The National Security Agency and the U.S. military are taking significant steps to tighten their databases and cybersecurity in the wake of serious breaches, including Edward Snowden's leak of top-secret surveillance programs.
According to the New York Times, the NSA is establishing new procedures to restrict the sharing and downloading of top-secret information from its computer networks.
The new "two-man rule" would require two computer-systems administrators to work simultaneously when they are inside systems that contain highly classified material.
Other changes will include encrypting the most sensitive data and a reduction in the number of system administrators with the authority to move data throughout the nation's intelligence agencies and the Defense Department, the Times reported.
The new arrangements will seek in particular to address weaknesses in the NSA's database security that allowed the Snowden breaches.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, an annual meeting on security issues, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said the Snowden affair was an example of "a failure to defend our own networks," according to the Times.
"It was not an outsider hacking in, but an insider," he said.
Meanwhile, Carter said, the military has begun to deploy roughly 4,000 people in a new unit of the Pentagon devoted to cyber-offense and cyber-defense operations. It’s an area, according to Carter, that will be a spending priority despite military spending cuts.
"These teams are new, and they are in addition to the NSA workforce," Carter said.
The program has rarely been discussed publicly, given that it's designed to fend off attacks on America by foreign powers. It could help defend the U.S. against cyberattacks from foreign powers such as China, which has been accused of hacking U.S. targets and stealing corporate secrets and intellectual property from American companies.
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