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NSA Inspector General Slams Agency For Inadequately Protecting Data, Not Scanning Removable Devices For Viruses

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Elias Atienza Contributor

The National Security Agency’s (NSA) inspector general criticized the agency for not adequately following rules and regulations meant to protect “computer networks, systems, and data” in its semi-annual report to Congress on Wednesday.

Inspector General Robert Storch’s office found “many instances of non-compliance” with the agency’s regulations such as System Security Plans being “inaccurate or incomplete” and removable media, like flash drives, not being “properly scanned for viruses.”

In addition to not adequately protecting data gathered by the NSA, the inspector general also found problems with the agency’s continuity of operations planning (COOP) and made recommendations to improve this area.

“Deficiencies in this area could result in significant impact on the mission support to the warfighters and policy makers that rely on NSA intelligence,” the report stated.

The inspector general also found the NSA’s Emerging Open Sources Activities (EOSA) branch indicated “an increased risk” of “jeopardizing the civil liberties and privacy of [Americans] and compromising classified information” and made recommendations to address those risks.

The NSA’s implementation of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) “revealed several deficiencies that have the potential to impact the protection of U.S. person (USP) rights” due to human error and other reasons, according to the report.

Overall, the report did not reveal any “serious or flagrant problems or abuses” that would “require immediate reporting” to the NSA director or Congress. However, the it did reveal “significant problems and deficiencies” within the NSA such as the agency’s Record Management Program.

The agency has come under fire in recent days. President Donald Trump slammed the NSA earlier in July for deleting hundreds of millions of phone records in June and tied it to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The NSA deleted hundreds of millions of these phone records, known as call detail records (CDRs), after discovering it did not have the authorization to handle all the data it had collected, according to the Hill. (RELATED: NSA Tripled The Amount Of Surveillance It Conducted In 2017)

“NSA is deleting the CDRs because several months ago NSA analysts noted technical irregularities in some data received from telecommunications service providers. These irregularities also resulted in the production to NSA of some CDRs that NSA was not authorized to receive,” the NSA said in a June press release.

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