Sat, Nov 30, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Leaked NSA document outlines its goals for greater power

Documents show that the security agency has a program that tracks data around the Internet and has helped it gain access to data centers in Taiwan

By James Risen and Laura Poitras  /  NY Times News Service, WASHINGTON

The document also mentioned a goal of integrating the agency’s eavesdropping and data collection systems into a national network of sensors that interactively “sense, respond and alert one another at machine speed.”

Senior intelligence officials said that the system of sensors is designed to protect the computer networks of the US Department of Defense and that the NSA does not use data collected from Americans for the system. One of the agency’s other four-year goals was to “share bulk data” more broadly to allow for better analysis.

While the paper does not explain in detail how widely it would disseminate bulk data within the intelligence community, the proposal raises questions about what safeguards the NSA plans to place on its domestic phone and e-mail data collection programs to protect Americans’ privacy.

NSA officials have insisted that they have placed tight controls on those programs. In an interview, the senior intelligence officials said that the strategy paper was referring to the agency’s desire to share foreign data more broadly, not phone logs of Americans collected under the Patriot Act. Above all, the strategy paper suggests the NSA’s vast view of its mission: nothing less than to “dramatically increase mastery of the global network.”

Other NSA documents offer hints of how the agency is trying to do just that. One program, code-named Treasure Map, provides what a secret NSA Powerpoint presentation describes as “a near real-time, interactive map of the global Internet.”

According to the undated Powerpoint presentation, disclosed by Snowden, Treasure Map gives the NSA “a 300,000 foot view of the Internet.”

Relying on Internet routing data, commercial and SIGINT information, Treasure Map is a sophisticated tool, one that the Powerpoint presentation describes as a “massive Internet mapping, analysis and exploration engine.” It collects Wi-Fi network and geolocation data, and between 30 million and 50 million unique Internet provider addresses — code that can reveal the location and owner of a computer, mobile device or router — are represented each day on Treasure Map, according to the document. It boasts that the program can map “any device, anywhere, all the time.”

The documents include addresses labeled as “US” based, and because so much Internet traffic flows through the US, it would be difficult to map much of the world without capturing such addresses.

However, the intelligence officials said that Treasure Map maps only foreign and US Department of Defense networks and is limited by the amount of data available to the agency. There are several billion IP addresses on the Internet, the officials said, and Treasure Map cannot map them all. The program is not used for surveillance, they said, but to understand computer networks.

The program takes advantage of the capabilities of other secret NSA programs. To support Treasure Map, for example, the document states that another program called Packaged Goods tracks the “traceroutes” through which data flows around the Internet. Through Packaged Goods, the NSA has gained access to “13 covered servers in unwitting data centers around the globe,” according to the Powerpoint. The document identifies a list of countries where the data centers are located, including Taiwan, Germany, Poland, Denmark and South Africa as well as Russia, China and Singapore.

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