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Defense Companies Cash in on Gov't Hyped 'Cyber-Security' Threat

Contractors predict "dozens" of private companies will soon have access to personal cyber data

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Amidst the daily hype over the increased threat of cyber attacks and enhanced need for internet security, private defense companies are cashing in on the new stream of defense dollars and trove of "classified" personal cyber data.

In the past two weeks, defense giants Raytheon and Lockheed Martin have signed contracts with Homeland Security's new cyber program.(Photo via American Board for Certification in Homeland Security) On Tuesday, the nation's top intelligence officials, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that—for the first time—the threat of "computer-launched foreign assaults on U.S. infrastructure" outranked terrorism as the greatest worldwide threat. 

As FireDogLake's DS Wright said, "now that the government has decided to stimulate the cybersecurity market Washington’s perennial parasites want a piece of the action."

Bloomberg News reports that within the past two weeks security contractors Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have signed an agreement under the Department of Homeland Security’s Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program providing new revenue streams and, more notably, unparalleled access to personal information classified as "U.S. government data."

Under President Barack Obama’s Feb. 12 cybersecurity executive order, DHS is now authorized to provide these contractors with "intelligence" gathered from commercial service providers, including personal internet records and email content. Bloomberg reports, "Obama and U.S. officials have said sharing classified threat data with companies is essential to help prevent cyber-attacks that could cause deaths or economic disruption."

According to their reporting, private contractors are heralding the dispersion of personal data under the protective umbrella of "security":

There could eventually be dozens of commercial service providers from a variety of industries, Bruce McConnell, cybersecurity counselor at the Homeland Security Department, said in an interview. “I think you will see other companies get into this business,” he said. [...]

The broader dissemination of cyber-threat data “in a controlled fashion is a good thing” and can “help assure that more companies have access to information for protecting their systems,” said Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, a partner with Monument Policy Group, a lobbying firm, and former Democratic staff director of the House Homeland Security Committee.

In addition to Raytheon and Lockheed, telecommunication companies CenturyLink and AT&T have also signed on as approved providers.

This news comes as the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) appears before Congress in three separate hearings this week about the Act and computer and network security, in general.

Civil liberties advocates are calling on their representatives to oppose the legislation, citing gross privacy violations and concerns over the "liberal" sharing of "very sensitive and personal information" between the government and private contractors.

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