Edward Snowden talks to NOVA about cyber war

PBS just released the entire, unedited transcript of an interview that author and PBS producer James Bamford did for its NOVA Next publication. In it, Snowden makes a few interesting comments about cyber warfare for the first time. Some of the highlights of which can be seen in the video clip above.

In the interview, which took place on June 30 of last year, the former NSA contractor who leaked classified US documents to the press said, “When it comes to cyber warfare, we have more to lose than any other nation on Earth.”

“I think the public still isn’’t aware of the frequency with which these cyber-attacks, as they’’re being called in the press, are being used by governments around the world, not just the US.”

The comments are drawing a lot of attention today because they stray from many of Snowden’s prior interviews, which have focused on the surveillance apparatus.

At another point, Snowden compared what is happening in terms of state-sponsored cyber attacks to the nuclear race during the Cold War, where the eventual “victors” were far ahead of the tech curve and that many countries, including Iran, are still trying to catch up. “They’’re vulnerable. They have no capacity to retaliate to any sort of cyber campaign brought against them,” Snowden said of the differences between the US and other countries.

He also said that current cyber-attacks are mostly disruptive, but newer, possibly state-sponsored attacks are becoming more destructive. Snowden said that for the US, this pivot “is going to be very difficult for us to navigate.”

The statements come at the start of what could be a very interesting year for cybersecurity, and, specifically, Boston security companies. Last year’s IPO from CyberArk appears to be ushering in a period in which many other Boston cybersecurity firms may follow its lead to the public market, including Bit9 and Veracode. Many other security firms, including ThreatStack, Rapid7, and CounterTack are also expected to grow in the current climate.

While Snowden’s thoughts may seem scary to many, they actually might present a greater opportunity for local security companies who are trying to position themselves at the bleeding edge of protection innovation.

Let’s just hope that they are prepared for what could be coming down the pike.

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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