The NSA is seeing an increased number of employed hackers and cyberespionage agents quitting the agency, according to current and former NSA officials.
Citing current and former officials, Reuters has reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) is seeing a significant increase in the number of employees putting down their papers to seek employment in the private sector.
The exits are taking place due to a turbulent reorganization during the early days of the Trump presidency and the unsteady relationship between President Trump and the intelligence community, the officials confirmed.
Moreover, Reuters revealed that at least six cybersecurity executives in the private sector are seeing a “marked increase” in the number of government contractors and US intelligence officers seeking employment after Trump took office in January.
One of the executives is reportedly “stunned” by the proficiency and caliber of the job-seekers, who are coming from a number of varying government intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
The brain drain of hackers and cyber-spies toward the more lucrative private sector is all the more notable at the NSA, officials stated. This is due to NSA21, an agency reorganization effort from 2016 that is looking to merge the agency’s wiretapping (electronic eavesdropping) and cyber-security operations domestically, under the same roof. NSA21 will also expand the agency’s departments such as business management and human resources, putting them on equal footing with research and engineering.
However, the two-year re-haul project has failed to pacify significant employee concerns that the agency is lagging behind the private-sector in adopting and exploiting technological breakthroughs.
While the attrition rate from the NSA and other intelligence agencies can’t be quantified to a tee, one agency spokesman told the publication that there was a “steady rise” in attrition among its 36,000 employees since 2009. In 2016, the attrition rate was at 6%, nearly doubling in number compared to 3.3 percent in 2015.
As stated above, a large reason behind the concerns stoked among the agency’s staffers is stemming from the White House.
According to former NSA lawyer Susan Hennessey, the increasing attrition from the NSA “would represent an incalculable loss to national security.”
[The] tone coming from the White House makes an already difficult situation worse, by eroding the sense of common purpose and service.
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