National Security Agency
|National Security Agency|
|Seal of the National Security Agency|
|Flag of the National Security Agency|
|Formed||November 4, 1952|
|Preceding Agency||Armed Forces Security Agency|
|Headquarters||Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S.|
|Annual budget||$10+ billion (2012 estimate)|
|Agency executives||General Keith B. Alexander, U.S. Army, Director of the National Security Agency
John C. Inglis, Deputy Director of the National Security Agency
|Parent Agency||United States Department of Defense|
The National Security Agency (NSA) is a cryptologic intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence, as well as protecting U.S. government communications and information systems, which involves information security and cryptanalysis/cryptography.
The NSA is directed by at least a lieutenant general or Vice Admiral. NSA is a key component of the U.S. Intelligence Community, which is headed by the Director of National Intelligence. The Central Security Service is a co-located agency created to coordinate intelligence activities and co-operation between NSA and other U.S. military cryptanalysis agencies. The Director of the National Security Agency serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and Chief of the Central Security Service.
By law, NSA's intelligence gathering is limited to foreign communications, although there have been some incidents involving domestic collection, including the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.
The National Security Agency is divided into two major missions: the Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), which produces foreign signals intelligence information, and the Information Assurance Directorate (IAD), which protects U.S. information systems.
The predecessor of the National Security Agency was the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA), created on May 20, 1949. This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The AFSA was to direct the communications and electronic intelligence activities of the U.S. military intelligence units: the Army Security Agency, the Naval Security Group, and the Air Force Security Service. However, that agency had little power and lacked a centralized coordination mechanism. The creation of NSA resulted from a December 10, 1951, memo sent by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Walter Bedell Smith to James S. Lay, Executive Secretary of the National Security Council. The memo observed that "control over, and coordination of, the collection and processing of Communications Intelligence had proved ineffective" and recommended a survey of communications intelligence activities. The proposal was approved on December 13, 1951, and the study authorized on December 28, 1951. The report was completed by June 13, 1952. Generally known as the "Brownell Committee Report," after committee chairman Herbert Brownell, it surveyed the history of U.S. communications intelligence activities and suggested the need for a much greater degree of coordination and direction at the national level. As the change in the security agency's name indicated, the role of NSA was extended beyond the armed forces.
The creation of NSA was authorized in a letter written by President Harry S. Truman in June 1952. The agency was formally established through a revision of National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9 on October 24, 1952, and officially came into existence on November 4, 1952. President Truman's letter was itself classified and remained unknown to the public for more than a generation[vague]. A brief but vague reference to the NSA first appeared in the United States Government Organization Manual from 1957, which described it as "a separately organized agency within the Department of Defense under the direction, authority, and control of the Secretary of Defense [...] for the performance of highly specialized technical functions in support of the intelligence activities of the United States."
History of headquarters
When the agency was established, its headquarters and cryptographic center were in the Naval Security Station in Washington, D.C.. The COMINT functions were located in the Arlington Hall Station in Northern Virginia, which served as the headquarters of the U.S. Army's cryptographic operations. Because the Soviet Union had detonated a nuclear bomb, the federal government began considering moving several agencies, including the AFSA/NSA, so they would continue functioning if a nuclear bomb hit Washington, D.C. In addition, the military facilities were crowded. Because of the level of protection at Fort Knox and its proximity away from nuclear bomb targets, a planning committee recommended that the agency be moved there. Because a move to Fort Knox would require the cryptologic community to move, and because its distance from the District of Columbia would complicate its affairs with other agencies, Fort Meade, Maryland, was ultimately chosen as the headquarters because it was sufficiently furthest away from what would be a nuclear blast zone around Washington, D.C.
The agency began occupying buildings at Fort Meade in the late 1950s. Due to space limitations, the construction of additional buildings began shortly after the completion of the first building. In 1963 the new headquarters building, nine stories tall, opened. NSA workers referred to the building as the "Headquarters Building" and since the NSA management occupied the ninth floor the workers used "ninth floor" to refer to the NSA management. In 1968 another new building was opened by the Communications Security (COMSEC) division at Fort Meade; it was a distance away from the main NSA building. Previously COMSEC was in Washington, DC.
In September 1986 the OPS2A and 2B buildings opened, with a dedication by President Ronald Reagan. The four total NSA buildings became known as the "Big Four." Both 2A and 2B were copper-shielded. The NSA director moved to 2B when it opened.
Crews associated with NSA missions have been involved in a number of dangerous and deadly situations. The USS Liberty incident in 1967 and USS Pueblo incident in 1968 are examples of the losses endured during the Cold War.
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Cryptologic Memorial honors and remembers the fallen personnel, both military and civilian, of these intelligence missions. It is made of black granite, and has 171 names (as of 2013) carved into it. It is located at NSA headquarters. A tradition of declassifying the stories of the fallen was begun in 2001.
In 1999, NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland. The memorial is a "tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology". NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.
Headquarters for the National Security Agency is set apart from but is technically inside Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. Ft. Meade is about 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Baltimore, and 25 mi (40 km) northeast of Washington, DC. The NSA has its own exit off Maryland Route 295 South labeled "NSA Employees Only". NSA is the largest employer in the U.S. state of Maryland, and two-thirds of its personnel work at Ft. Meade. Built on 350 acres (140 ha; 0.55 sq mi) of Ft. Meade's 5,000 acres (2,000 ha; 7.8 sq mi), the site has 1,300 buildings and an estimated 18,000 parking spaces.
The main NSA headquarters and operations building is what James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, describes as "a modern boxy structure" that appears similar to "any stylish office building." which is covered with one-way dark glass. The building has 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2), or more than 68 acres (28 ha), of floor space. Bamford said that the U.S. Capitol "could easily fit inside it four times over." Under the outside glass the building uses copper shielding to trap in any signals and sounds to prevent espionage. The facility has over 100 watchposts, one of them being the visitor control center, a two-story area that serves as the entrance. At the entrance, a white pentagonal structure, visitor badges are issued to visitors, and security clearances of employees are checked. The visitor center includes a painting of the NSA seal. The OPS2A building, the tallest building in the NSA complex and the location of much of the agency's operations directorate, is accessible from the visitor center. Bamford described it as a "dark glass Rubik's Cube". The facility's "red corridor" houses non-security operations such as concessions and the drug store. The name refers to the "red badge" which is worn by someone without a security clearance. The NSA headquarters includes a cafeteria, a credit union, ticket counters for airlines and entertainment, a barbershop, and a bank. NSA headquarters has its own post office, fire department, and police force.
The employees at the NSA headquarters reside in various places in the Baltimore-Washington area, including Annapolis, Baltimore, and Columbia in Maryland and the District of Columbia, including the Georgetown community.
Expansion of headquarters
NSA had a groundbreaking ceremony at Ft. Meade in May 2013 for its High Performance Computing Center 2, expected to open in 2016. Called Site M, the center has a 150 megawatt power substation, 14 administrative buildings and 10 parking garages. It cost $3.2 billion and covers 227 acres (92 ha; 0.355 sq mi). The center is 1,800,000 square feet (17 ha; 0.065 sq mi) and initially uses 60 megawatts of electricity.
Stretching 16 years into the future, increments 2 and 3 would quadruple the space, covering 5,800,000 square feet (54 ha; 0.21 sq mi) with 60 buildings and 40 parking garages.
As of 2012, NSA collected intelligence from four geostationary satellites. Satellite receivers were at Roaring Creek station in Catawissa, Pennsylvania and Salt Creek in Arbuckle, California. It operated ten to twenty taps on U.S. telecom switches. NSA had installations in several U.S. states and from them observed intercepts from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
NSA also operates RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, which was, according to BBC News in 2007, the largest electronic monitoring station in the world. Planned in 1954, and opened in 1960, the base covered 562 acres (227 ha; 0.878 sq mi) as of 1999.
NSA had facilities at Friendship Annex (FANX) in Linthicum, Maryland, which is a 20 to 25-minute drive from Ft. Meade; the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora outside Denver, Colorado; NSA Texas in the Texas Cryptology Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; NSA Georgia at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia; NSA Hawaii in Honolulu, the Multiprogram Research Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and elsewhere.
On January 6, 2011 a groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin construction on NSA's first Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (CNCI) Data Center, known as the "Utah Data Center" for short. The US $2 billion data center is being built at Camp Williams, Utah, located 25 miles (40 km) miles south of Salt Lake City. The data center will help support the agency's National Cyber-security Initiative. It is expected to be operational by September 2013.
In 2009, to protect its assets and to access more electricity, NSA sought to decentralize and expand its existing facilities in Ft. Meade and Menwith Hill, the latter expansion expected to be completed by 2015.
The Yakima Herald-Republic cited Bamford, saying that many of NSA's bases for its Echelon program were a legacy system, using outdated, 1990s technology. In 2004, NSA closed its operations at Bad Aibling Station (Field Station 81) in Bad Aibling, Germany. In 2012, NSA began to move some of its operations at Yakima Research Station, Yakima Training Center, in Washington state to Colorado, planning to leave Yakima closed. As of 2013, NSA also intended to close operations at Sugar Grove, West Virginia.
NSA's eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications. It has been described as the world's largest single employer of mathematicians, and the owner of the single largest group of supercomputers, but it has tried to keep a low profile. For many years, its existence was not acknowledged by the U.S. government, earning it the nickname, "No Such Agency" (NSA). It was also quipped that their motto is "Never Say Anything".
According to the Washington Post, "[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases."
Because of its listening task, NSA/CSS has been heavily involved in cryptanalytic research, continuing the work of predecessor agencies which had broken many World War II codes and ciphers (see, for instance, Purple, Venona project, and JN-25).
In 2004, NSA Central Security Service and the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to expand NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program.
As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008 by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government's computer networks from cyber-terrorism. In 2010, Robert Gates called for DHS to have a "cell" that would be able to apply the full surveillance powers of NSA for domestic cyber security.
The NSA conducts polygraph tests of potential new employees. NSA's brochure states that the examination lasts for two to four hours. The NSA produced a video explaining the polygraph process. The nonprofit organization AntiPolygraph.org criticizes the polygraph process and argues that the NSA-produced video omits some information about the polygraph process; it produced a video responding to the NSA video.
Following a major power outage in 2000, in 2003 and in follow ups through 2007, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA was at risk of electrical overload because of insufficient internal electrical infrastructure at Fort Meade to support the amount of equipment being installed. This problem was apparently recognized in the 1990s but not made a priority, and "now the agency's ability to keep its operations going is threatened."
Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE, now Constellation Energy) provided NSA with 65 to 75 megawatts at Ft. Meade in 2007, and expected that an increase of 10 to 15 megawatts would be needed later that year. In 2011, NSA at Ft. Meade was Maryland's largest consumer of power. In 2007, as BGE's largest customer, NSA bought as much electricity as Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland.
NSA/CSS, in combination with the equivalent agencies in the United Kingdom (Government Communications Headquarters), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), otherwise known as the UKUSA group, was reported to be in command of the operation of the so-called Echelon system. Its capabilities were suspected to include the ability to monitor a large proportion of the world's transmitted civilian telephone, fax and data traffic.
During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill. Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the Echelon surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence Sigint, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked. In 1996, author and investigative journalist, Nicky Hager, in his book entitled Secret Power, New Zealand's role in the international spy network, provided a detailed account of Echelon, the world-wide electronic surveillance system used by the UKUSA intelligence alliance. In November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful "global spying network" codenamed Echelon, that could "eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet" with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was "linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland".
NSA's United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about "... U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations...." without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than its national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.
NSA's mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333, is to collect information that constitutes "foreign intelligence or counterintelligence" while not "acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons". NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the USA, while confining its own activities within the USA to the embassies and missions of foreign nations.
NSA's domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; however, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA's foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law. The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.
These activities, especially the publicly acknowledged domestic telephone tapping and call database programs, have prompted questions about the extent of the NSA's activities and concerns about threats to privacy and the rule of law.
|National Security Agency surveillance|
Map of global NSA data collection
Domestic wiretapping under Richard Nixon
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In the years after President Richard Nixon resigned, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and NSA facilities. Senator Frank Church headed a Senate investigating committee (the Church Committee) which uncovered previously unknown activity, such as a CIA plot (ordered by President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro. The investigation also uncovered NSA's wiretaps on targeted American citizens. After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 became law, limiting circumstances under which domestic surveillance was allowed.
IT projects: ThinThread, Trailblazer, Turbulence
NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the internet and cellphones.
ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a 'privacy mechanism'; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. Thinthread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include Thinthread's privacy system.
Trailblazer Project ramped up circa 2000. SAIC, Boeing, CSC, IBM, and Litton worked on it. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled circa 2003-4; it was late, overbudget, and didn't do what it was supposed to do. The Baltimore Sun ran articles about this in 2006–07. The government then raided the whistleblower's houses. One of them, Thomas Drake, was charged with in 2010 in an unusual use of espionage law. He and his defenders claim that he was actually being persecuted for challenging the Trailblazer Project. In 2011, all 10 original charges against Drake were dropped.
Turbulence started circa 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive 'test' pieces rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer. It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.
Warrantless wiretaps under George W. Bush
On December 16, 2005, the New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from both ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.
Proponents of the surveillance program claim that the President has executive authority to order such action, arguing that laws such as FISA are overridden by the President's Constitutional powers. In addition, some argued that FISA was implicitly overridden by a subsequent statute, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, although the Supreme Court's ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld deprecates this view. In the August 2006 case ACLU v. NSA, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor concluded that NSA's warrantless surveillance program was both illegal and unconstitutional. On July 6, 2007 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision on the grounds that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the suit.
AT&T Internet monitoring
In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus (company) hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between American citizens.
Wiretapping under Barack Obama
In 2009 the NSA intercepted the communications of American citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the NSA had corrected its errors. United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the wiretapping according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.
On April 25, 2013 the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon's Business Network Services to provide information on all calls in its system to the NSA "on an ongoing daily basis", as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013.
NSA is reported to use its computing capability to analyze "transactional" data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions and travel and telephone records, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The NSA began the PRISM electronic surveillance and data mining program in 2007. PRISM gathers communications data on foreign targets from nine major U.S. internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP chats such as Skype, and file transfers. Another program, Boundless Informant, employs big data databases, cloud computing technology, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to analyze data collected worldwide by the NSA, including that gathered by way of the PRISM program.
Past NSA SIGINT activities
Role in scientific research and development
NSA has been involved in debates about public policy, both indirectly as a behind-the-scenes adviser to other departments, and directly during and after Vice Admiral Bobby Ray Inman's directorship. NSA was a major player in the debates of the 1990s regarding the export of cryptography. Restrictions on export were reduced but not eliminated in 1996.
Its secure government communications work has involved the NSA in numerous technology areas, including the design of specialized communications hardware and software, production of dedicated semiconductors (at the Ft. Meade chip fabrication plant), and advanced cryptography research. For 50 years, NSA designed and built most of its computer equipment in house, but from the 1990s until about 2003 when U.S. Congress curtailed the practice, the agency contracted with the private sector in the fields of research and equipment.
Data Encryption Standard
NSA was embroiled in some minor controversy concerning its involvement in the creation of the Data Encryption Standard (DES), a standard and public block cipher algorithm used by the U.S. government and banking community. During the development of DES by IBM in the 1970s, NSA recommended changes to some details of the design. There was suspicion that these changes had weakened the algorithm sufficiently to enable the agency to eavesdrop if required, including speculation that a critical component—the so-called S-boxes—had been altered to insert a "backdoor" and that the reduction in key length might have made it feasible for NSA to discover DES keys using massive computing power. It has since been observed that the S-boxes in DES are particularly resilient against differential cryptanalysis, a technique which was not publicly discovered until the late 1980s, but which was known to the IBM DES team. The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reviewed NSA's involvement, and concluded that while the agency had provided some assistance, it had not tampered with the design. In late 2009 NSA declassified information stating that "NSA worked closely with IBM to strengthen the algorithm against all except brute force attacks and to strengthen substitution tables, called S-boxes. Conversely, NSA tried to convince IBM to reduce the length of the key from 64 to 48 bits. Ultimately they compromised on a 56-bit key."
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Because of concerns that widespread use of strong cryptography would hamper government use of wiretaps, NSA proposed the concept of key escrow in 1993 and introduced the Clipper chip that would offer stronger protection than DES but would allow access to encrypted data by authorized law enforcement officials. The proposal was strongly opposed and key escrow requirements ultimately went nowhere. However, NSA's Fortezza hardware-based encryption cards, created for the Clipper project, are still used within government, and NSA ultimately published the design of the SKIPJACK cipher (but not the key exchange protocol) used on the cards.
Advanced Encryption Standard
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Possibly because of previous controversy, the involvement of NSA in the selection of a successor to DES, the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), was initially limited to hardware performance testing (see AES competition). NSA has subsequently certified AES for protection of classified information (for at most two levels, e.g. SECRET information in an unclassified environment) when used in NSA-approved systems.
The widely used SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash functions were designed by NSA. SHA-1 is a slight modification of the weaker SHA-0 algorithm, also designed by NSA in 1993. This small modification was suggested by NSA two years later, with no justification other than the fact that it provides additional security. An attack for SHA-0 that does not apply to the revised algorithm was indeed found between 1998 and 2005 by academic cryptographers. Because of weaknesses and key length restrictions in SHA-1, NIST deprecates its use for digital signatures, and approves only the newer SHA-2 algorithms for such applications from 2013 on.
A new hash standard, SHA-3, has recently been selected through the competition concluded October 2, 2012 with the selection of Keccak as the algorithm. The process to select SHA-3 was similar to the one held in choosing the AES, which concluded in 2001.
Dual EC DRBG random number generator
NSA promoted the inclusion of a random number generator called Dual EC DRBG in the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology's 2007 guidelines. This led to speculation of a backdoor which would allow NSA access to data encrypted by systems using that random number generator.
NSA has invested many millions of dollars in academic research under grant code prefix MDA904, resulting in over 3,000 papers (as of 2007-10-11). NSA/CSS has, at times, attempted to restrict the publication of academic research into cryptography; for example, the Khufu and Khafre block ciphers were voluntarily withheld in response to an NSA request to do so. In response to a FOIA lawsuit, in 2013 the NSA released the 643-page research paper titled, "Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research," written and compiled by NSA employees to assist other NSA workers in searching for information of interest to the agency on the public Internet.
NSA has the ability to file for a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under gag order. Unlike normal patents, these are not revealed to the public and do not expire. However, if the Patent Office receives an application for an identical patent from a third party, they will reveal NSA's patent and officially grant it to NSA for the full term on that date.
One of NSA's published patents describes a method of geographically locating an individual computer site in an Internet-like network, based on the latency of multiple network connections. Although no public patent exists, NSA is reported to have used a similar locating technology called trilateralization that allows real-time tracking of an individual’s location, including altitude from ground level, using data obtained from cellphone towers.
NSANet is the official National Security Agency intranet. It is a classified internal network, and TS/SCI. In 2004 it was reported to have used over twenty commercial off-the-shelf operating systems. Some universities that do highly sensitive research are allowed to connect to it. In 1998 it, along with NIPRNET and SIPRNET, had "significant problems with poor search capabilities, unorganized data and old information".
National Computer Security Center
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The National Computer Security Center, once part of the National Security Agency, was established in 1981 and was responsible for testing and evaluating computer equipment for use in high security and/or confidential applications. NCSC was also responsible for publishing the Orange Book and Trusted Network Interpretation (Red Book) detailing trusted computing and network platform specifications. The two works are more formally known as the Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria and Trusted Network Interpretation, part of the Rainbow Series, however, they have largely been replaced by the Common Criteria.
The NSA received criticism early on in 1960 after two agents had defected to the Soviet Union. Investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee and a special subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee revealed severe cases of ignorance in personnel security regulations, prompting the former personnel director and the director of security to step down and leading to the adoption of stricter security practices. Nonetheless, security breaches reoccurred only a year later when in an issue of Izvestia of July 23, 1963, a former NSA employee published several cryptologic secrets. The very same day, an NSA clerk-messenger committed suicide as ongoing investigations disclosed that he had sold secret information to the Soviets on a regular basis. The reluctance of Congressional houses to look into these affairs had prompted a journalist to write "If a similar series of tragic blunders occurred in any ordinary agency of Government an aroused public would insist that those responsible be officially censured, demoted, or fired." David Kahn criticized the NSA's tactics of concealing its doings as smug and the Congress' blind faith in the agency's right-doing as shortsighted, and pointed out the necessity of surveillance by the Congress to prevent abuse of power.
The number of exemptions from legal requirements has also been criticized. When in 1964 the Congress was hearing a bill giving the director of the NSA the power to fire at will any employee, the Washington Post wrote: "This is the very definition of arbitrariness. It means that an employee could be discharged and disgraced on the basis of anonymous allegations without the slightest opportunity to defend himself." Yet, the bill was accepted with overwhelming majority.
On January 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, against the George W. Bush Presidency. The lawsuit challenged the National Security Agency's (NSA's) surveillance of people within the U.S., including the interception of CCR emails without securing a warrant first.
In May 2013 it was revealed that the NSA runs a secretive unit called Tailored Access Operations (TAO) which hacks into foreign computers to conduct cyber-espionage. According to a Bloomberg BusinessWeek article titled How the U.S. Government Hacks the World, Pentagon hackers within the NSA harvest nearly 2.1 million gigabytes of stolen data every hour. That is the equivalent of hundreds of millions of pages of text. For years, the NSA did not acknowledge the unit's existence, but a Pentagon official confirmed the unit conducts what it calls "computer network exploitation."
The heraldic insignia of NSA consists of a bald eagle facing its right, grasping a key in its talons, representing NSA's clutch on security as well as the mission to protect and gain access to secrets. The eagle is set on a background of blue and its breast features a blue shield supported by 13 bands of red and white. The surrounding white circular border features "National Security Agency" around the top and "United States of America" underneath, with two five-pointed silver stars between the two phrases. The current NSA insignia has been in use since 1965, when then-Director, LTG Marshall S. Carter (USA) ordered the creation of a device to represent the Agency.
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NSA encryption systems
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NSA is responsible for the encryption-related components in these systems:
- EKMS Electronic Key Management System
- FNBDT Future Narrow Band Digital Terminal
- Fortezza encryption based on portable crypto token in PC Card format
- KL-7 ADONIS off-line rotor encryption machine (post-WWII – 1980s)
- KW-26 ROMULUS electronic in-line teletypewriter encryptor (1960s–1980s)
- KW-37 JASON fleet broadcast encryptor (1960s–1990s)
- KY-57 VINSON tactical radio voice encryptor
- KG-84 Dedicated Data Encryption/Decryption
- SINCGARS tactical radio with cryptographically controlled frequency hopping
- STE secure terminal equipment
- STU-III secure telephone unit, currently being phased out by the STE
- TACLANE product line by General Dynamics C4 Systems
NSA has specified Suite A and Suite B cryptographic algorithm suites to be used in U.S. government systems; the Suite B algorithms are a subset of those previously specified by NIST and are expected to serve for most information protection purposes, while the Suite A algorithms are secret and are intended for especially high levels of protection.
- James Bamford
- Biometric Consortium
- Bureau of Intelligence and Research
- Central Intelligence Agency
- Central Security Service
- Counterintelligence Field Activity
- Cryptographic Quarterly
- Defense Intelligence Agency
- Defence Signals Directorate (Australian equivalent)
- Diplomatic Security Service
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Federal law enforcement in the United States
- Special Communications Service of Russia – Russian equivalent
- FAGCI – former Russian equivalent
- Government Communications Headquarters – British equivalent
- Martin and Mitchell Defection
- Presidential Executive Authority is Subordinated and Delegate to Classified Pseudo Entity
- Trident (Parent – Pseudo Entity)
- Narus (company)
- National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
- National Reconnaissance Office
- National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
- Non-commissioned officer
- NSA Hall of Honor
- NSA in popular culture
- Ronald Pelton
- Project SHAMROCK
- Security-Enhanced Linux
- Signals intelligence
- Skipjack (cipher)
- Thomas Andrews Drake (whistleblower)
- Type 1 product
- United States Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations
- John Anthony Walker
- Project Atlantis
- Bamford, James. Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, Random House Digital, Inc., December 18, 2007. ISBN 0307425053, 9780307425058. Previously published as: Doubleday, 2001, ISBN 0-385-49907-8.
- Hager, Nicky (2007) . Secret Power (PDF). Craig Potton Publishing via nickyhager.info. ISBN 978 0 908802 35 7. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
- Weiland, Matt and Sean Wilsey. State by State. HarperCollins, Oct 19, 2010. ISBN 0062043579, 9780062043573.
- "Prism Exposed: Data Surveillance with Global Implications". Spiegel Online International. June 10, 2013. p. 2.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: National Security Agency, United States|
- NSA official site.
- Records of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service.
- History of NSA.
- The NSA charter.
- The National Security Archive at George Washington University.
- "United States Intelligence Community: Who We Are / NSA section". Archived from the original on September 25, 2006.