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­U.S. Plans Cyber Shield For U­tilities, Companies

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nuclear-power plant control room

The control room at a nuclear-power plant in Limerick, PA. The National Security Agency's 'Private Citizen' program will detect cyber assaults on critical infrastructure, but could also help companies in other fields, such as Google, which sustained a maj

Credit: Bloomberg News

The U.S. government is launching an expansive program dubbed "Perfect Citizen" to detect cyber assaults on private companies and government agencies running such critical infrastructure as the electricity grid and nuclear-power plants, according to people familiar with the program.

The surveillance by the National Security Agency, the government's chief eavesdropping agency, would rely on a set of sensors deployed in computer networks for critical infrastructure that would be triggered by unusual activity suggesting an impending cyber attack, though it wouldn't persistently monitor the whole system, these people said. Defense contractor Raytheon Corp. recently won a classified contract for the initial phase of the surveillance effort valued at up to $100 million.

Some industry and government officials familiar with the program see Perfect Citizen as an intrusion by the NSA into domestic affairs, while others say it is an important program to combat an emerging security threat that only the NSA is equipped to provide.

From The Wall Street Journal
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