A few days ago it appeared the news about high controls implemented by the National Security Agency with the tacit agreement of the White House and the Department of Justice, in short, for account of the U.S. Government.
We wanted to find out more about how these data are captured and transferred. Massimiliano Sala, one of the leading European experts, director of the encryption laboratory of the Trento University gave an interview to “La Repubblica” in which he explains how work the great interceptions machine “made in the USA”.
According to his experience, “The U.S. government, through the National Security Agency, first takes the “metadata”, records with summary data about communications: who called whom, at what time, what sites were visited”. As if they had installed a phone bug per citizen and key loggers for the PC.
The real interception probably is carried out “with the collaboration of a telephone or internet operator then provides the records to the government. Would it be possible to get them without the help of operators, through bugs inserted on all nodes of communication”, but considering the large number of U.S. citizens would be too expensive.
From the metadata, then they try to understand what conversations and connections should be further explored in content. “It’s probably using an algorithm that triggers an alarm when it detects some abnormal behavior“.
“In short, if the metadata has a match with a pattern of behavior usually associated with dangerous people, an alarm is triggered and the government acquires the contents of the emails and phone calls. Then, it goes to Google and searching for the suspect email texts. So it asks to the operator to work together to intercept phone calls, through special devices connected to systems and telephone lines”.
Control is carried out “using a sophisticated artificial intelligence, which simulates the human. The terrorists and gangsters certainly don’t write or say suspect words on the phone, but they use periphrasis. So the algorithm doesn’t seek for exact words, but processes the sentence to understand. “Later, the algorithm triggers the alarm and the case goes to the agent in flesh and blood.
In targeted cases, it works in the same way with extremely professional tools such as telephone bugs or parabolic microphones, both able to listen conversations at distance virtual or physical. In this way, the control being targeted, not affecting the privacy of honest citizens who most of the times are intercepted without real reasons.