Text messages are ‘a goldmine to exploit’ for the NSA

Friday, January 17, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Chris Smith
Jan. 17, 2013

The National Security Agency (NSA) has the ability of collecting SMS text messages and related data in bulk from around the world, a new The Guardian report shows, based on documentation obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. According to an internal NSA presentation from April 2011, the company was able to gather almost 200 million text messages a day from across the world that month. In addition to actual SMS messages, the Dishfire program collected “pretty much everything it can,” according to documents from British spy agency GCHQ.

A presentation subtitled “SMS Text Messages: A Goldmine to Exploit,” describes the scope of Dishfire and reveals a “Prefer” program that can conduct an automated analysis of the obtained communications in search for relevant data. In addition to the almost 200 million text messages collected per day, the NSA was able to collect each day more than 5 million missed-call alerts that can be used to map someone’s social network and contact habits, over 1.6 million border crossing from roaming alerts, over 110,000 names from electronic business cards including images, over 800,000 financial transactions including text-to-text payments and credit cards, over 76,000 geolocation data including route requests and meetings set ups, and travel data including cancellations and airplane delays.

The presentation reveals that “such gems are not in current metadata stores and would enhance current analytics.” The NSA has apparently collected only data from international users, discarding data related to U.S. citizens.

The Rest…HERE

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