By Jesselyn Radack
The Los Angeles Times
July 14, 2009
Cyber security is a real issue, as evidenced by the virus behind July 4
cyber attacks that hobbled government and business websites in the
United States and South Korea. It originated from Internet provider
addresses in 16 countries and targeted, among others, the White House
and the New York Stock Exchange.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration has chosen to combat it in a
move that runs counter to its pledge to be transparent. The
administration reportedly is proceeding with a Bush-era plan to use the
National Security Agency to screen government computer traffic on
private-sector networks. AT&T is slated to be the likely test site. This
classified pilot program, dubbed "Einstein 3," is developed but not yet
rolled out. It takes two offenders from President Bush's contentious
secret surveillance program and puts them in charge of scrutinizing all
Internet traffic going to or from federal government agencies.
Despite its name, the Einstein 3 program is more genie than genius -- an
omnipotent force (run by the NSA via AT&T's "secret rooms") that does
the government's bidding -- spying. The last time around, this sort of
scheme was known as the "special access" program -- "special" being code
Einstein 3 purportedly is meant to protect government networks from
hackers. But cyber-security experts -- such as Babak Pasdar, who blew
the whistle on a mysterious "Quantico Circuit" while working for a major
service provider -- agree that Einstein 3 offers no intrinsic security
value. The program is implemented where servers exchange traffic between
one another -- in the heart of a network system rather than at the
perimeter, which interfaces with the outside world. This is similar to a
home security system that only monitors the central interior of a house,
rather than keeping an eye on the actual doors (and the purpose of
hackers may simply be to enter).
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