Defending a network from the NSA

In the just-completed USENIX Enigma security conference, Rob Joyce, the head of the elite Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division of the NSA, offered advice on making his job harder. Go figure.

The setting struck me as surprisingly routine, considering he is, arguably, the nations head hacker. The NSA is an apex predator (his term) and Joyce sits at the head of the apex.

Rob Joyce of the NSA

Much of the presentation, Disrupting Nation State Hackers, consisted of standard best practices, but Joyce did offer a small peek behind the curtain.

While spies abusing generally unknown software flaws (a.k.a. zero day vulnerabilities) makes for great headlines and movies, real life, according to Joyce, is quite different. He characterized the use of zero day flaws by the NSA as “not that common.”

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