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NSA Reportedly Hacked Internet Companies At Weak Spot

One of the open questions regarding internet companies like Yahoo, Google, and Facebook concerning the now revealed NSA spying program is how in the dark were they? No one is really buying their protestations of total innocence but there does seem to be some possibility that they were not completely aware of all the NSA was doing to vacuum up their users’ data.

That possibility is due to the nature of the internet and subsequent possibility that, in some cases, the NSA bypassed Silicon Valley and hacked into data cables.

People knowledgeable about Google and Yahoo’s infrastructure say they believe that government spies bypassed the big Internet companies and hit them at a weak spot — the fiber-optic cables that connect data centers around the world that are owned by companies like Verizon Communications, the BT Group, the Vodafone Group and Level 3 Communications. In particular, fingers have been pointed at Level 3, the world’s largest so-called Internet backbone provider, whose cables are used by Google and Yahoo.

Level 3 Communications is a major defense contractor and makes few of the public pronouncements about transparency or “making a dent in the universe” that the Silicon Valley dudebros do. They are a major communications company that relies heavily on national security state contracting and have for some time – it’s just business. In other words, they do not even have the pretense of an antagonistic relationship with the NSA and closed-society values.

The NSA says jump, they say how high and is there something on the back end?

The Internet companies’ data centers are locked down with full-time security and state-of-the-art surveillance, including heat sensors and iris scanners. But between the data centers — on Level 3’s fiber-optic cables that connected those massive computer farms — information was unencrypted and an easier target for government intercept efforts, according to three people with knowledge of Google’s and Yahoo’s systems who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The solution being sought by Google and Yahoo is to keep that information encrypted from now on. Which raises an interesting point – will the NSA ever allow secure mass communication?

Based on the Lavabit case it would seem that if the NSA can not illegally hack you it has the legal authorities force you to let them in or shut you down. So, if Google and Yahoo are able to successfully keep the NSA out and win in court – what happens then?

CommunityThe Bullpen

NSA Reportedly Hacked Internet Companies At Weak Spot

One of the open questions regarding internet companies like Yahoo, Google, and Facebook concerning the now revealed NSA spying program is how in the dark were they? No one is really buying their protestations of total innocence but there does seem to be some possibility that they were not completely aware of all the NSA was doing to vacuum up their users’ data.

That possibility is due to the nature of the internet and subsequent possibility that, in some cases, the NSA bypassed Silicon Valley and hacked into data cables.

People knowledgeable about Google and Yahoo’s infrastructure say they believe that government spies bypassed the big Internet companies and hit them at a weak spot — the fiber-optic cables that connect data centers around the world that are owned by companies like Verizon Communications, the BT Group, the Vodafone Group and Level 3 Communications. In particular, fingers have been pointed at Level 3, the world’s largest so-called Internet backbone provider, whose cables are used by Google and Yahoo.

Level 3 Communications is a major defense contractor and makes few of the public pronouncements about transparency or “making a dent in the universe” that the Silicon Valley dudebros do. They are a major communications company that relies heavily on national security state contracting and have for some time – it’s just business. In other words, they do not even have the pretense of an antagonistic relationship with the NSA and closed-society values.

The NSA says jump, they say how high and is there something on the back end?

The Internet companies’ data centers are locked down with full-time security and state-of-the-art surveillance, including heat sensors and iris scanners. But between the data centers — on Level 3’s fiber-optic cables that connected those massive computer farms — information was unencrypted and an easier target for government intercept efforts, according to three people with knowledge of Google’s and Yahoo’s systems who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The solution being sought by Google and Yahoo is to keep that information encrypted from now on. Which raises an interesting point – will the NSA ever allow secure mass communication?

Based on the Lavabit case it would seem that if the NSA can not illegally hack you it has the legal authorities force you to let them in or shut you down. So, if Google and Yahoo are able to successfully keep the NSA out and win in court – what happens then?

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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