August 9, 2013
The director of the NSA announced that the secretive intelligence agency plans to prevent future security breaches by replacing the position once held by whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden with computers.
The National Security Agency plans to drastically cut back on the number of people employed as systems administrators, Gen. Keith Alexander said during a cyber security conference in New York City on Thursday.
Snowden, a former employee of government-contracted consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, worked for the NSA for more than a year before his role changed to systems administrator. It was while holding this position that he leaked classified details about previously undisclosed surveillance programs to the media.
“What we’re in the process of doing – not fast enough – is reducing our systems administrators by about 90 per cent,” Alexander said. The NSA currently employs approximately 1,000 systems administrators.
“We’ve put people in the loop of transferring data, securing networks and doing things that machines are probably better at doing,” he said, going on to describe how technology will make NSA secrets “more defensible and more secure.”
While Snowden has been referred to as a systems administrator, he told The Guardian that his job was actually to work as an “infrastructure analyst,” spending his days searching for new methods to infiltrate internet and telephone networks.
Alexander also defended the NSA’s conduct, claiming the agency’s actions have been “grossly mischaracterized” by the media.