Latest NSA Revelation Presents a Major Risk to American Tech Companies

Silicon Valley should be alarmed by a new report on the NSA's international spying programs, says The Week's Ryan Cooper. He calls the NSA "the kind of parasite that eventually kills its host."

The Week's Washington correspondent Ryan Cooper rarely has a nice thing to say about the NSA, which is understandable because the NSA is an almost-categorically distrusted agency. If it were a baby, it'd be one of those really ugly babies that would cause people to say, "Darn, only a mother would love that." Whether the NSA's shrouded parentage actually approves of it is up for debate. What's not up for debate is Cooper's categorical dislike for the government's surveillance goons.


But where today's article differs from much of the rest of Cooper's oeuvre is the basis by which he launches the latest assault. Most of Cooper's anti-NSA assaults come from an ethical or philosophical platform. Today, he cites the inherent risk the NSA presents to Silicon Valley, American tech companies, and the economy as a whole:

"A new story from the computer security firm Kaspersky reveals new ways in which the NSA is compromising American hardware. ... The Kaspersky report details how the 'Equation Group,' associated with the people who coded the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iranian nuclear facilities and other targets, have been executing extremely sophisticated cyberattacks around the globe."

"The Equation Group" is the source of several major forms of malware that effectively turn personal computers and smartphones made by American companies into spyboxes. Cooper notes that Reuters has confirmed the Equation Group to be the NSA disguised in little more than a prosthetic nose and fake mustache. When you consider the impact this could have on foreign markets, the apparent risks to American tech companies become apparent:

"This ought to be hugely alarming for American technology companies. Protectionism is always a political temptation. If I were a Chinese high-tech equipment manufacturer, I'd be howling for American products to be banned from the country altogether. The argument may be opportunistic, but let's face it: better to have local industries produce lower-quality iPhone knockoffs than risk half the citizenry walking around with an NSA periscope."

Read more at The Week.

Photo credit: Mopic / Shutterstock

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

(MPH Photos/giphy/yShutterstock/Big Think)
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
Keep reading Show less

Trauma in childhood leads to empathy in adulthood

It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Mind & Brain

  • A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
  • The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
  • The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.