The program, codenamed MonsterMind, would have let the military agency automate the process of "hunting for the beginnings" of a foreign cyberattack, the report said. The software would be constantly on the lookout for digital "traffic patterns" that indicated known or suspected attacks, said the report published this week by
The report, part of a wide-ranging interview with Snowden in
"You could have someone sitting in
The problem of attribution after a cyberattack has long unsettled computer security experts. A House technology subcommittee in 2010 concluded that, "proactively tracing interactions within a system may help determine where an attack originated after one occurs, but tracing every interaction is impractical and quite likely unconstitutional."
Snowden also called the program a major threat to privacy because NSA would first "have to secretly get access to virtually all private communications coming in from overseas to people in the U.S.," said the new report, by NSA expert and author
Snowden remains exiled in
The NSA declined to comment on specifics of the Wired report. A spokeswoman,
Snowden is charged under the U.S. Espionage Act and faces up to 30 years in prison for leaking the documents.
The U.S. government has elevated lately the damages of foreign cyberattacks against American interests. In May, the
Snowden also told the magazine that the NSA tried to hack into a major Syrian Internet router in 2012 during the middle of the country's civil war. But he said the NSA mistakenly "bricked" the router — computer-speak for rendering it useless — temporarily crippling Internet access there.
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