The NSA has seemingly become a loaded acronym with many people tying either illegal actions or useful surveillance to it. The misconceptions surrounding the U.S. NSA (National Security Agency) has made it a controversial topic among the general public, but that is not the case for some business leaders who know exactly what is happening with the NSA and why it matters.
Recently, it was reported that the fiber optic lines running between data centers of Microsoft and Google had allegedly been compromised. Now that this appears to be true, the companies affected by the revelation are scrambling to not only recover their reputations but to tighten up security surrounding their fiber lines to prevent further NSA spying.
Time for Encryption
In order to make the fiber lines more secure, Microsoft is reportedly going to be introducing a form of encryption to the data that is passing between data centers. Right now, these fiber lines are carrying unencrypted data meaning that no matter how sensitive a piece of information may be, the NSA can quite easily intercept it and examine it.
People close to Microsoft have told technology publications that executives at the tech giant will be meeting sometime between this week and early December to figure out what form of encryption will be most effective. By encrypting this traffic, it would suddenly become very difficult for the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ, to intercept data and use it for anything.
Microsoft has told journalists that it has yet to attain any sort of independent verification stating that the NSA targeted the fiber lines in this way. However, if the company is looking to encrypt its traffic, it likely has some sort of suspicion regarding the NSA, and is taking every precaution possible to prevent the NSA from getting its hands on any user information.
Is This Good?
Even though many Americans are disgusted by the NSA and its spying practices, there are some groups that appear to have no issue with the NSA intercepting traffic, tapping into phone lines, and reading e-mails. The reason for their position is that the NSA has been able to stop terrorists by attaining this information and, therefore, the agency is making the U.S. and its citizens safer.
Unfortunately, this simply is not true (or at least not in the way that pro-NSA citizens think it is). There are currently laws in place that require U.S. companies to hand over any data that is requested by the NSA or the federal government. As a result, if the agency intercepts traffic from fiber optic lines, it is not protecting the U.S. anymore than usual. Instead, it may actually be breaking the law.
NSA programs including PRISM and the "Five Eyes" agreement between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. have apparently not been enough to satisfy the NSA even though these programs provide more than enough information to keep American citizens safe.
No matter how many terrorist attacks the NSA has stopped, not only is its system not foolproof (likely because it has too much information), but tapping into German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone is not protecting any American interest, unless of course, the U.S. thinks Germany is somehow a major threat.