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Snowden used common web crawler tool to collect NSA files [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2014-2-11 08:14:26 |Display all floors
February 10, 2014

Whistleblower Edward Snowden used “inexpensive” and “widely available” software to gain access to at least 1.7 million secret files, The New York Times reported, quoting senior intelligence officials investigating the breach.

                  The collection process was “quite automated,” a senior  intelligence official revealed. Snowden used “web crawler”  software to “search, index and back up” files. The program just  kept running, as Snowden went about his daily routine.


  “We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a  machine and downloading this much material in sequence,” the  official said.


  Investigators concluded that Snowden’s attack was not highly  sophisticated and should have been easily detected by special  monitors. The web crawler can be programmed to go from website to  website, via embedded links in each document, copying everything  it comes across.


  The whistleblower managed to set the right algorithm for the web  crawler, indicating subjects and how far to follow the links,  according to the report. At the end of the day, Snowden was able  to access 1.7 million files including documents on internal NSA  networks and internal “wiki" materials, used by analysts to share  information across the world.


  Reportedly, Snowden had full access to the NSA’s files, as part  of his job as the technology contractor in Hawaii, managing  computer systems in a faraway outpost that focused on China and  North Korea.


  Officials added that the files were accessible because the Hawaii  outpost was not upgraded with the latest security measures.


  The web crawler used by Snowden was similar to, but not as  advanced as the Googlebot crawler, used by Google and its search  engine to access billions of websites and download their contents  for fast search results.


  The whistleblower did raise some flags while working in Hawaii,  prompting questions about his work, but he was able to ward off  criticism successfully.


  “In at least one instance when he was questioned, Mr. Snowden  provided what were later described to investigators as  legitimate-sounding explanations for his activities: As a systems  administrator he was responsible for conducting routine network  maintenance. That could include backing up the computer systems  and moving information to local servers, investigators were  told,” according to the report.


  Snowden admitted in June to taking an undisclosed number of  documents, which in the last half-year have been regularly relied  on by the international media for a number of high-profile  reports about the US National Security Agency and its British  counterpart, GCHQ. He was then granted political asylum by Russia  and now resides in Moscow.


  The leaks have unveiled a number of previously unreported NSA  operations, including those involving dragnet surveillance  programs that put the digital lives of millions, if not billions,  of individuals across the world into the possession of the US  government.


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