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.