Glenn Gerstell

Former General Counsel, NSA and Senior Adviser, Center for Strategic & International Studies
  • Served as general counsel of the National Security Agency during both the Obama and Trump administrations (2015 to 2020).
  • Explains cybersecurity risks America faces and what we can do about them, and what privacy will mean in the digital age
  • Recognized as a thought leader on the intersection of technology and national security, as a frequent contributor to CNN, MSNBC, Barron's, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Newsweek
  • Recipient of the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service, and the NSA Distinguished Civilian Service Medal

Play Video View Fees Add to List

Check Fees & Availability

Glenn S. Gerstell is a sought-after speaker, advisor and thought leader on the role of technology in national security, cybersecurity, privacy, and geo-political affairs. He served as the General Counsel of the National Security Agency and Central Security Service from 2015 to 2020, spanning both the Obama and Trump administrations.

In his role at NSA, Gerstell participated in the development of national cybersecurity policy and helped address the entire range of national security threats facing our country from counterterrorism to disinformation from foreign adversaries. Gerstell testified and participated in Congressional hearings and engaged directly with Cabinet members and other senior leaders in the Intelligence Community, the Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and other departments in the Executive Branch. He is a recipient of the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service, and the NSA Distinguished Civilian Service Medal.

Gerstell is currently a non-resident Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, as well as a consultant and corporate board member in a variety of industries. Gerstell also serves as a member of the National Academies of Sciences Future of Encryption Committee and the Experts board for The Cipher Brief.

Gerstell previously served on the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which reports to the president and the secretary of homeland security on security threats to the nation’s infrastructure, as well as on the District of Columbia Homeland Security Commission.

Prior to the NSA, Gerstell practiced law at Milbank LLP, where he focused on the global telecommunications industry, international business strategy and political-risk analysis, and served as the managing partner of the firm’s Washington D.C., Singapore, and Hong Kong offices (residing in Asia for eight years). He is an honors graduate of Columbia University School of Law.

Continue Reading »

Speaker Video

American Innovation and Choice Online Act

The National Security Impact of the Mishandled Documents

Assessing the Threat of Cyberwarfare in Ukraine

The Fourth Industrial Revolution - PolicyWest 2019

Closing Keynote: A Conversation on the Future of the Cyber Landscape

LENS Conference 2017: Cyber, Security & Surveillance | Glenn S. Gerstell, The View from the NSA

The Challenges of the Digital Revolution for Our Way of Life

We tend to think too conventionally and have difficulty imagining something completely new. But that is precisely what we must do in order to cope with extraordinary change that is about to sweep over us. The advent of the internet of things, 5G telephony, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and other products of the digital revolution will present major benefits for society but also extraordinary challenges that we have not addressed. It will change the way we think about business, the role of government, and personal interactions. Yet we will almost surely underestimate the implications of technology.

Coping with a Rising China that Wants to Displace America

For the first time since the United States became a global power, we must confront another country that represents not merely a political or military threat, but also an existential economic one. China is an adversary and partner rolled into one, and there is no better example of how global technological development and trade produce complicated interdependencies. China’s Belt and Road Initiative — their worldwide development plan integrating infrastructure, markets and political systems — aims at nothing less than using their technical and financial prowess to replace the United States as the global power.

National Security Challenges facing America across the Globe

The next war could be won without a shot being fired but by an adversary’s turning off our stock exchange, our electric grid, or our civilian air traffic control system. Prior challenges such the specter of atomic bombs in the Cold War or terrorist acts following 9/11 inspired greater fear, but in some ways those threats were more manageable than the complex challenges we now face. Dealing with China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are themselves daunting challenges. We also face the continuing threat of terrorism and new threats from cyberattacks and biological and chemical warfare.

Is the Fourth Amendment Ready for the Digital Revolution…and What does Privacy Really Mean Today Anyway?

As more and more of our lives become digital, and we share more of our personal experiences online, what does privacy really mean anymore? The 4th Amendment, which limits unreasonable searches and seizures, didn’t even apply to tapping telephones, telegraphs and radio signals until 1967. But since then, our courts have struggled to keep up with the digital revolution and Congress has tried to balance privacy and civil liberties with national security needs. At the NSA, we daily coped with the competing challenges of keeping our nation safe while adhering to the Constitution.

Continue Reading »