The federal 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, said a person familiar with the project.
NSA spokeswoman said the agency had no information to provide on the
program. A Raytheon spokesman declined to comment.
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.
"The overall purpose of the
[program] is our Government...feel[s] that they need to insure the
Public Sector is doing all they can to secure Infrastructure critical to
our National Security," said one internal Raytheon email, the text of
which was seen by The Wall Street Journal. "Perfect Citizen is Big