Anna Moneymaker/New York Times via AP
The National Security Agency considers itself the world’s most formidable cyber power, with an army of computer warriors who constantly scan the wired world. Yet by law, the NSA collects intelligence abroad, and not inside the U.S.
U.S. rivals like Russia are aware of this blind spot and know how to exploit it, as the NSA director, Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, explained recently to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“We may see what’s occurring outside of the United States, but when it comes into the United States, our adversaries are moving very quickly,” Nakasone testified on March 25. “They understand the laws and the policies that we have within our nation, and so they’re utilizing our own infrastructure, our own Internet service providers, to create these intrusions.”
In a major breach last year, hackers widely believed to be from Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, stealthily placed malware on a software update produced by the Texas company Solar Winds.
No one had reason to be suspicious, or the legal authority to…