Snowden's tools for hacking NSA not exactly high tech

Steven Loeb · February 10, 2014 · Short URL:

He used a cheap and commonly available web crawler to access 1.7 million documents

Love him or loathe him, Edward Snowden has made a huge impact on the country, and the world, with the revelations that were leaked out about the National Security Agency and its tendency to spy on citizens both home and abroad.

To make that kind of impact, and to gain access to the documents in question, there must have been some pretty high level hacking going. Like, it must have been hard work, right?

Um... turns out, maybe not so much.

In fact, the technology that Snowden used was both inexpensive, and commonly used, according to a report out from the New York Times this weekend.

Snowden used software that is known as a “web crawler," which is designed to search, index and back up a website. It even allowed him to do his job at the same time, while the 1.7 million documents were being hacked.

We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a machine and downloading this much material in sequence,” a security official told the Times. Actually, he said, the process was “quite automated.”

This is especially embarrassing for the NSA and our security agencies because it is their mission to protect the country from hackers. If they could not detect unsophisticated attacks, which should have aisly been detected, then what happens when a sophisticated attack from China or Russia occurs?

This is not even the first time that an attack like this has been successful; only three years ago, WikiLeaks performed a successful attack using similar means. Whatever the NSA tried to do in that time to prevent it from happening again obviously failed.

Now, you might be asking yourself, can this get even worse? Like, we've already had our secrets exposed by a guy who was not thoroughly vetted and who used low level techniques to steal files. What else could we now find out that would make the NSA look even more inept?

How about that the agency actually questioned Snowden on multiple occasions. When he told them that he was a systems administrator, and that he was responsible for conducting routine network maintenance, that was enough for them to drop the inquiry.

He told that his job included backing up the computer systems, and moving information to local servers.

Part of the reason that Snowden was not caught was that he was working at an agency outpost, which had not yet been equipped with monitors designed to detect when a huge volume of data was being accessed and downloaded.

The NSA declined to comment to the New York  Times on the report.

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