The Washington Post revelations on the so-called project Muscular show the NSA has collected data from hundreds of millions of individuals using Google and Yahoo as well as other major internet companies. In turn, Google and its employees have responded angrily. Given that Google takes great pride in its ability to automate key functions of its services, such personal reactions are expected. It would also be no surprise if an over reliance on automation helped prevent Google from catching the NSA in the act.
Considering the fact that a multitude of other major firms were unable to detect the NSA breach of security, it is understandable that Google did not detect the intrusion; however, Google is the one company users would expect to able to detect such intrusions. In many respects, Google fosters a culture of arrogance when it comes to its ability to automate and the sophistication of its products. Consequently, Google and the rest of the information technology community should use these revelations as a learning experience.
There are, at least, two major lessons to be learned. First, one should never assume a technology is imperious to an attack, ever. This means Google needs to approach issues with greater humility. Second, there is always someone looking to steal information. Quite frankly, the NSA is not the worst possible entity that could have hijacked this data; the NSA must, at least, answer somewhat to public outcry. Consequently, the NSA hacking is a serious problem that cannot be allowed to continue, but companies like Google must also play a more proactive role in preventing and detecting these types of intrusions.
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