The NSA’s Data Collection Initiatives | |An Analysis of the DPI Systems in Place with our National Government
|This document explores the Deep Packet Inspection systems set in place by the United States government’s National Security Agency. Along with | |an analysis of how the system works, the capabilities of said system will be discussed, along with its legality and future potential for data | |harvesting. |
With so much happening in the world, and so much going wrong for the United States, the National Security Agency’s chief task is in gathering huge amounts of information and making it immediately useful to prevent terror and cyber warfare threats from damaging United States interests. The NSA’s most challenging task at this point is not in gathering huge amounts of information, but in making it useful. They have the facilities to monitor most telephone calls and email communication that happens in the United States, and with the new Utah Data Center which is currently under construction, they should be able to monitor almost all of it and be able to store it effectively. Ironically, the biggest disadvantage to having a huge amount of data at your disposal is that you have a huge amount of data that you have to sift through in order to get anything useful. This is why the NSA depends so heavily on a technology called Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) which helps the Agency to decrypt and organize internet traffic. Without this emerging technology, the Agency would have to rely on simple searches and manual filtering to find information that is relevant to national security, a very expensive process in terms of both time and money which would ultimately waste the Agency’s money and decrease their efficiency. Deep Packet Inspection is not an extraordinarily new concept. Internet Service Providers, or ISP’s, have long used a form of the technology to monitor statistics about data usage. DPI has helped ISP’s such as AT&T understand what their customers use the internet for in order to ration bandwidth and bring better service to their clientele while keeping their costs down. While this is important for private enterprise, the NSA uses the technology to help save American lives and prevent successful terror attacks, which could devastate the nation. Naturally, due to the nature of their operations and their goals, the NSA’s technology is much more complex. The NSA uses a technology called NarusInsight, developed by Narus, to handle their DPI needs. This technology, the most advanced form of DPI in the world, is capable of searching, screening, and organizing enormous volumes of information on the fly. The way NarusInsight gathers information is truly impressive. An NSA Agent inputs some keyword, username, email address, or some other piece of information into the system and NarusInsight scans nearly all the traffic on the internet to search for the selected key terms. The system is incredibly efficient at monitoring internet connections. One system can utilize up to 10 Gigabits per second, which in practical terms means that a single system can actively monitor several million internet connections at a time. With a few systems in place, as already are in place throughout the United States, the integrated Narus systems could monitor tens or hundreds of millions of active internet connections. The system could then proceed to scan for these keywords in order to find security threats and help the NSA foil terror plots and gather intelligence on foreign governments which could help the US government make proper and informed foreign policy decisions. The amount of data that Narus can intercept is so large that the...
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