Making Disconnections

I am struggling with a disconnect. I just heard about a malware app that compresses all of your files and then holds you ransom for a password that will unlock and restore them. The people behind the malware take their payment in moneypaks or bitcoins. They are extorting millions of dollars.

A related occurrence is spam e-mail. Spammers take over computers, viagra order usually without the knowledge of their owners. They turn the computers into bots that send millions of spam messages. Some workers receive as many spam messages as they do non-spam messages. Spam costs companies millions in lost revenues.

The disconnect that I am sensing has to do with the ongoing NSA disclosures. If the NSA is able to hack into the cell phones, databases and servers of governments, banks and businesses, why doesn’t it know the identity of the file-compressing extortionists and the spammers? Why doesn’t it forward the identities and locations of the extortionists and spammers to the appropriate law enforcement agencies?

I can only imagine two answers to these questions. First, the hacking talents ascribed to the NSA are wrong, and they cannot hack into any and all websites and servers, or at least not the computers of the file-compressing extortionists and the spammers. Two, the NSA knows the identities and locations of the extortionists and spammers, but its mandate is national-security related crimes and it just doesn’t care about these other, non-national security criminals.

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