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NSA Phone Call Monitoring

Community Veteran
Posts: 6,824
Registered: 27-10-2012

NSA Phone Call Monitoring

So it seems the NSA has been monitoring most of our phone calls for years, but can anyone explain in layman's terms how they do it? I thought mobile phone calls were encrypted and I have no idea about domestic landline calls - have they hacked into a phone company's network?
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Community Veteran
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: NSA Phone Call Monitoring

Mobiles are only encrypted between handset and telcom carrier (as far as I'm aware). When that voice data leaves the network to another (eg BT) I would imagine it would be sent as raw data. At the telecoms level it would be easy to record phone calls as they're not encrypted.
The USA have many tactics for snooping and getting their hardware into these places. AT&T is one of their biggest telecoms providers. Where did 1471 come from? - The USA had it years before the UK (maybe not with that code but the tech). If AT&T can develop that kind of tech, they're probably selling it to other telecoms providers around the world. IF thats the case, it wouldn't be hard for the hardware to be coded to record and transmit the phone calls back to the usa via those lovely fibre optic cables that have the world connected.
Thats just one way they could do it. Others could be buying shares in telecoms companies (via other companies) and then opting for special setups, suppliers etc.
Moons ago the USA discovered the power of the prism in combination with a laser listener. They wanted to listen in to the kremlin and so they arranged for the KGBs windows to be shipped with a small prism in the glass at the corner. Naturally the KGB didn't even notice the prism yet alone suspect it was sinister for a long time. Meanwhile the USA agents where shining invisible lasers at their windows and the vibrations where then picked up from the glass in the reflected laser beam. Eventually the KGB got wind of the USA being a step ahead of things and discovered the prisms in their windows. Curious what they were they eventually realised that prisms will reflect light 180 degrees back to the sender and realised that lasers had been used to listen to them. Needless to say the CIA had already installed extra outdoor glass shields to block the same tactic back as the sound waves wouldn't be picked up. How did the USA get their custom glass into the KGB? No idea but they did it and they did it very successfully.
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Roberto0151
Grafter
Posts: 241
Registered: 18-05-2010

Re: NSA Phone Call Monitoring

I seem to remember hearing on radio that they were logging the phone numbers and duration of calls, but not recording the content.
Maybe this takes some of the edge off it?
Community Veteran
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Registered: 21-03-2011

Re: NSA Phone Call Monitoring

GSM has been hacked and can be passively listened in to without the people being aware. Secure GSM phones incorporate another layer of encryption within the transmission, the snag is the sending and receiving GSM handsets both have to be equipped and they are not cheap.
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Thunderclap
Grafter
Posts: 673
Registered: 08-09-2008

Re: NSA Phone Call Monitoring

Quote from: Roberto0151
I seem to remember hearing on radio that they were logging the phone numbers and duration of calls, but not recording the content.
Maybe this takes some of the edge off it?

Thanks to the EU Data Retention Directive 2009 all telecommunication companies must retain citizens 'electronic footprints' for a minimum of six months to two years - and longer. Data retained about you includes mobile and internet phone, internet access and email activity. It is therefore hypocracy for EU leaders to carp on about the NSA farming phone activity when their directive is implicity doing the same to 500 million people.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 21-03-2011

Re: NSA Phone Call Monitoring

The official hacking is performed by either direct connection (logical/electrical) to the exchanges. Where this is not available they listen in to the traffic on the actual fibres or microwave transmission. This process is not technically challenging, I've seen this demonstrated in a public demonstration.  I could say more, but I'd have to move to Russia.
Edit: This guy http://applease.over-blog.com/tag/fiber%20optic%20telecommunication/ has a reasonable understanding of the process.
Now Zen, but a +Net residue.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 08-10-2010

Re: NSA Phone Call Monitoring

Saw this and thought of you.....
Cheesy
Community Veteran
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Registered: 24-09-2008

Re: NSA Phone Call Monitoring

Quote from: Roberto0151
I seem to remember hearing on radio that they were logging the phone numbers and duration of calls,

Part of the CDR (Call Data or Detail record) which is collected on every phone call or txt message and held by the SP
VOIP calls the IP address is stored as the original caller ID
looks something like this:
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,770
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Registered: 08-10-2010

Re: NSA Phone Call Monitoring

Surely the 'calling' and 'called' numbers should be same?  Penultimate in list shows different numbers or is thus a fabricated example, designed to force the pedantics to reveal themselves?  Smiley
Thunderclap
Grafter
Posts: 673
Registered: 08-09-2008

Re: NSA Phone Call Monitoring

Cool Dog invents spook proof technology... Now where's that Tippex?
Community Veteran
Posts: 13,920
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: NSA Phone Call Monitoring

lol @ snoopy
Seriously it makes you think that normal postal mail is safer these days but then moons ago tomorrows world showed a spray that could penetrate envelopes to see what the document inside shows. Unknown to many, although the envelope will stink afterwards, deodorants have exactly the same effect on envelopes.
Lets face it, smoke signals or pigeons will soon be the only way of unmonitored communication.
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