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2006-04-10
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NSA's Real Time Traffic Inspection

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Tagged As: NSA, Privacy, and Technology

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) submitted paperwork for a class action lawsuit against AT&T for alleged dealings with the NSA. Detailed information revealed by retired AT&T telecommunications technician, Mark Klein, provided the EFF with proof that all Internet traffic routed through AT&T was processed by specialized NSA equipment. At the heart of the case are the Naurus ST6400 and NaurusInsight devices, each capable of analyzing 622Mbit/s and 10Gbit/s respectively. The machines were designed to inspect traffic at both layers 4 and 7 of the OSI model. Analysis was not limited to mere keyword searches; the software package with each machine enabled a detailed study of content within the network streams.

Considering the first machine was constructed more than five years ago, the raw processing power of each system is computationally incredible in its own right and begs one to question current capabilities. From a privacy standpoint, the partnership between AT&T and the NSA represents a complete exposure of all network transactions carried by the data trunk. Is there cause for alarm? In The Puzzle Palace, it is quite clear the NSA has enjoyed such a partnership for voice with all telecommunications carriers since the providers' inception. Is adding data intercept capabilities to that existing package so different?



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