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

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