Former General Counsel for the National Security Agency and highly sought-after speaker, advisor and thought leader on the role of technology in national security, cybersecurity, privacy, and geo-political affairs.

Glenn S. Gerstell is a former General Counsel for the National Security Agency and highly sought-after speaker, advisor and thought leader on the role of technology in national security, cybersecurity, privacy, and geo-political affairs.

Glenn S. Gerstell is a former General Counsel for the National Security Agency and highly sought-after speaker, advisor and thought leader on the role of technology in national security, cybersecurity, privacy, and geo-political affairs.

About Glenn S. Gerstell

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.

Glenn Gerstell, General Counsel of the National Security Administration, poses for a portrait on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at the National Cryptologic Museum in Annapolis Junction, Maryland.
Photo courtesy of Lawdragon, from their November 2, 2016 “Lawyer Limelight” interview. Lawdragon has listed Gerstell among among their 500 Leading Lawyers for several years.
Gerstell’s insights are distinguished by his experience with — and forward thinking about — the intersections between technology and national security and privacy issues, including the urgent need to anticipate rapid advancements in technology.

About Glenn S. Gerstell

Glenn Gerstell, General Counsel of the National Security Administration, poses for a portrait on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at the National Cryptologic Museum in Annapolis Junction, Maryland.
Photo courtesy of Lawdragon, from their November 2, 2016 “Lawyer Limelight” interview. Lawdragon has listed Gerstell among among their 500 Leading Lawyers for several years.
Gerstell’s insights are distinguished by his experience with — and forward thinking about — the intersections between technology and national security and privacy issues, including the urgent need to anticipate rapid advancements in technology.

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.

Speaking

Glenn S. Gerstell: “The challenge is simply how do we preserve our American values of liberty and freedom while constructing appropriate new government structures and laws to deal with these new threats?”

Glenn S. Gerstell delivers refreshingly candid and insightful talks informed by four decades of leadership at the highest levels of national security policy and international law. He challenges his audiences to respond to the new risks and changing realities posed by rapidly evolving technology, including how cyber-technology is shaping the future of privacy, politics, and national security.

Gerstell has spoken at cybersecurity conferences sponsored by RSA in San Francisco, at conferences of the Cloud Security Alliance and the Consumer Electronics Show, public policy organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council, at federal judicial conferences, and at a wide range of universities including Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Duke, New York University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Texas, and University of Virginia.

Recent speaking topics include, “The Challenges of the Digital Revolution for Our Way of Life, ” “Coping with a Rising China that Wants to Displace America,” “National Security Challenges facing America across the Globe,” and “Is the Fourth Amendment Ready for the Digital Revolution…and What does Privacy Really Mean Today Anyway?”

Glenn is represented by Leading Authorities, Inc.

Glenn S. Gerstell: “The challenge is simply how do we preserve our American values of liberty and freedom while constructing appropriate new government structures and laws to deal with these new threats?”

Glenn S. Gerstell delivers refreshingly candid and insightful talks informed by four decades of leadership at the highest levels of national security policy and international law. He challenges his audiences to respond to the new risks and changing realities posed by rapidly evolving technology, including how cyber-technology is shaping the future of privacy, politics, and national security.

Gerstell has spoken at cybersecurity conferences sponsored by RSA in San Francisco, at conferences of the Cloud Security Alliance and the Consumer Electronics Show, public policy organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council, at federal judicial conferences, and at a wide range of universities including Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Duke, New York University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Texas, and University of Virginia.

Recent speaking topics include, “The Challenges of the Digital Revolution for Our Way of Life, ” “Coping with a Rising China that Wants to Displace America,” “National Security Challenges facing America across the Globe,” and “Is the Fourth Amendment Ready for the Digital Revolution…and What does Privacy Really Mean Today Anyway?”

Glenn is represented by Leading Authorities, Inc.

RECENT SPEAKING TOPICS

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.

RECENT TALKS

This escalation of international security cyber-attacks poses complex questions about privacy in the 21st century. The right to individual privacy — codified in the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment — is central to American society. How can the U.S. strengthen its national security infrastructure without compromising citizens’ constitutional rights to privacy?

This livestream features Glenn Gerstell, General Counsel of the National Security Agency (2015-2020). The conversation is moderated by Sina Beaghley, Senior National Security Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation and deliberates how cyber-technology is shaping the future of privacy, politics, and national security.

“CITI Hearing: Tech & Information Warfare: The Competition for Influence and the DOD”

U.S. House Armed Services Committee hearing, April 30, 2021

Lessons Learned from a Cyberattack: SolarWinds Conversation (Part 2 of 2)

Center for Strategic and International Studies, February 26, 2021

Glenn Gerstell joins a CSIS Defending Democratic Institutions Project panel of policymakers and practitioners to discuss the lessons learned, implications of, and the path forward from the recent cybersecurity breach.

Michael Morell speaks with former NSA general counsel Glenn Gerstell about national security issues stemming from disinformation on social media. Gerstell outlines legal, technological, and policy approaches the new administration can take to combat the spread of disinformation on social media.

Disinformation and the National Security Implications of Technology

The Institute of World Politics, December 11, 2020

(Click on the video above to watch, or click here to listen to the audio only via Soundcloud)

Glenn Gerstell discusses the national security burdens that our private sector must bear due to the advent of new technology and widespread disinformation online.

Balancing Electronic Intelligence with Democratic Rights of Privacy

CSIS “Engine Room of Democracy,” podcast, August 11, 2020

(To play audio, click the image above or follow this link to the Megaphone audio)

Glenn Gerstell discusses how the United States undertakes sophisticated intelligence collection while staying consistent with a constitutional obligation to protect the privacy of American citizens.

Intelligence in a Pandemic

Webinar in association with the Schar Center at George Mason University, April 30, 2020

Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell and former NSA General Counsel Glenn S. Gerstell discuss national and digital intelligence in the middle of a pandemic and examine its lasting impact on the US intelligence community.

An in-depth discussion of how vulnerabilities created by technological developments across the globe have serious implications for the U.S. economy and national security, and how those vulnerabilities are centered on China.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Pacific Council – PolicyWest 2019, October 2019

Glenn S. Gerstell discusses the real danger in how the United States underestimates and is unprepared for the impact of technology as it advances in the modern age — an unacceptable risk for our national security.

The Future of the Cyber Landscape

ABA Rue of Law Initiative, May 31, 2019

A keynote speech focused on emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 5G networks, and how they will affect matters of national intelligence and security, including the global threat cyberattacks pose to elections.

Consulting

Glenn S. Gerstell speaking to the Duke UniversityCenter on Law, Ethics and National Security

Drawing on his experience in national security and cybersecurity matters, and his almost four decades of serving as one of the world’s leading lawyers in international finance — counseling some of the world’s most prominent institutions in a wide range of industries, from airlines to telecommunications — Glenn S. Gerstell advises governments, NGOs, leading corporations, and major institutions on how best to understand, predict, and prepare for rapid technological, social, and geopolitical changes. His relationships with leaders of all three branches of our national government help give him special insight to how national policy is developed in response to those changes. These engagements include talks and in-depth dialogues with key leaders, and tailored strategic consulting services.

Glenn S. Gerstell speaking to the Duke UniversityCenter on Law, Ethics and National Security

Drawing on his experience in national security and cybersecurity matters, and his almost four decades of serving as one of the world’s leading lawyers in international finance — counseling some of the world’s most prominent institutions in a wide range of industries, from airlines to telecommunications — Glenn S. Gerstell advises governments, NGOs, leading corporations, and major institutions on how best to understand, predict, and prepare for rapid technological, social, and geopolitical changes. His relationships with leaders of all three branches of our national government help give him special insight to how national policy is developed in response to those changes. These engagements include talks and in-depth dialogues with key leaders, and tailored strategic consulting services.

Recent Press

MEDIA APPEARANCES AND ARTICLES

USAID Hack: Former NSA Official Calls U.S. Cyber Insecurity A ‘Chronic Disease’

NPR | May 30, 2021

“NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with Glenn Gerstell, the former general counsel for the National Security Agency, about the recent cyberattack that Microsoft says targeted government agencies.”…read more


The Cybersecurity 202: The Defense Department isn’t armed to combat the growing threat of information warfare, experts warn

Washington Post | April 30, 2021

“National security experts will warn Congress today that the U.S. government isn’t doing enough to fight back against the growing national security threat of information warfare aimed at sowing distrust in the U.S. government at home and abroad”…read more


There’s a Big Gap in Our Cyber Defenses. Here’s How to Close It.

Politico | April 19, 2021

“Foreign adversaries who use U.S. servers are hiding in plain sight, but we can unveil them without violating the Constitution…” read more


After A Major Hack, U.S. Looks To Fix A Cyber ‘Blind Spot’

NPR Morning Edition | April 6, 2021

“The National Security Agency considers itself the world’s most formidable cyber power, with an army of computer warriors who constantly scan the wired world. Yet by law, the NSA only collects intelligence abroad, and not inside the U.S. U.S. rivals like Russia are aware of this blind spot and know how to exploit it…”


The Tech Threat Matrix: Disinformation, Cybersecurity, and Geopolitics with Glenn Gerstell, former NSA General Counsel

The Burn Bag Podcast | April 5, 2021

“We begin the conversation by getting Glenn’s thoughts on why he believes that online disinformation is a national security threat, why cyber-propelled disinformation is very different from the spread of ‘old-fashioned’ propaganda, and whether the 2020 Election’s disinformation was primarily bolstered by Russia or domestic actors…”


Fmr. top NSA lawyer on how to fight the national security threat of disinformation online

MSNBC | February 18, 2021

“Glenn Gerstell, the National Security Agency’s former general counsel joins Andrea Mitchell to talk about actions that need to be taken to stop the spread of misinformation online, including about vaccines. ‘For many, many years anti-vaccination websites have enjoyed a field day on Facebook for quite some time, fueling their falsehoods about the efficacy of vaccines,’ he says…”


We Can Take Advantage of the Russian Hack. Here’s How.

Politico | December 22, 2020

“It’s unrealistic to think we’ll be able to detect and stop every future attack; yet there are bolder steps the government can take now that will make a big difference in protecting its vital information and systems and aiding the private sector…” read more


The National-Security Case for Fixing Social Media

The New Yorker | November 13, 2020

“On Wednesday, July 15th, shortly after 3 p.m., the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, Kanye West, and other politicians and celebrities began behaving strangely…” read more


Among the Election Winners: Disinformation, By a Landslide

Barron’s | November 3, 2020

“The Election Day results aren’t all in, but already there are three clear winners: disinformation by a landslide, early voting by a clear majority, and governmental security steps by a significant margin…” read more


Former NSA General Counsel: “America’s Elections are More Secure than you Think”

CNN New Day | November 1, 2020

Gerstell talks with CNN New Day’s Christi Paul about election security and disinformation two days before the November 3 general election…watch the segment


America’s Elections Are More Secure Than You Think

Barron’s | October 30, 2020

“Chances are we will soon look back on the 2020 elections as the most secure in our history. There will probably be delays, disputes, and disinformation. But actual large-scale chicanery with the balloting or tabulation won’t be among the problems…” read more


To Prevent the Next Pandemic, Global Spy Agencies Must Join Forces With the WHO

Newsweek | June 8, 2020 (co-authored with Jamie Metzl)

“To prevent this type of total systems failure from happening again, we need a better way to stop deadly pathogenic outbreaks in their tracks at the earliest moment. The bad news is that we can’t do that under the current global health system. The good news is that the solution is within our grasp…” read more


Public Surveillance to Keep Us Healthy and Protect Our Privacy

Center for Strategic and International Studies | April 16, 2020

“If the Black Death in 1348 and the Spanish Flu in 1918 accelerated existing but nascent societal trends, what developments will the Covid-19 pandemic jump-start? While some developments will be revealed only retrospectively, one is immediately manifest: public health requirements will force us to decide just how much technology-fueled surveillance we really want…” read more


Four ways U.S. intelligence efforts should change in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Post | April 7, 2020

“While intelligence professionals must continue working as usual during the coronavirus crisis, their jobs must change post-crisis in four fundamental ways: The scope of mission must be broadened; public information relied on much more; taxpayer dollars used with greater effectiveness; and our battle against foreign disinformation intensified…” read more


I Work for the N.S.A. We Cannot Afford to Lose the Digital Revolution

The New York Times | September 10, 2019

“The threats of cyberattack and hypersonic missiles are two examples of easily foreseeable challenges to our national security posed by rapidly developing technology. It is by no means certain that we will be able to cope with those two threats, let alone the even more complicated and unknown challenges presented by the general onrush of technology — the digital revolution or so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution — that will be our future for the next few decades…” read more

WRITTEN ABOUT GLENN S. GERSTELL

What Does it Take to Lead NSA’s Legal Team?

ADD Docket | July 29, 2020

“It is an organization both respected and feared: the US National Security Agency (NSA). From its humble beginnings as a US Army unit charged with decrypting enemy codes during World War I, today’s NSA stands at the forefront of technology, privacy, and national security issues. It has played crucial roles in protecting the United States from foreign threats. But the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, as authorized by statutes such as the US Patriot Act, have also spawned great alarm. In an agency subject to increasing public scrutiny, what does it take to lead the NSA’s Office of General Counsel?”…read more


The Cybersecurity 202: Government may be too slow to tackle cyberthreats, outgoing NSA attorney warns

The Washington Post | February 3, 2020

“New forms of ‘unconventional’ thinking are critical when it comes to the risks of hacking threats from China and other U.S. adversaries on American systems. The speed at which technology advances cannot be underestimated, nor can the threat that hacks pose to American national privacy and security. 30 year old laws and regulations on cybersecurity and tech firms will need to be updated soon, before technology fully outpaces legislation…” read more


NSA’s top lawyer on surveillance and new challenges coming with 5G network

CBS News | April 3, 2019

“The inherent legal, ethical, and societal implications implicit in the advent of 5G networks and other rapid technological changes are immense, and new rounds of privacy definitions and considerations must follow with due diligence if the US is to keep up with the changes. Gerstell also explains the NSA’s new take on transparency in the era of agencies and corporations being held accountable by audiences across the globe, and how they plan to navigate the space between keeping information safe and secure, and align sure the American public’s constitutional rights remain protected…” read more


Transcript: Glenn Gerstell talks with Michael Morell on “Intelligence Matters”

CBS News | Intelligence Matters podcast, April 3, 2019

A discussion with Michael Morell, former Acting Director of the C.I.A.…read more


Lawyer Limelight: Glenn Gerstell

Lawdragon | November 2, 2016

Interview with Glenn Gerstell…read more

Contact Glenn

Inquire about Glenn’s speaking availability:

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY

Send Glenn a message: