What then is to be done about cyber-security? Despite constant bombardment from the outside, real threats lay inside our networks, which is where Centrify's identity management and authentication tools come in.
But as Hayden joked, he knows something about insider threats. Edward Snowden, whom Hayden called "Voldemort," leaked NSA documents a few years after Hayden left the agency. "The new danger of the cyber domain is not just the empowerment of these bad actors. It's the ability of the outsider to become the insider, the ability of the outsider to assume the persona of the insider," he said.
This leads the discussion back to the private sector, including companies such as Centrify and FireEye, which the government is seeking guidance from. "With the exception of a thin slice of things that only the government can deal with, the main body for American cyber-defense is the private sector. I tell my friends still in government, get over it."
He said the role of the private sector became clear in the case of Apple, about which he said the government had the wrong idea before they decided to buy the hack to open the iPhone 5C used by terrorist in a December 2015 mass murder in San Bernardino, Calif.
"If you accept the premise that we are going to sink or swim, based upon the performance of the private sector, and the private sector has now developed what appears to be pretty good encryption, why would you demand that they do something that everyone agrees, even in a perfect world, would in some measure reduce the security of that?"
It's a new world, one we haven't even been able to describe. Of the massive data breach resulting from the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment's network disclosed in November 2014, he said, "President Obama described it as an act of vandalism. But it was much worse than that. He should have called it ... if you've got a good word let me know. ... We have not yet gotten the big concept squared. We have not yet figured the real no-fooling definitions."
For now, let's just call it cyber-warfare.
Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. He has an extensive background in the technology field. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture, at TechTarget. Before that, he was the director, Editorial Operations, at Ziff Davis Enterprise. While at Ziff Davis Media, he was a writer and editor at eWEEK. No investment advice is offered in his blog. All duties are disclaimed. Scot works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.