The nationwide frenzy towards the reports that NSA has been tapping into American citizens’ phone records, has caused a frenzy. To top it, The Guardian continues to expose the secret information-gathering measures of the agency. The paper has now reported about ‘Boundless Informant’, a tool NSA uses to keep track of the intel it gathers worldwide.
The agency is able to gather huge amounts of data by wiretapping ISPs, apparently the Tier 1 networks. Once this data trickles in, NSA uses ‘Boundless Informant’ to sort it out and make sense of it.
According to The Guardian, over the course of one month, nearly 3 billion pieces of intelligence have been gathered from U.S. networks. When considering the amount of data gathered worldwide by NSA, it goes up to 100 billion! And on that list, the highest number of intelligence pieces have been gathered about Iran, with Pakistan coming at a close second.
The ‘Boundless Informant’ essentially allows NSA personnel to identify different regions on a heat map of the globe and then discern the different kinds of intelligence pieces available for that region. Queries such as “Are there any visible trends for the collection?” can be used by these personnel to find out definite trends about the data from a given region.
The worst part, as reported by The Guardian, is that this software is installed on corporate servers and makes use of open-source FOSS technology. By processing the data gathered by NSA, the software can point out the location of a given user down to his country, state and city. This pinpointing is done with the help of the IP address of the user and directly contradicts NSA’s claims that it can’t pinpoint the location of U.S. citizens based on the data it collects.