Washington: US Internet giant Google is enlisting the help of the top US electronic surveillance organization to ward off cyberattacks, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
The report emerged amid an ugly spat between Beijing and Google, which has threatened to pull out of the Chinese market over cyberattacks and Web censorship in China.
Under an agreement still in the works, the National Security Agency (NSA) would help Google analyze those attacks in a bid to better protect the California-based search company and its users from future intrusions, the Post said, citing cybersecurity experts familiar with the matter.
“If a company came to the table and asked for help, I would ask them... ‘What do you know about what transpired in your system? What deficiencies do you think they took advantage of? Tell me a little bit about what it was they did,” a senior defense official told the newspaper.
The Post said the NSA was reaching out to other government agencies with roles in defending cyberspace to lend their hand in the Google investigation.
The alliance would seek to allow the spy agency to evaluate Google’s hardware and software vulnerabilities as well as estimate the sophistication of its adversary in order to help the firm understand whether it has the right defenses in place.
Through the pact, the NSA would also help Google understand how cyberattackers are penetrating its system, while the company would share information on the types of malicious codes found in the attacks without however disclosing related proprietary data.
According to industry experts, the intrusions that began in December targeted Google’s source code, the programming language behind its applications, and also targeted over 30 other major technology, defense, energy, financial and media firms.
The Internet giant approached the NSA shortly after the attacks, according to the Post, which noted that any such agreement would be the first time Google has engaged in a formal information sharing relationship with the intelligence agency.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told lawmakers on Tuesday that “we cannot protect cyberspace without a coordinated and collaborative effort that incorporates both the US private sector and our international partners.”