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NSA Collects 200 Million Text Messages Per Day

timothy posted about a year ago | from the hey-why-do-you-hate-america? dept.

Privacy 287

ilikenwf writes "A new release from the files obtained by Edward Snowden have revealed that the NSA collects millions of text messages per day. These are used to gain travel plans, financial data, and social network data. The majority of these texts and data belong to people who are not being investigated for any crime or association. Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed, but we all know that means it is sent to a partner country for analysis, which is then sent back to the NSA."

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Pitchforks (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45978849)

Torches, hangmans nooses....these are a few of my favorite things.

Re:Pitchforks (3, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45979029)

Agreed. Time to insist on our Constitutional Rights.

And some guillotines.

some fishing expedition this is... (2, Funny)

swschrad (312009) | about a year ago | (#45979345)

there are fishing expeditions by subpoena. by break-and-enter. by throwing dynamite overboard.

freakin' NSA is tossing nukes to try and find one bluegill in the ocean.

there oughta be a law...

What is the signal/noise ratio? (1)

Akratist (1080775) | about a year ago | (#45978867)

"Sure." "Okay." "lolz." "Whats for dinner?" "No." "K." "don't be a dick"

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (4, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#45978923)

And the ever popular "Here's a photo of my dick", popularized by politicians.

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (-1, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#45978973)

That would explain Obama's 180 degree turn on the NSA. But who was he sending dick pics to? Could he be the first GNAA president? Maybe getting something on the down-low?

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (0)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#45979133)

Good old Barry. Get high, drone a village, send dick pics to everyone. I'm starting to like him again.

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#45979013)

It wouldn't be surprising if former member of Congress, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) [go.com] has an entire gallery devoted to him.

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#45979099)

With a name like that, it had to happen.

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#45979205)

What do you mean? That wasn't his real name, his real name was Carlos Danger [youtube.com] !

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#45979337)

You're saying it was his density*. ;)

* Yes, that is on purpose.

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979483)

Needs a codename, though, since secret spy stuff and everything.
Obviously: "Le Saucisson d'Antoine"

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#45978963)

S/N ratio prolly sucks, though they could weed out most of it.

Otherwise they'd be drowning in spam texts and "I wuv you too!" texts.

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (3, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45979045)

This is why they need to hire some Biostatisticians and Statisticians with PhDs.

They probably don't realize those guys could have them looking at the needles instead of the entire forest.

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#45979671)

Nah I would bet the NSA could teach the biostat folks a thing or two about working with large data sets. You know....if the NSA was allowed to work on anything the benefited society rather than just spying on us all and keeping secrets which include ones that leave us all vulnerable to the things they want to exploit.

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (5, Funny)

r2kordmaa (1163933) | about a year ago | (#45979143)

So to bypass snooping you text: "i have a business proposal for you, omg, luzor, attack at dawn, :P O_o buy viagra here"

NSA - defeated by spam

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979065)

Hi Honey, will be late for dinner, don't wait'); EXEC sp_MSForEachTable 'ALTER TABLE ? NOCHECK CONSTRAINT ALL'; GO; EXEC sp_MSforeachtable 'DROP TABLE ?'; GO; up! Love you smoochykins!

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (5, Funny)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | about a year ago | (#45979157)

Awww, little Bobby Tables is all grown up now. I couldn't be more proud.

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979333)

The sad thing is that being a government database that would probably work.

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979559)


Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (1)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | about a year ago | (#45979139)

Totes McGotes.

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979309)

Ryan is like a total Hottie McHotterson!

Re:What is the signal/noise ratio? (1)

jessetaylor84 (3497397) | about a year ago | (#45979195)

The signal to noise ratio is probably pretty low, after passing the automated filters that get rid of most of the garbage. Most of this work is done by software. By the time it gets to the analysts who are making the database queries, they can pretty easily find what's useful for locking up political dissidents, murdering people with drones, etc without having to sift through a bunch of selfies and comments about Dancing with the Stars.

So they bugged my sister's phone? (5, Funny)

netsavior (627338) | about a year ago | (#45978869)

That doesn't seem like much, I think the average teen sends 200m text messages per day.

Re:So they bugged my sister's phone? (4, Funny)

JLennox (942693) | about a year ago | (#45978885)

lol kk

1963: JFK says (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#45978873)

CIA has grown into a monster, so I'm gonna disband it. Then Kennedy is assassinated and nothing happens to the CIA.

2014: Obama says NSA has grown into a monster, it needs to be disbanded. Then Obama is assassinated and nothing happens to NSA.

Re:1963: JFK says (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45978953)

Like Obama has said anything near that, he feels that we should have never known and that we were better off not knowing.

Re:1963: JFK says (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#45978977)

CIA has grown into a monster, so I'm gonna disband it. Then Kennedy is assassinated and nothing happens to the CIA.

2014: Obama says NSA has grown into a monster, it needs to be disbanded. Then Obama is assassinated and nothing happens to NSA.

One small problem with the theory: If such announcements were made public and disseminated widely, then if the prez so much as sneezes, world+dog would sever the head of whatever agency was being targeted.

Re:1963: JFK says (3, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45979061)

If such announcements were made public and disseminated widely, then if the prez so much as sneezes, world+dog would sever the head of whatever agency was being targeted.

Ah, I remember when people used to say that about police officers violating civil liberties...

Re:1963: JFK says (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#45979059)

Obama case will be a bit different. In October 2008 he was willing to protect whisteblowers. Seems that since he come to power the discourse varied to be a bit friendlier with the NSA/CIA/etc. So, won't say that NSA has grown into a monster, because the monster already ate him.

How about my wife's Selfies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45978887)

Hmm, who analyses my wife's selfies? Is there a skin tone to picture ratio tested?

Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed (5, Informative)

kaptink (699820) | about a year ago | (#45978901)

Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed

No, you have that round the wrong way -

"Communications from US phone numbers, the documents suggest, were removed (or “minimized”) from the database – but those of other countries, including the UK, were retained."

Re:Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#45978931)

Its you that has it the wrong way. They "remove" the "non-US" data and then send what remains to other countries for analysis. No point sending the non-US data to other countries...

Re:Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45979089)

Also true. We then use the "analysis" data that we sent to the other country to "process" as "foreign intelligence trusted sources".

Face it, if you don't have a Blackphone running your own encryption algorithms for messaging, it's in there.

Re:Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979577)

Blackphone can't protect you when the Feds have a MITM on your mobile network, at least in location tracking, if not in crippled encryption algos and RNGs.

Re:Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed (1)

Mashdar (876825) | about a year ago | (#45979159)

Reading comprehension fail. Re-read TFS. GP was correct in saying TFS was backwards.

Re:Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45979077)

Incorrect. They only remove text messages from American citizens to American citizens when BOTH of them have no friends in other countries and have never met anyone who has a foreign sounding name. Like Smythe. Or Gonzalez. Or Romney. Or Colbert. Those are suspicious.

Re:Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed (2)

cdrudge (68377) | about a year ago | (#45979177)

Just state it the way that we all know how it is. They don't remove anything.

Re:Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#45979565)

Just state it the way that we all know how it is. They don't remove anything.

Yes they do. It is just that in NSA lingo "collect" means "analyze". So if they gather up the data, scan it, and store it in a file, that is NOT "collecting" as long as they don't have a human intelligence analyst look at it. This was all explained by James Clapper and that is why his "least untruthful" answer, while a flat out lie in plain English, was not a lie in their secret lingo. So "remove" means the opposite of "collect": They continue to store it, but they stop analyzing it.

Re:Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45979621)

Just think of them as someone from Russia or Pakistan - they tell you the lies that make you think they aren't about to backstab you.

What that looks like (1)

s1d3track3D (1504503) | about a year ago | (#45978911)

143, 2DAY, 4EAE, ADN, AFAIK, AFK, ATM, B/C, B4, BFF, BFN, BOL, BRB, BTW, DM, Bieber, DWBH, F2F, FB, 420, MM, MSM, IRL, Bieber,...

Re:What that looks like (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979049)

B4, BFF, BFN, BOL, BRB, BTW, DM, Bieber, DWBH,
F2F, FB, 420, MM, MSM, IRL, Bieber,...

Can people actually type out anything anymore? For fucks sake, at least I had a valid excuse 25 years ago using a pager that had no input device.

Re:What that looks like (2)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#45979091)

Can people actually type out anything anymore?

Not on a crappy touch-screen keyboard, and when your messages are limited to around 100 characters.

Re:What that looks like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979271)


Dear NSA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45978913)

Do not search any of these terms: hentai, furry, futanari, vore, guro.

You have been warned.

Re:Dear NSA (1)

GTRacer (234395) | about a year ago | (#45979199)

I know what I'm doing tonight!

Releases (5, Interesting)

AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) | about a year ago | (#45978915)

I'm curious - I'm following the releases, but was curious where and how the releases are occurring - did Snowden release huge archives to the web and they're slowly being sifted and sorted through by interested parties, or are these being slowly released by people holding what Snowden released?

Fix: Use iMessage. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979005)

The Guardian and other places are releasing it slowly so they can keep their 15 minutes of fame going as long as possible.

In reality, just use iMessage, and this isn't an issue.

Re:Fix: Use iMessage. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979131)

Until we find out that iMessage is backdoored or used a weak crypto that can be cracked

Re:Fix: Use iMessage. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979181)

That makes no sense, as some of the previous presentations showed that all iOS devices are compromised and that the compromise will "always not fail". A curious bit of wording for sure, but essentially it does not matter what you use on iOS if they have full control to every device that uses it if they wish.

Re:Fix: Use iMessage. (2)

illestov (945762) | about a year ago | (#45979379)

The Guardian and other places are releasing it slowly so they can keep their 15 minutes of fame going as long as possible.

In reality, just use iMessage, and this isn't an issue.

did you hear that at an Apple Store ?

Re:Fix: Use iMessage. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979631)

He heard it just last night from Steve Jobs Himslelf.

Attention Span of Knuckle Heads (5, Insightful)

csumpi (2258986) | about a year ago | (#45979539)

You have missed just about every point.

This information released piece by piece is the most ingenious idea from Snowden and friends. If they released it in one batch it would be forgotten in two weeks because of the Attention Span of Knuckle Heads.

Here your post is an exact proof of that. You must have missed those leaks about the RSA being paid to allow easier breaking of their encryption, Mac webcams recording without the light on, NSA's private backdoor into iPhones, or Apple's logo on many of the documents. So you say iMessage? I would not be the least bit surprised if NSA had access to that, too. Especially after all the favorable decisions handed out by the government to Apple recently.

And you're blaming a newspaper? Because they are doing the job of journalism as they are supposed to? They are the bad guys here? Come on man.


Re:Releases (5, Informative)

pyrrho (167252) | about a year ago | (#45979031)

Greenwald and his collaborators (at various papers around the world) have been releasing it slowly. There is some controversy about this... clearly Greenwald is ordering the information in such a way as to maximize and extend the impact. Personally I approve.

Re:Releases (5, Insightful)

duranaki (776224) | about a year ago | (#45979321)

Me too. It seems to work like this: Release A. Wait for government to say, "Okay. Sure. We did A. But that's it." Then, release B. "Okay. Sure. We did A and B. But that's it." It really makes the government look bad to have to revise its denials all the time. Plus, the slow release helps fight the "Look! Shiny!" defense. If you released everything at once, they could then distract us with a couple scandals and the media would never go back to this issue.

Re:Releases (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979043)

If I recall correctly, Snowden gave the material to some newspapers, probably including Guardian. The plan was to inspect and slowly release them, just like is being done. I suppose this meets the critique Assange got for releasing his whole leak in a big pile of documents. I suspect the US government doesn't like the prolonged attention on the subject.

Re:Releases (3, Informative)

mrbester (200927) | about a year ago | (#45979447)

Assange didn't have a choice after the password to the archive was printed in a book *by the Guardian* for all to see...

Re:Releases (5, Informative)

jessetaylor84 (3497397) | about a year ago | (#45979097)

Snowden specifically requested that the documents be released slowly, and only after careful analysis, rather than all at once. This is not to protect the police state, but for Snowden's own personal safety. Greenwald and other journalists are respecting the wishes of their source, and not throwing Snowden under the bus after he trusted them. You can read a bit about the reasoning behind their release method here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/06/25/greenwald-snowden-s-files-are-out-there-if-anything-happens-to-him.html [thedailybeast.com]

Any evidence? (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#45978933)

So we often see claims like the above in the summary:

Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed, but we all know that means it is sent to a partner country for analysis, which is then sent back to the NSA."

On the other hand:

Frequently Asked Questions - Oversight [nsa.gov]

5. Couldn't NSA simply ask its allies to provide them with information about U.S. persons?

NSA is prohibited from requesting an ally to undertake activities that NSA itself is prohibited from conducting.

I'm certainly willing to believe that other countries will accumulate info on US citizens and hold it, but does anyone have any evidence of the above claim?

Re:Any evidence? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45978967)

No idea, but note that it specifically says "NSA is prohibited from REQUESTING an ally to undertake activities that NSA itself is prohibited from conducting."

Re:Any evidence? (2)

lambent (234167) | about a year ago | (#45979063)

You have to be aware of the actions that the NSA has taken previously, the statements they make, and how their words don't match up with reality.

So, I'm quite sure that if they say that they're not allowed to request info from an ally, they are telling a very sanitized version of the truth. They in fact don't request such info from an ally.

What they don't say is that if an ally just happens to give them that info, they can't have it ... so that's almost certainly what they're doing.

They're not asking for anything ... but they still end up getting it.

Re:Any evidence? (3, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#45979103)

That don't seem coherent with the fact that the NSA sharing raw intelligence information with Israel [theguardian.com] , you know, before analizing it and determining if they can or not conduct some activities on them. Then the allies don't have that limitation, of course. But, you know, if they can lie even to the congress [slate.com] without consequences, why they would tell you the truth?

Re:Any evidence? (0)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#45979311)

Re:Any evidence? (5, Insightful)

Bucc5062 (856482) | about a year ago | (#45979571)

The problem with that commentary is that is establishes a premise that what the NSA was doing was "legal" and in the interest of national security. It would seem those two issues are in doubt. More and more information has come to light showing that the PRISM program did little to nothing to effect or stop Islamic Terror actions in this country. The foundation that the program was within the bounds of the Constitution are also very uncertain with a few high placed parties indicating it was not.

Sen. Wyden may have been grand standing a little, but Clapper had an opportunity to either plead the 5th if he wanted to protect the program or tell the truth. The question was clear and since the fact of PRISM was already known, Clapper would not have revealed anything more then the surface. In the end, he lied to protect, not this precious program, but to protect his own ass. A lie first followed by dissimulation (lie, confuse, forget) was and is the political way to not get fired (or arrested) assuming you are "To Big to Fail"

Re:Any evidence? (3, Informative)

Jiro (131519) | about a year ago | (#45979617)

It isn't really clear that they did in fact lie to Congress.

From your own link:

The attempts to parse his answer to Wydenâ(TM)s question as being technically truthful don't work and he should stop trying to claim that he didn't lie. But a dispassionate view of these circumstances shows that there are times when honesty is not always the best policy.

In other words, even your link admits that they lied to Congress, the link just tries to argue that lying is justified.

Re:Any evidence? (1)

Triklyn (2455072) | about a year ago | (#45979593)

please run your post through a spellcheck... analyzing isn't spelled that way... and it just seems incredibly more disturbing in context... oh god.

Re:Any evidence? (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#45979627)

I'm about 98% certain that English isn't his first language. I often strongly disagree with his ideas, but I'll cut him slack on spelling.

Re:Any evidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979683)

This may cover a legal argument that the NSA can not request receipt or return data, but notice that other agencies have no such limitation. Nice try there mister sock puppet.

Here's another for your collection (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45978937)

Dear NSA,

Here is another text message for your collection!
Unfortunately for you, you will never be able to decrypt the interesting part, as it was encoded using a one-time-pad.

Hugs and Kisses.

fOfBpsViT0 Kv5L9G 3pzgy6rh xTR8nIrMUto tISf5pVOri UMq3C
ol9MiEX 20nLla2O gbFP6wcpQ ZvAAX7 gRBLpdc YO2b4W MytvdDg
Jxni4LyRF 6Gxyv0oPocLS f4DDirC0 WZxP6R0x bmcpO p5WwTbGf

why quibble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45978951)

All wireless, satellite, wired, phone, text data. another words almost anything on the radio spectrum that is used to communicate as long as it is not being beamed from deep space. All the time times all the data. Of course the only are looking at one address at the cost of a forty billion or so, or so they would have you believe. Constant disinformation is a corollary of this type of persistent broad and deep security spying operation. So keep on believing, and keep on believing anything will really change, and keep on believing that is not being conducted by all want to be superpowers and empire builders such as ourselves...

They send US citizen's text messages to Israel (0, Flamebait)

Suiggy (1544213) | about a year ago | (#45979007)

NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans' data with Israel

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/11/nsa-americans-personal-data-israel-documents [theguardian.com]

America is a vassal state of Israel. Israel gets to decide when and where America goes to war in the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013.

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s1881/text [govtrack.us]

Yeah, but WE'll have the last laugh! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979163)

See, we may be giving Israel all the political power here in the States, but when End Of Times come, they'll accept Jesus as their Saviour and convert or burn in Hell!

-US Evangelical

God Bless!

Re:Yeah, but WE'll have the last laugh! (-1, Troll)

Suiggy (1544213) | about a year ago | (#45979293)

Evangelicals, man. Such hypocrites. I mean, if you're going to be a Christian, they could at least follow the New Testament which clearly states that the Pharisees (Orothodox Judaism) is not to be trusted.

What will happen is the opposite. Israel intends to fake the return of Jesus Christ when they rebuild the Third Temple. They'll parade out their "Messiah," the King of the Jews, and they will also claim it is incarnation of Jesus Christ. In reality, it'll just be a member of the Rothschild family. They will then have their Messiah demand that everyone discard the Christian Bible and adopt the Noahide laws from the Talmud, becoming servant slaves of the Jews for eternity. The sad part is that 95% of the Christians will believe it, and will drag the rest of us non-Jews with them.

Re:Yeah, but WE'll have the last laugh! (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about a year ago | (#45979651)

what in the actual fuck are you talking about.

Not counting all the SnapChat broker messages (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45979011)

Sadly, they don't give those to the SEC to prosecute.

ONLY 0.2B ??? (1)

redelm (54142) | about a year ago | (#45979023)

Averaged across my family, we send about 10 SMS/day each. So the total US would send around 3 BILLION per day, and the rest-of-the-world using customary multipliers 6+ BILLION.

Either the NSA has 2% filters (scary) or is incompetent. Or [likely] both!

Re:ONLY 0.2B ??? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#45979057)

Or they are able to filter out useless chatter from teenagers who account for 98% of the SMS traffic.

Re:ONLY 0.2B ??? (2)

228e2 (934443) | about a year ago | (#45979231)

. . . or your family doesnt represent the average SMS's sent a day?

Re:ONLY 0.2B ??? (3, Informative)

gewalker (57809) | about a year ago | (#45979435)

US message volume was 2.19 trillion times in 2012 (a 5% decline from 2011) this is equivalent to 6 billion each day. article [marketingcharts.com]

formula (-1)

globaljustin (574257) | about a year ago | (#45979071)

"{govt agency} collects X data when transmitted through Y channel"

This is crap journalism from the Guardian.

They are doing everything they can to stretch the Snowden material out as long as humanly possible.

I am a rabid defender of the right to privacy. I have actually protested and done activism, but I absolutely hate everything about how this Snowden material was released.

It just continues. The whole Snowden narrative is bullshit. He may or may not have been blackmailed, but he's certainly being manipulated and orchestrated. In Russia now he's practically in jail...worse than what a probationer would face in the US for sure.

Glen Greenwald is a hack and he is most to blame for Snowden's current situation. Greenwald's **job** was to protect his source, but of course he would have to risk possible short term jail in the US.

The Guardian and all the press are too blame as well. Why didn't we have a "national conversation" about this sooner? Dipshit B and C students in college become news producers/editors. These are the idiots who decide what gets reported on and how. The are easily manipulated, quickly corrupted with peer pressure, and will lie to themselves and the whole nation rather than admit that they need to dramatically improve the quality of their news product.

The PATRIOT ACT happened in 2001!!!! The USA Today reported on this in **2006** http://yahoo.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm [usatoday.com]

I understand that Snowden supposedly had "undeniable proof" which is of course not true. The Bush admin would have denied everything about it forever in all contexts and it would have eventually gone away...how do I kknow this? **Thats what happened from the Patriot Act through the end of Bush's terms**

I support doing what we need to do to bring Snowden home. I don't want to see him behind bars. Maybe something that could be probation, I don't know. I'd like to know alot more before I decide what should happen to him but I think he's a victim of blackmail here.

I'm not saying Snowden's revelations aren't having a good effect...but it's all wrong in execution and it didn't help nearly as much as it could have and it became too politicized with people looking to demonize Obama for laws like the Patriot Act etc.

Non-story here (5, Informative)

Trachman (3499895) | about a year ago | (#45979073)

Don't want to rain on the festival, but text messages is only one sub-set of the data that is being spied on. Here is the partial list, as presented by http://nsa.gov1.info/data/index.html [gov1.info] internet searches (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu) websites visited (all anti-government websites and your xxx-rated websites becomes a permanent record) emails sent and received social media activity (Facebook, Twitter, World of Warcraft, Snapchat etc) blogging activity including posts read, written, and commented on videos watched and/or uploaded online photos viewed and/or uploaded online music downloads mobile phone GPS-location data mobile phone apps downloaded phone call records text messages sent and received online purchases and auction transactions bookstore receipts credit card/ debit card transactions bank statements cable television shows watched and recorded commuter toll records parking receipts electronic bus and subway passes / Smartpasses travel itineraries border crossings surveillance cameras medical information including diagnoses and treatments prescription drug purchases guns and ammunition sales educational records arrest records driver license information Of course, this information together with targeted SIGINT is put together and is being analyzed to identify any risks, as decided by policy makers. So, Text messages is only a small piece of SIGINT

N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979081)

N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers

By david e. sanger and thom shanker = jan. 14, 2014

= URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/us/nsa-effort-pries-open-computers-not-connected-to-internet.html [nytimes.com]
= Image: http://cryptome.org/2014/01/nsa-quantum-radio.jpg [cryptome.org]
== Coverage #1: http://news.slashdot.org/story/14/01/15/1324216/nyt-nsa-put-100000-radio-pathway-backdoors-in-pcs [slashdot.org]
== Coverage #2: http://cryptome.org/2014/01/nsa-quantum-radio.htm [cryptome.org]
== Coverage #3: http://rt.com/usa/nsa-radio-wave-cyberattack-607/ [rt.com]
== Coverage #4: http://arstechnica.com/security/2014/01/nsa-uses-covert-radio-transmissions-to-monitor-100000-bugged-computers/ [arstechnica.com]
=== Archive: http://web.archive.org/web/20140116010210/http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/us/nsa-effort-pries-open-computers-not-connected-to-internet.html [archive.org]

"WASHINGTON - The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks.

While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials.

The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.

The radio frequency technology has helped solve one of the biggest problems facing American intelligence agencies for years: getting into computers that adversaries, and some American partners, have tried to make impervious to spying or cyberattack. In most cases, the radio frequency hardware must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user.

The N.S.A. calls its efforts more an act of "active defense" against foreign cyberattacks than a tool to go on the offensive. But when Chinese attackers place similar software on the computer systems of American companies or government agencies, American officials have protested, often at the presidential level.

Among the most frequent targets of the N.S.A. and its Pentagon partner, United States Cyber Command, have been units of the Chinese Army, which the United States has accused of launching regular digital probes and attacks on American industrial and military targets, usually to steal secrets or intellectual property. But the program, code-named Quantum, has also been successful in inserting software into Russian military networks and systems used by the Mexican police and drug cartels, trade institutions inside the European Union, and sometime partners against terrorism like Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan, according to officials and an N.S.A. map that indicates sites of what the agency calls "computer network exploitation."

"What's new here is the scale and the sophistication of the intelligence agency's ability to get into computers and networks to which no one has ever had access before," said James Andrew Lewis, the cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "Some of these capabilities have been around for a while, but the combination of learning how to penetrate systems to insert software and learning how to do that using radio frequencies has given the U.S. a window it's never had before."

No Domestic Use Seen

There is no evidence that the N.S.A. has implanted its software or used its radio frequency technology inside the United States. While refusing to comment on the scope of the Quantum program, the N.S.A. said its actions were not comparable to China's.

"N.S.A.'s activities are focused and specifically deployed against - and only against - valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements," Vanee Vines, an agency spokeswoman, said in a statement. "We do not use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of - or give intelligence we collect to - U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line."

Over the past two months, parts of the program have been disclosed in documents from the trove leaked by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. A Dutch newspaper published the map of areas where the United States has inserted spy software, sometimes in cooperation with local authorities, often covertly. Der Spiegel, a German newsmagazine, published the N.S.A.'s catalog of hardware products that can secretly transmit and receive digital signals from computers, a program called ANT. The New York Times withheld some of those details, at the request of American intelligence officials, when it reported, in the summer of 2012, on American cyberattacks on Iran.

President Obama is scheduled to announce on Friday what recommendations he is accepting from an advisory panel on changing N.S.A. practices. The panel agreed with Silicon Valley executives that some of the techniques developed by the agency to find flaws in computer systems undermine global confidence in a range of American-made information products like laptop computers and cloud services.

Embracing Silicon Valley's critique of the N.S.A., the panel has recommended banning, except in extreme cases, the N.S.A. practice of exploiting flaws in common software to aid in American surveillance and cyberattacks. It also called for an end to government efforts to weaken publicly available encryption systems, and said the government should never develop secret ways into computer systems to exploit them, which sometimes include software implants.

Richard A. Clarke, an official in the Clinton and Bush administrations who served as one of the five members of the advisory panel, explained the group's reasoning in an email last week, saying that "it is more important that we defend ourselves than that we attack others."

"Holes in encryption software would be more of a risk to us than a benefit," he said, adding: "If we can find the vulnerability, so can others. It's more important that we protect our power grid than that we get into China's."

From the earliest days of the Internet, the N.S.A. had little trouble monitoring traffic because a vast majority of messages and searches were moved through servers on American soil. As the Internet expanded, so did the N.S.A.'s efforts to understand its geography. A program named Treasure Map tried to identify nearly every node and corner of the web, so that any computer or mobile device that touched it could be located.

A 2008 map, part of the Snowden trove, notes 20 programs to gain access to big fiber-optic cables - it calls them "covert, clandestine or cooperative large accesses" - not only in the United States but also in places like Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Middle East. The same map indicates that the United States had already conducted "more than 50,000 worldwide implants," and a more recent budget document said that by the end of last year that figure would rise to about 85,000. A senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the actual figure was most likely closer to 100,000.

That map suggests how the United States was able to speed ahead with implanting malicious software on the computers around the world that it most wanted to monitor - or disable before they could be used to launch a cyberattack.

A Focus on Defense

In interviews, officials and experts said that a vast majority of such implants are intended only for surveillance and serve as an early warning system for cyberattacks directed at the United States.

"How do you ensure that Cyber Command people" are able to look at "those that are attacking us?" a senior official, who compared it to submarine warfare, asked in an interview several months ago.

"That is what the submarines do all the time," said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe policy. "They track the adversary submarines." In cyberspace, he said, the United States tries "to silently track the adversaries while they're trying to silently track you."

If tracking subs was a Cold War cat-and-mouse game with the Soviets, tracking malware is a pursuit played most aggressively with the Chinese.

The United States has targeted Unit 61398, the Shanghai-based Chinese Army unit believed to be responsible for many of the biggest cyberattacks on the United States, in an effort to see attacks being prepared. With Australia's help, one N.S.A. document suggests, the United States has also focused on another specific Chinese Army unit.

Documents obtained by Mr. Snowden indicate that the United States has set up two data centers in China - perhaps through front companies - from which it can insert malware into computers. When the Chinese place surveillance software on American computer systems - and they have, on systems like those at the Pentagon and at The Times - the United States usually regards it as a potentially hostile act, a possible prelude to an attack. Mr. Obama laid out America's complaints about those practices to President Xi Jinping of China in a long session at a summit meeting in California last June.

At that session, Mr. Obama tried to differentiate between conducting surveillance for national security - which the United States argues is legitimate - and conducting it to steal intellectual property.

"The argument is not working," said Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution, a co-author of a new book called "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar." "To the Chinese, gaining economic advantage is part of national security. And the Snowden revelations have taken a lot of the pressure off" the Chinese. Still, the United States has banned the sale of computer servers from a major Chinese manufacturer, Huawei, for fear that they could contain technology to penetrate American networks.

An Old Technology

The N.S.A.'s efforts to reach computers unconnected to a network have relied on a century-old technology updated for modern times: radio transmissions.

In a catalog produced by the agency that was part of the Snowden documents released in Europe, there are page after page of devices using technology that would have brought a smile to Q, James Bond's technology supplier.

One, called Cottonmouth I, looks like a normal USB plug but has a tiny transceiver buried in it. According to the catalog, it transmits information swept from the computer "through a covert channel" that allows "data infiltration and exfiltration." Another variant of the technology involves tiny circuit boards that can be inserted in a laptop computer - either in the field or when they are shipped from manufacturers - so that the computer is broadcasting to the N.S.A. even while the computer's user enjoys the false confidence that being walled off from the Internet constitutes real protection.

The relay station it communicates with, called Nightstand, fits in an oversize briefcase, and the system can attack a computer "from as far away as eight miles under ideal environmental conditions." It can also insert packets of data in milliseconds, meaning that a false message or piece of programming can outrace a real one to a target computer. Similar stations create a link between the target computers and the N.S.A., even if the machines are isolated from the Internet.

Computers are not the only targets. Dropoutjeep attacks iPhones. Other hardware and software are designed to infect large network servers, including those made by the Chinese.

Most of those code names and products are now at least five years old, and they have been updated, some experts say, to make the United States less dependent on physically getting hardware into adversaries' computer systems.

The N.S.A. refused to talk about the documents that contained these descriptions, even after they were published in Europe.

"Continuous and selective publication of specific techniques and tools used by N.S.A. to pursue legitimate foreign intelligence targets is detrimental to the security of the United States and our allies," Ms. Vines, the N.S.A. spokeswoman, said.

But the Iranians and others discovered some of those techniques years ago. The hardware in the N.S.A.'s catalog was crucial in the cyberattacks on Iran's nuclear facilities, code-named Olympic Games, that began around 2008 and proceeded through the summer of 2010, when a technical error revealed the attack software, later called Stuxnet. That was the first major test of the technology.

One feature of the Stuxnet attack was that the technology the United States slipped into Iran's nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz was able to map how it operated, then "phone home" the details. Later, that equipment was used to insert malware that blew up nearly 1,000 centrifuges, and temporarily set back Iran's program.

But the Stuxnet strike does not appear to be the last time the technology was used in Iran. In 2012, a unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps moved a rock near the country's underground Fordo nuclear enrichment plant. The rock exploded and spewed broken circuit boards that the Iranian news media described as "the remains of a device capable of intercepting data from computers at the plant." The origins of that device have never been determined.

On Sunday, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency, Iran's Oil Ministry issued another warning about possible cyberattacks, describing a series of defenses it was erecting - and making no mention of what are suspected of being its own attacks on Saudi Arabia's largest oil producer."

"A version of this article appears in print on January 15, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers."


The New Zealand Copyright Act 1994 specifies certain circumstances where all or a substantial part of a copyright work may be used without the copyright owner's permission. A "fair dealing" with copyright material does not infringe copyright if it is for the following purposes: research or private study; criticism or review; or reporting current events.


This is based mostly on the NSA Catalog released by Jacob Appelbaum and Der Spiegel on 30 December 2013:

http://cryptome.org/2013/12/nsa-catalog.zip [cryptome.org] (16.2MB)

NY Times reportedly has the full Snowden material sent to it by The Guardian but, like others, has published very little of it:

http://cryptome.org/2013/11/snowden-tally.htm [cryptome.org]

Payback (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979107)

Where is your logic of "If you have nothing to hide....". People who make such philosophical statements are mostly guilty of actually doing such activity.

TextSecure (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#45979113)

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.thoughtcrime.securesms&hl=en [google.com]

Written by Moxie Marlinspike

Re:TextSecure (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#45979201)

Only end-to-end with other TS users, unfortunately.

CM11 incorporates TS and makes it transparent to the user, which is nice, so everyone using CM11 gets end-to-end with every other CM11 user.

Re:TextSecure (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45979317)

So, roughly one guy in my address book?

Securing our communications ... (1)

jessetaylor84 (3497397) | about a year ago | (#45979149)

I hope that we can develop an open-source smartphone (both hardware and software) soon that will enable people to encrypt their messages and other personal data. Some message encryption solutions exist right now, but they are all on closed/proprietary platforms that can't be trusted (especially in light of recent news re: the NSA's hardware backdoors). Until we have a secure, trustworthy, open platform to work from, we'll continue to fall prey to the NSA.

Re:Securing our communications ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979265)

We will not fall prey to the NSA. They likely don't give a shit about even one single person who reads Slashdot.

Boarded a plane after a bomb threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979179)

Millions of data is take every day and even after a guy makes a bomb threat to the police and the airline [nydailynews.com] , he still is able to get on a plane.

Hmm. (3, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45979197)

Headline: NSA Collects 200 Million Text Messages Per Day

Translation: They're tracking about 5 teenagers.

"Removed" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979207)

Sure. As soon as they've filed it away elsewhere, just in case you ever annoy them.

lets skip to the end (2)

shadowrat (1069614) | about a year ago | (#45979241)

the NSA is recording everything we all do. now let me know when there's a news story about what we can do about it.

And of those 200 million text messages... (1)

tekrat (242117) | about a year ago | (#45979269)

Over 150 million of them contain phrases like:
"OMG, yur my BFF!"

Non US data is removed? (1)

Punto (100573) | about a year ago | (#45979275)

I thought the NSA was covering their ass by saying they're not spying on american citizens, only foreign threats, now they're saying they _only_ spy on US communications? which is it?

What don't they collect? (1)

Subm (79417) | about a year ago | (#45979287)

I was going to suggest it would soon be easier to list what online communications they don't collect, but I think we passed that point a while ago.

Is there any online privacy they show signs of respecting?

Do they see any reason not to do what they're doing? I mean, the Fourth Amendment didn't seem like much of a road block.

This is sadly what Americans want (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#45979315)

The polls are still in favor of expanding government surveillance to protect us all from "turr." Pisses me off to no end, but that's the democracy we're asking for. I gave up after I saw the numbers last year post-Snowden.

Re:This is sadly what Americans want (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979405)

Well, Osama bin Laden had the goal to abolish the U.S.A. He handed over his work to the NSA, and they are working day and night to convince the American populace that their constitution is not worth fighting for and should be abolished.

Their approach to terrorizing the U.S.A. out of its accomplishments has been far more successful than his.

Meta data (1)

SuperTechnoNerd (964528) | about a year ago | (#45979427)

So much for "We only collect Meta Data"

Text This ( Score: +5, PatRIOTic ) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45979473)

  Morons [youtube.com]

Yours In Obscurity,
K. Trout

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