How The NSA Undermines Cybersecurity

Brendan Sasso | | April 30, 2014

Bolstering the nation’s defenses against hackers has been one of the Obama administration’s top goals. Officials have warned for years that a sophisticated cyberattack could cripple critical infrastructure or allow thieves to make off with the financial information of millions of Americans. President Obama pushed Congress to enact cybersecurity legislation, and when it didn’t, he issued his own executive order in 2013.

“The cyber threat to our nation is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face,” Obama wrote in a 2012 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. But critics argue that the National Security Agency has actually undermined cybersecurity and made the United States more vulnerable to hackers.

At its core, the problem is the NSA’s dual mission. On one hand, the agency is tasked with securing U.S. networks and information. On the other hand, the agency must gather intelligence on foreign threats to national security...