A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone that I know who is an analyst for a US intelligence agency. I’m going to keep this as generic as I can, because even though he says that he told me nothing that could get him in trouble, well, you never know. We had an hour long conversation. A few of the things that he said were things that I found VERY interesting.
- The government collects so much intelligence from American citizens that it is almost too much. That is the reason for the massive data centers. It’s difficult to sort through all of the stuff they collect, but they do get a lot of stuff that they pass on to law enforcement. Apparently, they aren’t allowed to collect intel on American citizens on purpose, but if they cast a wide net and get stuff by accident, well, nothing says it can’t be passed along.
- Social media and smart phones are the main source. Many of the Apps that are on your phone are collecting massive amounts of data: your location, your secret information, credit stuff, banking information, and more. Many apps have keyloggers that save any information put into your phone and forward it to other parties.
- Burner phones are useless. Ten years ago, using a burner was a good way to dodge those collecting information. Not anymore.
- If you are a target of clandestine government investigation, there are pocket-sized devices that allow them to walk nearby and download the contents of your phone. Whatever is in your phone now belongs to the government.
- He confirmed that the government can and do clandestinely activate the camera and microphone of any internet connected device, including your phone, smart TV, whatever.
- Nearly every electronic device and app has some sort of backdoor access installed in it at the request of one government intel agency or another.
- He said that, as far as phones go, iPhones were the most compromised, then Android, and believe it or not, Google phones are the most secure. I’m not sure I trust that, but that’s what he said.
- He said that many VPNs are routed through China, and you are giving your information to China by using them. I pointed out that I am less afraid of China than I am the US government. I said China wouldn’t care about me because I am not that important. He smiled and just shook his head.
- The US government has its hands in more online porn than almost any other entity. The content/pages/etc of online porn sites is riddled with malware and malicious code that belongs to the NSA. According to him, almost everyone looks at porn, and even in Muslim countries, they catch a lot of people and get a lot of information as a result of this.
The scary part is that talking to spooks like this makes you paranoid. I don’t know this guy THAT well, he is more acquaintance than friend. He is a friend of a friend, and I wouldn’t count either of them as being in my inner circle. So why is he telling me all of this? Is this an official interview? Is he skimming my smartphone? (see 4 and 5, above) Is this really a friendly conversation, or is he working?
Either I am being paranoid, or I am not being paranoid enough. No matter what, I’m going to have trouble sleeping while I think about it.