Former NSA director Keith Alexander is filing for security patents and promising an intrusion detection service
General Keith Alexander, the retired director of the US National Security Agency (NSA) has filed for patents on technology that he says can protect customers’ networks against intruders – if they pay him up to $1 million a month.
This week he has promised that IronNet Cybersecurity, his intrusion detection service, will be backed up by technology he has invented, and which will be protected by “at least” nine patents covering techniques to detect advanced persistent threats and hackers.
The General’s Patents
It’s unusual for a former NSA director to make a move like this, but Alexander says he has cleared his technology patents with NSA lawyers. He is not disclosiong classified information, or work done during his time at NSA, which would belong to his employers, Alexander says.
This is new tech, which he invented in the few months since he retired from the agency early in 2014, according to an interview with Foreign Policy. Specifically, it uses “behavioural” techniques to second-guess the next moves of attackers.
Behavioural models for catching attackers have been suggested in the past, but have had little obvious success. General Alexander is testing his ideas and will have a service ready to run in September – which already has three paying customers.
Alexander filed seven patents while at the NSA, of which three have been approved. However, they aren’t visible on normal patent search sites: Ars Technica believes this is because they are deemed to be important to national security.
The General has obvious security credibility, having taken over the NSA in 2005, and having access to top-secret operations until he retired.
Alexander was in charge while whistleblower Edward Snowden, then an NSA contractor, gathered evidence of NSA spying, ready to leak it. He then handled the aftermath, locking the stable door by laying off 90 percent of NSA systems administrators in similar roles to Snowden’s.