Former U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency head Gen. Keith Alexander has been lambasted by lawmakers and the media since his seven-figure cyber-security consulting fee got out — now he’s explaining the price. (RELATED: Congressman Accuses Ex-NSA Head Of Trading Secrets ‘For Profit’)
In a Monday interview with Foreign Policy, Alexander explained that he and his IronNet Cybersecurity Inc. firm have created their own “unique” method for detecting and preventing hacks and cyber attacks. Such so-called “advanced persistent threats,” which can target government agencies and private companies for months or years undetected, have been a concern of Alexander’s for years — especially in regard to the financial industry.
Alexander said he plans to patent the technology behind the revolutionary cyber-security — a move that could raise even more allegations of turning a profit from his tenure in public service, with the addition of the intimate classified intelligence knowledge afforded to Alexander by his direct placement on the U.S.’s cyber-war front.
An upper-hand like Alexander’s is likely to attract accusations of misguided ethics, profiteering and foul play from other cyber-security firms in the industry — especially in light of the retired general’s recent ouster amidst the ethically and legally questionable NSA bulk surveillance practices leaked by former signals intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden.
The former spy chief claims his patentable tech is recognizably different from his work at NSA, which holds intellectual property rights over other tech developed at the agency under Alexander’s tenure.
Earlier this month Bloomberg reported Alexander was partnering with the financial industry’s biggest trade group, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, to create a “government-industry cyber-war council” to protect the U.S. economy from terrorist attacks targeting financial firms.
Such an attack could start a financial panic by temporarily erasing the balances of major accounts and throwing U.S. markets into chaos.
Alexander has reportedly been retained to “facilitate” such a team, which would include deputies from NSA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury Department and the White House, among others. Such an effort will require the private sector to reach out to former top-secret security clearance holders like Alexander in order to coordinate a defense, while retaining intelligence security restrictions.