Published on September 24th, 2015 | by Guest0
What the AT&T-NSA partnership means
The National Security Agency is an infamous organization in the American government, known for its ability to spy on practically every US citizen. AT&T has been an instrumental partner with the NSA enabling them to monitor vast quantities of internet traffic every day.
It’s not news that an American telecommunications company would conspire with the NSA. But recently disclosed N.S.A. documents have revealed an unusually deep working relationship with AT&T that has been particularly productive, described by one document as “highly collaborative” and praised by another for AT&T’s “extreme willingness to help.”
The implications of this level of collaboration between AT&T and the NSA are huge, both for private individuals and small businesses. AT&T has given the NSA access to billions of emails and provided technical assistance with wiretapping AT&T customers as prominent as the UN and as ordinary as local businesses. The icing on the cake? One document reminds NSA officials of the nature of the AT&T relationship, emphasizing that it is “a partnership, not a contractual relationship.” AT&T is doing this for ulterior motives beyond their own personal profit, and that should concern you as an individual or business owner.
AT&T has access to a massive network of internet structure, some of which is used by competing businesses. AT&T has corporate relationships that provide unique access to other telecoms and ISPs, which means that even customers with other networks such as Verizon can be compromised by AT&T.
The economic costs of NSA surveillance are difficult to gauge, but they are very real. American businesses are losing a competitive edge abroad. When the NSA spying network was revealed, companies like Amazon and Dropbox saw significant reductions in business overseas, because foreign nations no longer trust in the ability of American businesses to keep confidential information safe. No matter how strong your ethics are as a business owner, the NSA’s ability to steal information from your networks without a warrant represents an alarming security risk for anybody that would do business with you.
The state of cybersecurity is in flux, and business security is particularly vulnerable. For the past decade the NSA has been leading an aggressive effort to break common internet encryption technologies. The NSA is also actively encouraging US IT industries to covertly change their products to suit the NSA’s needs. AT&T is leading the charge on this front. Products that you use in your own home or business can be co-opted by the NSA to serve as conduits for spying. For example, spying tools are being placed in routers to facilitate spying on network traffic. This is especially dangerous for companies that use ip camera hosting for their businesses. Sensitive information of every kind (no matter how encrypted), from personal to business in nature, is now vulnerable to the NSA.
The extent of the AT&T and NSA collaborative partnership is only in the first stages of being understood. The eagerness of AT&T officials to provide the NSA with sensitive and private information is a worrying trend that represents a major blow to the freedom of speech and information on the internet. Further, the extent of AT&T’s collaboration represents a serious blow to the reputation of American businesses as reliable and safe partners for foreign government and private organizations. There are a few steps you can take to safeguard your own information, but even the strongest options like encryption are under threat, and the reputation of American businesses is forever damaged in the eyes of the foreign public.
The AT&T/NSA relationship is ongoing, and AT&T officials show no indication of stopping it. In fact, it can only be expected that they’ll accelerate their attempts to undermine our rights and solidify their working partnership.
About the Author:
Lee Ying has over 10 years experience in the tech and security industry. He currently writes for various websites, if you would like to contact him you can find him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/lee-ying/9a/18b/238. Follow me on Twitter @LeeYing101