I almost feel like summing up the capabilities of the NSA as: “Watch Fox’s TV Show 24, watch what Chloe does and how fast she does it. Apply that to real life, update it for modern communication methods, speed it up ten times, and make it look like a Google search. That’s what the NSA can do, right now.”
We don’t know the whole truth about the NSA’s capabilities, but we do know that there’s a massive lack of oversight and control. Something is really fucked up.
It’s always been laughable, as a nerd, how fast characters in TV shows “hack” into systems and get all the information they need. Now it looks like the joke was on us, because we thought any hacking was required. Just flag, store and correlate every bit that passes through a network and you don’t need to hack into servers because you already know everything going into and out of the them. In today’s world of “cloud” services, that means you essentially know everything, about anyone, whenever you want.
I’m not writing this to scare you, though you should be worried, what’s more interesting is where we go from here. Protests are great, but you can’t change something without offering an effective alternative solution.
Perhaps the craziest part of XKEYSCORE (logo notwithstanding) is that the NSA doesn’t even deny its capabilities, instead they just focus on the ethics of the tool and training of NSA users. It’s real, it does what was leaked — the only issue up for debate is whether there are proper checks and balances in place. How is this not the only story.