The National Security Agency ended a program used to spy on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a number of other world leaders after an internal Obama administration review started this summer revealed to the White House the existence of the operations, U.S. officials said.
The cost of cyber espionage and cyber crime to the U.S. may reach $100 billion each year, according to a study to be released Monday, casting doubt on earlier estimates that the costs were as much as 10 times higher.
The U.S. government gave American Internet providers addresses linked to suspected Chinese hackers earlier this year as part of a previously undisclosed effort aimed at blocking cyber spying, current and former U.S. officials said.
The head of the National Security Agency came out swinging Tuesday, saying today’s sweeping surveillance programs might have prevented the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as he and other officials emphasized that their intelligence-gathering programs are subject to broad oversight.
Key advances in computing and software in recent years opened the door for the National Security Agency to analyze far larger volumes of phone, Internet and financial data to search for terrorist attacks, paving the way for the programs now generating controversy.
The National Security Agency’s monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit-card transactions, said people familiar with the agency’s activities.
Iranian-backed hackers have escalated a campaign of cyber assaults against U.S. corporations by launching infiltration and surveillance missions against the computer networks running energy companies, according to current and former U.S. officials.