Google Security experts Issue FU To NSA and Encrypts Data Centers

As the privacy debate continues, Google has begun the process of encrypting its traffic between its data centers. This tactic is aimed at stopping widespread surveillance of its inner network by the joint National Security Agency-GCHQ program known as MUSCULAR. The pressure is certainly mounting, with regards to the privacy debate. On Wednesday the Guardian reported that Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, has described the tactics of the spy agencies as both “appalling and foolish”, and has called for a full and frank public debate.

NSA_redacted

NSA has developed Google-specific “protocol handlers

As far as I am concerned, public reaction to the revelations which continue to occur, can be compared to a frog slowly being boiled in water. And we all know what happens to the frog at the end of the boiling process.

Google’s security engineer Mike Hearn used his Google+ account to inform us about the changes and share his feelings about the way the NSA has handled the situation and the information contained in slides published by the Washington Post originally leaked by Edward Snowden:

“The packet capture shown in these new NSA slides shows internal database replication traffic for the anti-hacking system I worked on for over two years. Specifically, it shows a database recording a user login as part of this system: http://googleblog.blogspot.ch/2013/02/an-update-on-our-war-against-account.html

Recently  +Brandon Downey , a colleague of mine on the Google security team, said (after the usual disclaimers about being personal opinions and not speaking for the firm which I repeat here) – “f*** these guys”: 

//plus.google.com/108799184931623330498/posts/SfYy8xbDWGG 

I now join him in issuing a giant F*** *** to the people who made these slides. I am not American, I am a Brit, but it’s no different – GCHQ turns out to be even worse than the NSA”.

The slides indicate that the NSA over time gained an intimate understanding of the internal operations of the networks they spied upon and that data were included in intelligent briefings provided to President Obama. According to Arstechnica: The NSA created sets of “defeats” that allowed it to screen multiple types of traffic at Yahoo and Google for identifying “fingerprints” in data—keywords or identifying elements in the traffic within those networks that it associated with individuals or organizations of interest. 

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt also waded into the debate in a Wall Street Journal interview, where he described the spying on the company’s data centers as outrageous. Perhaps chillingly he observed the Snowden revelations “have assisted us in understanding that it’s perfectly possible that there are more revelations to come”. It is certainly reassuring to see Google take a stand especially from its senior staff. Time will tell if the latest defensive measures they have taken will have any effect. Litigation might be the answer and of course there is taking the government to task and weighing up national security, an important issue that we can’t forget, throughout all of this.