Feeds

Using encryption? That means the US spooks have you on file

By my order for the good of the state, the bearer has done what has been done

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Anyone who encrypts their emails or uses secure instant message services runs the risk of having their communications stored by the US National Security Agency, according to the latest leaks from former NSA sysadmin Edward Snowden.

The Guardian has published two more explosive documents which set out what sort of information the NSA is allowed to harvest from foreign targets, as well American citizens.

Both were issued by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and were signed by US Attorney General Eric Holder in 2009.

The leaked documents show that data about a US citizen collected "inadvertently" can also be stored for up to five years, giving agents significant breathing space when gathering intelligence. They also show the methods agents use to establish whether targets are based in the US and what they are allowed to do in order to spy on "non-US persons".

The documents clearly state that surveillance should cease the minute a target is on US soil or is deemed to be an American – but there are exceptions to this which allow spooks to store communications from American citizens.

If someone's location can not be clearly established, then they "will not be treated as a United States person" unless other evidence becomes apparent. This would mean that anyone using anonymity software like Tor, which deliberately masks their location, is liable to have their communications stored.

Spies are also told they can retain "all communications that are enciphered or reasonably believed to contain secret meaning" for up to five years, giving them another way to keep American citizens' communications data.

These must be kept to help create a "technical data base", which is spook slang for any data which is useful for cryptanalysis - the breaking of codes - or analysis of internet traffic. In practice, this means that using encrypted messages for security purposes may have the ironic effect of drawing the secret message to the attention of spies.

This data should really be destroyed within five years, unless they are "communications that are enciphered or reasonably believed to contain secret meaning, and sufficient duration may consist of any period of time during which encrypted material is subject to, or of use in, cryptanalysis".

Exchanges between attorneys and clients can also be kept, as long as they contain foreign intelligence information.

The documents follow in the wake of other revelations from Snowden, including an NSA programme called PRISM which trawled data on individuals from popular US cloud and social services. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list
'Just use cash', former security staffer warns friends
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.