Snowden: NSA’s ‘Treasure Map’ plots end-user devices
Mon 15 Sep 2014
The latest leak from Edward Snowden reveals that the United States National Security Agency has a far greater ambit with its ‘treasure map’ program than was indicated by the New York Times last November.
At that time the initial Snowden leak revealed the NSA’s Treasure Map software to be ‘a near real-time, interactive map of the global Internet’. Yesterday Der Spiegel revealed that Treasure Map is actually capable of mapping routers and end-user devices attached to the networks that they facilitate. Spiegel reports that the leaked PowerPoint presentation [PDF] instructs analysts to ‘map the entire Internet’ on a constant basis and at device-level detail.
Treasure Map apparently uses ‘red core nodes’, visual indicators which outline the carriers and private networks which have already been accessed by ‘FiveEyes’ agencies (intelligence interests from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States). These red-signalled locations denote SIGINT (signals intelligence) points-of-interest, and effectively comprise a visual map of network nodes currently or recently under surveillance.
Significant German ‘Autonomous systems’ in the Treasure Map database include Deutsche Telekom AG, one of only twelve Tier 1 global service providers, and therefore the most pivotal point of connection for the surveillance program: 60 million customers use Telekom for internet, mobile and landline services.
The global nature of a Tier 1 system means that many of the Telekom-owned routers mapped are located worldwide, far beyond Germany’s constitutional protection against espionage for its citizens. If that does not adequately confuse the issues of data sovereignty, which has raised Germany’s ire in the wake of the Angela Merkel phone-tapping revelations, Deutsche Telekom’s position as part of the TAT14 telecommunications cable consortium means that the company runs physical lines through Great Britain over to the US east coast.