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View Diary: Everything you don't want to know about the NSA & didn't ask (208 comments)

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  •  I agree that no amount of encryption or hiding (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot, koNko, sebastianguy99, deep info

    other than physically removing a device from the internet and making it all but impossible to get at it through other means like inductive taps and such can protect one from the NSA's intrusion if it wants to intrude.

    Two points, though.

    One, this doesn't mean that they ARE doing this, to everyone or a very large portion of everyone, at least, and there's been no reporting to the effect that they are. And this is the question I'm asking. I'm not saying that they're not, just that there have been no reports to my knowledge that they are.

    And two, while they might well be able to decrypt anything by now, or will soon be able to, the computing power required to do this will likely mean that it can and will only be used for very selective data, because it likely can't be done on everyone's data, and never will be able to.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 10:17:54 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kovie, goodpractice

      It's virtually impossible and of no practical value to listen to or decrypt everything, which results in an information overload that is self defeating.

      But the danger is as these capabilities improve, particularly with filtering and decrypting on the input side, it enables a higher level of brute force analytics that can be put to misuse, and not just by humans but by machines with certain programmed goals.

      If you want to see something scary, check out Planitar Research's Graph tool. This, I understand, is one of the tools used by NSA analysts (and other government and corporate users in different versions) and it is a very powerful tool.

      I think there is still a demo site up using open data to show what can be done although this site is now blocked (from US side) to China so I can't verify it. But I tried the demo once and was really impressed in a "lasting" way by the power.

      Plug that into a massive database and you start to play God or at least Masters of the Universe.

      Cool, but not cool.

      400ppm : what about my daughter's future?

      by koNko on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 11:46:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are certain unresolvable computing (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Garrett, deep info, koNko

        challenges that prevent them from doing this on a large scale that barring some major new discoveries may never be resolvable even by the NSA. To do that, they'd need more computing resources than even they could ever afford. There is a point where even the NSA reaches certain physical, financial and computing limits that simply can't be overcome (and the NSA knows this better than most). Plus, even if they could do this, it would be detected by hackers eventually, leading to some serious PR, political and even legal problems. So I'm guessing that they're limiting such intrusions for now, and are not doing it en masse. But who knows, they just might be paranoid, arrogant and stupid enough to try. I wouldn't put it past them. Even smart people can be stupid.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 12:05:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's an amusing part of it (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kovie, deep info, koNko

          Presumably, NSA hires very good mathematicians. Who have the job of proving, at a formal level, what the bounds on NSA abilities are.

          •  Having a comp sci degree myself (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Garrett, deep info, koNko

            I'm somewhat familiar with such limitations, although I've never worked in that aspect of computing, having only a BS. You really need a masters or PhD to be truly useful in this field. It was called NP-complete back then, referring to a set of problems that can't be solved in the real world due to the complexity involved and time and resources that would be required to solve them.

            It would be interesting to sit in on meetings where the computational experts try to convince the less technical brass that something either can't be done, or is a waste of effort. Probably lots of slings and arrows.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 01:26:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  0ver 400 BILLION emails analyzed/day (1+ / 0-)
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        One of NSA’s most important contractors may be Narus, a subsidiary of Boeing that makes a key telecommunications software that allows government agencies and corporations to monitor huge amounts of data flowing over fiber-optic cables. According to Bill Binney, one of four NSA whistle-blowers who’ve been warning about NSA’s immense powers, one Narus device can analyze 1,250,000 1,000-character emails every second. That comes to over 100 billion emails a day.

        “Narus is the one thing that makes it all possible,” Binney told me over the weekend, of the Verizon surveillance program unveiled by the Guardian. “They probably pick up 60 to 80 percent of the data going over the [U.S.] network.” The Narus technology, he added, “reconstructs everything on the line and then passes it off to NSA for storage” and later analysis. That includes everything, he said, including email, cellphone calls, and voice over Internet protocol calls such as those made on Skype.

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