NSA deputy director warns of increasing cyber attacks and calls for nations to draw red lines

The deputy director of the US National Security Agency (NSA), Richard Ledgett, has warned that nation-state cyber attacks will become more frequent as the world becomes more connected.

Ledgett told the BBC that everyone connected to the internet was “vulnerable to nation-state attackers” and said nations would need to agree upon red lines that should not be crossed.

The chief operating officer said that “the barrier to entry is going down… and as everybody in the world becomes more connected with computers and information systems, the vulnerabilities are going up”.

Improving defences and identifying the most sensitive data should be the priority for dealing with cyber security threats according to Ledgett, however he also urged nations to push forward with identifying red lines and the subsequent consequences if they are crossed.

He suggested that such consequences could themselves be cyberspace actions against offenders, adding that the US military's cyber-command would conduct offensive cyber operations against attackers.

As it stands, said Ledgett, the response to each attack against the US would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and could also involve diplomatic or economic consequences in the form of sanctions.

Measures to implement boundaries on cyber attacks have recently been put in place with the US and the UK signing a deal with China at a recent summit to stop such activity. Whether this will prove effective remains to be seen, however early indications point to a breach in the agreement.

Ledgett responded to these reports saying "the jury is still out," he said. "In any big organisation when guidance is sent down then sometimes it takes a while to… get to the working level."

The NSA number two also took aim at Edward Snowden who he blamed for the NSA’s targets changing their behaviour in response to surveillance information leaked by the former security contractor.

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