In the Ugly Truth About Online Anonymity, I wrote:
There are dozens of off the shelf products that you would swear were designed for use by intelligence agencies, but they’re routinely peddled to—and used by—corporations. If corporations have and use these surveillance capabilities, what are the intelligence agencies running on the service providers’ networks? I’ll be buggered if I know, but I know it’s not good.
What are the intelligence agencies running on the service providers’ networks?
I don’t know how to express this in a way that fully conveys my utter astonishment that these documents are publicly available in their entirety. If there is a more riveting and technically revealing account of recent NSA IP intercept operations out there, I’d like to know about it.
This is arcane information. But… For those of you who want names, model numbers, techniques, and locations all related to how, IN FACT, They are watching EVERYTHING we are doing online, this is it.
The only reason this is public is because Mark Klein, an ATT engineer who participated in building the secret NSA infrastructure, outed it. There can be no idiotic commentary about “conspiracy theories” or “paranoia” with this. These are court documents containing information provided under penalty of perjury by an eye witness and participant in the operation. The expert analysis provided by J. Scott Marcus–which was just unsealed today—is shocking. For those of us who just knew this was happening, but couldn’t put our fingers on how, well, now we know.
I’ve followed publicly available information on NSA for about fifteen years and I’ve never seen anything like this. The capabilities of this system are awesome and terrifying.
When you read J. Scott Marcus’ analysis, it will become very clear to you why NSA and ATT wanted that thing sealed.
So, how does NSA do it?
A company called Narus has developed the NarusInsight Intercept Suite: a purpose built network surveillance system that is capable of analyzing (in real time) ALL of the data passing through the largest network nodes in existence. This system is capable of applying sophisticated targeting rules to the traffic, as well as recording entire, individual sessions for later analysis. According to the Narus website:
These capabilities include playback of streaming media (i.e. VoIP), rendering of web pages, examination of e-mail and the ability to analyze the payload/attachments of e-mail or file transfer protocols. Narus partner products offer the ability to quickly analyze information collected by the Directed Analysis or Lawful Intercept modules. When Narus partners’ powerful analytic tools are combined with the surgical targeting and real-time collection capabilities of Directed Analysis and Lawful Intercept modules, analysts or law enforcement agents are provided capabilities that have been unavailable thus far.
How many nodes?
Unknown, but according to Mark Klein in his Declaration in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction:
In the course of my employment, I was required to connect new circuits to the “splitter cabinet” and get them up and running. While working on a particularly difficult one with another AT&T technician, I learned that other such “splitter cabinets” were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.
That, in a nutshell, is the system that’s keeping an eye on us. It sits between the large peering nodes where different carriers’ networks come together. It searches for traffic based on tasking provided by NSA, captures it and phones it home over a private IP based optical carrier link. Where is that data winding up? Yesterday we saw information on the National Security Analysis Center, which might become the repository for the longer term storage of the information that is captured from this and other surveillance operations.
Are They building electronic dossiers on as many of us as they can? I don’t know, but it sure looks that way.
Wouldn’t you love to know what that thing was actually looking for? Which websites get you thrown on a permanent shit list? Which books? Which phrases?
Who devises the tasking orders? That’s got to be the holiest of holies. The family jewels. How many years of dedicated, vetted, zombie-like order following are required before one winds up in a position like that? How many people have access to the full tasking package?
One last point here: Look at the Narus board of directors. At the top we find William P. Crowell. In addition to a long list of black bag related jobs, he was Deputy Director of Operations and Deputy Director of, that’s right, the U.S. National Security Agency.
What other interesting stuff is out there on this matter? That might be a fun project for some of you younger whipper snappers out there to fathom out. If you find something interesting, leave a comment.
Whistleblower Declaration and Other Key Documents Released to Public
San Francisco – More documents detailing secret government surveillance of AT&T’s Internet traffic have been released to the public as part of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF’s) class-action lawsuit against the telecom giant.
Some of the unsealed information was previously made public in redacted form. But after negotiations with AT&T, EFF has filed newly unredacted documents describing a secret, secure room in AT&T’s facilities that gave the National Security Agency (NSA) direct access to customers’ emails and other Internet communications. These include several internal AT&T documents that have long been available on media websites, EFF’s legal arguments to the 9th Circuit, and the full declarations of whistleblower Mark Klein and of J. Scott Marcus, the former Senior Advisor for Internet Technology to the Federal Communications Commission, who bolsters and explains EFF’s evidence.
“This is critical evidence supporting our claim that AT&T is cooperating with the NSA in the illegal dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. “This surveillance is under debate in Congress and across the nation, as well as in the courts. The public has a right to see these important documents, the declarations from our witnesses, and our legal arguments, and we are very pleased to release them.”
EFF filed the class-action suit against AT&T last year, accusing the telecom giant of illegally assisting in the NSA’s spying on millions of ordinary Americans. The lower court allowed the case to proceed and the government has now asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the case, claiming that the lawsuit could expose state secrets. EFF’s newly released brief in response outlines how the case should go forward respecting both liberty and security.
“The District Court rejected the government’s attempt to sweep this case under the rug,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. “This country has a long tradition of open court proceedings, and we’re pleased that as we present our case to the Court of Appeals, the millions of affected AT&T customers will be able to see our arguments and evidence and judge for themselves.”
Oral arguments in the 9th Circuit appeal are set for the week of August 13.
For the unredacted Klein declaration:
For the internal documents:
For the unredacted Marcus declaration:
For EFF’s 9th Circuit brief:
For more on the class-action lawsuit against AT&T:
17 Responses to “NSA, AT&T and the NarusInsight Intercept Suite”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.