(network)technologies used by NSA for data collection

Mike A mikea at mikea.ath.cx
Mon Mar 23 13:42:52 UTC 2015

On Sun, Mar 22, 2015 at 04:05:35AM +0200, Martin T wrote:
> Hi,
> I watched "Citizenfour"(imdb.com/title/tt4044364/) documentary and at
> 41:12 Edward Snowden gives a brief overview of some of the leaked
> documents to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill. At 42:57
> Snowden mentions devices which are able to collect data at rate of
> 1Tbps. This was in 2011. Screen-shots from the movie can be seen here:
> https://nsa.gov1.info/dni/2014/tumult.jpg Third slide looks like some
> sort of vendor product roadmap :)
> Just out of curiosity, what kind of equipment those might be? Is it
> realistic that NSA/DoD are able to produce their own hardware? Let
> alone custom silicon like Cisco or Juniper are. Or do they use off the
> self hardware.. In addition, it's relatively easy to install a passive
> fiber optical tap for a submarine cable, but how do you get
> information out of it? I mean all the different wavelengths(CWDM/DWDM)
> within the same cable, line rates(up to 100GigE), circuit switched and
> packet switched technologies which those devices should support.. In
> addition, how(bandwidth and network wise) to transport this data to
> data analysis and storage equipment if it collected far away from
> USA..
> Some of those questions or thoughts might be naive and stupid, but
> that's what crossed my mind when I watched the documentary. Maybe
> somebody, who has done more research in this field, could clarify.

NSA has had in-house chip fab facilities for at least 10 years, probably
closer to 20, and possibly as much as 30, as well as working agreements with
big network gear manufacturers. 

Mike Andrews, W5EGO
mikea at mikea.ath.cx
Tired old sysadmin 

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