Former NSA chief to profit from patented hacker detection tech, charging clients $1M a month


Keith Alexander, the former director of the National Security Administration, is filing for tech security patents related to his work running the NSA.

He's hawking a hacker/intrusion-detection service to banks and big corporations for a reported fee of one million dollars a month.

Is it ethical for an NSA chief to pursue patents on technologies directly related to their work running the agency? He is believed to be the first former NSA director do so. Will the Justice Department investigate? Don't hold your breath.

Shane Harris for Foreign Policy, on what could possibly justify that $1 million/month fee:

The answer, Alexander said in an interview Monday, is a new technology, based on a patented and "unique" approach to detecting malicious hackers and cyber-intruders that the retired Army general said he has invented, along with his business partners at IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., the company he co-founded after leaving the government and retiring from military service in March. But the technology is also directly informed by the years of experience Alexander has had tracking hackers, and the insights he gained from classified operations as the director of the NSA, which give him a rare competitive advantage over the many firms competing for a share of the cybersecurity market.

The fact that Alexander is building what he believes is a new kind of technology for countering hackers hasn't been previously reported. And it helps to explain why he feels confident in charging banks, trade associations, and large corporations millions of dollars a year to keep their networks safe. Alexander said he'll file at least nine patents, and possibly more, for a system to detect so-called advanced persistent threats, or hackers who clandestinely burrow into a computer network in order to steal secrets or damage the network itself. It was those kinds of hackers who Alexander, when he was running the NSA, said were responsible for "the greatest transfer of wealth in American history" because they were routinely stealing trade secrets and competitive information from U.S. companies and giving it to their competitors, often in China.

"The NSA's Cyber-King Goes Corporate" [Financial Times]