Switchboard: Former NSA chief asks for big bucks to consult on financial cybersecurity


Retired Gen. Keith B. Alexander, former NSA head. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Published every weekday, the Switchboard highlights five tech policy stories you need to read.

Ex-NSA Chief pitches banks costly advice on cyber-attacks.  "As the four-star general in charge of U.S. digital defenses, Keith Alexander warned repeatedly that the financial industry was among the likely targets of a major attack. Now he’s selling the message directly to the banks," Carter Dougherty and Jesse Hamilton at Bloomberg report. Alexander, who retired from his role as head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command in March, is apparently pitching himself as a consultant to the tune of up to $1 million per month.

The Supreme Court’s decision on software patents still doesn’t settle the bigger question. The Supreme Court's decision on a software patent case dealt a blow to companies that want to patent abstract ideas -- but it didn't provide a lot of clarity for what kinds of software should be patentable, the Switch's Brian Fung reports.

Google's Nest to Buy Video-Monitoring Security Startup for $555 MillionGoogle's Nest Labs is acquiring online video-monitoring company Dropcam for $555 million, Alistair Barr and Rolfe Winkler at the Wall Street Journal report. Dropcam, which lets user stream live video to mobile apps and can send alerts based on activities monitored by the cameras, is often marketed and used as a home security system.

Google's states of play.  "Google is a Washington powerhouse that shapes federal law, rewards congressional allies and boasts a new 54,000-square-foot office, just down the road from the U.S. Capitol. But the Internet giant quietly has planted its political roots in places far beyond the Beltway — in state legislatures and city councils that have become hotbeds for tech policy fights," Tony Romm at Politico reports.

Court renews NSA phone program. "The federal court overseeing the country’s spy agencies renewed an order Friday allowing the National Security Agency to collect phone records of people in the United States," reports Julian Hattem at the Hill. While Congress considers various legislative reforms, the program was extended for another 90 days last Thursday.

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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