NSA and partners wanted to ride smartphone connections to Google Play for surveillance

NSA and partners wanted to ride smartphone connections to Google Play for surveillance
According to a top-secret document leaked by Edward Snowden and published by CBC News, the NSA and allies from countries in the "Five Eyes" alliance (USA, Canada, UK, NZ, and AU) were working on tactics to hijack smartphone connections to Samsung and Google's app stores. These tactics were first discussed during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012.

As part of a pilot project codenamed IRRITANT HORN, NSA and an electronic eavesdropping unit called the Network Tradecraft Advancement Team were working on a method that used the XKEYSCORE spying system to identify smartphone traffic and allow the sending of malicious data "implants" to targeted devices. A typical "man-in-the-middle" attack is described, with hackers placing themselves between the smartphone and server and observing, or modifying the data they communicate.

In the NSA and NTAT's case, the method would have let surveillance operatives covertly insert malicious code inside data packets exchanged between a smartphone and an app server while an app is being downloaded or updated. Moreover, the agencies were investigating the possibility of hijacking connections to send "selective misinformation to targets' handsets". They also demanded access to Samsung and Google's app store servers, so they could secretly use them for harvesting information about particular phone users.

The project was conceived sometime after the unrest in Tunisia in December 2010, in an effort to prepare surveillance operations as the rebellion spread outside the country and into the Middle East and North Africa. The agencies were targeting the African region, but eventually pinpointed app store servers in France, Switzerland, Bahamas, the Netherlands and Russia. Although mobile surveillance makes sense in the event of huge public gatherings (e.g. riots and rallies), where a big mass of people with mobile devices is assembled, the app store-reliant method of surveillance is certainly questionable.

Neither the NSA, nor any of the Five Eyes agencies would answer questions related to the activities, although some of them acknowledged the operations as part of their foreign intelligence duties.

source: CBC News via The Intercept

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22 Comments

1. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

This is just awful. Prepare for comment wars in 3..2..1...

2. haphap

Posts: 12; Member since: Jan 16, 2015

Oh god, please stop them. So basicially they want us to live in their hand?

10. RaKithAPeiRiZ

Posts: 1488; Member since: Dec 29, 2011

i keep a old phone , i just use it for porn and visit controversial websites , let them enjoy my tastes

3. haphap

Posts: 12; Member since: Jan 16, 2015

Oh god, please stop them. So basicially they want us to live in their hand?

4. BobbyBuster

Posts: 854; Member since: Jan 13, 2015

ONLY Samsung and Google, NOT Apple...

6. JaneChenLong

Posts: 374; Member since: Mar 18, 2015

Because Apple, BlackBerry & Microsoft already GAVE them the data they want? No need to spy?

7. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Yes the same company who is currently actively spending MILLIONS in court to tell the Government to step off and has not given in to court orders of handing data over. yea real smart comment you have there.

14. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

lol it's nice to see people still so gullible.

13. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

Not only are you a troll, boy with a girl's first name, but you're a liar. Show proof of what you claim or do whatbyou always do and run from me when I confront your lying and trolling.

15. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

Keeping telling yourself that......

33. SaintMarks

Posts: 20; Member since: May 25, 2015

Apple shares their fingerprint scan data with the NSA. there are reports that apple has been rotten since 2007 with their backdoors

12. RaKithAPeiRiZ

Posts: 1488; Member since: Dec 29, 2011

Apple and Microsoft are main members of this same group , safest phone is a dumb phone

19. sprockkets

Posts: 1612; Member since: Jan 16, 2012

Yeah, notice how the NSA wants to do it, not that they *succeeded* in doing it.

5. TheHossein

Posts: 93; Member since: Sep 27, 2014

Never !

8. waddup121 unregistered

nice.

9. newuser1

Posts: 276; Member since: Dec 10, 2010

world war Z .

11. newuser1

Posts: 276; Member since: Dec 10, 2010

Nazi spy Agency.

25. TBomb

Posts: 1484; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Probably aimed at google and samsung because outside of the USA, those are way more popular than in the US where it lags behind Apple... since the NSA is focused on foreign targets.. it wouldnt make sense to go for Apple as hard as for android... This is the government... I'm pretty sure they put more analysis in who they target than which OS is less laggy or whos has a faster processor.

27. tedkord

Posts: 17357; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

This is the government, they rarely put thought into anything. They'd rather just collect all data and hold onto it, just in case it is ever useful.

29. TBomb

Posts: 1484; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Yes, but im sure they had some form of a plan of attack

28. TBomb

Posts: 1484; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

yes, but im sure they had some form of a plan of attack

30. uggman

Posts: 58; Member since: Feb 01, 2013

Anybody who doesnt have a facebook, or twitter or any other social media account raise your hand..............................................​..................................................​....................................... ..................................................​.................................... ..................................................​.....................and there goes your security, like LIAM told Marco From TROPOYA .......GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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