The Atlantic

The NSA Confronts a Problem of Its Own Making

Recent cyberattacks show what happens when America’s secret-keepers can’t keep their secrets.
Source: Damien Meyer / Getty

It is hard to imagine more fitting names for code-gone-bad than WannaCry and Eternal Blue. Those are just some of the computer coding vulnerabilities pilfered from the National Security Agency’s super-secret stockpile that have been used in two separate global cyber attacks in recent weeks. An attack on Tuesday featuring Eternal Blue was the second of these to use stolen NSA cyber tools—disrupting everything from radiation monitoring at Chernobyl to shipping operations in India. Fort Meade’s trove of coding weaknesses is designed to give the NSA an edge. Instead, it’s giving the NSA heartburn. And it’s not going away any time soon.

As with most intelligence headlines, the story is complicated, filled with good intentions and unintended consequences. Home to the nation’s codebreakers and

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic8 min readSociety
Trump’s Break With China Has Deadly Consequences
After scuttling its partnership with Beijing on public health, the U.S. was unprepared for the pandemic.
The Atlantic6 min readPolitics
Should I Have Stayed in Germany?
The coronavirus is making me experience what Germans poetically call heimweh, the hurt of being far from your native land.
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
What Do Progressives Do Now?
Progressives are eager to use the coronavirus crisis to convince Joe Biden—and millions of other Americans—of the necessity of major reforms.