Morning Security Brief: NSA Spying on Gamers, CIA Business Spies Glean Little, Tech Companies Face Losses, and More

By Ann Longmore-Etheridge

►The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) infiltrated the virtual worlds of online gamers in the name of U.S. national security. One spot in the cyberverse they penetrated was World of Warcraft, which boasts millions of players. Other online games that the NSA targeted are Second Life and multiple popular games hosted by Microsoft's Xbox Live. The NSA, according to the Associated Press, "[has] long worried that such games serve as a good cover for terrorists or other evildoers who could use in-game messaging systems to swap information. In one of the documents cited Monday by media outlets, the NSA warned that the games could give intelligence targets a place to 'hide in plain sight.'" Several of the companies that run the online gaming sites say that the NSA intrusion was done without their knowledge or permission.

►The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has found little useful information in the fight against terrorism by sending its spies into businesses in the guise of business executives, reports The Los Angeles Times. "Twelve years after the CIA began a major push to get its operatives out of embassy cubicles and into foreign universities, businesses, and other local perches to collect intelligence on terrorists and rogue nations, the effort has been a disappointment, current and former U.S. officials say. Along with other parts of the CIA, the budget of the so-called Global Deployment now being cut. 'It was a colossal flop,' a former senior CIA official said in sentiments echoed by a dozen former colleagues, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a classified program," the Times states. "The CIA spent at least $3 billion on the program, and the number of specially trained spies grew from dozens to hundreds. The entire clandestine service is believed to total about 5,000 people." 

►As a result of NSA spying, some of the largest U.S. tech companies are seeing losses that are expected to continue unless the NSA is restricted from its intelligence gathering by law. USA Today reports that in China, for example, "IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and, most notably, Cisco Systems have reported substantial drops in sales since the NSA surveillance program came to light. Time magazine notes that "the NSA spying scandal could cost the top U.S. tech companies billions of dollars over the next several years, according to industry experts. In addition to consumer Internet companies, hardware and cloud-storage giants like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Oracle could suffer billions of dollars in losses if international clients take their business elsewhere."


►The Los Angeles Times reports on a new cybersecurity boom in California's Sillicon Valley and its effect on legacy providers such as Symantec and McAfee.




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