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Thursday, June 13, 2013

When the NSA intercepted the Public communications data traffic...

In the past week the name of the US National Security Agency (NSA) became suddenly sticking. The agency became the center of controversy after the two of their secret surveillance program was revealed to the public. Many people criticize that the surveillance and wiretapping is contrary to the freedom principles that America has always echoed.

The two programs that includes the collection of phone records from Verizon Communications, the US. telecom operator which has 98.9 million subscribers. The program is based on the command of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), which ordered Verizon to hand over all records of customer calls for a period of three months.
The US National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. (Picture from: http://www.scmp.com/)
NSA only get access to "metadata", ie when the calls, dialed numbers, the call origin, and the call duration. Instructions given on 25 April 2013 (a few days after the bombing in the Boston marathon) did not set a specific target, which means that the NSA could spy call even though the person did not commit a crime.

To get the contents of a conversation, or the name and address from the caller for the tapping needs, it takes apart the legal process. The Wall Street Journal reports that data collection of mobile phone records to the NSA also made on AT & T, which has 107 million users, and Sprint, with 55 million.

Edward Snowden. (Picture
from: http://www.idga.org/)
Another program is PRISM, which is expressed by a former their contract employee, Edward Snowden, to the Guardian and the Washington Post last weekend. In their internal documents, NSA claims that this secret program giving the U.S. government access to e-mails, chat logs, and other data directly from the server that included nine American giant Internet companies, such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and Apple. But the companies mentioned were denied their participation in the program.

Tapping through PRISM. (Picture
from: KORAN TEMPO 4256)
Not known how this PRISM program works. From the 41-slides of PowerPoint presentation that obtained by the Guardian apparently used to train the intelligence operators on the program capabilities. In contrast to the phone records data collection from Verizon, the PRISM surveillance program can include the content of communications, not just metadata.

The PRISM involved in collecting the data and organize it in the index. The program software categorize the communication records from the contents of the message. A fact sheet that also obtained by The Guardian explains that nearly 3 billion pieces of the intelligence data have been collected from American computer networks over 30 days period, which ended in March 2013, and 100 billion pieces of data have been indexed from around the world.

Iran, which locked horns with the US and Israel related to their nuclear program and other policies, are at the top of the NSA surveillance list with more than 14 billion reported in March, 2013. Then followed by Pakistan which is ranked second with 13.5 billion reports. The number of reports on Jordan, Egypt, and India was approaching it.

How the NSA uses the data? "NSA may be use the "data mining" techniques to look for patterns that could be a sign of a terrorist activity," said Kevin Drum of The Week. The trick, the NSA analysts to compile the "typical" profiles of terrorist activities and then use their call records and other data (such as financial transactions and travel records) to find an individual or group of people that fit with the pattern.

The Washington Post columnist, David Ignatius, could also provide illustration how the "data mining" it works. He pointed out that if an Al-Qaeda operator who is decided to switch to another phone number to avoid surveillance, and how the NSA monitor his communications? How NSA identify his new cell phone number? How NSA could find a needle in a haystack of data is it?

According to Ignatius, it is not a complicated matter. He likens those who lost his cell phone. He must have a list of certain people who will soon be notified of the new number. If the NSA could have all the records of phone calls, they will soon find a similar pattern with old traffic communications: a call to a spouse, his children in the home, office, or his friends. Furthermore, according to Ignatius, they do not need to listen to the call live to know that it is a communication from you. "Analysis of a simple pattern will suffice as long as they have access to all the records," he said. That's why the world instantly restless, when the NSA intercepted communications data traffic... *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | GUARDIAN | THE WEEK | ABDUL MANAN | KORAN TEMPO 4256]
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