Have you ever had the feeling of being watched? Has it ever crossed your mind that someone might constantly be tracking your digital footprints to disrupt your privacy? It has been six years since the infamous whistleblower, Edward Snowden, leaked the classified files from the National Security Agency (NSA) for the world to see. It was then. The world came to know how Uncle Sam is always watching. Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA on June 5, 2013. The documents leaked by Snowden revealed that the NSA has been spying not only on American citizens but has been collecting personal data on individuals from around the globe. Before you dig deeper, if you already know about the surveillance facts and want yourself to get off the grid completely, PureVPN can help you in this regard.
Despite the impact the revelations initially had, it’s shocking to see that the warnings entered via one ear and went out the other. As time passed, people forgot how their privacy was violated in the name of national interest. No matter what, we still value Snowden’s sacrifice and what he did for us. So, let us remind you of the 10 ways NSA has been spying on you again!
XKS is a secret program developed by the National Security Agency to seek and analyze global data from the internet. XKS is a sophisticated program that gives the NSA access to monitor the internet. The program enables NSA to read your emails, access your search queries, browsing history, and documents shared. The program enables the NSA to access your device – enabling them to monitor everything virtually. Further, the NSA can track your device wherever you go. In short, they have access to anything and everything.
In 1997, the NSA created its elite hacking division called Tailored Access Operations, also known as TAO. TAO is NSA’s specialized cyber-warfare intelligence-gathering unit that goes by this motto: “Your data is our data, your equipment is our equipment – any time, any place, by any legal means.” Tailored Access Operations exploits the security loopholes in devices to gather information about the user or use it as a surveillance tool. Nevertheless, the devices with minimal or no security loopholes are not far from TAO’s reach.
TAO is capable enough to breach the security of your device using malware. They can route targeted traffic to fake versions of real websites to monitor logs and user activity. TAO also works in alliance with tech companies to create backdoors in routers – exploiting devices not only virtually but physically.
Under the PRISM program’s obligations, the NSA had been asking for data from social media and telecom giants. The NSA could ask these companies for information like photos, videos, emails, and browsing history. Its biggest tech associates are said to be Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Apple.
The inception of the NSA was backed by the idea of national security. The NSA was created to collect information about foreign countries and citizens, not citizens of the US. The alliance was supposed to help the organization withstand and counter any act against national security. In short, the NSA was not authorized to collect intelligence on Americans. Though the question is, did they do so? Yes!
Exploiting the legal loopholes, NSA collects intelligence about the citizens of the United States and shares the information with its allies named the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance. The alliance comprises five countries: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The relationship is mutual though, as the intelligence of other countries is also shared with the United States.
Learn more about 5 eyes Alliance
You’re not alone! No matter where you go, the NSA follows. The NSA can track your location via your cellphone carrier, open Wi-Fi networks in the vicinity (vulnerable to the security, course), and GPS. According to the Washington Post, the NSA collects around 5 billion records per day. Monitoring your travel pattern, the NSA can track your favorite locations. Who knows, they might be aware of your secret hideout in the treehouse. Further, with the help of this information, the NSA can locate the associates of targeted individuals, making them a person of interest.
Get detail information about how you can spoof your locationfrom every intruder.
The NSA can easily access the camera on your laptop, smartphone, and even webcams with a simple malware attack. The attack is so subtle that you would not even notice that your device has been compromised. It does not affect your device’s performance; its core purpose is to collect information. Furthermore, your microphones can also be used to record and transmit your conversations without your consent.
Even the devices that have been switched off can be turned on without you ever noticing. Ever wondered why you are bombarded with the ads of something you had just discussed with your friend? Speaking of ads, there is a reason Mark Zuckerberg keeps his camera and microphone tapped all the time. And the reason is, he knows!
Snowden’s leaked information revealed that the NSA is also spying on your purchases. With its collaboration with credit card giants like Visa, the NSA can access your purchase logs and monitor your buying behavior. Furthermore, the NSA had also allied with the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication also known as SWIFT.
The NSA has accessed information from SWIFT’s database, which includes records of purchases made with credit cards and other financial transactions. The purpose behind the collection of such information was to track purchases of terrorist organizations, though, we find it hard to believe that information about a citizen buying groceries helps in that regard.
We all know about the famous FBI-Apple incident back in 2016. Back then, when Apple turned down the FBI’s request to access data on an iPhone confiscated on the San Bernardino shooters incident’s crime scene. Apple’s response accompanied a backlash to which Cook responded: “No one would want a master key built that would turn hundreds of millions of locks, even if that key had the person that you trust the most…that key could be stolen”.
Obviously, that is one side of the coin. As per Snowden’s revelations, the NSA spends over 200 million dollars a year to make devices’ security vulnerable. Such mammoth amount is spent on collaborations with tech giants – creating backdoors for surveillance.
Another incident brought in the limelight was NSA-RSA collaboration where National Security Agency paid RSA USD 10 million to create a backdoor and distribute compromised encryption tools. Over the years, RSA has been claiming that their relationship with the NSA has changed. However, we strongly believe in this notion: once a thief, always a thief.
Of course, these are a few known incidents. There must be hundreds of such collaborations that we are not aware of. Alliances that are still operational and spying on us along with the NSA, from the shadows.
The NSA can access the information sent or received in your text messages. The NSA collects information about the content of the messages and the metadata that allows them to access logs of transactions from your device, contacts, and current location.
The NSA had been collecting information on telephonic conversations as well. Though, this information was not confined to metadata only. In 2009, a secret program known as Mystic was launched by the NSA. As per Snowden’s revelations, the program enabled the NSA to record metadata and the content of telephonic conversations. In 2011, the program reached its peak as it was reported that Mystic had enabled the NSA to record telephonic content and metadata of a country for an entire month.
Sharing the digital space, it is our responsibility to educate our fellow netizens about the methods through which the NSA has been spying on them and provide them solutions. With thorough research, our team has come up with ways to take your security to the next level – making your devices invulnerable to hacking attempts.
Further, we are strong promoters of privacy and anonymity and have come up with guidelines with which you can secure yourself from online surveillance and stop the NSA from breaching your privacy.
Moreover, encrypting your data traffic with PureVPN military grade 256 bit-AES encryption feature can surely secure you from such surveillance activities and make you completely anonymous.