Can you hear me now? Big Brother is listening

In today’s threatcast Barrett Lyon and I resort to an air-gap technique to interview an engineer at ATT about the massive funneling of data and voice traffic into the NSA’s analysis centers.  At first we looked into doing the interview directly with this guy, who we call Deep Packet, and masking his voice with digital effects.

In today’s threatcast Barrett Lyon and I resort to an air-gap technique to interview an engineer at ATT about the massive funneling of data and voice traffic into the NSA’s analysis centers.  At first we looked into doing the interview directly with this guy, who we call Deep Packet, and masking his voice with digital effects. When we realized just what sort of processing power the NSA has available to them we decided that was not good enough to protect our source. Any digital effects could be reversed.  So I got Barrett on the phone and he relayed my questions to Deep Packet via IRC and read his responses back to me.

 

And those responses were chilling. Deep Packet gives a sense of an insider who at first did not believe the press reports but quickly learned that not only were they true but it went deeper. 

 


By now you have heard of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s class action suit against ATT.  (Support the EFF! I did. )   From the 37 page filing:

 

This case challenges the legality of Defendants’ participation in a secret and illegal government program to intercept and analyze vast quantities of Americans’ telephone and Internet communications, surveillance done without the authorization of a court and in violation of federal electronic surveillance and telecommunications statues, as well as the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

According to Deep Packet ATT maintains numerous facilities that host very expensive Juniper routers for this project. As far as he knows there is no direct contract with the NSA. In other words ATT is paying for all of this. He feels that the reward is favorable treatment when ATT is bidding on less clandestine government contracts.  

 

According to Deep Packet these Juniper routers have specially designed cards in them to shunt ALL OF THE TRAFFIC from ATT peering points to NSA analysis centers around the country.  Peering traffic means not just traffic that begins and ends on ATT’s network but any traffic from networks that ATT has peering arrangements with. A quick look here indicates that is just about… everything.  

 

Now, the EFF claims that ATT handles 300 million voice calls and 4,000 terabytes PER DAY of traffic.  I tried to get a feel for whether ATT had enough storage space to actually archive all of that info. Deep Packet says there is A LOT of storage associated with this project. I still doubt it is enough. But maybe enough to grab every conversation that involves airplanes, flight school, anthrax, and Allah.

 

 

 

 

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All