NSA: Why are you not focused on protecting the nation?

nsa-logoReading the German publication Der Spiegel’s article called Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA’s War on Internet Security this weekend, like them I was struck by something that has been on my mind for over ten years. Why does the U.S. intelligence services, and specifically the National Security Agency (NSA), do more to protect the nation?

What came out in the Edward Snowden revelations was that the NSA is, without question or doubt, working feverishly to crack all encryption and are also working hard to build a quantum computer that will crack the little unbreakable encryption we still enjoy today.

Any of us in information technology, web or mobile app creation, and any sort of data security at all, know that if something has been cracked—regardless if it’s some kid in Norway or a state-based intelligence service—it is only a matter of time before the blackhat hackers discover it and exploit the crack.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, which I believe is the case with the NSA’s unreasonable seizure by way of their vacuum surveillance of all our data. In my view there is no difference between that and kicking down our doors at home one-by-one and taking our computers, devices and papers.

But what about those of us who have to protect digital data? Who build and deliver websites, ecommerce deployments, and are charged with maintaining corporate data security? In fact, the agency which is supposedly coordinating all the intelligence agencies ‘intelligence’, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), says this in their Cybersecurity Overview:

Our daily life, economic vitality, and national security depend on a stable, safe, and resilient cyberspace. We rely on this vast array of networks to communicate and travel, power our homes, run our economy, and provide government services.

Yet cyber intrusions and attacks have increased dramatically over the last decade, exposing sensitive personal and business information, disrupting critical operations, and imposing high costs on the economy.

No shit. The entire DHS website is at such a high level, and incredibly useless, that anyone but my grandmother would think it’s some sort of cruel joke to justify their budget or something. The DHS doesn’t do squat to turn that rhetoric in to actionable insights, strategy or tactics for any of us. Go through the entire website and you’ll see what I mean.


National Security Agency $2 Billion Utah Data Center

What the NSA could and should be focused on is raising the bar for our nation’s cybersecurity and creating nearly impenetrable barriers for others to hack/crack/break our technology systems. To deliver best-practices in data security for all those who need them. Why, NSA, are you not focused on protecting the nation instead of collecting all digital data all the time? (Plus focusing on an intelligence community, $2 billion Utah data center to collect everything?).

I’m sure they’d argue that educating businesses and organizations, protecting privacy within the United States and other cyber protection types don’t fall within their mission, so whose mission is it to protect the nation?


  1. Dan on January 5, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Steve, After reading your blog for quite some time, I can finally say I agree with you on this. But really,…you were reading Der Speigel?

  2. Steve Borsch on January 5, 2015 at 10:35 am
    • Ja Herr Müller, ist der Spiegel eine fabelhafte Veröffentlichung. Natürlich sind das deutsche Volk sehr paranoid und Recht.
      • (Translation: Yes Mr. Miller, Der Spiegel is a fabulous publication. Of course, the German people are very paranoid and deservedly so.)
    • Mein Nachname ist Borsch, die ist natürlich Deutsch.
      • (Translation: My surname is Borsch which is, of course, German.)
    • Danke für Ihren Besuch mein Blog und Lesen (und schließlich die Vereinbarung mit mir!).
      • (Translation: Thank you for visiting my blog and reading (and finally agreeing with me!)).

  3. alan geeves on January 5, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    And while this is all happening the bad guys revet to communicating with each other by sending slips of paper with runners. How will this data centre catch a paper boy?

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About Steve Borsch

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.