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NSA Firing 90% of Its Sysadmins

Soulskill posted 1 year,12 days | from the because-angering-sysadmins-has-worked-so-well-in-the-past dept.

Government 634

sl4shd0rk writes "NSA Director Keith Alexander has decided that the best way to prevent illegal data leaks is to reduce the number of ears and eyes involved. During a talk at a cybersecurity conference in New York this week, Alexander revealed his plans to cut 90% of the System Administration workforce at the NSA. 'What we're in the process of doing — not fast enough — is reducing our system administrators by about 90 percent,' he said. Alluding to an issue of mistrust, Alexander further clarified: 'At the end of the day it's about people and trust ... if they misuse that trust they can cause huge damage.' Apparently, breaking the law and lying about it leaves one without a sense of irony when speaking in public."

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Hmm (5, Insightful)

spike hay (534165) | 1 year,12 days | (#44520999)

So having a huge amount of very disgruntled people with at least previous access to large amounts of classified data isn't a security risk?

Re:Hmm (5, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521057)

Previous access to stuff that really isn't secret any more.

Re:Hmm (5, Interesting)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521305)

How do you know Snowden got everything worth spilling? He was only one low level guy.

Dear de facto Dictator for Life Putin,
May I suggest you hang out a big "Welcome former NSA sysadmins" sign on your country. Tell 'em the weather is cold but the girls are hot (and something for the women sysadmins too - we Yanks frown on sexism). Your country may be a sewer due to its government, but as an American I'd be very grateful for anything you can do to help expose the use of our Constitution as toilet paper.

Re:Hmm (2)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521299)

So having a huge amount of very disgruntled people

Depends how it's done. Contractors come and go. So if those 900 people were contractors, like Snowden, it might not make a difference in outcome (though in that case, the NSA was probably already creating some number of disgruntled contractors).

Or they might move these people into other decent paying work. If the ex-workers aren't experiencing a big decline in wages and no longer fall under those heavy security rules, then it's possible that most of them might see it as a promotion.

Re:Hmm (0)

frozencesium (591780) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521317)

Typical government response:

1) Think of a "solution", consequences be damned
2) Create a bigger mess with the "solution" than previously existed
3) ???
4) Tax to pay for it! (the government's version of "profit"

ever hear of best practices?! (5, Insightful)

Thud457 (234763) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521415)

During a talk at a cybersecurity conference in New York this week, Alexander revealed his plans to cut 90% of the System Administration workforce

holy shit, why not give them a warning that you're going to kick their ass to the curb before security comes to their desk with a brown cardboard box. Yeah, that's not gonna piss any of them off before you cut off access. At least the private sector has that one figured out.

Alexander needs to go, yesterday. He's more inept than Ballmer.

Re:ever hear of best practices?! (5, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521479)

Alexander needs to go, yesterday. He's more inept than Ballmer.

Hang on a second. Do we *really* want a competent person running the NSA?

Re:Hmm (5, Insightful)

Feyshtey (1523799) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521447)

My initial question was, if you can do the work with 90 people, why the FUCK were you paying 900?!? And people actually debate against the need to reduce the size of government...

Re:Hmm (4, Informative)

beltsbear (2489652) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521451)

And even worse, letting it slip in advance? None of them ever read slashdot!

Partitioning and reducing the number of eyes on data is a good idea. Re-checking the people with access to the most sensitive information is a good idea. Blanket orders from higher up administration who do not understand the problem, BAD IDEA. 'Automation' that could allow one person (with access legit or not) to get to even more information than before, recipe for disaster.

Seems like someone from upper management saw a presentation on this subject (from a vendor) and now thinks they know everything.

At the end of the day (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521023)

"At the end of the day it's about people and trust"

I... it's.... but...


Re:At the end of the day (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521155)

From TFA:

Using technology to automate much of the work now done by employees and contractors would make the NSA's networks "more defensible and more secure," as well as faster, he said at the conference.

Which sounds eerily like:

The strategy behind Skynet's creation was to remove the possibility of human error and slow reaction time to guarantee a fast, efficient response to enemy attack.

Skynet was originally activated by the military to control the national arsenal on August 4, 1997, at which time it began to learn at a geometric rate. On August 29, it gained self-awareness, and the panicking operators, realizing the extent of its abilities, tried to deactivate it. Skynet perceived this as an attack and came to the conclusion that all of humanity would attempt to destroy it.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

So firing 90% of their admins (5, Interesting)

kommakazi (610098) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521025)

and pissing them all off, giving them no job to lose, is going to somehow *prevent* further leaks? Brilliant!!!!

Re:So firing 90% of their admins (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521127)

Even better is what happens a few months down the line, when they realize software can't fix hardware and they just fired the people that knew how the systems actually worked.

"So, yeah, we HAD all this data, but..."

Re:So firing 90% of their admins (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521421)

Privacy conscious people will rejoice!

Re:So firing 90% of their admins (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521147)

And announcing that you are going to fire 90% of them ahead of time. So they have lots of time to collect what they want to leak.

Re:So firing 90% of their admins (5, Insightful)

cusco (717999) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521319)

And create dummy accounts with remote access, hide old desktop machines in dusty closets with modems attached to the fax machine, and take home that secondary hard drive out of their desktop machine. I tell you, this guy is truly a manager's manager!

Re:So firing 90% of their admins (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521353)

I wonder if other nations intelligence agencies will start contacting these folks with job offers or cash in exchange for walking out the door with some of that stuff. If they don't at least try I would have to be surprised.

Re:So firing 90% of their admins (1)

doquinha (3014141) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521361)

And I thinks that's exactly what they want. Nervous almost jobless people springing this beautiful shinny trap so they can know just who to fire before hiring new muscle.

Re:So firing 90% of their admins (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521393)

How would they know who it will be?
Who would know if someone took a tape to ensure its validity and copied that data onto something else?

What says the new muscle won't be the source of these attacks? I bet a lot of folks would now love to be the next one of these leakers and would jump at the chance to take these jobs.

Re:So firing 90% of their admins (1)

mellon (7048) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521475)

Possibly the goal is to see who collects stuff to leak and arrest them. Saves on unemployment insurance... The 10% you keep are the ones who do not react badly (from the perspective of the NSA) to this announcement.

The actual deterrent (2, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521189)

So firing 90% of their admins and pissing them all off, giving them no job to lose, is going to somehow *prevent* further leaks?

I'm pretty sure the threat of life imprisonment for revealing "secrets" was and is a bit more of a deterrent than the loss of wages ever could hope to be. If someone kicks you while holding a gun to your face are you worried about their foot or the gun?

Forgotten lessons from 1984. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521287)

and pissing them all off, giving them no job to lose, is going to somehow *prevent* further leaks? Brilliant!!!!

Yes, I think they need to re-read 1984. The inner party used the outer party to keep the world the way they wanted. This worked against the best interests of the people, but the outer party complied because, while they weren't the main beneficiaries of their efforts, the likely alternative was to be on the losing end of the deal, one of the lower-class citizens. So by being complicit in fucking over the lower class to the benefit of the upper class, they were permitted to maintain middle-class status. So they didn't like what they were doing, but they liked the alternative even less, and so they continued to do it.

The NSA has now decided to kick them out of the middle class. I suspect this isn't going to go the way they've imagined.

You should buy some more weapons. (1)

leftie (667677) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521391)

More weapons. More Ammo.

So then, this is the way you secure your systems (5, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521035)

You fire all the people who are responsible for the security of your systems. Wait, what?

Re:So then, this is the way you secure your system (1)

Xicor (2738029) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521069)

and then replace them with intelligent robots who continue to spy for you.

Re:So then, this is the way you secure your system (4, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521079)

Don't worry, they've already got subcontractors in Hong Kong lined up for the job.

Subcontractors (4, Funny)

sjbe (173966) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521197)

Don't worry, they've already got subcontractors in Hong Kong lined up for the job.

I think he's in Russia now...

Re:So then, this is the way you secure your system (1)

damacus (827187) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521163)

No, it's simple, you subcontract it out to Google!

Re:So then, this is the way you secure your system (1)

wizkid (13692) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521309)

Hey that's fine, I'm sure the Russians and Chinese p0wn'd the NSA computers long ago.
they already have their back-doors.

Just hires lotsa temps (1)

leftie (667677) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521465)

Get a whole bunch more temps, and more weapons.

More leaks coming? (2)

mike555 (2843511) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521045)

I guess it is safe to say there might be more "Snowdens" soon.

Question.... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521051)

Can we fire 90% of the NSA?

Re:Question.... (5, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521077)

As long as we imprison the other 10%

Re:Question.... (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521263)

I think you have your numbers switched around.

Re:Question.... (1)

TheCarp (96830) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521349)

Embrace the power of AND.

Fire 100% AND imprison 100% seems like a fine compromise to me, I would support it.

Re:Question.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521467)

So those 10% will still work for the NSA... Sounds about right.

Re:Question.... (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521477)

Can we fire 90% of the NSA?

. . . and hire more detectives, instead. The government doesn't need more SIGINT, they need HUMINT. Like, if Russia warns you that you have a potential terrorist living in Boston, go check him out . . . but thoroughly, please!

Start checking out places where these terrorist folks hang out . . . like radical Mosques.

Recording folks like me calling their mothers in the US from Europe is a waste of time and resources. Cut the NSA budget. Hire detectives.

Well that's just brilliant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521075)

Astounding decision. Piss off a bunch of SysAdmins.

Re:Well that's just brilliant! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521205)

Astounding decision. Piss off a bunch of SysAdmins.

Does the BOFH have a security clearance?

Re:Well that's just brilliant! (1)

Mathinker (909784) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521339)

Personally, instead of BOFH, I thought about xkcd [] ....

Re:Well that's just brilliant! (2)

cusco (717999) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521341)

Well, I sure as hell wouldn't want to be the guy to deny him one . . .

Re:Well that's just brilliant! (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521223)

My personal experience seems to back up my belief that most of these "leaders" see techs as non-human robots, or, at best, "the other" in every equation.

I don't see techs as any bigger of a hole than any other person. Most people in executive positions seem to have a large amount of magical thinking in this area, though. Somehow the "analyst" is more human than the guy that is making sure the actual infrastructure is safe.

If you want your business data to be safe, treat your sysadmin like a human being. They are a key person whether you want to admit it or not.

The Cloud! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521085)

The NSA is moving all of their infrastructure to a managed cloud service overseas to save money.

Alternatively... (5, Insightful)

Nogami_Saeko (466595) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521091)

They could just pay them well, give them a fair amount of responsibility and respect, and, perhaps... not break the law or violate the constitution.

Re:Alternatively... (5, Funny)

Anubis IV (1279820) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521251)

Oh sure. Just ask for the world on a plate while you're at it, why don't you? What next? Ask us to stop lying to Congress or sharing intelligence on foreign citizens of countries that agree to do the same for our citizens?

-- NSA

Re:Alternatively... (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521277)


This "Constitution" of which you speak... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521371)

Was it not a document written by old white slaveholders?

And does it not conflict with the Holy Will of our Lord and Master, Barack Obama?

It is inconvenient, and therefore null, void and obsolete.

Re:Alternatively... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521385)

no no no

that's socialism.

Re:Alternatively... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521473)

Show of hands from the sysadmins who have experienced all of the above at ANY job?

So... (3, Interesting)

Ecuador (740021) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521101)

Is he saying that sysadmins are particularly untrustworthy? Why not reduce the entire workforce by 90% to reduce the number of ears and eyes involved. Reducing 90% of just the sysadmins won't reduce the total "population" by much (unless I am mistaken in my assumption that NSA is not just a data center). Also, you could try reducing the number of people who know too much - i.e. could do most damage. If the sysadmins fit that category and not, say, the directors or management then you are doing it wrong...

Re:So... (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521185)

I assume that sysadmins score particularly badly on the 'amount of access vs. degree of trust' metric.

Barring really elegant, or unbearably onerous, system design, (which the NSA apparently didn't bother with, since one comparatively junior sysadmin at a contracting company, not even in house, apparently had massive access to the juicy details) sysadmins tend to have enormous power over your systems, access (because somebody has to run backups) to your files and email, etc, etc.

Re:So... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521329)

I assume that sysadmins score particularly badly on the 'amount of access vs. degree of trust' metric.

Pretty much this. Well, and given the way the federal government works most of those admins won't actually be fired.

The DoD has been clamping down on the number of admins for a while - I used to be a 'sysadmin' with god privileges to the network because it was the only way rights were assigned.

It's possible to give admin rights much more granually today, so while I still have admin rights, I don't have enough of them to count as a 'sysadmin'. Call it a demotion if you will, but it's more secure.

Ecuador - the trick is that the 'other workers' are all operating with locked-down accounts that limit their access.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521365)

IIRC Snowden didn't reveal info of system architecture. The things that were revealed were what USERS of the system would know. Why are users more trusted?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521321)

> Why not reduce the entire workforce by 90%

You are talking about reducing management by 90%? That will never happen.

Re:So... (1)

Hatta (162192) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521383)

No, he's saying that sysadmins are particularly trustworthy. As such they have no place at the NSA.

Taking the Humans Out Of The Loop (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521111)

Yea, that worked out really well in War Games...

Not the mistrust issue we were thinking of (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521121)

Am I reading this right? The NSA think that the issue of mistrust around PRISM is that we worry some whistleblower will leak our information, and not that it's being harvested in the first place? They're deep into cognitive dissonance land over there I see.

Re:Not the mistrust issue we were thinking of (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521311)

I'm surprised that Keith's head didn't explode when he said "people who have access to data as part of their missions, if they misuse that trust they can cause huge damage.”

He is sort of Public Enemy #1 on that score right about now, with any lackeys who have nontrivial authority right behind him.

Not necessarily firing people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521137)

Reducing the number of employees with admin privileges does not necessarily involve firing anyone.

Re:Not necessarily firing people? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521161)

What precisely would a system administrator do with his administrative priviledges revoked?

I'll let you supply your own punchline.

Re:Not necessarily firing people? (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521239)

Be paid to play counter strike all day. The NSA sure can afford it.

In any case (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521141)

In any case, shouldn't they have an army of people to go through all the data that they collect from wiretapping?

Great, now NSA will have mismanaged IT (3, Interesting)

sinij (911942) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521143)

Great, now NSA will have mismanaged IT systems prone to failures and easier to compromise. As a result thier snooping will be available not only to US government, but to any other entity that would bother to hack their way into under-managed IT system run by remaining 10% of overworked sysadmins.

Re:Great, now NSA will have mismanaged IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521269)

...under-managed IT system run by remaining 10% of overworked sysadmins.

They could always outsource to Pakistan like everyone else. Save 'em a ton of money, you know.

Re:Great, now NSA will have mismanaged IT (2)

sinij (911942) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521395)

Alternatively, they can chain remaining admins to the server racks and periodically whip them when productivity goes down. This might be slightly illegal, but it isn't like breaking the law stopped them before.

total stupidity (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521157)

He is going to increase the work of each sysadmin by 10x... ->

Making what is perpetually an overworked position 10x worse ->

Making it not worth the stress for the amount of pay ->

Making every sysadmin in the NSA a ripe target for various bribes...


The people in leadership positions in the USA (government and corporate) are all idiots.

Re:total stupidity (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521369)

The remaining sysadmins won't be overworked. They'll just bring in contractors and they'll have them sign NDAs.

Why does that seem familiar for some reason?

Re:total stupidity (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521449)


It's funny talking about mistrust (1)

Virtucon (127420) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521165)

When you're the one illegally spying on your citizens I think you've lost all credibility on the trust issue. The NSA needs to look up the word hypocrisy in the dictionary. []

Well, it's a good start! (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521167)

Now they just need to gut the rest of the NSA.

Seriously though, if they feel the need for such a mass firing of sysadmins due to a lack of trust, then the top brass know very well that they are doing serious wrong. They have discovered that people have morals and care about their country and the world at large, and based on those morals they cannot be trusted. Once again, thank you Snowden, thank you very much! I do wonder how many sysadmins this equals, which I'm sure is classified.

so if they can do it (1)

v1 (525388) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521171)

so if the NSA is firing people they don't trust... and fewer than 30% of americans trust the NSA... can we fire them? (and the TSA? please?)

So the way we're hearing of this ... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521173)

Is a leak at the very top? Sounds like Alexander is the problem.

More job loss.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521177)

I happen to have a few friends who happen to work with/for the agency(s) mentioned.
This is a sad day for those folks... who rely on those jobs to feed their families.
I am not sure what 90% of XXXXXX is....but regardless people lose their jobs.

Re:More job loss.... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521343)

Please do call them 'Quislings' for me.

Hmmm (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521213)

'What we're in the process of doing â" not fast enough â" is reducing our system administrators by about 90 percent,'

Why risk keeping 10% of them, too dangerous, fire them all.

10% of the workforce doesn't equal 100% work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521217)

That's ok I'm sure the remaining 10% will be able to complete the workload of the 90% let go in addition to their own without any added stress. They won't be more prone to make mistakes unintentionally or intentionally right?

I have an idea, let's fire 90% of the doctors at a hospital because one gets a malpractice suit against them. That will reduce the risk the hospital faces right?

Umm (3, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521231)

How about REDUCING 90% of the ILLEGAL data tapping instead?

People-Free Soylent Green (1)

Tablizer (95088) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521233)

P.H.B. overcaffeinated reaction to bad press back-firing in 3...2...1...

Reminds me of bad employer (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521249)

Reminds me of a bad employer I worked fo once. The tech company had endless big dreams and always pushed for a new product idea almost every month. They hired lots of talent to get products to market.. Engineers and software people got hired one month to watch another group get axed the next because of budget crunches. It reminded me of a fucken revolving door. Funds shifted endlessly from one group to the next. Show a fancy screen, you got more funds, take a break and you might get chopped. Maybe one product made it to market each year, mostly rushed and in need of rework. The best reduction of staff would be starting from the top, let's say the director should go first replaced with someone with a clue.

Ain't this the pot calling the kettle black! (1)

gabrieltss (64078) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521261)

Hmm seems to me there is a bigger issue - the MIS-TRUST of the NSA entirely! They don't trust their people - but NO ONE trusts the NSA - so I say lets FIRE 100% of the NSA and shut it down!

It's not the sysadmins I'm worried about (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521265)

It's not the sysadmins I'm worried about abusing power, it's the people above them.

We should be firing 90% of the bureaucrats.

Re:It's not the sysadmins I'm worried about (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521281)

but but but but.... the PRODUCTIVE class!

There, that'll fix it! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521279)

"We don't need this many sysadmins, we'll just outsource to China and Russia."

Shell game? (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521289)

Could be just an opportunity to re-label positions to manager or technician, then they save face by stating that they removed 90% of SysAdmins. Systems will always need attention by folks. Even if they are dumb terminals.

In Other Words... (1)

twmcneil (942300) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521291)

NSA does huge favor for 90% of it's SysAdmins.

NB: And hiring contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521303)

Guess what caused the leak in the first place?

Amazing (5, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521331)

An organization that have no respect for other people having no respect for their workers too? Working for them is no magic shield, only gives them more tools to hit you harder when comes your turn.

is it possible (1)

kaatochacha (651922) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521335)

That they fire 90% of them from the NSA, then hire them over at the newly created NTA ( we have to increment one...), then state the NSA isn't doing anything wrong anymore?

Amazed the NSA doesn't understand data security. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521357)

The days where the root password was the key to every kingdom are long gone.

Really, the NSA can't figure out how to encrypt databases without the passwords being accessible to their sysadmins? They can't figure out how to log sensitive information without putting it in clear text? They can't create a system where their security is based on better controls than just trusting the BOFH not to do the wrong thing?

The NSA could use some lessons from the best practices in health care and credit card processing. If the issue is "we're afraid of our sysadmins," you have a bigger issue than your sysadmins.

worst idea ever (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521381)

So instead of workers who haven't leaked data for years, they're going to replace them with ohhhh let's say me for example. I'd leak the shit out of everything offensive and wrong except I'd do it completely anonymously and mega stealthy so they'd never catch me. Then there's the other thousand people who would do the same that are applying for jobs there to replace them. Then, to top it all off, a bunch of people who currently have access to basically everything are now really pissed off. Yay, time for more leaks followed soon after by more leaks.

If they don't need them, fire them (3, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521413)

If they don't need 90% of their sysadmins, they should have fired them long ago.

But I suspect that they aren't all redundant, so how are they going to maintain their systems? It would be interesting to see their server-to-sysadmin ratio and compare to other companies.

Without the sysadmins to maintain and secure their systems, they may be making their data even easier for hackers to access, so the NSA may end up being a huge liability to the security of the country. I don't see why no lawmaker understands this - data breaches happen every day, even to large companies that follow best practices to secure their data. Why do they think that the NSA's vast data warehouse is not going to be breached when it's such a huge target to non-friendly governments and hackers throughout the world - even governments of countries where most computer hardware is made that have the resources to hide backdoors in that hardware.

An alternative explanation for firings (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521431)

One word: sequester. It strikes me that the NSA could just be trying to save some money, and they need a convenient excuse to shed people who take up a significant portion of their budget.

If they're not needed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521441)

So does that mean 90% of them were never needed in the first place and you were just wasting taxpayers money?

Or possibly they are needed and you'll now outsource the jobs to the Chinese?

Employees or contractors? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521457)

What the Reuters report doesn't really say is if these system admins are current employees or contractors. If they're employees, this is all too convenient. If they're contractors, well, they'll be hired back as soon as this high-profile news event dies down a little. About time for fall sports to start again, and a new TV season.

Ahem, Mr Alexander. (2)

Dracos (107777) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521463)

"If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about." Does that sound familiar, Mr. Alexander?

Obviously, you are very worried.

in Other news - mass exodus of sysadmins from nsa (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521485)

The remaining 10% quit en-mass due to overwork, stress and the feeling "that I'm being watched"....

Reduce the sysadmns by %90: (1)

Hartree (191324) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521487)

Oh this is going to be hysterical. Pass the popcorn.

Sorry General, AI isn't that good yet, regardless of what some software company sales rep has told you about its magic pixie dust administration automation software.

Wow (2)

Culture20 (968837) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521491)

If I were in the remaining 10%, I'd quit no matter how much they paid me. Doing the work of 9 people? That's burn out in less than a month.

A Clear and Present Danger (1, Redundant)

Phoenix666 (184391) | 1 year,12 days | (#44521493)

The NSA, Congress, Executive, and Judiciary represent a clear and present danger to the People and Constitution of the United States of America. They are violating our god-given rights on a daily basis, lying to us about it, and there is no branch of government that is checking that overreach. If there was, we'd be seeing top officials at the NSA perp-walked to supermax cells and the President of the USA would have been impeached by a unanimous vote weeks ago when he admitted knowing about it and doing nothing about it.

So, dear friends, it is the duty of every patriotic American who still loves freedom to resist the government in every way they can, large and small. If you run a business, refuse to serve anyone from the Congress, Judiciary, or Executive branches. Don't let your kids play with their kids. Ostracize them. If you know how to design systems that resist surveillance, do so and then send them off to live autonomously so no one can compel to you compromise them. If you have the know-how, track & publish the whereabouts of every government agent who thinks spying only goes one-way; send everyone in the Starbucks a text alert every time one of those goons enters the establishment, so you know just who to 'accidentally' spill hot coffee on.

If those kinds of actions are too small fry for you, do something else. Knock yourself out. Do what you can, do what you feel comfortable doing, but don't do nothing. Being quiet about this stuff, letting them get away with it, is the very worst you can do if you don't want to see this country slide completely off the cliff into totalitarianism.

Typical bureaucratic overreaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44521495)

Why plan when you can (over)react?

After 9/11*, lots of barriers to accessing information were removed in order to make "connecting the dots" easier.

So, after a couple of big leaks from guys who had access to more information than their jobs required, the bureaucrats overreact in the opposite direction. Imagine that.

* - And the post 9/11 "reorganization" of US intelligence agencies was a joke. What kind of dumbass thinks that you can fix the pissant infighting between 40+ different bureaucracies by putting another layer of bureaucracy on top? That's not rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic - that's asking for the delivery of a container ship full of crushed ice.

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