Report: Google Taps NSA for Cyber Defense

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This article was written by Steven Musil of CNET

Google is finalizing an agreement with the National Security Agency to help the search giant ward off cyberattacks, according to the Washington Post.

The electronic surveillance organization is expected to help analyze a cyberattack on Google that the company said originated in China and defend it from future attacks, the newspaper reported Wednesday. The arrangement is reportedly being designed to allow the two groups to share information without violating Google's privacy policies or laws governing online communications.

Google declined to comment on the report, and the NSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Google disclosed in January that e-mail accounts belonging to human rights activists in China had been compromised and said the attacks originated in China. The company said it discovered the attacks in mid-December. And while it did not specifically implicate the Chinese government, Google said it may withdraw from doing business in China.

China's government responded by reiterating that companies doing business in that country must respect and adhere to its laws and later issued statements denying any state involvement in the cyberattacks, as well as defending its Internet censorship. China also warned of strained U.S.-China relations after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton formally denounced Internet censorship in a speech.

White House Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said Wednesday that the attacks on Google were a "wake-up call" and that the U.S. is severely under the threat of greater cyberattacks. Blair detailed a laundry list of adversaries on the cyberwarfare front, including other nations, terrorist networks, and organized crime groups, all of whom have the knowledge and means to attack U.S. networks to disrupt operations and steal sensitive information.

Those comments came after a recent McAfee report found that critical infrastructure networks around the world were subject to repeated cyberattacks from foreign governments and other high-level adversaries that could lead to down time costs of more than $6 million per day.
By Steven Musil