At today's WIRED25 conference in San Francisco, Anne Neuberger, head of the National Cybercrime Agency's new Cybersecurity Directorate, explained the threats facing her role. Neuberger emphasized the importance of proactively defending against vulnerabilities in new technologies such as 5G, autonomous vehicles, quantum computers and swarms of malicious drones. Naturally.
At the same time, according to Neuberger, her department is currently struggling with clear and present threats of an amorphous nature: operations of great influence that polarize and destabilize bourgeois discourse and endanger the democratic core values of the United States. This applies in particular to the electoral process.
"We wanted to make sure that by using these technologies we understand the risks to our democracy, society and the economy, and at the same time take into account these risks, that progress will become a reality," says Neuberger. "The Directorate brings thousands of people together to focus on these issues."
The NSA created its Cybersecurity Directorate in October with the aim of strengthening the defense of networks and critical infrastructures by enabling better communication on threats both within the NSA and beyond, the private sector.
"We have to recognize that it was not enough to write a secret report," says Neuberger. "We have to make sure the information we have gets to people who can do something about it." And she notes that the NSA's secrecy and opacity have made it difficult for the public to empathize with or trust the agency. "It's a tension to be a secret service in a democracy," she says.
Although Neuberger promises confidence and commitment to solve some of the world's most difficult and terrible problems, she also recognizes the realities and challenges of US defense against next-generation technological threats. Some of them sound directly from a sci-fi dystopia.
"One of the things we've seen is the arming of low-orbit drones and satellite sensor platforms," says Neuberger. "I think it is a key concern to combine the intelligence of these sensor platforms with a potentially large number of drones with weapons, the technologies to counter these threats, and the defense costs go far beyond the cost of building and deploying a drone . And we are." Seeing these types of technologies in certain ungoverned areas around the world is something we are concerned about and how we can protect ourselves against them. "
As if you did not have enough to worry about, NSA agents are really worried about the darkest and most bizarre threats in the world as their daily job.