8 ways the NSA is spying on you right now

Surveillance camera with digital world

More than a year on from the revelation that the US National Security Agency (NSA) collects personal data on every American – and many more people worldwide – the storm has passed.

Yet the NSA continues to monitor every American and many of its allies, with the backing of the US Government.

At ExpressVPN we are strong believers in freedom of speech whether it be offline, or online. However, the methods agencies uses to spy on citizens are truly fascinating and definitely worth reading up on in order to protect yourself. And if like us, you consider such surveillance an invasion of your privacy, being aware of its methods can help you in defending your data against the NSA and other snoops.

In this post we look at 8 methods the NSA is using to spy on you right now, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden and further investigation by the press.

How the NSA spies on you in America

1. They have your phone records

The Patriot Act allows the US Government to obtain “business records that are relevant to terrorist investigations.” This apparently includes records of every domestic call made in the US, including the number dialed, the time of the call and its duration.

2. Your favorite Internet services pass them your data

Facebook, Google, Apple and six other leading online services have all gone on record as having passed their customers’ data to the NSA, as legally required by the “PRISM” program. Data shared includes emails, messages, and documents.

3. They can hack your devices

The NSA’s hacking unit, Tailored Access Operations, has developed a whole range of hacking exploits. These enable the NSA to break into consumer electronics devices and IT systems as it sees fit.

4. They’ve made sure your security devices are exploitable

The NSA has also made the job of hacking security devices easier for itself, by coercing manufacturers into building vulnerabilities into products such as networking switches and firewalls. These vulnerabilities are known to the NSA, which can exploit them at any time.

5. They can intercept your cell phone calls

The A5 encryption standard is one of the most common methods used by cell phone networks to protect your privacy. But the NSA has cracked the standard, allowing it to intercept your mobile communications.

How the NSA spies on you overseas

6. They’ve tapped Internet lines worldwide

The Internet connects different continents via undersea fiber optic cables that carry truly massive amounts of data. It’s reported that the NSA has a deal with countries including the UK and Australia, which allows it to tap these fiber optic lines and collect your data as it sees fit.

7. They’ve tapped emails and phone calls too

In Brazil, Germany and other countries, the NSA has also tapped communication systems to snoop on private individuals’ emails and phone calls. The data is collected in cooperation with telecommunications companies in the target countries, under a program named “Fairview.”

8. They can track your movements via cellphone

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed that the NSA collects almost 5 billion cellphone location records per day, outside of the US. The data allows the agency to track the movements of individuals and monitor relationships between individuals. Data is collected by tapping the cables that connect mobile networks globally.

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25 thoughts on “8 ways the NSA is spying on you right now

  1. Hi Melanie
    I was also unable to install ExpressVPN on my windows 8 VMware client, so instead I installed it on my Windows 10 VMware host and then copied the ExpressVPN executable to the VMware client. The executable worked great on the client after that. Hope this helps
    Jim

  2. For many months now when i use VPN from android or iOs or PC, I can no longer stay connected for more than a few seconds to if lucky 20 minutes. Moreover, i have no access to sites i could visit before in other countries such as megatv.com live streaming. Netflix doesnt work either even if im in the USA where I have the subscription. I wasted my money on the annual subscription. I followed some of the proposed solutions to no happy result. Now I’m given a bunch of things “to try” as if im supposed to be ExpressVPNs field technician. Those days are over folks. This has to work without customer tinkering. All this makes me believe that not much else is really working. After all how would i really know that i’m on a private network when the basics dont even work? *shrugs*. My membership ends in September and i will not renew, no thanks.

    1. Hi Ralli,
      Thank you very much for your feedback! The connection problem you have sounds bad and definitely shouldn’t happen. Have you contacted support? They can help with that for sure.
      For questions regarding access to specific content, you can also direct these to support, they have access to all the proper tools that help you get the access you want.
      Lexie

      1. I agree Ralli but I really don’t like the answer you had for him sounds like who ever answered his question doesn’t even know what a vpn is or what it is suppose to do I. I am really questioning if I am using the right V.P.N. how can we be so sure or any proof 3whats so ever that our V.P.N. is working like it should when when we are internet browsing or streaming

        1. Hi Evan,
          There are a few ways you can test whether your VPN is working. Before and after you are connected you can check your IP address as well as potential DNS leaks with a tool like DNS leak test or What Is My IP. There are many similar tools like these.
          If your IP address is different after you connect, that is a good indicator that your VPN is working as intended. There should also be no DNS leaks or WebRTC leaks.
          Lexie

  3. Hi this is not in log in? Today I am trying but I can’t. How to in log in this expressvpn? How to use is it? We need your help. Thanks

    1. Hi! Sorry to hear you are experiencing connectivity issues. You can always get fast support by contacting us through our support page. We are available for you 24/7 all year.
      lexie

  4. Can not view my Time Warner Cable from Europe:
    “TIme Warner Cable dose not support VPN. Please disabile VPN in settings menu they restart TWC TV.”

  5. Interesting service. There is a 24 hour free trial when installing the app from google play store so use that if you have android and want to test it out. I like that they have support for Linux and android.

  6. I use windows 7,8,10 and Linux (Ubuntu.) We have 6 computers in our house our house. My Mum and brother only use Win10 or Smartphones though. I have 2 towers and 3 laptops all either dual or triple Various Versions of Windows and Linux.
    I have researched and tried a couple other VPN providers. The first night I tried expressvpn I was having trouble on my Ubuntu (14.4 at the time) tower. I contacted live chat support 3 times that night. They were patient and Extremely helpful. They knew exactly what to do. The support tech even gave me the code to copy/paste into the terminal (Linux terminal is kind of like a windows command prompt window – ‘for Windows peoples ;-p )
    I have been using Expressvpn for 3 years almost now and have never had any connection problem. It costs a little more than some of the other VPNs out there but I think its worth it because it never, never ever, slows my connection down, not even when I have 2 machines connected. I have a 50mg connection so my connection is blazing fast. I can’t say for sure Expressven keeps up with my 50 mg connection. But I honestly don’t notice any difference. I play Second Life and can have 10 downloads going and My Mum on skype and My Brother on Netflix with it all running through my router on the VPN and nothing lags.
    I am writing this because of the incredible customer support I received the first night I signed up for Expressvpn’s service. A year into my subscription I had an issue with my credit card (completely unrelated – nothing to do with Expressvpn.) Customer Service was respectful and helpful. I did have to cancel and start a new subscription when I contacted them about the unrelated issue but, they made it an easy transition and because I contacted them and explained the situation I only experienced a short interruption in service.
    Ok, I have rambled on long enough, lol. I just had to say my piece. II am so impressed with this service. I don’t understand the people who complained in the other posts. If you call or connect to live chat with customer service, they are so helpful and knowledgeable they will get your issue resolved. Like I said, I use all kinds of systems with all kinds of OS and they were even able to teach me a thing or two.
    I highly recommend these guys.
    *For the record… I am NOT an employee or some B.S. “paid” or fake reviewer. “scouts honour” ( yes I was genuinely truly a cub/boy scout) I am just a very satisfied customer.

  7. At the beginning I thought I will have a lot of troubles setting a vpn service around my computers (linux and windows alike) and that was the reason that hold me back for using a vpn. Then I have read about expressvpn and had a glance on the website, I was surprised to see how easy the step by step installation and using of the product were, so I definitely gave it a try just to see if this is true.

    It was a shock for me (like a pleasant surprise of course) to see that everything was working so naturally like I was using it for 10 years, lol! I am very impressed by this software and I really want to congratulate the team for making this possible. I never needed to contact support cause everything is so thoroughly explained and everything worked from the start as it should, thank you guys!

    On the other hand I don’t really believe that there is full anonymity when you are connected online and the service should never be used to commit cyber crimes or any other type of crime over the internet, but “express vpn” it is, indeed, a strong layer of protection against prying eyes, a useful tool created to work against internet censorship and a gate to the world in a much more secure manner. People should understand that every layer of protection when it comes about data over the internet it is necessary and should make a minimal effort to protect themselves against nowadays online threats.

    Thank you again, ExpressVPN team and please keep up the good work!

  8. So I did the DNS Leak test and came up with the following IP address as a leak: 50.23.133.94.

    A check of this IP using “WhatismyIP”, “BlackList” shows that the 50.23.133.94 is associated with 3 listed on the “BlackList” : SORBS Spamhost (any time) spam.dnsbl.sorbs.net, Barracuda Reputation Block List b.barracudacentral.org, and Barracuda Reputation Block List (for SpamAssassin) bb.barracudacentral.org.

    Do I need to be worried? If so, how do I stop the DNS Leak?

    Thanks,

    1. Are you connected to a VPN? When you reattempt the DNS Leak Test without the VPN, does this IP still show up? Just from your explanation it doesn’t sound like a big worry, but could be an inconvenience, for example if you see a lot of captchas, or are unable to visit some sites. Reconfiguring your DNS (for example with OpenNIC) or using a reputable VPN provider should also help.
      Lexie

  9. Grant (November 8th):
    If the IP 50.23.133.94 was your own (as in, the IP that you’re assigned by your ISP before using the VPN) then that’d mean there was a nasty IP leak.
    But from how I read your post, I suspect that it would be one of the IP’s that you’ve gotten from using ExpressVPN, in which case all’s well.
    Regarding the Blacklist, that would be a seperate issue, probably meaning that IP’s within that IP range (and not neccisarily the IP which you were assigned) have been used to send out spam emails; I’m not fully aware of how the rating system works, but comparing it to the numbers I’d see from the ratings systems with other groups that keep blacklist lists of such stuff, the rating of 3 might not be much to worry about.
    Don’t pin me on that last bit, though, as said I don’t really know how they rate stuff so for all I know the rating of 3 might be their way of saying “this IP range has been used to send out so much junk that it’ll give you, your kids and the next five generations of your bloodline many horrible diseases!”
    But I was comparing it to other services’ way of rating IP ranges for stuff like spam/malware, and I’m used to rating systems where higher rating numbers are cause for concern while single-digit numbers would be comparable to something being less than 1% bad.

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