NSA Introduces New Plan To Prevent Leaks

Monday, August 12, 2013

On Thursday during a cybersecurity conference, General Keith Alexander said that the NSA is planning to reduce the number of systems administrators—a position previously held by leaker Edward Snowden—by up to 90 percent.

There are currently 1,000 system administrators working for the NSA, but much of the work they do will eventually be automated.

By limiting the number of people with access, Alexander says the leaking of sensitive information will be prevented.

Noah Shachtman is Foreign Policy's executive editor for news and a fellow at the Brookings Institution. He joins us to discuss the role of a system administrator and whether this will actually help prevent leaks.

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Noah Shachtman

Produced by:

Tyler Adams


T.J. Raphael

Comments [1]

The whole premise behind today's piece on the NSA downsizing its "system administrator" force seems, sadly, awry. If Gen. Alexander was speaking precisely, he was not referring to the people who write the software that processes data in search of interesting information; rather, he was referring to the "janitorial" staff that keep the computers running such software afloat and connected. As such, the anchor's anxiety about losing 90% of the intelligence processing capability was unwarranted, and I'm sorry the guest he spoke with didn't catch the error and redirect the discussion. Improvements in enterprise hardware and software make a 10-to-1 compression in system management a genuine possibility, though as noted on the program the change will likely take 5+ years to implement.

Aug. 12 2013 12:40 PM

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