An Inside View of the NSA

Loren Sands-Ramshaw:

I was a spy for the US government. Not the Bond/Alias type of agent, but the electronic type – a cyber spy. I helped build small pieces of the global systems that gather electronic intelligence. And I am one of the few people whose former employment at the NSA you can verify: I appeared in a recruitment video, which is displayed on their career website. (Pardon my halting speech – I was declassifying on the fly.) You can match my face to the photo on my Kickstarter page.

I was a civilian employee of the NSA for two years starting in mid-2010. I worked at the Agency's Fort Meade headquarters for the first year. It was a dramatic time in the intelligence world, encompassing Stuxnet (the first known example of cyberwarfare resulting in a physical effect, reportedly made by the NSA and Israel), the first major release of US documents on WikiLeaks, and the locating of bin Laden. The declassified version of my job title was “Global Network Vulnerability Analyst.” I was in the Computer Network Operations Development Program, and my office was S32X: Signals Intelligence Directorate (S) > Data Acquisition (S3) > Tailored Access Operations (S32) > Special Tactics and Techniques (S32X). Most of my time was spent writing Ruby code to help with the systems that gather and manage electronic intelligence.

This piece gets a bit wonky by the end, but for the most part, I think many who have weighed in on the NSA debate will find themselves surprised by how logical the points being made here are. I also think it raises a huge discussion point that has been absent from the general debate—Americans vastly underestimate just how dangerous and prevalent the threat of cyber terrorism/warfare is. Not will be—is.

/via Daring Fireball