Friday, February 5, 2010

Google and the NSA

The NSA is going to help Google with figuring out what happened with the recent cyberattacks it suffered and how to make itself safer in the future. I've seen discussions about this, both pro and con.

I think it's a good thing, assuming NSA's involvement is limited to consulting as opposed to operating. Of all the government agencies, the NSA seems most advanced in terms of cybersecurity and I suspect they have enough expertise they could be of help, though I suspect Google has a great deal of expertise and the main thing NSA brings to the table in this case is information about the attackers and their techniques.

I think Google is important enough that anything that makes Google safer is good for all of us, in the same way improving the safety of airlines, food supply chains and the electric grid is good for all of us.

I also think it's natural for the Government to have a role in a company responding to cyberattacks. As a colleague pointed out, if a company found a body in their lobby they would have to call the police, no one would think twice about doing otherwise. But there is no such requirement for a company suffering a major cyberattack, and given how much data about and belonging to us companies are increasingly holding, I think having greater transparency in responding to cyberattacks is the right thing.

Though I think our government has a ways to go to really be up to this task in general.

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