Le Monde (France’s leading newspaper) discussed spyware and various NSA programs used to obtain information. Discussing internal memos it has obtained:
We discover here the proof of the existence of the GENIE programme, one of the most topical in the NSA: the remote delivery of spyware to computers… The document specifies the techniques used to spy on the communications of the French diplomats: ‘Highlands’ for pirating computers using remotely delivered cookies; ‘Vagrant’ for capturing information from screens; and finally PBX which is the equivalent of eavesdropping on the discussion of the French diplomatic service as if one was participating in a conference call – as the Spiegel first reported. Some of the techniques developed are known to other secret services but like all the major secret services in the world, the NSA also creates its own tools which do not exist anywhere else.
In 2011, the American budget reports… stated that 652 million dollars had been devoted to the ‘spyware’ project alone. Thus we learn that in the same year ‘tens of millions of computers’ were attacked in this way and the plan is to extend this figure to several millions via the TURBINE programme. The NSA’s flagship product for these projects is the TAO (Tailored Access Operation) in charge of aggressive operations. According to the Washington Post, by the end of 2013, the GENIE programme will have remote control of 85,000 spyware devices in computers throughout the world. Lire notre article en Français
It can be seen that over a period of thirty days – from 10 December 2012 to 8 January 2013, 70,3 million recordings of French citizens’ telephone data were made by the NSA. This agency has several methods of data collection. According to the elements obtained by Le Monde, when a telephone number is used in France, it activates a signal which automatically triggers the recording of the call. Apparently this surveillance system also picks up SMS messages and their content using key words. Finally, the NSA apparently stores the history of the connections of each target – or the meta-data.
I failed to pay attention to the XKeyscore story when it first appeared. CNN wrote the following about XKeyscore on July 31:
(CNN) — You’ve never heard of XKeyscore, but it definitely knows you. The National Security Agency’s top-secret program essentially makes available everything you’ve ever done on the Internet — browsing history, searches, content of your emails, online chats, even your metadata — all at the tap of the keyboard.
The Guardian exposed the program on Wednesday in a follow-up piece to its groundbreaking report on the NSA’s surveillance practices. Shortly after publication, Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former Booz Allen Hamilton employee who worked for the NSA for four years, came forward as the source.
This latest revelation comes from XKeyscore training materials, which Snowden also provided to The Guardian. The NSA sums up the program best: XKeyscore is its “widest reaching” system for developing intelligence from the Internet.
The program gives analysts the ability to search through the entire database of your information without any prior authorization — no warrant, no court clearance, no signature on a dotted line. An analyst must simply complete a simple onscreen form, and seconds later, your online history is no longer private. The agency claims that XKeyscore covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet.”