The US National Security Agency (NSA) is attempting to beef up its security by letting go of 90 per cent of its system administrators, automating their roles instead.
The NSA has faced increased scrutiny after former contractor Edward Snowden, who had worked as a system administrator for the NSA, had leaked highly classified and embarrassing data about the NSA’s surveillance programmes to the press.
As a result, Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, told delegates at a cyber-security conference in New York that replacing staff with technology would improve security, according to Reuters.
“What we’re in the process of doing – not fast enough – is reducing our system administrators by about 90 per cent,” he said.
Alexander had previously stated that there are about 1,000 system administrators working for the NSA.
Before the agency began its attempts to automate many of its IT processes, Alexander claimed that the NSA had been “putting people in the loop of transferring data, securing networks and doing things that machines are probably better at doing”.
He added that by using automated technology, NSA’s networks would be “more defensible and more secure”.
The NSA has claimed that its efforts to automate processes began prior to Snowden’s leaks, but are now being accelerated.
Alexander had previously discussed other measures to beef up security at the agency, including a ‘two man rule’ which means that administrators need another person with them to access sensitive information.
At the New York conference, Alexander said that new technology, which he said was a “thin virtual cloud structure”, would replace employees.
“At the end of the day it’s all about trust.
And people who have access to data as part of their missions, if they misuse that trust they can cause huge damage,” the Huffington Post reported him saying.