NSA director: Snowden slowed cyberattack prevention efforts

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The director of the National Security Agency on Tuesday said leaks made by Edward Snowden have impeded the agency’s efforts to prevent cyberattacks, The New York Times reports

Speaking at a Georgetown University conference, Gen. Keith Alexander said the agency still needs to find a way to protect the country’s most vulnerable civilian targets. 

“An attack on Wall Street or an exploit against Wall Street, NSA and Cyber Command would probably not see that,” Alexander said. “We have no capability there.” 

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Alexander also serves as commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, which runs the Pentagon’s cyber warfare and defense operations. 

Only the president can authorize the use of a cyber weapon, and it’s unclear if Cyber Command could launch an attack to protect targets.

“We have capabilities to defend the nation,” he said, “but we don’t have the ability to share that back and forth.”

Alexander, who will leave his post this spring, made the case on Tuesday for laws that would allow private companies to share information with the government about potential attacks.