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back to article NSA: It's TRUE, we grab 200 MILLION of your text messages A DAY globally

Documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden have detailed the operation of an NSA system called Dishfire that collects, stores and analyzes 200 million text messages a day from around the world. dishfire Dishfire ... Here's what your text messages tell the snoops (Source: Guardian/Snowden) According to two slides …

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Pint

If you have nothing to hide you probably don't have enough beer. :)

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Or don't know enough Clash lyrics (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/06/03/text_punk/)

I suppose back in 2004 they could eavesdrop on ALL messages

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Pint

The Last Secure Option

And if you do have something to hide - use a landline!

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Re: The Last Secure Option

That is not sufficiently secure either since the telco have boxes that allow to snoop on normal landlines aswell. If you have to send a note write it encrypted on paper and sent it with a pigeon or raven.

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Re: The Last Secure Option

"If you have to send a note write it encrypted on paper and sent it with a pigeon or raven."

What if they shoot the pigeon and take the text to Bletchley Park? Again, not secure.

Semaphore, that's probably the most secure way to deliver a message. Or Morris dancing.

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Joke

Re: The Last Secure Option

"What if they shoot the pigeon and take the text to Bletchley Park? Again, not secure."

It is if it was encrypted with a one-time pad. Me, I even encrypt my passwords (twice!) via ROT-13...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Last Secure Option - land lines?

Pretty sure the technology to tap land lines has been around and in use for some time.

I know of a system at a large Australian telco that's capable of recording 1 million concurrent calls - I'd guess that the same multinational has similar systems in other countries.

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Re: The Last Secure Option

yes because plugging into a wiring frame or tapping an ISDN line is so hard.....

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Headmaster

If they've done nothing wrong...

Then what does the NSA have to hide?

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Re: The Last Secure Option

> Semaphore, that's probably the most secure way to deliver a message

Read Terry Pratchett's Going Postal -clacks and by extension Semaphore are extremely prone to MitM attacks ;)

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Re: The Last Secure Option

"Read Terry Pratchett's Going Postal -clacks and by extension Semaphore are extremely prone to MitM attacks ;)"

Then, we have no other choice: Don't send anything.

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Re: The Last Secure Option

Two can keep a secret -- if one of them is dead. Right?

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Re: The Last Secure Option

"That is not sufficiently secure either since the telco have boxes that allow to snoop on normal landlines aswell. If you have to send a note write it encrypted on paper and sent it with a pigeon or raven."

rfc2549 ?

Nahh, they are just carriers. you need something with a defensive and attack capability, I would suggest owls or eagle.

Not bald headed eagles as they have been p0wned by the NSA.

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My new hobby - buying a £10 PAYG phone and sending 1000 texts to random numbers all containing the single message - "we are go, bomb the Pentagon".

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Joke

Re: The Last Secure Option

"Me, I even encrypt my passwords (twice!) via ROT-13..."

Meh, only twice?

I always ROT-13 exactly twenty-four times - show me a supercomputer that can decrypt THAT!

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Devil

Re: The Last Secure Option

...only if you're certain the pigeon hasn't been turned...

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That's a lot of border crossings in a day...

The other 5.5 billion texts are probably generated by NSA spyware. Always wondered why contracts offered 2-3k free texts a month...

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"Always wondered why contracts offered 2-3k free texts a month..."

Because it costs mobile networks about a penny per thousand texts. Each text is about 140 bytes - it's the golden egg of mobile comms which thankfully other apps are replacing.

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> That's a lot of border crossings in a day...

Not really... that looks like just "roaming happened".. but the roaming info indicates which subset to geolocate & check for an actual border crossing. Less strain on the NSA data center.

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@a lot of border crossings a day

Not necessarily. Driving around near a country border can cause your phone to roam back and forth between cell towers on either side, which could be interpreted as repeatedly crossing the border and for people that live near the border this would be going on all the time.

Borders in Europe are completely porous anyway, so people that live near one may well legitimately cross it lots of times a day anyway..

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Meh

Neat trick!

1) Country A and B both have laws that prevent easy snooping on own citizens

2) Country A and B snoop on each others citizens

3) Country A and B share said snooping data

...

Bingo! Snooping on your own citizens without breaking the law!

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Re: Neat trick!

If only we had some kind of 'special' relationship...

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Re: Neat trick!

1, Country A and B have laws against torturing suspects

2, So you ship them to country C and have them apply the electrodes

2, You stand outside the door asking the questions.

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Unhappy

Re: Neat trick!

>>If only we had some kind of 'special' relationship...

We do. Bend over and I'll show you...

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Unhappy

Sadly, is there anyone who is even remotely surprised by this? I just assumed this was already covered. Good to have it confirmed, of course.

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Thumb Up

Me too! I was convinced the The Reg told us this was going on a few years back, all thanks to NATO and especially the UK's "special" relationship with Uncle Sam.

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Anonymous Coward

Just think - Apple (iMessage), Blackberry (BBM) and WhatsApp are making it even easier for NSA to harvest the data, all kept in one handy location.

Still - it's free eh?... :-\

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Black Helicopters

"Just think - Apple (iMessage), Blackberry (BBM) and WhatsApp are making it even easier for NSA to harvest the data, all kept in one handy location.

Still - it's free eh?... :-\"

At least you have choice, you can also use Viber and your data will go to Israel ;)

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(BBM)

Canadian owned. What are the security implications?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: (BBM)

No worries with BBM.

They're only the holder of the patent for RSA's backdoor algorithm [1] and I'm sure have been reported as handing over bulk messages as the request of various nation stations.

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Tragic

It's tragic that so much money and man-power goes into this stuff. Haven't governments these days got anything better to do?

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Re: Tragic

"It's tragic that so much money and man-power goes into this stuff."

In the grand scheme of things, it's spare change down the back of the sofa.

And the intel community will tell you that it's woefully underfunded these days... partly due to this kind of thing. COMINT is such a big deal these days that other forms of intel get sidelined.

To my mind it's more worrying how much is spent on the military compared to how much is spent on intelligence, international diplomacy and aid. If we spent all the cash we spend on war-toys on finding out what other nations are doing, rooting out trouble before it hit the fan, making other nations happy and reducing international poverty then there'd be less people pissed off at us, and less requirement for all those tanks.

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Big Brother

Re: Tragic

Better than controlling the world? Are you new?

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Re: Tragic

Ha ha, fair enough. Good point, well made!

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Anonymous Coward

If you've done nothing wrong, you obviously need to live a little more dangerously.

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"If we say we have done nothing wrong, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

I John 1:8 (ESV, slightly modified)

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Unhappy

Usual NSA BS

"Targetted surveillance" Blah Blah.

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"You should assume every government in the world is spying on SMS messages that pass through their borders," Jon Callas, CTO of secure messaging biz Silent Circle told The Register.

Could this possibly be a wee hint that the moral panic over NSA and GCHQ is beginning to peak? The uproar, or not, over President Obama's retuning to be announced tomorrow may give further indication.

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If you've done nothing wrong, you're not alive nor have you ever been.

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Targets

"'Specifically deployed against – and only against – valid foreign intelligence targets'"

"Wird nicht in der heute, brach mir das Bein Skifahren. Angela"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Targets

OH, the HUMANITY!

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Even if it were effective...

...it would be a violation of the Constitution of the United States. President Obama, of course, hates our constitution and is wont to stamp on it every chance he gets. I daresay that King George III was a better president than this vituperative buffoon we are suffering with at present.

Alas, the people in oppostion to him, John Boener and Mitch McConnel, Eric Cantor and John McCain, are even worse. All of them have rolled over and played dead in the face of Obama's misbehavior. John McCain and John Boener are especially annoying to me personally. It seems that they go welll out of their way to spit on those of us who value the Constitution of the United States as it was written and are serious about our beliefs. Eric Cantor wanted an entire decade to blance the budget, even though he knows damned good and well that would be five terms for a representative, two terms for a senator and more than two presidential terms. A ten year plan is clearly unworakable on the face of it and it could not be clearer to anyone with any sense that he is lying through his teeth and is a great actor rather than being the great politician he claims to be. Everyone we have elected is scum or is fast becoming scum. They, all of our elected officials, pay no attention to the restraints that the our Constitution places on them, and they laugh the matter off as though it were of no consequence. However, it is of consequence. And, Hillary, yes it does matter and it matters a great deal.

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Unhappy

@Billy Catriger

<long rant snipped >

This is what happens when you roll out rural broadband.

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Re: Even if it were effective...

Hark, I hear banjos.

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Re: @Billy Catriger

Can you say, "implied ad hominem? I thought so.

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Re: @Billy Catriger

I was under the impression that the US Constitution was now just a historical document superceded by the Patriot Act etc. ?

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FAIL

Re: Even if it were effective...

It surprises me you still think that a President is anything more than a figure head or front of house spokesman. It sometimes appears to me that since they shoot and get rid of the president's for thinking that they could change the world, most presidents now just do as they are told. Usually they are quite good at hiding the fact, but since Bush Jnr the cat is out the bag, down the street and eating snackies at the fish mongers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Even if it were effective...

> President Obama, of course, hates our constitution and is wont to stamp on it every chance he gets.

The article clearly states "text messages have been slurped by Uncle Sam since at least 2008".

Remind me again, who was president in 2008?

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Re: @Billy Catriger

He probably can't and certainly doesn't know what it means.

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