NSA bot MonsterMind can wage cyberwar on its own — Snowden

The US National Security Agency owns a “MonsterMind” program designed to prevent foreign cyberattacks and, also, automatically strike back, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden told Wired magazine.

In his latest revelation, Snowden said that the defense software in the works would robotically hunt for the launches of foreign cyberattacks against the US and neutralize them.

MonsterMind – unlike similar schemes that have existed for many years now – would also be capable to fire back at such attacks without any human intervention Snowden said in an extended interview with Wired’s writer James Bamford.

The new defense program, Snowden warned, could unintentionally cause serious diplomatic incidents, because many cyberattacks are routed through computers in countries that are not aware of their involvement. That means that a retaliation strike launched by the US system could lead to a conflict with the nation where the machines used by adversaries are located.

“These attacks can be spoofed,” Snowden said. “You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?”

The NSA leaker did not specify how exactly a counterstrike would work and whether it would completely disable the attacking system.

Huge privacy concerns is another problem that MonsterMind could stir up, Snowden believes. To make the program work, the NSA would have to spy on basically spy on all private communications coming in from abroad to the US, the whistleblower explained.

“The argument is that the only way we can identify these malicious traffic flows and respond to them is if we’re analyzing all traffic flows,” Snowden said. “And if we’re analyzing all traffic flows, that means we have to be intercepting all traffic flows.”

This, in his words, is a violation on the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, “seizing private communications without a warrant, without probable cause or even a suspicion of wrongdoing”.

A spokesperson for the NSA declined to comment on MonsterMind, Wired wrote.

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