Internet giant has done business with NSA and CIA
March 21, 2014
On Thursday the media made a big deal about Google’s announcement it has beefed up Gmail security. In a post on the official Gmail blog, Nicolas Lidzborski, Gmail Security Engineering Lead, said the corporation “will always use an encrypted HTTPS connection when you check or send email” and the change “means that no one can listen in on your messages as they go back and forth between you and Gmail’s servers—no matter if you’re using public WiFi or logging in from your computer, phone or tablet.”NSA ‘easily” steals Google email data.
Google, however, did not mention the NSA, the primary threat to online privacy, and for good reason – Google cannot protect your data from the eavesdropping colossus and, considering its past dealings with the agency, cannot be trusted to protect data.
The NSA has used a sizable portion of its classified budget to stay ahead of the encryption curve. Last September The New York Times reported the agency “is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the Internet age,” according to leaked documents.
“The agency has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world,” ProPublica explained, citing the disclosed documents.
Beginning in 2000, as encryption became the preferred way to protect data on the internet, the agency started using advanced custom-built computers to crack encryption codes. In addition, the NSA hacked into computers before data was encrypted and, using the heavy hand of government, coerced private sector companies to hand over their encryption keys and allow the NSA to build back doors into networks.
In June, 2013, Glenn Greenwald, writing for The Guardian, posted a report on Snowden documents showing how the NSA had deployed Prism, a program capable of extensive surveillance on live communications and stored information on the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other large internet corporations. The information collected was not limited to metadata.
Documents released by Edward Snowden also show how the NSA is attempting to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” as part of a $79.7 million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” A functional quantum computer, The Washington Post noted in January, would allow the agency to easily break the most effective encryption technology currently available, including the RSA algorithm.
Cryptography experts, however, disagree on the NSA’s current capability. According to MIT Technology Review, a close reading of the report “suggests the NSA has not broken the underlying mathematical operations that are used to cloak online banking or e-mail” and instead relies “on a variety of attacks on the software used to deploy those cryptographic algorithms and the humans and organizations using that software.”
The NSA also relies on building relationships with technology giants.
Google, NSA, CIA in Bed Together
Finally, Google’s claim it is exercising due diligence in the protection of customer data is belied by the fact it sold the NSA its search technology. Moreover, the corporation is linked to the CIA through its Google Earth software, which was originally developed by Keyhole Inc., a company funded by In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital operation.
The NSA also helped out Google after the company purportedly suffered a cyberattack in 2009. “This is not the first time the NSA has been tapped to help a U.S. corporation with cyber security, but the purported partnership would certainly be unique since Google’s servers house such a vast collection of user data including search histories, email, and personal documents,” PC World reported.
Google and the CIA also have a vested interest in Recorded Future, a company that has developed technology to examine “tens of thousands of websites, blogs and Twitter accounts to find the relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents — both present and still-to-come,” according to Noah Shachtman, writing for Wired in 2010.
“I think Google took money from the CIA when it was poor and it was starting up and unfortunately our system right now floods money into spying and other illegal and largely unethical activities, and it doesn’t fund what I call the open source world,” Robert David Steele, a 20-year Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer and a former clandestine services case officer with the CIA, told the Alex Jones Show in 2006.