New Snowden Leaks: NSA Knows How Bad You Are At Angry Birds
It had been a while since we had heard of the Snowden scandal, with the Sony hack making headlines for more than a month. However, the controversial scandal is back again, courtesy of a team of nine journalists, which has published another massive collection of classified records which were obtained by Edward Snowden.
The documents were published on Der Spiegel, and the reason they are causing a stir is that the documents reveal that the National Security Agency and its allies are systematically preparing for future wars carried out over the Internet.
The intelligence agencies are working towards the infiltrating and disabling computer networks, which would give them the potential ability to disrupt critical utilities and other infrastructure. If you think that’s too much: the NSA and GCHQ are also laughing about it.
We are already aware of the United States’ capabilities to launch complex digital attacks which have the ability to cause physical damage to its enemies. A computer virus discovered in 2010, called Stuxnet, was deployed as part of a joint operation between the U.S. and Israel which severely damaged Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, destroying many of the country’s nuclear centrifuges.
Since then, the NSA has boasted of newer and more powerful digital weapons.
The new documents show that NSA surveillance programs are making efforts to create sophisticated digital weapons. One of the revelations made was that the Five Eyes intelligence agencies are exploiting the methods of its rivals to “steal their tools, tradecraft, targets, and take.” The NSA calls this capability “fourth party collection.”
This fourth party collection is apparently so successful that agents of the NSA and GCHQ crack jokes about it in their top secret slide decks. An NSA presentation titled “fourth party opportunities,” makes references to Daniel Day-Lewis’ infamous “I drink your milkshake” monologue from the 2007 film There Will Be Blood.
One instance of their success is when an NSA unit traced an attack on their Department of Defense back to China, and has since then been secretly listening in on future Chinese spying efforts, which unearthed one digital infiltration of the United Nations.
In another presentation, GCHQ has documented efforts to exploit “leaky mobile apps” using a tool called “BADASS.” Through this tool, the spy agency can gain personal information from metadata sent between users’ devices and mobile ad networks and analytics firms — data that’s not supposed to contain personally identifiable information.
Several slides are titled “Abusing BADASS for Fun and Profit.” One slide boasts: “We know how bad you are at Angry Birds.”
The rest of Der Spiegel‘s investigation has suggested that that spy agencies in the U.S. and U.K. are behaving like “you might expect in a predictable Brad Pitt thriller about counter-intelligence during the Cold War”.
It’s absurd: as they are busy spying, the spies are spied on by other spies. In response, they routinely seek to cover their tracks or to lay fake ones instead.