22 October 2014

That's Mighty White of Them………

A top National Security Agency official will no longer be moonlighting part-time with a private consulting firm run by former NSA chief Keith Alexander. The end of that arrangement comes days after the NSA said this particular work situation was "under internal review" due to potential conflicts of interest.

The private company at issue— IronNet Cybersecurity—was founded by Alexander, who ran the spy agency from August 2005 until March 2014. IronNet Cybersecurity offers protection services to banks for up to $1 million per month. Patrick Dowd, the NSA's current chief technology officer, had been working with Alexander's private venture for up to 20 hours per week.
20 hours a week?  For the chief f%$#ing technology officer for the f%$#ing National f%$#ing Security Agency?

Tell me that this isn't about using his connections to benefit his new firm.

And then there is the fact that while still heading the NSA, Keith Alexander, the NSA white washed his wide ranging, and highly suspicious tech investments:
New financial disclosure documents released this month by the National Security Agency (NSA) show that Keith Alexander, who served as its director from August 2005 until March 2014, had thousands of dollars of investments during his tenure in a handful of technology firms.

Each year disclosed has a checked box next to this statement: "Reported financial interests or affiliations are unrelated to assigned or prospective duties, and no conflicts appear to exist."

Alexander repeatedly made the public case that the American public is at "greater risk" from a terrorist attack in the wake of the Snowden disclosures. Statements such as those could have a positive impact on the companies he was invested in, which could have eventually helped his personal bottom line.

The NSA did not immediately respond to Ars’ requests for further comment.

The documents were obtained and published Friday by Vice News as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent lawsuit against the NSA brought by Vice News reporter Jason Leopold.
BTW, here is the money quote from the Vice article:
That said, Alexander's interest in surveillance was not limited to his tenure as NSA director. He also invested in firms that are on the cutting edge of surveillance technology.

For example, Alexander invested as much as $15,000 in: Pericom Semiconductor, a company that has designed technology for the closed-circuit television and video surveillance markets; RF Micro Devices designs, which manufactures high-performance radio frequency technology that is also used for surveillance; and as much as $50,000 in Synchronoss Technologies, a cloud storage firm that provides a cloud platform to mobile phone carriers (the NSA has been accused of hacking into cloud storage providers).
Like I said, mighty white of the NSA to give the good General a pass on all of this.

And did I forget to mention this last bit? Since leaving the NSA earlier this year, Alexander has filed at least 9 patents on computer security, that is a something north of 1 patent a month, and the NSA has dutifully signed off of their being unrelated to his work at the NSA:
In an interview Monday with former National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander, Foreign Policy's Shane Harris learned that Alexander plans to file “at least” nine patent applications—“and possibly more"—pertaining to technology for detecting network intruders.

Alexander left his government post in early 2014 and went on to co-found a private company, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., with unnamed business partners. Alexander said that these business partners helped him create the “unique” method for detecting hackers that he plans to patent. Of course, Alexander himself had unparalleled access to classified security operations from 2005, when he took charge of the NSA, to 2014, when he retired.

Since starting IronNet, Alexander has been peddling his consulting services to major corporations, especially those in the financial industry, and has quoted fees of up to $1 million per month. That astronomical number drew at least one federal representative to suggest that Alexander might be disclosing or misusing classified information.

Presumably, Alexander's expensive consulting will include access to IronNet's future patented technology, which will cover “a system to detect so-called advanced persistent threats, or hackers who clandestinely burrow into a computer network in order to steal secrets or damage the network itself,” Foreign Policy reported. Alexander specified to the magazine that IronNet's technology is unique because it uses “behavioral models” to anticipate a hacker's next moves.
You know, if I didn't know better, I would swear that this whole dysfunctional security-industrial complex thing would sound like an awful like like our dysfunctional military-industrial complex, where increasingly large sums of money seem to result in nothing more than massive remuneration for retired generals.


Post a Comment