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General (Ret) Keith B. Alexander, Director of the NSA, and “The Greatest Transfer of Wealth in History”

The year was 2015, an eternity in today's world of growing cybersecurity threats, regardless, General (Ret) Keith B. Alexander, Director of the NSA from 2005 - 2014, sounded the alarm of the present dangers of that time, and what was to come.  In a prepared statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the now retired General - 20 months out of office as Director of NSA & USCYBERCOM, spoke of the four major threats in the cyber domain: cyber attack, cyber espionage, cyber theft of intellectual property, and criminal activity.

Alexander also noted how “In 2014…the worldwide loss from cybercrime was $445 billion annually.  While this number seeks to account for the theft of intellectual property, in my view, the value of theft of intellectual property from American industry is significantly greater than accounted for in this study and, in fact, represents the single greatest transfer of wealth in history.”

In the cyber realm, Alexander spoke of the growing threats from the spread of nation-state espionage, including hacks against government systems and the rampant theft of core U.S. intellectual property, financial crimes conducted by criminal syndicates and nation- state sponsored groups, and more.

And with regards to the growing debate as to who should defend against cyber attacks, said Alexander, “More importantly, commercial and private entities cannot defend themselves alone against nation state attacks nor nation-state-like attacks in cyberspace. And we do not want them to “fire” back. The U.S. Government is the only one that can and should “fire” back. That is, it is the government’s job to defend this country in cyberspace…”

Alexander, as far back as 2015, was pushing heavily for “...legislation that provides clear authority and liability protection to incentivize information sharing.”

Fast-forward to 2023 and it’s fair to say that Alexander’s words were prescient indeed.

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