Another day, another round of leaks from former CIA technical analyst Edward Snowden. This man blew the whistle on U.S. National Security Agency’s electronic spying programs, and he continues to leak highly classified documents. Documents provided to The New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica reveal that the NSA has been siphoning off personal data through popular mobile applications, internally referred to as “leaky apps.” Apparently the NSA has collaborated with its British counterpart on this program, the Government Communications Headquarter or GCHQ.
As per the documents, this program was called “the mobile surge,” and was being put in place as far back as 2007. Apparently both the NSA and GCHQ have “traded recipes” for siphoning location and planning data whenever a target uses Google Maps, they also pick up address books, phone logs, buddy lists, geo data in photos and posts sent through mobile sites of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr and more. In one slide, iPhone and Android smartphones are referred to as “Golden Nugget!,” an analyst merely points out that they are excellent resources for picking up data without being detected. The agencies’ ability to do this apparently hasn’t been broken by newer apps, even popular games like Angry Birds have been named, so while users flick birds at pigs, the NSA and GCHQ can lift their personal data without them even knowing.
Even though the leaked documents detail how mobile applications are used for spying, The New York Times reports that nothing in the documents addressed whether or not the companies that created those apps were cooperating with the agencies. [Slides via The Guardian]