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It's to limit the access of human eyes to private data

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) said it will get rid of a majority of its system administrators in favor of automation. 

Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, said that the agency will cut 90 percent of its system administrators and put automation in their place. The reason behind the new move is to improve security and make networks faster.

"What we're in the process of doing - not fast enough - is reducing our system administrators by about 90 percent," said Alexander. "What we've done is we've put people in the loop of transferring data, securing networks and doing things that machines are probably better at doing."

There are around 1,000 system administrators who help operate the agency's networks. But having people run these networks has proved to be troublesome for the NSA after former system administrator Edward Snowden told the press about classified NSA information -- such as spy programs on U.S. and foreign citizens through telephone records and email

The NSA said that automation was an idea presented before the Snowden fiasco, but now that that has happened, it's working hard to roll it out and eliminate human workers that could snitch about private surveillance programs. 

"At the end of the day it's about people and trust," said Alexander. "No one has willfully or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacies. There were no mistakes like that at all."

Just last month, it was announced that NSA programs would be partially declassified and available to the public as a result of Snowden's information leaks. U.S. spy agencies are declassifying documents that shed light on surveillance programs as well as those that will reveal information about the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Source: Reuters

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900 admins losing thier jobs wont talk
By Mitch101 on 8/9/2013 12:45:05 PM , Rating: 5
Because of one person 900 more will lose their jobs to automation. Well reality is they will be lucky to be able to release 15-20% to automation. Automation to get rid of 90% is pretty wishful thinking and that's without knowing what exactly they think they can replace workers with automation.

Sorry but not every application allows or has API's that can be leveraged to create that much automation. Even then you need to keep the creators or well documented process as to how the automation was done so when someone pulls the plug on a server, replaces it, or network changes you can quickly determine where the process broke down.

In reality this sounds more like a security and access issue than anything else. A lot of places give people too much control over permissions and they don't understand the simplicity or complexity of their actions and wind up giving users access to information they shouldn't. Automation doesn't fix this education and auditing does.

By Obujuwami on 8/9/2013 1:07:54 PM , Rating: 5
You, sir, deserve a 6 for that statement!

RE: 900 admins losing thier jobs wont talk
By arazok on 8/9/2013 1:32:33 PM , Rating: 1
Whats amazing is that, if true, the NSA has had an opportunity to automate 90% of its admins, and never bothered. That’s 900 people, earning $120K a year (I assume as Snowden did), doing automatable work. That’s $108,000,000.00 of wasted money every year.

Only the government would feel that saving $108M a year isn’t a worthwhile endeavor, until that is, spending it brings a political benefit.

RE: 900 admins losing thier jobs wont talk
By gamerk2 on 8/9/13, Rating: 0
By Mint on 8/9/2013 3:55:18 PM , Rating: 2
It'll cost the economy, not the gov't.

All the benefits you mentioned, along with their multiplier effects, will not add up to the salary paid.

But yeah, since the economy doesn't have any shortage of labor, and other companies are probably doing similar things to replace lesser sys admins, I seriously doubt anywhere near 900 new jobs will be created in the private sector through their firing. So the economy will shrink a bit.

Whether that's a good thing or not depends on the perspective.

RE: 900 admins losing thier jobs wont talk
By KCjoker on 8/9/2013 6:32:39 PM , Rating: 2
And that's why I and many don't want the Gov't to keep getting bigger and bigger. Once they're entrenched it's extremely difficult to fire a gov't employee.

RE: 900 admins losing thier jobs wont talk
By FITCamaro on 8/10/2013 12:21:46 AM , Rating: 2
You have no idea how true this is. The things I see a government employee doing right next to me every day is mind blowing. And he still wasn't fired when it was all recorded and reported over the course of 4 months.

By MaulBall789 on 8/10/2013 3:17:41 PM , Rating: 3
That was YOU? Damn dude, I had to break out the high level excuses for that fiasco. Good thing I blamed it all on you ;)

By Arsynic on 8/9/2013 3:38:12 PM , Rating: 5
It's government, they'll probably pay the solutions vendor (which has Washington lobbyists) twice that amount.

By bsd228 on 8/12/2013 8:52:02 PM , Rating: 2
Whats amazing is that, if true, the NSA has had an opportunity to automate 90% of its admins, and never bothered. That’s 900 people, earning $120K a year (I assume as Snowden did), doing automatable work. That’s $108,000,000.00 of wasted money every year.

Automation isn't free. It's particularly expensive up front - a capital investment - and you can expect on going costs as well. This is paying a different set of people, or buying software written by other people, or hardware device built by even more people. A big gain of automation (ignoring the security motivation) is higher reliability or scalability for the same money spent.

By synapse46 on 8/14/2013 11:04:48 AM , Rating: 2
I bet their goal is to minimize the number of possible whistle blowers.

By Jaybus on 8/9/2013 3:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
That would be true in the business world. But this is government, where government "welfare" jobs are the norm and at least 50% of them have no purpose to begin with. When a politician tells you that they created jobs, they mean exactly that. They appropriated more tax dollars to hire excess, unneeded government workers to no purpose other than to say that they "created" jobs. The entire Dept. of Education could be disbanded and nobody would even notice the difference, other than those who work there.

Naturally, those fired from their government jobs would be greatly affected, but one would expect that initial turmoil if the US were to transform from a socialist society back into a capitalist society.

By ritualm on 8/9/2013 4:17:34 PM , Rating: 3
The story isn't remotely close to 900 sysadmins losing their jobs. It's going to be much worse than Skynet: consolidation of power in the hands of one man. A giant step in the wrong direction.

Whoever that manages to succeed General Keith Alexander will effectively have all the keys needed to rule this world. The next 10-50 years will not be pretty unless you are deeply politically connected.

By retrospooty on 8/9/2013 6:03:34 PM , Rating: 3
This could be a long term goal. You are right, they certainly cant do it today, not even close.

For the govt. automation is better. Computers don't have moral issues to contend with like those pesky humans.

By Harinezumi on 8/9/2013 6:39:08 PM , Rating: 3
Given the percentage of employees who do any real work in a typical government office, there might not be any additional automation required if they fire the right 90%.

By RedemptionAD on 8/11/2013 3:33:51 PM , Rating: 2
They said system admins, not other lower level jobs that cannot be automated, so you can, depending upon the type of workload get much closer to a 90% automation rate.

On the bright side high level system admins as well as programmers are in high demand especially for domestic aka citizens rather than work visa related admins. This firing would reduce the amount of work visas that need to be issued and would increase national security in addition to getting less hands on sensitive data.

Regarding your last paragraph, you are spot on.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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