Approaching its 60th birthday, the National Security Agency (NSA) has a staff some 35,000 strong worldwide, and an impressive building complex in Fort Meade, Md., where the walls are lined with copper mesh to prevent electronic eavesdropping. True to its origins dating back to breaking enemy code during World War II, the agency has two primary missions: signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and information assurance (IA).
Although the NSA is typically depicted as the most super-secret of federal agencies, it does post valuable reports on security best practices on its Web site
. And Neal Ziring, the NSA's technical director of the Information Assurance Directorate (IAD), recently agreed to an in-depth interview.
What is information assurance for the NSA?
"Information Assurance for us is the ability for our customers, national security customers, to know that their information is only accessible to those who need it, is accessible to those who need it when they need it, that it has integrity - it hasn't been altered - and more recently, cyber defense.