Last month, Google announced that its systems were subjected to coordinated cyberattacks beginning in December. The intrusions probably originated in China. They targeted Google source code and more than 30 other defense, tech and financial companies as well. The Gmail accounts of human rights activists on 3 continents were compromised.
Google threatened to retaliate against the Chinese government, but has yet to take action.
Now, according to Washington Post sources, Google has approached the National Security Agency for help defending itself and its users from similar attacks in the future.
Terms of any possible deal between Google and the NSA have not been finalized, but they would likely cover a review of possible vulnerabilities in Google’s hardware and software and the hacking techniques used during last month’s attack.
If the deal were consummated, Google says it will not disclose information regarding what was stolen and will not violate company policies or laws designed to protect the privacy of US citizens’ online communications. In any deal, the NSA will not become privy to users’ searches or e-mail accounts.
Cyberspace cannot be protected, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told the Post, without a “collaborative effort that incorporates both the U.S. private sector and our international partners.”
The Google-NSA deal worries privacy advocates, who remember all too well the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ phone calls and e-mails in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.