The NSA has found itself in the news again, this time delving into how close their relationship has been with the heads of Google. That sounds frightening at first, until we dig deeper in to find that the NSA's high level communication with Google executives Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt was actually on the more beneficial side of security, with the NSA working with Google (as well as Microsoft and Apple) to secure vulnerabilities in their products.

Of course, we have to wonder whether the NSA's efforts were entirely above board, given the revelations about their mass surveillance activities. It questions whether or not the NSA's contributions to Android are what they say they are. While the NSA is partly a spy agency of the United States federal government, they're also a security agency, charged with protecting the electronic infrastructure of the United States.

It's a strange dichotomy of missions the NSA handles. While one hand is helping to build a stronger safe, the other is working to find its way inside that safe. Al Jazeera America reports that NSA Director General Keith Alexander personally invited Brin and Schmidt to a classified briefing on the Enduring Security Framework. The ESF is reported to be an effort by the NSA to "coordinate government/industry actions on important (generally classified) security issues that couldn't be solved by individual actors alone."

The ESF includes the NSA, Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and 18 CEOs from US tech firms, and was apparently responsible for helping patch a critical vulnerability in BIOS software.

Source: Al Jazeera America


Reader comments

Brin and Schmidt worked with the NSA to help secure Google's products


M8 settings menu.

In other news, working with the NSA to secure things doesn't sound like things would be secure at all.

Yup, anyone who thinks the NSA helped google secure its network from the NSA is delusional.

I will point out that even SELinux is getting a deep line by line second look these days.

Thats what i was thinking. Dont trust that ONE BIT.

NSA: "do this and everything will be secure"
once he gets off the phone: "Hey bob, guess what, google is securing their stuff like i suggested"
Bob: "they dont know that gives us access to everything now do they"
NSA "no clue!! will be perfect"

There was a time when the NSAs main purpose was to create more and more secure encryption algorithms to protect our gov't's communications. Then they added codebreaking to break the other side's encryption. I still don't understand where internal (nationally) surveillance was added to their bailiwick. FBI, I understand (don't like, but understand), but not NSA.

Is it me or does this sound kinda like the nsa rsa relationship? Wonder what back doors they put into Google products. Now all Google products have the stench of the nsa.

Of course this could be routine. In order to get certified for high security government use. Which is usually the case with OSes. Obviously the nsa isn't going to tell Google all the insecurities they know about. Just the ones they haven't figured to block themselves and be able to use against others as any domestic spy agency should do.

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I don't get why this bothers people so much. Unless you're an international terrorist who is in fear of his identity being compromised, you shouldn't have anything to worry about regarding the NSA.

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All it takes is a small shift in the political climate to redefine "terrorist" to something a little too close to home. In the meantime have fun with the boot stamping on your face forever.

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This. This Right here.

I'm terrified that someone would actually say "who cares, I'm not a criminal!"

One shift and suddenly, lets say...it's illegal to be gay, or republican, or democrat, or maybe just because you play violent video games you are on a watch list. It's not paranoia because it's happened over and over again in history..

If justice was perfect and unchanging then yes, why worry? But the justice SYSTEM is flawed at its very nature.

I remembered people who disagreed with government policies and ideologies during the GW Bush years worrying about being watched or put on lists.

Even with the opposite party in the White House this time, nothing's changed except who might be watched and the reasons why.

This is why we should never think that just because you're doing nothing wrong you have nothing to hide, because someone out there may think you are on both counts, and do something about it.
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Because privacy is a thing I cherish. Even though I have nothing to hide, doesn't mean I want you looking through MY stuff. Same reason I will never consent to a search by a police officer. I know and flex my rights. The NSA sidesteps all of that, essentialy unconstitutionaly going through my "stuff"(ie data,contacts,GPS location) without my consent

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How about cause its a violation of rights for starters. Doesnt matter if i have nothing to hide, they dont have the right to check unless i have given them a reason to do so.

As a son of a holocaust survivor, this is why you should worrie...

Donate to the EFF, join your local restore the forth (.net), or start calling your local representatives. Or stand by while you watch your children lose their constitutional rights.

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That's some crazy Battlestar Galactica shit for sure. I might have a couple places to run to in case the backdoors make the networks go dark.
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I trust this government and the NSA about as far as I can comfortably spit out a rat. There's no limit they'll go to to secure information about us, while at the same putting smokescreens, executive privileges and court orders around their info and activities. They need the covers ripped off asap and a permanent stop put to intelligence activities inside the US without a court order.

"secure vulnerabilities in their product"

And ensure there's at least one remaining for the NSA to exploit?

Why the fuck do these guys still exist?!?! I'm pretty sure about 95% of the population are against these guys!

Not happy about this at all. Anyone who thinks that the NSA (or any other government agency for that matter) is on our side and wants to secure googles products for us is delusional. There is more we don't know about this yet. Mark my words.

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Now why in the world would anyone quote anything from the Al Jazeera "news" organization? Will MoveOn-dot-org be next? Or even MSNBC?

X-9 = 2B^3

"a critical vulnerability in BIOS software" of what? PCs? Phones? Network switches? Without that info, it's basically a non-statement.