Worried about the NSA monitoring you? If you take certain steps to mask your identity online, such as using the encryption service TOR, or even investigating an alternative to the buggy Windows operating system, you’re all but asking for “deep” monitoring by the NSA.
TOR is an encryption network developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in the 1990s. The military’s hope was to enable government workers to search the web without exposing their locations and identities. The system today is widely available, runs on open source code and is popular among privacy advocates as a more secure alternative to open Internet surfing, particularly in countries with repressive regimes. It works by encrypting the user’s address and routing the traffic through servers that are located around the world (so-called “onion routing.”) How does theNSA access it? Through a computer system called XKeyscore, one of the various agency surveillance tools that NSA leaker Edward Snowden disclosed last summer.
According to a recent report from the German media outlet Tagesschau, a group of TOR affiliates working with Tagesschau looked into the source code for XKeyscore. They found that nine servers running TOR, including one at the MITComputer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, were under constant NSA surveillance. The code also revealed some of the behaviors that users could undertake to immediately be tagged or “fingerprinted” for so-called deep packet inspection, an investigation into the content of data packages you send across the Internet, such as emails, web searches and browsing history.