The U.S. National Security Agency, which is renowned globally for its secrecy, on Tuesday opened its arms to the private sector with the aim of strengthening relations and learning about hacking campaigns from the U.S. firms that are repeatedly targeted by hacking groups.
“I think it is really important for NSA to take a stance where we are engaging and figuring out how to make the environment more secure and everyone is learning from the lessons of the past,” he said at a media roundtable,” said NSA Director of Cybersecurity Rob Joyce.
The U.S. law denies NSA from accessing American computer networks, so the agency hopes that increasing partnerships with defense, technology, and telecommunications companies will provide insights the agency can’t get on its own, he further added. However, he denied disclosing the name of the companies the NSA is working with and didn’t expand on what information private companies would share with the agency.
The NSA’s publicity tour comes after a series of high-profile hacks over the last year, including a massive cyberattack that penetrated numerous federal agencies and another that crippled a major U.S. gas pipeline.
The center, which started in January 2020, is unique in the NSA’s history because it is located in a nondescript office park in suburban Maryland next to defense contractors, including Northrop Grumman Corp., Raytheon Technologies Corp., and General Dynamics Corp., and is across the street from NSA headquarters. But the center doesn’t have the same barbed wire fencing and armed guards as the NSA.
U.S. officials admitted the lack of total visibility on the cyber threat due to legal restrictions that prevent the NSA and other federal spy agencies from collecting data on domestic computer networks. Foreign hackers know about the controls, former U.S. officials say, so they often stage attacks on U.S. based servers.
“U.S. companies will also be benefitted from the NSA’s vast experience and analytical capability. Cybersecurity is a team sport and NSA is really just stepping up to play its position. Providing services to the defense industrial base and national security systems and a large U.S. market share is what we focus on from a selection criteria,” said Morgan Adamski, chief of the center.