to go would be requiring specific standards be met by the banks, not holding their hands and helping them out directly.
And of course it should not escape anyone’s attention that #OccupyWallSt protesters are doubtless launching attacks on banks as well. Regardless of where you come down on the protests, online or off, the idea that the NSA should be responsible for tracking and convicting US citizens of domestic crimes should send a chill up your spine.