How the NSA is improving security for everyone

nsa national security agency
Stephen Sauer

The NSA’s core function is gather and analyze data. But the NSA is also expected to secure and protect sensitive information, and as part of that role NSA security experts have launched a program to integrate more commercial off-the-shelf products.

The benefits could be twofold: First, by moving from Government-Off-The-Shelf (GOTS) to Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS), the NSA hopes to save money, while at the same time improve its security posture. Second, commercial products that pass NSA muster can also be used by enterprise IT, so the program could end up raising the security bar for everyone.

Clint McKay, technical director in the NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate (IAD) is developing the Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) program. “The CSfC enables commercial products to be used in layered solutions protecting classified NSS data (National Security Systems). We provide the ability to communicate securely using commercial standards and solutions. In doing so we keep pace with the rapid rate of change in IT, something that is very difficult to do when using traditional GOTS solutions.”

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