An interesting story broke on the Guardian this morning, the title ‘Senior NSA official moonlighting for private cybersecurity firm‘ should catch our eyes in many ways, but for most of you it will seem wrong. The story is about an official named Patrick Dowd and how he, as an NSA official also worked in the late hours for IronNet Cybersecurity, yet never crossing the ethical boundaries.
You see, many will shout scream and all others of noises, but the plain and simple truth is that this happens ALL THE TIME. If you think that this is not true, then look at accountancy firms, look at Google and look at a host of other corporations. In this day and age, to get ahead you need to double dip your brain power.
Of course when doing this, knowledge, more precisely data cannot go from one to the other, yet the knowledge and the knowhow is there, which is the IP of the person holding the brain (aka the man with the thought out plan). Former General Alexander is heading a firm making well over 10 million a year (I will send him my resume shortly).
The article written by Spencer Ackerman in Washington (at http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/oct/17/senior-nsa-official-moonlighting-private-cybersecurity-firm) gives the right nuance and is a good read. More important, between the lines he seems to be implying the question that follows from ““I just felt that his leaving the government was the wrong thing for NSA and our nation,” Alexander told Reuters“, he is of course correct, can we allow in certain areas to suffer a brain drain. Keith Alexanders pragmatic approach, if properly used earlier could have saved the intelligence hundreds of millions in the timespan 2003-2007; no one seems to be looking at that part. We seem to allow ‘dodgy’ accountants to sign off on unchecked quarters of billions, but when a soldier find alternative usage of his skills in non-criminal ways, we tend to shine the limelight on them. For this I only need to show the Reuters quote “(Reuters) – The new boss of Tesco (TSCO.L) has told staff he expects to be able to give a “clear and accurate indication” of the impact of a 250 million pound accounting mistake when the grocer reports delayed first-half results next week“, whilst trying to Google Pricewaterhouse Coopers reveals not one, I say again not one link that the press has taken one look at that part of the Tesco equation. So we can conclude at present (from the evidence as seen published) that for now, the backbone of the press is nothing more than a shoddy paperback!
Back to the Age of Cyber Alexander the Great, as we see the Huffington post, we see the quote “The FSR itself is a veritable tilt-a-whirl of revolving doors, with a steadily increasing lobbying budget on behalf of its corporate bankers and insurers and a roster of high-placed former government officials. For example, the FSR employs the firm of Barnett, Sivon and Natter to advocate its causes“, The Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) seems to be dealing with its ‘own’ mess by getting the bigger boys on the block involved. Now, whether the use of mess is qualified is depending on the view of where the responsibility of pro-active protection and support should be at. (at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bea-edwards/the-nsas-keith-alexander_b_5515718.html), but there is no doubt in my mind, that those who would like to be (people like me), who have advanced data skills will have to clear the field to those with catered skills form the NSA, that is just a plain and at times, a little uncomfortable truth. If we look at the CCNA OSI layer as a comparison, then I would cover the layer two and higher, like most of us data boers (South African giggle), yet people like Patrick Dowd have layer one in addition. We all know layer one (physical layer), yet we do not actively interact with it other than a facilitation level. It is there that the difference of a million a month is easily spotted. We can all do it with time, but we were never able to work on that plain, that is where NSA bang for the buck resides. And let us be clear, this is a massive bang for all of the monthly bucks, because if you had not figured it out. RFID blockers are there for a reason, it is not a fab and it is not an overly worrying thing. The people (a very small group at the tip of the pyramid) would gain knowledge of a person beyond your imagination when they scan you as you pass by. The problem is not that you get scanned at times; it is where the flaws start on how thousands lose small amounts every day and no one is ever the wiser. Bloomberg reported in 2011 that hackers took a billion a year, that leak must be dealt with and this is just the small cash drains, when we consider other avenues, the loss of 1 billion might actually be the tip of another pyramid and as such the FSR will needed another game plan.
Keith Alexander saw this niche that was ignored for far too long and with the help of Patrick Dowd and others like him they are looking at changing the game and drastically reducing the losses. In a game of billions, 20 million would be a steal at twice the price. In the age of cutting down, a market hole was found and IronNet Cybersecurity is filling that niche nicely. Consider that the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), the Consumer Bankers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) are only the beginning. It’s such a nice view where we see a former General turned data visionary could become the founder of a billion dollar company. This is not a boast, when we see that outside of the US the digital theft age is a lot more than just a simple 9 figure number, the exact amount is not known, we know of the fact that it is, but not how much, but when it is hushed up to this intent, we can safely assume it is to some extent worryingly high, so as such IronNet Cybersecurity is not the first, but it is likely to grow faster and larger then all others for simple reason of skills and access to knowledge, two elements the others do not tend to have to that degree on these fields.
What will be next? That is the question which is not answered with the final quote, but it shows a much larger field then many considered “Compounding the potential financial conflicts at the NSA, Buzzfeed reported that the home of chief of its Signals Intelligence Directorate, Teresa Shea, has a signals-intelligence consulting firm operating out of it. The firm is run by her husband James, who also works for a signals-intelligence firm that Buzzfeed said appears to do business with the NSA; and Teresa Shea runs an “office and electronics” business that lists a Beechcraft plane among its assets” If you think it has no bearing then think again. As the requirements for data retention grows as stated in more than one nation, the clear limits to skills and people, which have been noted by me and several others to some extend over several months, where do you think these telecom companies will get the consultants and knowledge from?
These places refused to grow expertise when they had the chance, pushing the need forward again and again, now these consultants are pretty much all that is left and training in house staff will get a lot more expensive soon enough, good business is where you find it, and it seems that Keith Alexander and Teresa Shea saw that companies were painting themselves into a corner, they only had to wait until the first one realised that they had no place left to go.
The consequence came to them as easy as eating pancakes, the cherry they got for free!