Spookware: NSA, DHS, and Narus

We spent a day filming last week on the floor of the trade show at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. The world’s largest (and smallest) Internet and information security vendors pitch new products, make deals and give away lots of schwag.

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Amidst this carnival-like atmosphere we came across a few surprises, such as booths for the National Security Agency (NSA), Narus (a subsidiary of Boeing that makes surveillance software), and the Department of Homeland Security. That’s where we had fun running into Dark Tagent (Jeff Moss), founder of BlackHat, the annual Las Vegas information security gathering, who was also visiting the DHS booth.

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Dark Tagent (aka Jeff Moss)

We learned a couple of interesting things at the NSA booth such as why they rely on commercial software vendors (more efficient) and how to apply for a job at the NSA’s new Bluffdale facility in Utah.

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Shhh. Who might be listening?

At the Narus booth a representative said they’re still selling products to the Egyptian government. He also said a VPN (virtual private network) is not a protection against surveillance using Narus software. However, Narus admits it cannot break Tor, a popular system used by activists, journalists and law enforcement that provides anonymity online.

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Narus surveillance software is still being sold to Egypt.

In the next post we visit Blue Coat and Stonesoft, two major players in online surveillance.