NSA Director Says Lone Wolf Trend Increasing

NSA Director Says Lone Wolf Trend Increasing
webandi / Pixabay

National Security Agency Director (NSA) Admiral Michael Rogers spoke with Fox Business Network (FBN) regarding the Paris terror attacks, Sony cyber-hacking, ISIS, and increasing threats to cyber security. Following the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, Rogers said, the “growth of the self-radicalized lone wolf who is already embedded” into a Western society, “is a trend we’re increasingly seeing of late,” which “makes life a whole lot harder” from an intelligence standpoint. Regarding the Sony cyber-attacks, Rogers confirmed “this was North Korea. Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind.” He further commented, that the threat of nation-states and terrorist organizations like ISIS turning to cyber-attacks “is very real,” and that legislation to protect the United States against this is “a very important first step,” in combating the threat.

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How the NSA plans to increase its transparency

NSA Director on the Sony cyber-attack:

“I am concerned regardless of the “who” in this case. What particularly concerned me about what we saw with Sony was the time it was a nation-state that decided they didn’t like a particular message in a film in this case. What if next time, it’s a nation-state, a group, an individual, who doesn’t like some other product? Who doesn’t like a policy or who doesn’t agree with an action that the United States or private entities within the United States take?  That’s what concerns me. This starts us down a very destabilizing road if we’re not careful. I thought it was a very positive step that we, as a nation, very publicly and very directly both acknowledged the activity, named the actor who executed that activity and a high — I have high confidence in that naming. This was North Korea. Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind.”

NSA Director on linking Sony to North Korea:

“I have very high confidence. And that’s based on a set of reasons. I’m certainly aware that when it comes to attribution, that we need to be very- looking forward -very careful in that characterization. So I’ll only speak for me. I took a great deal of time and said, look, we’re — I want to make sure we get this right. We’re not going to rush to judgment. We’re not going to rush to an answer. What we need to do is gain a solid understanding about who did this, how they did this and I want to make sure that we get that to a level where we have high confidence so we can facilitate then policy and legal decisions.”

NSA Director on threats from China to the United States’ critical infrastructure:

“So, what I talked about in November was the fact — I acknowledged that we have seen nation-states inside some aspects, some portions of some of our critical infrastructure. I did that very publicly, in part because I want to make sure everyone understands this is very real. This is nothing theoretical. We’ve seen, as you and I talk today, we’ve seen within the last few weeks what happened with Sony, for example. This is something where a destructive act was executed in the cyber domain, in this case, not against, quote, “critical U.S. infrastructure,” but a private large U.S. firm engaged in generating entertainment products for the nation.”

NSA Director on a potential cyber information sharing legislation:

“I think it’s a very important first step. In the end, the key to our ability to be effective, I believe, as a nation in cyber will be our ability to span the divide between the private sector and the public sector or the government, that there is no single group, no single technology that’s going to fix this problem set for us, that in the end, we need to harness the capabilities of both segments to work together to achieve an enhanced role of cyber security and to also help us in that deterrence idea.”

NSA Director on a concern of Paris-style terror attacks coming to the United States:

“Well, clearly it’s something we pay great attention to. You know, I think in a perhaps broader level, part of our challenge is, we historically, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and 9/11 is a reflection of this, you tended to see large, very complex kinds of plots. The trend we’re increasingly seeing of late is, even as that kind of planning and discussion continues among some groups out there, this growth of the self-radicalized lone wolf who is already embedded in the Western European societies and, you know, we’ve seen this in the United States, who comes to the conclusion that I just need to engage in behaviors that support these beliefs and I just need to, you know, use targeted violence or indiscriminate violence as the vehicle to help perpetuate this viewpoint of others. That’s not a good development for us. That certainly increases the challenge from an intelligence perspective. Boy, that makes life a whole lot harder.”

NSA Director on social media’s impact on grooming terror:

“I mean it’s a fundamental challenge for us because, as a society, the freedom of speech, the right of privacy, is an inherent aspect of our society, of our culture. And yet, we find not only private citizens engaged in lawful activity using those same structures, we find nation-states, groups and individuals using that — those same sites, those same communication patterns…those same communication methods for some very bad activity that will lead, if we’re not careful, and have led, at times, to the deaths of citizens. That’s not a good thing for us.”

NSA Director on if ISIS will become cyber-capable:

“I’m always concerned about because I said, this is more than just a nation-state phenomenon. The ability to use cyber as a tool to achieve specific effects is more than just a nation-state phenomenon, that we are watching groups, you’ve seen Anonymous, in some ways. And I pay great attention to that we start to see some of these terrorist organizations move along the same line. It’s something I pay great attention to.”

NSA Director on increasing transparency within NSA:

“What I try to articulate is, look, we should feel comfortable talking in broad terms about what we do, why we do it, what we don’t — and we should also be talking about what we don’t do, because much of the conversation I hear of, I think to myself, at times, boy, we don’t do that. We wouldn’t do that. That’s illegal to do. The flip side is where I tell a team we need to be very mindful is, when we start to get into the specifics of how we do the things we do, that’s the part that I’m concerned about becoming wide knowledge, in some ways, because the challenge is not only a very mindful citizens with a right to understand what we do paying attention to this, but, quite frankly, this is also being paid attention to by a lot of people who want to use that information to their advantage, to change the way they communicate, to change the way they act and interact with others, to forestall our ability to generate the insights that we can share with the citizens of this nation as well as our friends and allies, to attempt to forestall some of these events like we’ve seen in Paris on, so sadly, now, within the last day, as well as all too many other places around the world.”

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