Speaking before an audience at the American Enterprise Institute earlier this week, National Security Agency chief Army Gen. Keith Alexander warned that cyber espionage and global cyber crime cost $338 billion a year. Remediation costs are estimated to be another $1 trillion, and according to Alexander, ‘that’s out future disappearing in front of us.’

Alexander discussed cyber and critical infrastructure, as well as the need for increased partnerships to combat cyber threats, both within the intelligence community and with the private sector.

One difficult with today’s cyber threats, Alexander noted, is the difficulty in determining who’s responsible – cyber crime may be state sponsored, a criminal gang within a country or even a lone wolf hacker. The perpetrator is less significant than the result – which may include serious financial or security implications.

Alexander also spoke out for the need for congress to move forward with cybersecurity legislation. In some instances privacy still continues to trump security, with concerns about civil liberties hindering the passage of legislation.

"We can do the protection of civil liberties and privacy and cybersecurity as a nation. Not only that we can, but I believe it’s something that we must do," said Alexander.

Alexander spoke specifically to recent concerns about the government’s storage of email and web usage histories at a new data center in Bluffdale, Utah. He called the notion that the government would store data on private citizens “ludicrous,” but added that he wasn’t going to be up front with the NSA’s procedures for data collection.

“I’m not going to come out and say what we are doing,” he noted. “That would be ludicrous, too.”

Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves cybersecurity, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email editor@clearancejobs.com.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.