Snowden reveals NSA’s XKEYSCORE collects router and Skype data

6 Jul 2015

XKEYSCORE, the NSA's Google for surveillance data, has more private communications than most people thought possible

The NSA’s Google-like search engine for the world’s private communications data, XKEYSCORE, has more information than previously thought, including router information and VoIP streams from Skype calls.

In what has been one of the largest releases of documents by Edward Snowden, it has been revealed that XKEYSCORE, which sweeps up data on people’s internet searches, documents, usernames and passwords, takes its data from the fibre-optic cables that are the backbone of the world’s communications networks.

According to The Intercept, the system isn’t limited to just web traffic, it absorbs 700,000 voice, fax, video, and tag files every day.

According to the newly-published documents it can gather pictures, documents, voice calls, webcam photos, web searches, advertising analytics traffic, social media traffic, botnet traffic, logged keystrokes, computer network exploitation targeting, intercepted username and password pairs, Skype sessions and more.

They can even get the keys to every wireless network through the gathering of router information.

NSA partners including Canada, New Zealand and the UK have access to the mass surveillance databases of XKEYSCORE.

Even the use of VPNs to mask IP addresses are futile in the face of XKEYSCORE’s tracking cookie, which will continue to follow users if they are using the same web browser.

It emerged last week that XKEYSCORE had been used by NSA analysts to give US President Barack Obama a list of talking points that were going to be used by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a one-to-one meeting.

However, it has also been proven to have caught 300 terrorists in 2008, including tracking a senior al-Qaeda leader who Googled himself.

Internet spy image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years