Raw Story reports that NSA chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, told the neocon mothership American Enterprise Institute on Monday that the costs of computer hacking represents “the greatest transfer of wealth in history”.
”œSymantec placed the costs of [intellectual property] theft to United States companies at $250 billion a year, global cyber crime at $114 billion annually ”” $388 billion when you factor in downtime ”” and McAfee estimates that $1 trillion was spent globally on remediation,” he said. ”œThat’s our future disappearing in front of us.”
He wants to use this to back a push for ever more NSA power and budget grabbing, of course.
His talk was meant to support passage of a bill to firm up the nation’s cyber defenses. And while he wasn’t specifically supporting any piece of legislation, he seemed to indicate support for some of the more invasive measures within the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).
That bill, approved by the House but still pending in the Senate, would put the NSA in charge of cyber security for the whole nation, permitting companies like AT&T, Google and Comacst to share private user data with the agency under the auspice of protecting Americans from foreign threats.
But someone needs to point out he’s barking up the wrong tree. The “greatest transfer of wealth in history” has nothing to do with hacking and everything to do with derivatives, LIBOR fraud, dodgy mortgages and bank bailouts. The total value of the derivatives market alone tops the entire world’s GDP by a factor of ten, valuing at around $600 trillion. No-one knows how much of that is pure junk, but it’s a high enough fraction to dwarf, on its own, the $1.7 trillion the NSA head claims cybercrime costs. Junk mortgages cost $2.3 trillion in the US alone in just one year, 2008. US bank bailouts in 2009 cost somewhere between $4 and $7.5 trillion. The LIBOR rate is the effective base rate for $350 trillion worth of contracts worldwide and we may never have even an estimate on how much was skimmed by rate fixing.
The NSA want to eavesdrop on the wrong thieves.