NSA to axe 90 per cent of system administrators in wake of Prism scandal

Automation hailed as key to ending leaks.

Keith Alexander, the director of the US National Security Agency (NSA) has announced the organisation is to eliminate around 90 per cent of its system administrators in an effort to beef up data security.

The announcement was made at a cyber security conference in New York, after former analyst Edward Snowdenleakedclassified documents about NSA spying programmes to the press - although the whistleblower was not mentioned by name.

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No one has wilfully or knowingly disobeyed the law, or tried to invade your civil liberties.

"What we're in the process of doing not fast enough is reducing our system administrators by about 90 per cent," said Alexander.

This will greatly reduce the number of people with access to highly sensitive information and in turn reduce the likelihood of further breaches, he added.

If successful, the process, which will be facilitated by greatly increasing levels of automation, will cut down the number of administrators from 1,000 to just 100.

"[Until now] we've put people in the loop of transferring data, securing networks and doing things that machines are probably better at doing," said Alexander.

Automation, he claimed, would make the NSA's networks "more defensible ... more secure [and faster]".

Alexander has also suggested making it compulsory for at least two people to be present before certain data can be accessed on the agency's systems.

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He also rounded off his presentation by defending the behaviour of the NSA and claiming the agency's actions had been grossly mischaracterised by the press.

"No one has wilfully or knowingly disobeyed the law, or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacies. There were no mistakes like that at all," he said.

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