According to a report published by the Wall Street Journal, the US National Security Agency, by appointment of the US Government, is operating on a program, called Perfect Citizen, which is aimed at detecting an neutralizing any possible cyber-attacks against private firms and government agencies essential for the smooth functioning of national infrastructures.
What is Perfect Citizen?
In short, Perfect Citizen’s goal is to protect electricity networks, companies that operate local and regional public transport, electrical or nuclear power plants, air traffic control systems and even television networks.
This can be achieved by placing an array of sensors within the computer networks of the companies and agencies that provide the above mentioned services.
In case of a cyber-attack, those sensors (designed by Raytheon which got a $100 million confidential deal to develop them) would immediately send an alert to the NSA.
Apparently, development of this program had already started under the Bush administration with the inception of National Cyber Security Initiative, and the wind has not changed with Obama on the leading seat. In practice, thanks to Perfect Citizen (which according to a confidential Raytheon source published by the WSJ, might as well be dubbed as Big Brother), the US Government wants to make sure that the companies which provide services of public utility do their utmost to keep a high security level on the infrastructures which keep the country functioning.
Companies are not legally obliged to say yes to Perfect Citizen and install the sensor which act as a backbone of the system, but considering the potential benefits to prevent cyber attacks, surely there will not be many refusals to a further level of protection for their computer networks, especially if they have a standing contract with a government agency and political pressure might weigh in to influence the decision process.