Feeds

Ex-CIA techie Edward Snowden: I am the NSA PRISM deepthroat

US gov's super-web snoop system whistleblower flees to Hong Kong

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A former CIA technician has broken cover to reveal himself as the mole who leaked information about PRISM - the US government's massive web surveillance programme.

Edward Snowden, 29, outed himself as the source of revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has tapped up American internet giants for data on foreigners' online activities. He made the claims during interviews with the Guardian.

Snowden told the newspaper: "The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under."

The US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act forces internet giants, such as Google and Facebook, to share their users' data with government agents and forbids those companies from talking about it. Both aforementioned cloud-powered companies denied over the weekend that they allow US spooks direct access to their systems. It was further alleged over the weekend that the NSA PRISM project shared some of its gathered data with Britain's eavesdropping nerve centre, GCHQ, although the British government denies any suggestion that data was obtained unlawfully.

Snowden maintained network security for the CIA and, until he leaked files detailing the NSA programme, was employed by “strategy and technology consulting” firm Booz Allen Hamilton, which is understood to serve as a contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA). Snowden is now on the run and hiding out at a hotel in Hong Kong, where he hopes to apply for asylum in Iceland in a bid to avoid the wrath of the American government.

"I don't want public attention because I don't want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing," he said.

"I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in."

He added: "My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them."

He now fears for his life, warning: "If they want to get you, over time they will."

The extent of the NSA's surveillance was revealed last Wednesday, when it emerged that a secret US court issued an order requiring mobile network Verizon to hand over metadata on millions of US citizens' phone calls, although no actual phone recordings were obtained.

This was followed by the exposure of PRISM, a scheme which allowed spies to request access to information on non-Americans from the servers of nine of the world's biggest internet companies.

Although the companies named in the leaked documents, including Microsoft, Facebook and Google, deny giving NSA agents automatic access to their data, the Guardian reported that PRISM allows spies to intercept email and instant messaging conversations, tap audio and video on Skype calls, and to snoop on various other forms of web-based communication. Such surveillance is entirely possible, with or without the internet giants' help, at the network level by tapping into the US's internet backbone.

Booz Allen Hamilton, issued the following statement:

Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, has been an employee of our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team in Hawaii. News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.

James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, said the leaks were "literally gut-wrenching". He added: "I hope we're able to track down whoever's doing this, because it is extremely damaging to, and it affects the safety and security of this country."

It certainly does “affect people's safety and security”, but perhaps not in the way Clapper wants that phrase to be understood. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
IBM storage revenues sink: 'We are disappointed,' says CEO
Time to put the storage biz up for sale?
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.