Saturday, May 3

Prepping to read Glenn Greenwald's book: BBC glossary of key terms in leaked NSA-GCHQ files and ACLU database of all leaked files to date

Glenn's book, titled No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, is still scheduled for release on May 13 (which doesn't mean there won't be another delay).  Here I've provided links to a couple very useful reference guides for those trying to get a handle on the massive amount of data that's been published up to this point on the leaked files.
The BBC glossary is priceless; really good thinking on their part to explain in plain English the many key terms and acronyms mentioned in the leaked files. Thanks to their technology reporter, Leo Kelion, for putting the A-Z glossary together.

My only complaint is that the glossary hasn't been updated since it was published on January 28. And I wish that the ACLU database on the leaked files would mention the glossary; this for the benefit of those who'd have a hard time imagining the meaning of terms such as "QuantumInsert:"
[the Beeb web page provides links to all sources mentioned in the glossary]

A "man-in-the-middle" technique used to redirect a target's computer to a fake website where it can be infected with malware.

The NSA and GCHQ are said to do this by placing undisclosed computer servers at privileged positions along the fibre-optic cables that form the internet's backbone.

These servers provide the agencies with the ability to reply to a web page request more quickly than the computers used by the site the user is trying to visit.

The agencies are alleged to do this in order to route the user to a spoof site. This looks identical to the real one but exists solely to install spyware using the NSA's FoxAcid tool.

According to a report by Der Spiegel, the QuantumInsert system was used by GCHQ to infiltrate Brussels-based telecoms operator Belgacom's systems by using fake pages for the LinkedIn social network and the tech news site Slashdot -- two sites commonly visited by several of the firm's maintenance and security staff.
 Now to the other  reference guide.  From the introduction to the ACLU database, published on April 3:
By Emily Weinrebe, ACLU National Security Project

The public debate over our government's surveillance programs has reached remarkable heights since the first set of NSA disclosures in June 2013 based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Since then, additional disclosures by both the press and government have illuminated our government's vast and invasive surveillance apparatus.

These documents stand as primary source evidence of our government's interpretation of its authority to engage in sweeping surveillance activities at home and abroad, and how it carries out that surveillance. The ACLU hopes to facilitate this debate by making these documents more easily accessible and understandable. Toward that end, today we are launching the NSA Documents Database.

This tool will be an up-to-date, complete collection of previously secret NSA documents made public since last June. The database is designed to be easily searchable – by title, category, or content – so that the public, researchers, and journalists can readily home in on the information they are looking for.

We have made all of the documents text-searchable to allow users to investigate particular key words or phrases.

Alternatively, the filter function allows users to sort based on the type of surveillance involved, the specific legal authorities implicated, the purpose of the surveillance, or the source of the disclosure.

For example, you can have the database return all documents that both pertain to "Section 215" and "Internal NSA/DOJ Legal Analysis."

We will update the database with new documents as they become available to the public.

The fact is that most of the documents contained in this database should have never been secret in the first place. Now, with newfound access to these records, we can educate ourselves about the true nature and scope of government surveillance in its many forms. This database will serve as a critical tool with which we will hold our government accountable.
The ACLU web site has information about the surveillance issue in addition to the database, and you can sign up at the site for breaking news alerts.


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