The Atlantic

The NSA Confronts a Problem of Its Own Making

Recent cyberattacks show what happens when America’s secret-keepers can’t keep their secrets.
Source: Damien Meyer / Getty

It is hard to imagine more fitting names for code-gone-bad than WannaCry and Eternal Blue. Those are just some of the computer coding vulnerabilities pilfered from the National Security Agency’s super-secret stockpile that have been used in two separate global cyber attacks in recent weeks. An attack on Tuesday featuring Eternal Blue was the second of these to use stolen NSA cyber tools—disrupting everything from radiation monitoring at Chernobyl to shipping operations in India. Fort Meade’s trove of coding weaknesses is designed to give the NSA an edge. Instead, it’s giving the NSA heartburn. And it’s not going away any time soon.

As with most intelligence headlines, the story is complicated, filled with good intentions and unintended consequences. Home to the nation’s codebreakers and

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