In an interview, whistleblower Edward Snowden alleges the U.S. National Security Agency is working to develop a cyberdefense system that would be able to autonomously identify cyberthreats, neutralize them, and even retaliate against them.
Snowden says the program is known as MonsterMind and would create several serious foreign policy and constitutional issues.
First, such a program would risk creating an international incident were it to carry out automated counterattacks against cyberattacks like distributed denial-of-service attacks, which make use of vast botnets of compromised computers. Such a retaliation could inadvertently damage infected but otherwise innocuous systems in another country.
Snowden also says a program of the scale envisioned for MonsterMind would necessitate the collection and analysis of all Internet traffic, which would amount to a violation of every American’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Cryptographer Matt Blaze says a program like MonsterMind is not unimaginable, and resembles in some of its details the government's Einstein 2 and Einstein 3 automated network security programs, which aim to defend government networks from malicious activity. It also recalls Plan X, a five-year cyberwarfare program run by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which seeks to map the Internet and build systems that would enable the Pentagon to carry out predetermined and pre-programmed cyberattacks.
From Wired News
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