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NSA Hacks Corporate Servers To Map Internet

The National Security Agency (NSA) is hacking into corporate servers and attacking global ISPs as part of its effort to map off the entire Internet according to a report Sunday in Der Spiegel, a German daily, citing new documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The spy agency is also placing under surveillance the CEOs and other employees at telecom companies it considers vital to the infrastructure of the Internet, the documents reportedly reveal.

According to the paper, the map has close to real-time tracking abilities, allowing intelligence agencies belonging to the so-called “Five Eyes,” the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, unprecedented access to devices that consumers take with them every day.

NSA’s Treasure Map Includes You

The mapping project, called “Treasure Map” by the NSA, was first reported on by The New York Times in November. Although the paper reported at the time that the operation was part of the agency’s efforts to be able to surveil “anyone, anytime, anywhere,” the NSA told the NYT that Treasure Map was only used to map foreign and U.S. Department of Defense networks in an effort to better understand computer networks.

The documents cited by Der Spiegel, however, paint a much different picture. According to a presentation to analysts included in the leaked documents, intelligence operatives are instructed to “map the entire Internet — any device, anywhere, all the time.”

The initiative is also far from passive in nature. On the contrary, the documents explicitly state that Treasure Map is designed to prepare for “Computer Attack/Exploit Planning,” in the agency’s words. The documents also detail which networks the NSA has already managed to attack, including Deutsche Telekom, which has more than 60 million customers, including in the U.S. and the U.K. Revelations of the attack on Deutsche Telekom could spur a second criminal case against the NSA, which is already being investigated for hacking into German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone.

Spying on CEOs

We reached out to Greg Nojeim, Senior Counsel and Director of the Project on Freedom, Security & Technology at the Center for Democracy & Technology, to get his take on the latest NSA revelations.

“The Treasure Map documents reveal the enormous technical scope of NSA surveillance — it seems that almost no computer is secure from it,” Nojeim told us. “Other documents show that the legal constraints on NSA surveillance of people abroad are minimal at best. It’s like the perfect storm of risks to privacy.” (continued…)

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