NSA can monitor 75% of internet traffic

New details have unveiled the true extent of the National Security Agency's internet surveillance programs, including a new shocking statistic: 75% of US internet traffic can be viewed by the NSA. Through telecoms companies, the US Government hunt for possible domestic threats, and through doing so, read our emails and listen to our calls.

The Wall Street Journal today clarified that the main intention of these programs is to spot unusual traffic, which may be entirely foreign but pass through the US. However, to do this, the NSA have had to broaden their reach in scary ways. However, traffic is monitored using complex algorithms with holes which let certain data through, thus, much of what the NSA can access, they ignore.  75% of internet traffic can be monitored, but it doesn't mean that specifically your emails have been read - the NSA likely don't care where you're meeting friends for lunch.

Programs are individually code-named, and may have been established with specific US carriers. Former officials with knowledge of AT&T's operations, for example, reveal that the 'Blarney' program was created by both the NSA and AT&T, who declined to comment. Similarly, Verizon have placed intercepts in metropolitan areas with the aim of sending relevant information to the NSA. Some carriers, however, have not been so compliant, providing only limited access to suspicious data.

In response to recent allegations about surveillance, which were originally leaked by Edward Snowden earlier this year, senior officials have made a variety of statements. NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines reassured us:

NSA's foreign intelligence collection activities are continually audited and overseen internally and externally, when we make a mistake in carrying out our foreign intelligence mission, we report the issue internally and to federal overseers and aggressively get to the bottom of it.

Fairview, Oakstar, Lithium, Stormbrew and Blarney, the newly uncovered programs, were mentioned by Edward Snowden in his original leak, but never named. From Ms. Vines' statements, there is no guarantee that they still operate in the same way as they were first intended to.

Microsoft recently responded to allegations that they were sharing private data with the NSA, and clarified that:

Microsoft does not provide any government with direct and unfettered access to our customer’s data. Microsoft only pulls and then provides the specific data mandated by the relevant legal demand.

If we do receive approval to share more information, we’ll publish it immediately.

Of course, the saga continues, and we're likely to see even more leaks and surprises as the true extent of the NSA's programs become clear.

Source: Wall Street Journal | Ethernet Cables image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Check out this true story to see what sort of things the NSA, etc. are up to:

https://medium.com/something-like-falling/2e7d13e54724

Intro Quote:
It was a confluence of magnificent proportions that led six agents from the joint terrorism task force to knock on my door Wednesday morning. Little did we know our seemingly innocent, if curious to a fault, Googling of certain things was creating a perfect storm of terrorism profiling. Because somewhere out there, someone was watching. Someone whose job it is to piece together the things people do on the internet raised the red flag when they saw our search history.

I think that it's great that the nsa is monitoring the internet. People don't see it now but this will definitely help prevent terrorist attacks

schoolworkguy said,
I think that it's great that the nsa is monitoring the internet. People don't see it now but this will definitely help prevent terrorist attacks

I don't think anyone is disputing that. I would hope the general consensus is that this could help prevent terroristic attacks and save many lives. The problem here though is what happens with the rest of the data captured that has nothing to do with terrorists? Who is the "big brother" when it comes to that and takes responsibility for misusing that data? How do we even punish those who abuse it? How do we KNOW they have this information, and what exactly to do they have? Many questions here that just revolve around the government not keeping this secret and the publics right to know what they are doing with our data. Same as we like to know what exactly they are doing with our money (taxes).

schoolworkguy said,
I think that it's great that the nsa is monitoring the internet. People don't see it now but this will definitely help prevent terrorist attacks

Yes because it stopped Boston. And any serious terrorist will send communications by hand much like Bin Laden did but if it makes you sleep better at night.

Depicus said,
Yes because it stopped Boston. And any serious terrorist will send communications by hand much like Bin Laden did but if it makes you sleep better at night.

Boston was part of the 25% they didn't monitor.

Getting close to just using a VPN and encryption on all my traffic now. Sure they might be able to gather it and maybe even break into it but I'll at least make it slightly more difficult for them.

Make it not worth their time If we all start doing this, monitoring will be pointless and this massive internet spying will be useless due to amount of work per individual.

Trollercoaster said,
Getting close to just using a VPN and encryption on all my traffic now. Sure they might be able to gather it and maybe even break into it but I'll at least make it slightly more difficult for them.

Anything encrypted is flagged and reviewed. By using encryption you will automatically draw attention to yourself.

Anything encrypted can be decrypted. Some people believe encryption makes their data bulletproof to prying eyes. It doesn't.

Shadowzz said,
Make it not worth their time If we all start doing this, monitoring will be pointless and this massive internet spying will be useless due to amount of work per individual.

N.b. individual VPN servers host a lot of data for a lot of people, compromising one server allows decoding of many people's VPN data.
Of course it's even easier when you realise most VPNs get their certificates from the top companies, compromise a large certificate company like verisign (probably wouldn't need to because they work with the NSA directly) and you'll have all the keys to all the certs and can decode all the data.

Steve121178 said,
Anything encrypted is flagged and reviewed. By using encryption you will automatically draw attention to yourself.

They can't decrypt anything without your password or keys, they don't have a magic machine that can decrypt files. It would take longer than our lifetimes to do it, that is why they try to force people to give up their passwords in court.

You can generate your own certificates and the VPN host does not have to be on an US based server.
There's plenty of solutions to make it a lot harder for these spying agencies and the point is, if we all put in some effort in encrypting our data, they either have to have flaws in all encryption methods and if they do, there will soon be a new encryption method they have not find a flaw in. Cat and mouse game. But currently few people bother so it's not to bad into spending some more resources into the few that do encrypt their data. If we all do it, it will be far...far to costly for those agencies to spy on us all.

Steve121178 said,

Anything encrypted is flagged and reviewed. By using encryption you will automatically draw attention to yourself.

Anything encrypted can be decrypted. Some people believe encryption makes their data bulletproof to prying eyes. It doesn't.

Er right ok.

I think you're a bit wide of the mark on a few things here.

zeroomegazx said,
And yet Youtube Wonders why i dont want to show my real name..........

They bother me from time to time, to do it. Annoying.

zeroomegazx said,
And yet Youtube Wonders why i dont want to show my real name..........

So the reason you don't use your real name on YouTube is because of the NSA's ability to monitor 75% of internet traffic?

I doubt the NSA cares what you post on YouTube. And if they did, you not using your real name will NOT be a deterrent in them finding you.

The WSJ result is based on estimations and is purely speculative.

And this whole subject is being blown way outside of proportion as it always has been like this. Anyone really thinks the secret services recently started monitoring traffic?

Wake up. This is the real world.

The Internet started when the US universities started hooking up to Dutch universities.
Internet as in the name... International Network. Before that it was a national network.

One point which is failed to mention is that the most of traffic on the internet, bar asia, is routed through US cables. So they'll be a big percentage of European countries which fall into this.

There is also the fact that any European user that uses web services from a US company can also have their data examined by the letter agencies under the Patriot Act. Even if they are accessing services which are hosted outside the US - e.g. a data centre in Dublin or London etc..

Wut, the Internet Exchanges that connect the US with the rest of the world use 1/10th of the bandwidth of AMS-IX....
So how is all that traffic going through the US?

Shadowzz said,
Wut, the Internet Exchanges that connect the US with the rest of the world use 1/10th of the bandwidth of AMS-IX....
So how is all that traffic going through the US?

It's more talking about privately generated content and not packets. Where do your emails go and where do they get stored? Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and Facebook are the biggest repositories of personal messaging.

Spicoli said,

It's more talking about privately generated content and not packets. Where do your emails go and where do they get stored? Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and Facebook are the biggest repositories of personal messaging.


Fair enough, but he was speaking about traffic
And when it comes to traffic, far from 'most' goes through the US

NSA monitors 75% of the total internet is total bull. ~75% is porn and warez, how on earth are they monitoring all of that?

Shadowzz said,

Fair enough, but he was speaking about traffic
And when it comes to traffic, far from 'most' goes through the US

NSA monitors 75% of the total internet is total bull. ~75% is porn and warez, how on earth are they monitoring all of that?


Unless your peering with someone on the same ISP or a different ISP which isn't in the US, most traffic is peered through links to the US. Id love to see where there monitoring lies.

Monitoring is at the internet exchanges, like they have been for decades.
Duplicating traffic that comes through it, and they scan the duplicated traffic.
But just checking headers or protocols != monitoring 75% of the internet. If you go this route, every IX is rigged to duplicate traffic like that and its close to a 100% of internet monitoring.

Shadowzz said,
Monitoring is at the internet exchanges, like they have been for decades.
Duplicating traffic that comes through it, and they scan the duplicated traffic.
But just checking headers or protocols != monitoring 75% of the internet. If you go this route, every IX is rigged to duplicate traffic like that and its close to a 100% of internet monitoring.

Monitoring is not done at the exchange, in this case it's done at the Tier 1 ISP level which is global communications.

lol, it is also done at other places, but ALL the internet goes over internet exchanges. Even ISP traffic goes over an (or their own) internet exchange.

For example
Why bother monitoring a single computer when you can monitor the router?

Oh and read back on it, I've read numerous of articles over the last 15 years on how the internet was monitored, always ends up at the Internet Exchanges directly.
Why even bother with individual ISP's while multiple ISP's use the same IX.

Shadowzz said,
lol, it is also done at other places, but ALL the internet goes over internet exchanges. Even ISP traffic goes over an (or their own) internet exchange.

For example
Why bother monitoring a single computer when you can monitor the router?

Oh and read back on it, I've read numerous of articles over the last 15 years on how the internet was monitored, always ends up at the Internet Exchanges directly.
Why even bother with individual ISP's while multiple ISP's use the same IX.


An internet exchange is where consumer connections is aggregated into a single line which gets fed into the ISP's edge routers. The only time monitoring is done there, is if the ISP has a CG-NAT solution at the exchange.

Monitoring by the NSA will be done with DPI kit which will be sitting behind every core router which sits on a tier 1 line. Since the majority of western traffic will use these lines almost constantly, the majority of the western world will be monitored by the NSA.

Why dont someone just go to the NSA building and cut their communication lines so that you guys in the US dont have to put up with this crap?

Anarkii said,
Why dont someone just go to the NSA building and cut their communication lines so that you guys in the US dont have to put up with this crap?

They don't have lines, they have physical devices sat on some big dark fibre unfortunately.