8 Ways the NSA is Spying On You Right Now

Surveillance camera with digital world

Last Updated: Mar 21, 2017 @ 3:46 am

Three years on from the revelations that the U.S. 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 U.S. Government and large portions of Congress. And it’s not only the NSA – their counterparts at the CIA are also spying on and hacking targets of interest.

ExpressVPN believes in freedom of speech—whether it be offline or online. To uphold this freedom, it is important to learn about the methods the NSA uses to spy on citizens. Once you understand how your liberties are violated, you can start defending your data and reclaim your privacy.

Let’s take a 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 U.S. Government to obtain “business records that are relevant to terrorist investigations.” This apparently includes records of every domestic and international call made in the U.S., 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. When the NSA finds a security hole in a popular consumer device, they do not, as previously intended, fix the security hole, but instead exploit it. That leaves all our devices vulnerable to hackers.

 

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 many manufacturers into building vulnerabilities into products such as networking switches, firewalls, and encryption protocols. These vulnerabilities are known to the NSA, which can exploit them at any time. The NSA also intercepts shipments of computers and phones and plants backdoors in them.

5. They can track you wherever you are

When you move around your town, cell phone towers are able to calculate your exact position. The NSA keeps records of where you are at any time. They are able to read all your incoming text messages and phone calls and store them indefinitely.

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. In some places, the NSA has deals with local intelligence agencies to tap into these cables; in others, it does so on its own. The NSA even uses submarines to attach snooping bugs to cables deep beneath in the ocean.

7. They’re hacking foreign companies

In Brazil, Germany and other countries, the NSA has broken into the internal networks of major telecommunications providers, intercepting the data they collect and weakening the security of their systems. They collect every email and phone call they can.

8. They know exactly what you own and buy

The NSA has access, through agreements and hacking, to major credit card networks, payment gateways, and wire transfer facilities. This allows them to follow every cent of your money, where it comes from, and what you are spending it on.

Protect yourself from government surveillance

While the NSA’s reach extends across the globe, there is still a lot you can do to safeguard your internet privacy. Check out this list of top privacy tips and always be conscious of what you’re sharing, with who you’re sharing, and how you share it.

Click here to go back to ExpressVPN’s internet privacy guides

43 thoughts on “8 Ways the NSA is Spying On You Right Now

  1. moi j’utilise express vpn oignon y a t’il moyen de savoir si j’ai vraiment invisible sana être espionné? y-a t’il un teste de vérification a testé si on n’est protègé ou blindé oui ou non?

  2. Hello, I bough 1 month free trial service yesterday and I would like to ask if the setup is correct because yesterday when I’m check my ip i seen wienna as i choose but DNS was different but also wienna. So, its correct?
    Today (second day of use) i check my ip for same country and today i see for wienna different ip what i think its normal if VPN provider (you) offer new ip address every day or time to time, but the DNS is showed same as ip address, also DNS flash. So is that correct? Its must be same for privacy or different between ip and dns??

    1. Hi Mike,
      Yes, your settings are correct. We offer a DNS leak test too that can show you if you are leaking DNS. Indeed the IP addresses and DNS addresses can change any time, but your browsing experience should not be affected by this. All the best!
      Lexie

  3. I live in China. inside probably the most sophisticated government firewall in the world . I’ve tried a couple other VPNs and chose to stick with Express VPN. Even though I’m not able to use their most recent app, (it doesn’t support Windows 7) I’m lucky that I can at least use their older versions to get back my internet freedom. I can’t imagine using Baidu instead of Google. I need to access gmail for work as well. Thanks for this service guys. I’m probably one of many hundreds of thousands of expats using your service in China. Keep up the good work. ….. And no I’m not an employee of Express VPN….. For disbelieving turds….

  4. I have a subscription to Express VPN and would like to set this up on my PC X3. How can I get this application, set it up and from what I’ve just read l want to support to remote connect so these are setup correctly. I am a legitimat, non terrifying American?that respects everyone’s privacy and want the same. You can respond to my email or call me. The phone number is listed in my account with you. Thanks.

  5. When I log on to my iPad I find my expressVPN off as I expect. I turn it on or occasionally it starts on its own. Checking back a short period of time later I find it off again. It starts automatically once it notices my presence. My question is why does it turn off and what can I do to stop this annoying and possibly dangerous problem?
    Thanks, Ray

    1. Hi Ray,
      Unfortunately the iOS operating system terminates all applications running in the background, including your VPN app. We have built our app so that it automatically reconnects as soon as the phone gets unlocked again. For extra protection, you can try installing ExpressVPN on your router. As you already have a subscription this comes at no extra cost for you, as long as your router works with our software. Have a look at the supported routers at the red box here.
      Lexie

  6. Time Warner Cable does not support VPNs. ATT at the moment does. I use att and express VPN.

    What can I anticipate in the future? Do you know if ATT will continue to support VPNs?

    1. Neither Time Warner Cable nor ATT need to actively support ExpressVPN. Your VPN service will work with both of these providers. If you ever have trouble connecting, contact the support center any time.

  7. As of today, December 1st; Rule 41 in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; (please see my link and post on Google+), states (to para-phrase), that VPN’s and the TOR network are no longer safe from government hackers. What is your position? I’ve been a paid subscriber for some time. I’m not that concerned, because warrants still need to be issued, but can be done so, without justification, and I’m more concerned with privacy, (political activist and author), online purchases, and bank account.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    1. Not if the flavor linux is the ubuntu 16.10. Been trying to install ikt for over a month and several different chats. To no avail still no working vpn on my linux only windows

      1. There will be a new version coming out fixing a few bugs, hopefully that will fix everything for you. In the meanwhile, you can use ExpressVPN on your Linux machines by installing OpenVPN, and downloading the configuration files from the account page here.

  13. 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.”

  14. 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

  15. 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

    2. I understand what your saying, basically why the restrictions in the network are so high is to make the client go to “them” and not the other way round. They are breaking into your data with your help because of your addiction to their stuff. Smh!

    3. I had many problems connecting as well. Made many calls to support. My problem was not caused by Express, my problem was my router. A person with tech support suggested I perform a total firmware reboot of my router. After the reboot I was connected in minutes. Every device I use EXPRESS with, works. Maybe some code is stuck on your device. I now blame my equipment first. Think how unique every phone and router is and all the junk we put on them. I think your problem is equipment related, not EXPRESS VPN.

  16. 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

    1. Easy, just establish the Virtual Private Network on your current desktop. Then run VMWare while VPN is running on your current Desktop and create a split disk on the network your connected to. Then after making your OS you set it up and your already on a VPN on your VMWare and Desktop both access Virtual Private Network. Just be sure you connected VPN before creating the “Operating System”. Be safe if not feeling comfortable than just use the VPN on your VMWare and open a browser on the new OS and enable proxy within the VPN on the new machine on a web browser. Anonymity not that hard. Once you create the OS on a VPN on your current desktop the OS will be on that private network any time you run the virtual machine while connecting to VPN on your desktop. be safe

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