The Complete Interactive Guide To How The NSA Spies On Everything You Do

Tyler Durden's picture

With all the hoopla about missing airplanes, renewed wars of the cold variety, and rigged markets, it is easy to forget that America is now officially a totalitarian state of the Orwellian kind, where the population has - involuntarily - ceded all of its privacy in exchange for... something. Because it certainly isn't security. So we are happy to provide a reminder of just this, especially since as BusinessWeek notes, it gets harder to keep track of all the bizarre ways the National Security Agency has cooked up to spy on people and governments. This may help.

Data in Motion

NSA’s spies divide targets into two broad categories: data in motion and data at rest. Information moving to and from mobile phones, computers, data centers, and satellites is often easier to grab, and the agency sucks up vast amounts worldwide. Yet common data such as e-mail is often protected with encryption once it leaves a device, making it harder—but not impossible—to crack.

Data at Rest

Retrieving information from hard drives, overseas data centers, or cell phones is more difficult, but it’s often more valuable because stored data is less likely to be encrypted, and spies can zero in on exactly what they want. NSA lawyers can compel U.S. companies to hand over some of it; agency hackers target the most coveted and fortified secrets inside computers of foreign governments.

Where the Data Goes

Much of the data the NSA compiles from all these efforts will be stored in its million-square-foot data center near Bluffdale, Utah. It can hold an estimated 12 exabytes of data. An exabyte is the equivalent of 1 billion gigabytes.

And some of the specific methods the NSA uses to spy on US citizens and the occasional offshore "terrorist":

  • Call Recorder - The agency can intercept and store for up to a month 100 percent of a foreign country’s telephone calls, which can be sorted and played back.
  • Clone Phones - Foreign targets’ cell phones can be surreptitiously swapped for an identical model with built-in listening and data collection devices.
  • Fake Shops - Diplomats at the 2009 G-20 summit in London were tricked, with the NSA’s help, into using an Internet cafe that had been rigged to send data to British intelligence.
  • Travel Trackers - The NSA has several ways to follow the movements of intelligence targets as they get off planes, drive across borders, or move around a city, including an implant that directs a cell phone SIM card to send geolocation data via text message.
  • Special Delivery - Spies intercept computers that foreign targets buy online, fit them with devices that send data to the NSA, and box them back up for normal delivery.
  • X-Ray Vision - Radar waves beamed into a room can detect what is being typed on a keyboard or displayed on a computer screen.
  • Credit Cards - The agency tapped into the network of Visa and major banking systems to collect troves of transaction data.
  • Satellites - The NSA infiltrated German satellite communications used in remote locations such as drilling platforms—and by the country’s diplomats.
  • Gamer Spies - Agency employees join World of Warcraft and Second Life communities, hunting for criminal networks and recruiting informants. They’ve also infiltrated Microsoft’s Xbox Live network.
  • Cell Towers - Base stations mimicking cell towers siphon location data from targets’ phones. Agents can also intercept mobile calls with a shoe-box-size receiver.
  • Submarines - The agency can collect worldwide Internet traffic with a modified nuclear submarine that taps undersea fiber-optic cables—allowing spies to vacuum data from millions of users.
  • Secret Selfies - Malware planted in an iPhone can secretly activate its camera and microphone, turning it into a listening device. Malware for Windows mobile phones enables complete remote control of the handset.
  • Fake Rocks - Transmitters hidden inside rocks and other objects can receive information from NSA taps implanted in nearby computers even if they’re “air gapped” machines or networks that aren’t hooked up to the Internet—among the hardest of all digital targets.

The Stasi is spinning in its grave... with jealousy. The full interactive presentation can be found after the jump:

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SafelyGraze's picture

just want to let everyone know that there is at least one safe place where no nsa recording is allowed

that's right

at the sex parties that the Red Cloak guy hosts at his mansion castle in NYC

you know

the dude who human-sacrifices the beauty queen hookers and swings his censer to backwards-chanting priest music

that place

no spying allowed



rehypothecator's picture

Putting the NSA in "insane"! 

Stackers's picture
  • Special Delivery - Spies intercept computers that foreign targets buy online, fit them with devices that send data to the NSA, and box them back up for normal delivery.

They got caught doing this recently by some blogger, when AMAZON accidently showed the entire shipping route from Seattle to LA had an unexpected detour through Alxanderia, VA for some reason....

james.connolly's picture

I don't care much anymore but about 20+ years ago living in Mexico for awhile I was teaching folks computers, and d
one of the kids said "Does the CIA really watch us", I was about to teach them how to use "TRACERT, so I said, ook, let me show you something.

We did a tracert on ALTAVISTA.COM( and it was direct, then I said, now let's PING the NSA.GOV and,
... ok, after that everything we did was routed
through fort-meade.

Funny that AMAZON would leave the full tracking, but let's be honest only a small minority of people ever look at the full detail of their TCPIP PORT 25 headers (SMTP), or the
their TRACERT while they're 'banking' ( watch by command line session / separate window ). But yes, you can
FULL TRACK your package using UPS tools and see the fine the detail.

zhandax's picture

There was something I used Altavista for back in the stone age; maybe their online translator?  I didn't realize they were the progenitor of google.

PhysicalRealm's picture

Stackers - thanks for mentioning that one - I missed it.  Here's a link:

Tor Developer's Computer Gets Mysteriously Re-Routed To Virginia


lostintheflood's picture

so if they track everything all the time, then how come they can't tell us what happened to mh370 and why?

MontgomeryScott's picture

I'm still wondering about Building 7.

Kennedy's head was seen moving violently forward, to the right.

Credible evidence shows the deployment of mobile laboratories.

A sophisticated series of caves exists in Afghanistan.

Aspartame and Flouride are beneficial for mankind.

Radiation is actually good for you. It's like eating bananas.

MH370 fell in to a black hole/time warp (you silly human).

Vince Foster committed suicide.

Andrew Breitbart died of natural causes.



Back in early 2008 (late March), my computer's home pages were reset to a waypoint just outside Alexandria, Virginia (Langley, to be precise). I discovered this because I had never set my MSN/YAHOO/ AOL pages to reflect a 'customized home page', and I just happened to hit a 'local' news feed, giving me the weather report. I lost the internet connection for a period of 36 hours, prior to this. After this incursion, my 'home pages' were reset to Renton, Washington, for about a week hence.

This was just after I presented evidence that the workaround of the FISA; in regards to interception of emails within the CONUS; was being done by bouncing all email transmissions over to Europe, and then back to the CONUS. i figured this one out by NOT 'updating' my clock settings (a 'critical' update from Microsoft for my particular machine). I began noticing that the timestamps of my sent emails reflected a timezone some 5 hours ahead of the local time where I reside... and pointed this out to several people... which allows the NSA to intercept EVERY email, 'legally'... because the transmissions either originated, or were sent, or went to, 'foreign' nations from the CONUS (thus fulfilling the original tenets of FISA v.1).

Well, I WAS highly involved in both 9/11 research, and the Ron Paul 2008 campaign at the time... and my first airline flight for 20 years, in late July 2008 (to attend the Ron Paul Liberty March) was met by 'extra screening' at my point of departure; even though I had booked a two-way flight, rented a hotel room, and a car, and paid by credit card... and I'm not an Arab...


C'mon. Seriously?

Welcome to your nightmare. You THINK that it is 'normal'?



spdrdr's picture

Well, if you did nothing wrong, there would be little to be afraid of.

Seriously, you don't think that some geek with headphones is listening to every little inanity you utter on the phone, or every stupid e-mail or blog post you publish  - you and everyone else, all 12 exabytes worth?

The data collected is analysed in accordance with information parameters, and only if you use certain phases (such as "fuck NSA", "bomb", "kill", etc) does the analysis divert your words for further examination.  Even then it is only secondary analysis, but your individual identifier (phone number, ISP) may be red-flagged for future intense scrutiny.



JohnnyBriefcase's picture

Then some day they order you to kill the prime minister of malaysia or else they might happen to find kittypr0n on your pc.


"I feel like i'm taking crazy pills!!" - Mugatu

RiverRoad's picture

So........where's the Maylasian airplane???

Radical Marijuana's picture

Oops ... red-flagged iNSAne

spdrdr's picture

I can see that sarcasm is totally, completely lost upon you.  Both of you.

Nevermind, soldier on, compliant sheep.

Report to your nearest WalMart for further instructions...



rubiconsolutions's picture

Wow. I think I'm going to put off that colonoscopy. Who knows where the exam footage goes?

IridiumRebel's picture

F U ~ N S A


........('(...´...´.... ¯~/'...') 
..........''...\.......... _.·´ 

813kml's picture

"Duly noted, Comrade Rebel.  Your position shall be recorded in your permanent record."

*scribbles in notebook*

IridiumRebel's picture

Fine with me. My blood has been on these shores since the 17th century. I won't live in fear. If it gets to the point that they start worrying about me bitching on a blog, I'll be their huckleberry.

813kml's picture

"Comrade Rebel exhibits symptoms of hostility, paranoia, and delusions of grandeur consistent with diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).  Recommend collection of subject for purposes of reconditioning and/or recycling."

IridiumRebel's picture

Comrade Rebel is getting his third degree(Masters) with a Doctorate to follow because Comrade Rebel knows that the pen is mightier than the sword and having an arsenal of education will be the best defense. I greened you as you bolster my resolve.

813kml's picture

"Resistance is futile, Comrade Rebel.  Please prepare for assimilation..."

zhandax's picture

I'm with you IR.  Simon Black makes a damn convincing argument, but my family has been here for too many centuries to turn tail and run.

IridiumRebel's picture

We are looking at land in CA, but it would take a lot for us to fully move out of the country. Liberty is hardwired into many American's being. I tthink we give too little credit to the resolve of most Americans. There are those in the DWTS moron collective, but I see a growing tide of folks becoming sick of the trajectory to fascism that we are on. The NSA is a direct result. Remember, most of the NSA are techno nerds that can tell you that I have an affinity for MILF porn in an office setting. Well fuck me. I'll just head for the hills! Can they plant malicious ware and incriminating, false files? Probably. Again, at that point they will be taking on the populace and the style of porn we watch will be irrelevant. When they go for the guns, that's my sign that we are about to ratchet up. 

813kml's picture

Thanks for playing along IR, you have a good sense of humor.  The US is turning into a proving ground for bad sci-fi, I don't doubt that the NSA's Eye of Sauron is working on a bot to issue automated replies to any perceived dissent.  I'm not important enough to be blackmailed by my porn habits, but a VPN is a cheap precaution against peeping-Tom geeks.

Unfortunately, I'm not as patriotic as you and have checked into moving abroad.  Not possible right now due to family obligations, but still a dream.  My main worry is that Americans will be seen as parasites by the time I'm able to get the fuck out of Dodge.  Maybe we're there already.

It's pretty amazing how fast the surveillance state sprung up, almost impressive in a sick American can-do kind of way.  The ability to monitor and persecute at will reads like J. Edgar Hoover's wet dream.  The only thing he would have loved more is slipping into some lacy lingerie and a nice pair of fuck-me pumps.

joe6px's picture

+1 for the tombstone ref. Seems a drunk totalitarian state is lookin for a fight... Getting the crap KICKED out of them at home is just one step too far on the humiliation scale.  Inept abroad, failure at home.  And before anyone screams that they would kick our ass, a single casualty at home under the same circumstances as Ukraine.. well, the cards are no longer in the hands of the fedgov.

devo's picture

Like that matters. Natives have been here much much longer than your relatives, and they're not doing so well.

noob's picture

We have met the enemy and he is us.

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

Pretty much. Anyone who occasionally, or even accidentally listens to the news is aware of this. And yet nothing is done. We still elect the same spineless congressmen every two years who continue to do nothing about it. We get the government we deserve. And the American people have earned this.

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

The majority of the people in this country have proven themselves willing to give up liberty in favor of safety. Although notable figures from Benjamin Franklin in the past to Ron Paul in the present(last night in Orlando, FL, good speech) have warned against this, most people are willing to tolerate this because it forms a false illusion of safety. Most Americans are willing to tolerate this because they are told, and they believe, that allowing this to happen is what prevents them from being killed in a terrorist attack, and they don't think about it after that. The vast majority of Americans, you and I, and a many others, notwithstanding, have given their implied permission for the govt to do this. So, while I speak out against this sort of thing to others every chance I get, and desire 'dangerous' freedom over the illusion of safety, the majority of Americans greet this type of news with apathy. Therefore, we the people, get the government we deserve.

noob's picture

so, Silence Implies Consent?

SunRise's picture

Silence is consent.

FredFlintstone's picture

Sometimes silence is just silence.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

And sometimes silence is golden. And gold is silence.


FredFlintstone's picture

For sure. I am fond of tranquility.

manofthenorth's picture

I too wish for peace , for my family and my friends but the fight has already come to us all, we have just not been bloodied .....yet !

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."

"There comes a time when silence is betrayal"

And yet we are here speaking our own truths in the eternal search for justice.



weburke's picture

you just dont know the active fight that has gone on. I am amazed by the silence of all about one nsa tool that  i consider the biggest.

MontgomeryScott's picture

Silence Is Violence (Aimee Allen).

Ron Paul Revolution [Wake Up!] (Aimee Allen).

A super-elite are taking control.


Truthy1's picture

My gold is silent. I was silent about gold. Dadgummit that silver tongued devil got me again.

Leraconteur's picture


Silence is silence. Consent is consent.

Knowledge is knowledge, not power.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

silence: consent

silencer: opposite :)

devo's picture

This dialogue about silence and consent is embarrassing. Attemps to be definitive, deep, and profound all fall flat.

NickVegas's picture

I sent an email to my congressman, vigourously detailing my concern with these ursurpations. That approach doesn't seem to work in the current environment.

Sudden Debt's picture

But what's the use when everybody knows this?
If you know you're spied on online, you can use it to check if you're spied on.
Online you just create a trail and on paper you create the non digital true organisation.
So in a way, the NSA starts to be it's own problem and bottleneck that makes sure they only get bad traces.

q99x2's picture

The NSA has to get money somehow so it creates all these boondoggle strategies and then sells them to retarded people in control of funds. Eventually like with the drones and other autamated weaponry it will lead to the death of those providing the funding.

They are sociopaths. That's what sociopaths do.

q99x2's picture

And talk about sociopaths. It took Feinstein over 4 years to relize the laws she was passing and funding she was providing was aimed at her.

These people are in a world of their own.

Sudden Debt's picture

what I was actually meaning is that their technologie is actually made against those who don't have to fear the spying by are spied on anyway.
That's the weird stuff. It's actually targetted against nice john and jane doe.

medium giraffe's picture

My own approach is a bit more lowbrow.  I take pictures of my testicles and email them to myself.  I like to think that somewhere (probably Utah) there are pictures of my testicles taking up valuable drive space under 24 hour surveillance and armed guard.

zhandax's picture

Wonder what the legal status is when some bored 14-year-old hacks Utah and saves one of those pics?

y3maxx's picture

...New MBA Degree course titled "WFE", available at all Ivy League Universities.

WFE..We F*ck Everyone

SmilinJoeFizzion's picture

Wharton will offer a bankers suicide elective course for all graduating MBA's. Chapter 9. Nail guns and Vicodin release tension headaches. Pop quiz to follow