April 18, 2013
Issues regarding email security have risen to such prominence recently that some privacy advocates have been concerned that the U.S. National Security Agency's new $1.2 billion data center would be used to illegally look at the emails of citizens. However, Reuters reported that the agency said the facility will be used to support cybersecurity laws that limit the ability to spy on citizens of the country.
"Many unfounded allegations have been made about the planned activities of the Utah Data Centre," the NSA said in a statement. One of the biggest misconceptions about NSA is that we are unlawfully listening in on, or reading emails of, US citizens. This is simply not the case."
These concerns seemed to come, at least in part, from TV news outlets, as Reuters reported that Fox News aired a report that said the 1 million-square-foot facility would be used to spy on citizens. Worries also come from the fact that Former President George W. Bush issued an executive order after the attacks of September 11 in which the NSA monitored calls without warrants.
To detract this, the NSA said it would not waver in its respect for the U.S. citizen and email law in the country, saying it is subject to oversight from the entire government. Policies for both phone and email wiretapping are established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act passed of 1978. All forms of wiretapping require warrants from a three-judge court, according to the act.
While the NSA may be taking a law-abiding stance, cybercriminals do not. The truth is, email sent unencrypted can be intercepted and read by anyone. Implementing rules around data exfiltration and mandatory encryption can ensure that information sent out via email, is either not sensitive to the organization or completely encrypted, sender to recipient.