When Edward Snowden decided to tell the truth, causing him to give up a well paid job, lose a good lifestyle living in Hawaii, lose his girlfriend for some time, become long separated from his entire family, risk his freedom and more, the world quite over night had it confirmed that the USA government has been and still is, operating massive cyber-spying operations on a world scale.
The scale of it is still simply staggering. Most of these top secret programmes the world will still not know about. The ones exposed here and elsewhere, are likely only the tip of a large USA cyber-spy operation.
What little we do know now is that America had further developed their cyber-spying capabilities into a global surveillance apparatus. It was then used in close cooperation with three of its Five Eyes1 partners: Australia (ASD), the United Kingdom (GCHQ), and Canada (CSEC).
The first spy program to be revealed was PRISM. This was direct access to Americans’ Google and Yahoo accounts. The world found out about Tempora (codeword for a secret computer system hacking into fibre optic cables to grab data) used by the British spying operatives at GCHQ. Both were working with each other also. They still are.
Next up was Boundless Informant, This continues to be a big data analysis and data visualization tool used by the United States National Security Agency (NSA). This gives NSA managers details of its worldwide data collection activities – by counting metadata (information inserted and hidden behind webpage structure, containing all info centered around a particular citizen). Top ranks from US spy agencies openly lied under state oath, to the existence of this program and again lied in saying they they were not spy collecting data on everyone in America2 also. They were doing just that in fact, to the tune of billions of US citizens per month.
Boundless Informant itself, was gathering many more billions of personal day per month on all other countries. From Ireland to German, France, Spain, Britian, Norway, Italy, Netherlands and every other national state possible, the USA was bugging, hacking and tracking all, the world over though this additional piece of software.
Bugging The World.
After that, then came the news that the US government was (and probably still is) operating more direct targeted surveillance of French citizens’ phone and internet records. This operation spying, was then discovered to be happening to everyone in Europe – every country every person and every high-profile individual involved in business or politics.
No one was immune.
The UN, the EU, all top counties leaders and other state and international bodies was then (and still is?) a viable target. EU offices were found to be tapped, phone-lines found to be hacked into, software spy-ware (including key-loggers) was installed on office computers and users laptops. It was a free-for-all by the US spy agencies and their staff, in attempting to collected every piece of usable data, every conversation and anything else that could be used to give the USA leverage over other nations, businesses and individuals.
“Mainway” was another process that this was also carried out by the US agencies secretly, on their very own citizens at home. Mainway, is a database constructed and then filled with grabbed metadata from hundreds of billions of telephone calls made through the four largest telephone carriers in the United States.
“It is estimated that the database contains over 1.9 trillion call-detail records. According to Bloomberg News, the effort began approximately seven months before the September 11, 2001, attacks. As of June 2013, the database stores metadata for at least five years.” LINK
NOTE: Ireland own government operates a similar personal data retention operation of five years. This data too, if not already gathered direct by Boundless Informant, would be its assumed either be targeted by GCHQ in Britain or handed over willingly by consecutive Irish government in agreement secretly with the Americans or British secret services. Other countries have their own spying set-up on their citizens too. Sweden for example has “Titan traffic database” and Great Britain has its “Interception Modernisation Programme”. Most citizens in all of these countries are unaware they are being data recorded minute by minute, seven days a week.
Mainway, like other previous known citizen spying operations, has been considered to be highly illegal and even within the USA, the laws there having being quietly abused with many legal lines crossed secretly. It should also be noted that in order for the American spy agencies to get around even their own national laws, they then moved into other states including England and German (and others) to set-up their bases for intelligence gathering, to operate from their instead.
They did this and still do this, as to circumvent their own national laws. To this day, too many European states are knowingly complicit in quietly facilitating this legal circumvention. Those same states are not telling its citizens what they are doing or allowing either.
The exposure of XKeyscore, a spying analytical collecting “almost anything done on the internet,” was described by The Guardian as a program that “shed light” on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements:
“I, sitting at my desk [could] wire-tap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.
The NSA, in the additional business of harvesting millions of email, instant messaging contact lists, searching email content, tracking/mapping the location of cell phones, and undermining attempts at encryption, mean that they too were being minute by minute being presented to their massive banks of computer servers, incoming citizen data at blistering speeds and from millions of sources.
As some of this incoming data was/is encrypted, the spy agencies make use of another secret set-up – that being “Bullrun3“. To be clear, this is a clandestine, highly classified program to crack encryption of on-line communications and data. If anything was out there in the world, the agencies gathered it all and them went to work on cracking and hacking it all.
It’s assessed that Bullrun since 2011, in expense to the USA, has cost up to $800 million so far to operate. Bullrun being just one of many cyber-spying operations! even more shockingly is that the NSA has covertly influenced tech companies. They have inserted deliberate programme code vulnerabilities into commercial products. This in turn would allow the NSA data access without others knowledge.
NOTE: England has its own version of Bullrun. Their version is called “Edgehill“. The main task of Edgehill is also to decrypt the four major Internet communication companies: Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook. These are already being accessed by the USA spying agencies but England has decided to hack into them too!
Chances are that you have never heard of “Black Pearl” either…
This is a spying program of targeting more private business data streaming and communication networks. Anyone was up for targeting. A simple example: oil giant Petrobras, a Brazil company. The NSA and GCHQ have gone to the bother of continuous spying and data gathering on charities – including UNICEF and Médecins du Monde to name two. No one was immune for all this spying and more.
All US Allies – such as EU chiefs and Israeli Prime Ministers, were personally monitored in their political, business and family life. Early on it was discovered that at least 35 world leaders were individually spied and data-mined5. As a world leader, if you were not being spied on along with being additional data hacked from the US agencies and GCHQ in Britain, you were probably in a minority – and very lucky!
Later documents exposed by Germany’s “Der Spiegel6” in 2014, exposed that the NSA itself, had targeted 122 “high ranking” world leaders.
…But There’s More…
If all the above is not enough to take in, and you want more, there is also “MUSCULAR (DS-200B)“
Deliberate located in the United Kingdom (so it can escape USA’s own laws), it is a surveillance programme jointly operated by GCHQ and the NSA. GCHQ is the primary hands-on operator of the program but then the data is passed over to its operational real masters.
If you have heard about “PRISM”, the chances are you will have not heard much at all about MUSCULAR”. Why?
MUSCULAR actually collects twice as much data points as PRISM – and the world was shocked by the more known latter, alone! Such is the absolute mass of personal data collected from MUSCULAR, there is now two analysis programmes to dissect the stolen data. These are the additional secret INCENSER and TURMOIL data filtering systems.
MUSCULAR steals citizens data via a secret access point known as DS-200B. This hacked point (or underwater cable) which is outside the United States, also relies on a telecommunications business (their name is being kept secret) to provide the secret access needed, for the NSA and GCHQ. As MUSCULAR too, operates beyond US borders, the program therefore requires no US FISA regulatory legislation to adhere to. This is also why the US now has “Rendition” (kidnap) locations outside the US legislation reach. Like many other things, this is just the way the American agencies and White House want their agendas and actions to be – unrestricted and far less monitored. The spies don’t wish to be even own state spied on while they operate carte-blanche.
“Who guards the guardians?“
It Gets Worse!
Not just happy at stealing personal data on people the world over, the spying agencies (NSA, CIA, GCHQ) have tried to take advantage of users of Second Life, Xbox Live and World of Warcraft. Yes, incredible – but true. Documents revealed in December 20134 exposes that there has been attempts to recruit would-be informants from the gaming sites. Young to middle aged people were not only targeted, had their data extracted from but likely same was used against them in order to ‘persuade’ them to co-operate with the agencies. If you think that tactic was ‘below the belt’ then you didn’t get to hear about the “LOVEINT” operation.
LOVEINT was an allowed operation where NSA agents even got to spy on their own “love interests”.
To add to the above, US agencies were (and still are?) tracking any on-line sexual activity of people. They categorised them for justification reasons as “radicalisers” in order to to discredit them and have supposed justification for their watching and recording actions.
If you are under the illusion that there is only the CIA, NSA and FBI out there doing USA spying operations, you would be very wrong. There is in fact 16 agencies operating within American borders and outside them. They are official known as the “IC” (Intelligence Community).
If all the above is not enough, its become known that the NSA has been (and still is?) paying U.S. private tech companies for “clandestine access” to their communications networks. To cover the cost of all this, for example, $52 billion7 (there’s no typing mistake there. Its not “million” – its “billion”) had been allotted for the 2013 fiscal year.
Where Does It All End?
The above, is a good question! What is further known is that the NSA has a mission statement (SIGINT Strategy 2012-2016) with a goal to “dramatically increase mastery of the global network” and “acquire the capabilities to gather intelligence on anyone, any time, anywhere.”8 The NSA alone has plans for continued expansion of surveillance activities.
According to evidence produced, their stated objective was to “Collect it All,” “Process it All,” “Exploit it All,” “Partner it All,” “Sniff it All” and “Know it All.“
So far, they are doing a hell of a job?
Meanwhile, the activities continue. When it’s said that they “continue“, it not just in the spying and data gathering game the US agencies are working at. Give the hi-tech brains they have much gathered at many secret US and Europe locations, they have gone much further.
WWW Three – Live & On-Line Today.
US agencies are also in the business of conducting industrial espionage. Edward Snowden gave an example. He mentioned that one target was the German company, Siemens.
“If there’s information at Siemens that’s beneficial to US national interests—even if it doesn’t have anything to do with national security—then they’ll take that information nevertheless.” LINK
Stuxnet, the malware worm mysteriously turned up around early 2010 in Iran. Stuxnet was a computer worm targeting industrial control systems that are used to monitor and control large scale industrial facilities like power plants, dams, waste processing systems and similar operations. Its more advance version probably has been already invented – along with others.
Some will be designed to actual destroy data or financial systems – all needed to start or maintain a war. Others are being created to temporary shut down national systems such as electricity, turn off gas, affect nuclear power stations, cut communications, attack another countries military hardware including targeting systems and more.
If it’s online, if its a computerised system, if it’s seen as part of an enemy structure – or even a friendly one (which might then later turn), the thinking is to beest prepared. In a cyber-war, those fore-armed will be a winner!
If you think this is the stuff of science fiction, just look to Stuxnet as the first known mass attack by a state upon other foreign infrastructures. Things however in this field of warfare, get scarier. Knowing such attack malware creations could and probably do exist, ready to be turned on, Edward Snowden disclosed details about a cyber-warfare program called “MonsterMind“.
Unlike prior software that seeks out anything incoming that’s dodgy, MonsterMind has a “unique new capability: It does not just simply detect and kill the malware at the point of entry, MonsterMind is automated to fire back, with no human involvement regarding a decision process.
Given that it’s now possible to spoof where a piece of attacking software can be supposedly coming from, MonsterMind and similar could in fact be then attacking a totally innocent state, business, buildings (including state hospitals by spreading malware accident) or person destroying much at the cost of million in currency or even lives.
MonsterMind will be as such the first secret initiated form of artificial intelligence being let loose by the American military community. LINK
Ultimate USA Double-Standards.
One of the most ironic smears attempted by the USA in order to public demonise Edward Snowden, was carried out even by Obama. On camera he called Mr Snowden “a hacker“. Both then President Obama and others knew in fact that what they were smearing him as, was exactly what he had been doing for the USA government as part of his previous official job. When Snowden was working for them as a hacker, that was find and dandy. He was all legal protected and shielded from the world as to his activities – all was good as far as the American government was concerned.
When Snowden left USA employment, went into hiding for his own safety – he was still accused of being “a hacker” – but in truth, as he was not longer employed by the USA spying agencies who sanctioned his hacking job, Snowden was no longer a hacker. He was only a hacker as fully allowed by the USA, White House, spy agencies and USA’s very own Commander in Chief.
Calling him later “a hacker” to try ruin his name, was and still is laughable – as who was it that are calling now one – who got him to previous hack the world? Only themselves doing the name calling… They then gave him the state hardware and software to do it. If they are trying to say he is still a bad person because he was previously a hacker – then they are in effect, condemning themselves – for they wanted him to be just that – to be accurate, they ordered him to be one, made him one and paid him well to do it!
They used him as a hacker – then when it suited them, used the same title, to try besmirch him. The present people working for the same agencies today, could face the same White House double-standards if they try to stop internal departmental wrongs or tell greater truths, the world should know about?
FINAL NOTE: To think that the USA has now stopped all this intelligence gathering and spying, would be completely foolish. Out of every Dollar tax collected by the US state, 55+ cent goes towards the American military and agency departments. They will have carried out a modicum of PR, a smattering of supposed more tighter controls – but the same still hundreds of thousands employed in their various spying operations, are still working away. Not to think so, too would be foolish.
For all the hacking, cracking and bugging that has been carried out by USA and others states, against European and world targets, not one person in America or elsewhere, working for same governments and their agencies, has been held to legal account by other targeted nations.
A final question to ask should be “Why?“
- The Five Eyes (FVEY) is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries are bound by the multilateral UK/USA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.
- Boundless Informant: the NSA’s secret tool to track global surveillance data. LINK
- Edward Snowden Reveals Secret Decryption Programs: 10 Things You Need To Know About Bullrun And Edgehill. LINK
- World of Spycraft: NSA and CIA Spied in Online Games. LINK
20 year barman. Re-educated as an I.T. professional, website creator, I.T teacher, digital media management & marketing professional. Studied accountancy, taxation, business management & law. Founder of UnitedPeople political party – click here. Previously the first National Chairman of Direct Democracy Ireland (DDI) & founder of the Louth branch of DDI. Author. Regular contributor to social media. TV & radio guest experiences. Appeared in the Oireachtas & Dublin Highcourts to defend the rights of citizens along with exposing many wrongs. Consistently seeks greater democracy & accountability from all elected levels of Ireland. Currently writing two books, non-fiction “Life Behind Bars” & “Better Tomorrows“.