Since news broke internationally about America’s NSA spying on internet traffic, there’s been a number of major companies who have come out and denied the claims that they are assisting. With whistle-blower Edward Snowden making believable claims about US monitoring of Internet users and phone records, we’re now left wondering who is telling the truth?
In the latest Security Now podcast, Security researcher Steve Gibson believes that both may be true. His theory is that the NSA have placed fibre optic intercepts at the closest possible point external to networks from Google, Microsoft, Facebook and others. These PRISM devices would allow the data from the fibre optics to flow to its intended destination while also having it diverted out to the NSA servers.
Sounds crazy and also illegal right? Gibson suggests that under the guise of national security, that tier 1 ISPs like Level 3 are being forced to do this under a cone of silence due to an imposed suppression order. This renders them powerless to stop the intercept or discuss it publicly.
The reason the devices are placed at the edges of these major networks is to maximise the amount of traffic captured in and out, while reducing general internet noise. Leveraging the successes of these commercial companies is smart (i.e that’s where we share our personal data). During the podcast Gibson mentions that if the NSA had asked him to design the perfect system, this is exactly what he’d suggest.
Take some time to watch / listed to Security Now 408: The State of Surveillance, it’s an amazing insight into how all sides could be telling the truth while American security agencies not only watch, but capture our data without permission or disclosure.