NSA’s Section 702 Success: 150 Gigs of Defense Contractor Data Protected

Screen shot 2013-10-21 at 9.59.11 AMOver four months ago, I noted that the most impressive success touted in James Clapper’s fact sheet on Section 702 pertained to cybersecurity, not terrorism.

Communications collected under Section 702 have provided significant and unique intelligence regarding potential cyber threats to the United States, including specific potential network computer attacks. This insight has led to successful efforts to mitigate these threats.

Le Monde, as part of its package on US spying on France, published yet another version of the PRISM slide presentation, including this slide (and 2 others that haven’t been published before; h/t Koen Rouwhorst).

While I’m not sure we’re yet looking at the complete PRISM slideset, at least as it stands, this slide tells the sole success story in the presentation. It describes how, on December 14, 2012, the NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center alerted the FBI to an implant on a Defense contractor’s network. The FBI and the contractor managed to take action that same day to prevent the exfiltration of 150G of data.

And thus using upstream collection (the slide cites Stormbrew), the NSA managed to do something equivalent to stopping China from getting yet another module of data on the F-35 development to go along with all the other data it has stolen.

While I’m glad the NSA prevented yet more tax dollars to be wasted on secrets China (or someone like them) was going to steal anyway, I am rather interested that this gets touted internally as Section 702′s big success story.

After all, Keith Alexander has been chanting terror terror terror terror for the last four months. It turns out — as I’ve been saying all along — it’s not about the 54 mostly overseas plots Section 702 has helped to thwart, it’s about cybersecurity.

Moreover, it doesn’t involve someone’s personal communications access via PRISM. It involves upstream collection (this also suggests when NSA describes searching for “selectors” in upstream collection, it searches on more than just emails and phone numbers, as it has previously suggested).

Again, this success is in no way a bad thing–kudos to the NSA for catching this.

It just highlights how we’re being sold a dragnet to protect against hackers based on fear of terrorists.

Update: In a Guardian post today, I argue Obama should use the replacement of Keith Alexander as an opportunity to break up NSA.

Metaphorically, the NSA has pursued its search for intelligence by partly disabling the locks to all our front doors. Having thus left us exposed, it demands the authority to be able to enter our homes to look around and see if those disabled locks have allowed any nasty types to get in.

Given the way the NSA’s data retention procedures have gone beyond the letter of the law to allow them to keep Americans’ data if it presents a threat to property (rather than just a threat of bodily harm), while the NSA is looking for nasty types, they might also make sure you don’t have any music or movies for which you don’t have a receipt. Thus it has happened that, in the name of preventing invaders, the NSA has itself invaded

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3 Responses to NSA’s Section 702 Success: 150 Gigs of Defense Contractor Data Protected

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @mike_stark @AriMelber But, hey, there is nmo reason the media sou;d understand or cover that with real criminal trial experts.
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bmaz @mike_stark @AriMelber ... as ANY other GJ would get. Bet just leaves GJ w/a bunch of statute cites+says good luck. Which is NEVER done.
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bmaz @mike_stark @AriMelber ...for a vote as "draft indictment" by the GJ. This is months long+I bet McCulloch never submits a draft indictment..
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bmaz @mike_stark @AriMelber ...this would, with not much variance, be a 2-3 hr grand jury presentation, with definitive charges submitted...
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bmaz @mike_stark @AriMelber Here is what I DO know from 30 yrs crim law experience (27 trial level): in ANY other homicide under similar facts...
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bmaz @DavidSug @walterwkatz Yup on all fronts.
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bmaz @DavidSug @walterwkatz I am talking to you Sugerman! Honestly, from what I know, none of this is secure. But, still, sometimes stop+wonder
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bmaz @DavidSug @walterwkatz I separate ID's, but apparently things catching up to me.
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bmaz Whoa, just switched from the Dead Pirates game, and Law+Order SVU has an elevator video case! #SnatchedFromHeadlines
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bmaz @DavidSug @walterwkatz Yo, young, but in law school. Watched that commercial live and was mesmerized.
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bmaz @walterwkatz @DavidSug I don't use Chr or FFox
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bmaz @shenebraskan @DavidSug @walterwkatz Tried it long ago. Was too slow and worthless.
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