Surveillance Self-Defense Guide How the NSA's Domestic Spying Program Works Timeline of NSA Domestic Spying The State Secrets Privilege Eavesdropping 101 Warrantless Wiretapping Was Far More Involved Than Previously Known: Stellar Wind House Extends Warrantless Email Snooping for 5 More Years - FISA At&T's Role in Surveillance Supreme Court Terminates Warrantless Electronic Spying Case PBS Interview with AT&T's Mark Klein about NSA Data Intercepts Behind the legal fight over NSA's "Stellar Wind" surveillance How the U.S. Became Switchboard to the World Is the NSA spying on U.S. Internet traffic? NSA Domestic Interception Points NARUS - The Ultimate Net Monitoring Tool Uncovering Stingrays, a Troubling New Location Tracking Device Ragtime: Code name of NSA's Secret Domestic Intelligence Program Revealed A hidden world, growing beyond control The Internet is a surveillance state Who Has Your Back? Which companies help protect your data from the government? Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government? After the Tragedy in Boston, More Government Surveillance is Not the Answer Kafka, Meet Orwell: Peek Behind the Scenes of the Modern Surveillance State President Foreshadows New Internet Surveillance Proposal During National Security Speech Sources: NSA sucks in data from 50 companies Meet the Boundless Informant, the NSA's Data Overview Tool Why the NSA's Secret Online Surveillance Should Scare You Leaked NSA Doc Says It Can Collect And Keep Your Encrypted Data As Long As It Takes To Crack It How the NSA's Surveillance Procedures Threaten Americans' Privacy NSA Inspector General report on email and internet data collection under Stellar Wind FAQ: What You Need to Know About the NSA's Surveillance Programs James Clapper is Still Lying to America Why "we only spy on foreigners" doesn't work any more for the NSA Snowden Seen as Whistle-Blower by Majority in New Poll The Creepy, Long-Standing Practice of Undersea Cable Tapping Jimmy Carter Defends Edward Snowden, Says NSA Spying Has Compromised Nation's Democracy Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans Former NSA Chief on Latest Leaked Dragnet Spy Program: It's Real, and It's Spectacular XKeyscore presentation from 2008 - read in full NSA Said to Search Content of Messages to and From US NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds ODNI / NSA Conference call "on background" to NSA surveillance - 8/21/2013 NSA misrepresented scope of data collection to secret court Revealed: The NSA's Secret Campaign to Crack, Undermine Internet Security Did NSA Put a Secret Backdoor in New Encryption Standard? Microsoft and Yahoo voice alarm over NSA's assault on internet encryption This is the crypto standard that the NSA sabotaged RSA Tells Its Developer Customers: Stop Using NSA-Linked Algorithm Dual EC DRBG Dianne Feinstein Accidentally Confirms That NSA Tapped The Internet Backbone How the NSA Could Hack (Almost) Any Browser Surveillance Industry Index How does the NSA break SSL? 5 Shocking New Revelations on NSA Cellphone Tracking Yet Another Surveillance Tool in FBI Hands. But How Are They Using It? The US government doesn't want you to know how the cops are tracking you Meet the shadowy tech brokers that deliver your data to the NSA New police radars can 'see' inside homes The federal government could be taking pictures of you in your car Thought bulk data collection was gone? Think again Turns Out Police Stingray Spy Tools Can Indeed Record Calls Everything We Know About How the FBI Hacks People Secret Text in Senate Bill Would Give FBI Warrantless Access to Email Records Surveillance Industry Index Long-Secret Stingray Manuals Detail How Police Can Spy on Phones Tech firm tries to pull back curtain on surveillance efforts in Washington Technology and Shifting Privacy Expectations
Surveillance Techniques: How Your Data Becomes Our Data
In 2001, NSA published the secret "Transition 2001" report defining our strategy for the 21st century. No longer could we simply access analog communications using conventional means, the new digital world of globally-networked encrypted communications required a dramatic change to our surveillance strategy: NSA would need to "live on the network".
We've turned our nation's Internet and telecommunications companies into collection partners by installing filters in their facilities, serving them with secret court orders, building back doors into
their software and acquiring keys to break their encryption.
Real-Time Yahoo Email Scanning
We depend on all of our partners' full cooperation when called upon to act for the good of the nation. Perhaps no other company epitomizes this devotion to protecting our national security than Yahoo, who willingly and secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers' incoming emails for specific character strings that we provided. This real-time domestic wiretapping capability unencumbered by burdensome individual warrants allows us to act quickly and without restraint to the ever-evolving threat spectrum.
Our Domestic Intercept Stations
NSA technicians have installed intercept stations at key junction points, or switches, throughout the country. These switches are located in large windowless buildings owned by the major telecommunication companies and control the domestic internet traffic flow across the nation.
A fiber optic splitter is placed on the incoming communication lines and routes the traffic to an NSA intercept station for processing.
Bulk Collection of U.S. Citizens' Phone Records
In the past, we used our close partnership with the FBI to collect bulk telephone records on an ongoing basis using a Top Secret order from the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA). The metadata we collected from this program gave us information about what communications you sent and received, who you talked to, where you were when you talked to them, the lengths of your conversations, and what kind of device you
The PRISM Program: Our #1 Source of Raw Intelligence
Our partners at the FBI DITU (Data Intercept Technology Unit) extract information from the servers of nine major American
internet companies: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple. This important partnership gives us direct access to audio, video, photographs, e-mails,
documents and connection logs for each of these systems.
This slide illustrates how the collected PRISM data flows through multiple NSA systems and databases
To learn more about the PRISM program, view additional PRISM slides.
Google Cloud Exploitation
The NSA "MUSCULAR" program allows us to conveniently conduct large-scale data gathering outside the jurisdiction of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by secretly tapping into the
communication links between Google's data centers outside the U.S. The Special Source Operations (SSO) group discovered a clever way around Google's security measures giving us full access to the rich data Google stores on the cloud
for its users.
Our bulk cellphone location tracking program captures almost 5 billion records a day and feeds into a massive 27 terabyte database storing information about the locations of a hundred million devices. By tapping into the cables that connect the mobile networks globally and working with our corporate partners to install intercept equipment, we can apply mathematical techniques that enable our analysts to map cellphone owners' relationships by correlating their patterns of movement over time with thousands or millions of other phone users who cross their paths. This "Co-traveler" program allows us to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.
Spying Toolbox: The ANT Catalog
When the data we seek resides in places we cannot access using the above surveillance techniques, we rely on the technical experts in the Tailored Access Operations Group and their specialized tools from the ANT Product Catalog. The categories of available tools are listed below.
Click on an icon above to view the related ANT products
FBI Aviation Surveillance Operations (FBI Hawk Owl Project)
An FBI fleet of over one hundred specially-modified Cessna planes equipped with sophisticated camera systems
in steerable mounts that can provide detailed video, night vision, and infrared thermal imaging quietly fly circular routes daily around many major U.S. cities tracking
targets and gathering intelligence.
Some of the planes use “augmented reality” software and sophisticated surveillance technology capable of tracking thousands of cellphones users.
FBI Aerial Surveillance in the Continental U.S.
Zoom in and click on the red map markers to view images of the unusual flight patterns in the FBI's targeted areas. View the map in full-screen mode.
FBI Aerial Surveillance in Hawaii
S. 1595: Protecting Individuals From Mass Aerial Surveillance Act of 2015
In June 2015, a Senate bill was introduced to "protect" our citizens from Mass Aerial Surveillance. We are happy to report that no action has been taken on this bill and we have every confidence that Congress will agree with us that mass surveillance "IS" protection for our citizens. You can track the progress of this ill-advised bill below.
Our Undersea Cable Tapping Strategy
By tapping into the worldwide network of undersea cables, our OAKSTAR, STORMBREW, BLARNEY and FAIRVIEW systems can process data as it flows across the internet. Each
system is responsible for different types of intercepted data. For example, the BLARNEY system gathers metadata describing who is speaking to whom and through which networks and devices.
This map illustrates our worldwide data collection access points
XKeyscore: Our Real-Time Internet Monitoring Capability
As data flows through our worldwide data collection points, the XKeyscore system indexes and stores this information in a rolling three-day buffer database containing all internet activity passing
through each collection site. XKeyscore is a massive distributed Linux cluster with over 700 servers distributed around the world.
This slide shows how metadata is extracted and stored in the XKeyscore database
Learn more about the XKeyscore system.
Tracking Our Surveillance Data: Boundless Informant
The "Boundless Informant" mapping tool provides our analysts the means to track intelligence collection statistics worldwide. Using a color-coded map, we can quickly determine the volume of collection data we have by geographical location. This global heat map assigns each nation a color code based on its surveillance intensity ranging from green (least subjected to surveillance) through yellow and orange to red (most surveillance). With the monthly domestic intelligence collection volume at almost three billion pieces, the United States is assigned the color orange.
Surveillance Data from Other Sources
In addition to our own data collection activities, the Domestic Surveillance Directorate receives a constant flow of information from other sources. For more information about these sources, visit Our Partners page.