For those who fear they are being watched on mobile, here’s another scary fact to consider. According to a revelation from a British spy agency GCHQ, thinking that your sent and received text messages are immune to surveillance is foolhardy.
“The National Security Agency (NSA) has the ability of collecting SMS text messages and related data in bulk from around the world,” a BGR report published Friday reads.
Citing data from The Guardian and additional documentation obtained from Edward Snowden, SMS spying is more than just an irrational fear. It may be a reality.
A presentation subtitled “SMS Text Messages: A Goldmine to Exploit,” describes the scope of Dishfire and reveals a “Prefer” program that can conduct an automated analysis of the obtained communications in search for relevant data. In addition to the almost 200 million text messages collected per day, the NSA was able to collect each day more than 5 million missed-call alerts that can be used to map someone’s social network and contact habits, over 1.6 million border crossing from roaming alerts, over 110,000 names from electronic business cards including images, over 800,000 financial transactions including text-to-text payments and credit cards, over 76,000 geolocation data including route requests and meetings set ups, and travel data including cancellations and airplane delays.
The presentation, however, reveals that “such gems are not in current metadata stores and would enhance current analytics.” BGR reports that the NSA has collected only data from international users, “discarding data related to U.S. citizens.”
“As we have previously stated, the implication that NSA’s collection is arbitrary and unconstrained is false,” a spokeswoman for the agency is quoted in the same report. “NSA’s activities are focused and specifically deployed against – and only against – valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements.”