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TheRealGodzilla's avatar

Why does the NSA ask for help from silicon valley when they have more computer experts than silicon valley or any other digital group of experts?

Asked by TheRealGodzilla (57points) January 16th, 2016

Considering that the NSA has access to any phone on earth, more computer experts and coders than any other group on earth, why does the n.s.a. ask for help from silicon valley?

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9 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

so they can build backdoors directly into the hardware, perhaps.

cazzie's avatar

The NSA does not have direct access to computer experts and coders like you think, actually. Keeping a herd of them on tap isn’t cost effective. When the NSA is looking for help they often go to the DoD grants and funding files and see who is doing what by way of federal grant research. Much of this is going on in hot spots like Universities and seeding programs like those in Silicon Valley. As long as the NSA has hooks into places like Los Alamos and Silicon Valley and a number of tech sections of Universities, they have what they need on tap.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The sad truth is that government work doesn’t pay what comparable work will bring in the private sector when it comes to computer skills. It is also virtually impossible to fill teaching positions involving computer skills in the schools.

filmfann's avatar

Also, more doesn’t mean better.

elbanditoroso's avatar

NSA may have the best codebreakers in the world, but they don’t have access to all of the different database schemas that all the various private companies use.

Look at a SQL table (or for that matter, any relational database). Those tables have various columns defined, and different views, and different joins, and all sorts of cross referenced data within the database. To say nothing of indirect and direct codes and shortcuts,

It’s one thing to intercept network data calls – the NSA does that well – and quite another thing to be able to data mine in a complex SQL or other database structure. And these database structures are very proprietary and non-standard—each company defines the for the specific uses that their applications need.

The bottom line is that NSA has to go to the companies to understand and make use of any data. A hard drive (or a server farm) full of data is worthless unless you know how it is structured.

gorillapaws's avatar

Your statement “the N.S.A. has access to any phone on earth, more computer experts and coders than any other group on earth” is simply false. I am sure there are groups with many more people than the NSA has. E.g. Stack Overflow has hundreds of thousands of users. That’s probably 1–2 orders of magnitude greater than what the NSA has on staff. After the Snowden leaks, I’‘m guessing they probably have a hard time recruiting top talent, simply because many coders think the NSA is betraying the constitution.

ragingloli's avatar

simply because many coders know the NSA is betraying the constitution.

TheRealGodzilla's avatar

“Stack Overflow has hundreds of thousands of users”. Users are coders? Enlighten my ignorance, please.

gorillapaws's avatar

@TheRealGodzilla In the case of StackOverflow most users will be coders. They aggressively purge spammers and inactive users, so you’ve got a list of hundreds of thousands of active users who are posting on a programming forum that will purge your question/post if it’s not on topic. It’s not 1:1 certainly, but I can say with high confidence that the number of highly competent coders on stack overflow dwarfs what the NSA has on staff.

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