NSA classifies Linux Journal readers, Tor and Tails Linux users as "extremists"

By on July 4, 2014, 10:15 AM
nsa, linux, security, privacy, spying, surveillance, tor, tails, linux journal

Are you a Linux Journal reader or use software such as Tor and Tails Linux? If so, you've probably been flagged as an "extremist" by the NSA. Leaked documents related to the XKeyscore snooping program reveal that the agency is targeting anyone who is interested in online privacy, specifically those who use the aforementioned software and visit the Linux user community website.

XKeyscore is a collection and analysis software that was among a number of surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden last year.

Its source code (basically a rule file), which has been obtained and analyzed by members of the Tor project and security specialists for German broadcasters NDR and WDR, identifies two German Tor Directory Authority servers as being under surveillance by the NSA. The code also cites a number of specific IP addresses of the Tor Directory Authority.

"Months of investigation by the German public television broadcasters NDR and WDR (ARD), drawing on exclusive access to top secret NSA source code, interviews with former NSA employees, and the review of secret documents of the German government reveal that not only is the server in Nuremberg under observation by the NSA, but so is virtually anyone who has taken an interest in several well-known privacy software systems," said the ARD report.

Countries like Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and the US, also known as the "Five Eyes", are exempt from surveillance, however.

The program marks and tracks the IP addresses of those who search for 'tails' or 'Amnesiac Incognito Live System' along with 'linux', ' USB ',' CD ', 'secure desktop', ' IRC ', 'truecrypt' or ' tor '. It also refers to the Tails Linux distribution as "a comsec mechanism advocated by extremists on extremist forums".

Aside from the Linux Journal, other monitored websites include privacy.li, FreeProxies.org, HotSpotShield, MegaProxy, FreeNet, Centurian, and an anonymous email service called MixMinion.

While there is no word about how the source code was obtained, security experts aren't sure whether it was leaked by Snowden. "I don't believe the TAO catalog came from the Snowden documents. I think there's a second leaker out there", said security specialist Bruce Schneier.

Meanwhile, reacting to the new revelations, the NSA released an official statement saying, "In carrying out its mission, NSA collects only what it is authorized by law to collect for valid foreign intelligence purposes". The statement also said that tools like XKeyscore "have stringent oversight and compliance mechanisms built in at several levels".




User Comments: 26

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2 people like this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

If Linux buffs are extremists, then what does it make NSA - extremism authority?

I'm contemplating an extreme summer break - do I need a license from NSA?

2 people like this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

"In carrying out its mission, NSA collects only what it is authorized by law to collect for valid foreign intelligence purposes".

And the trick, as people are starting to learn, is to craft progressively inclusive definitions of extremism.

at0mic_Mike at0mic_Mike said:

I'm in big trouble...

VitalyT VitalyT said:

"In carrying out its mission, NSA collects only what it is authorized by law to collect for valid foreign intelligence purposes".

That's saying NSA is acting within the law, that which nobody would believe.

2 people like this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Are you a Linux Journal reader or use software such as Tor and Tails Linux?
I should be! I want them bastards to waste more time with me under surveillance. I mean if they are going to waste money, I'd rather they do it on me than antagonize a so called enemy. Before long this so called enemy will be an enemy. They are creating one out of me by the very same methods. The NSA doesn't want any friends, because all they see are potential enemies that need to be watched/controlled. This article is nothing more than a campfire tale meant to spook people. If there was any weight to it at all, it would be deemed national security and place with all the other top secret BS documents.

2 people like this | veLa veLa said:

I sometimes like to run a linux distro as a secondary boot option, or on an older machine for my dad to check his email. Get at me, I'm so extreme. Up next I'll be showing you how to upgrade your video card.

4 people like this | Guest said:

The problem with allowing "terrorists" (I am talking about American citizens here only) to be hunted, persecuted, and killed by the government without regard to our laws of checks and balances... is that the word "terrorist" can be defined arbitrarily. Also on the list of NSA terrorists are people who:

(1) People who are interested in growing their own food.

(2) People who enjoy propagating plants by themselves without big Ag (e.g., Monsato) products.

(3) People who do searches about food or water security.

Look, the government is using a scary word "terrorist" to scare people into giving up basic liberties and rights that America was founded on. Then in the dark secret hiding corners of evil government, the word "terrorist" is broadly defined using innocuous wording so that every American is technically a terrorist.

Wake up America. If we don't act now it will be too late. America, with the likes of the TSA, NSA, etc., is likely to be the next Nazi Germany. I am very saddened by these developments and the total lack of initiative by Americans to preserve our unique way of life. Wake up. Act. Get involved!!!

1 person liked this | Guy Gagnon Guy Gagnon said:

I dunno Guys... I mean, it is the NSA. They have an extremely important job to do. I'd rather they play unfair and find terrorists and criminals than respect everyone's "right to privacy". They don't publicly share or arrest people for most of the petty criminal things they found "illegally." Who else is going to protect us from Terrorists trying to blow shit up, spread disease or other. People trying to encrypt stuff online is kind of a joke anways rite? We have some people on the opposite end of the spectrum sharing their entire lives on facebook without a care in the world.. What is it that alot of these people are so desperate to hide with their encryption anyways? So many 'hackers' and sickos are just up to no good, using these tools for nefarious purposes. I know most of the world would rather stick their heads in the sand and let their neighbors continue to do whatever so long as it doesn't affect them.

All this Snowden controversy is such bullsqueeze anyways... all these shady mis-informed e-freaks trying to Martyr some douchenoggler that leaked information that puts our entire country at risk and makes us look bad, BOOO. Im sure we've all read enough books to fear a totalitarian state which watches our every move but we are a far cry from that right now. Screw the illusion of privacy, if everything and everyone was more transparent we could cut down on alot of crime and focus on more pressing threats.

So yeah, just had to play devils advocate, even though im a pretty private person myself, sry if that offends any of these "extremists", maybe some of those creepers/crazos should spend less time moulding tin foil hats and cleaning guns and hating on people who actually work to make us safe.

Lionvibez said:

" Im sure we've all read enough books to fear a totalitarian state which watches our every move but we are a far cry from that right now"

I think america is closer to this than you think!

1 person liked this | The Chad The Chad said:

Waiting for door to be kicked in by NSA Storm Troopers in 3..2..1

treetops treetops said:

Better then letting another 911 happen.

Guest said:

Unfortunately most of America and much of the world is made up of people who accept authority as the truth.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Better then letting another 911 happen.
So we will continue snooping in an effort to catch someone striking

back at us for our snooping. Makes since! *roleseyes*

treetops treetops said:

So we will continue snooping in an effort to catch someone striking

back at us for our snooping. Makes since! *roleseyes*

The NSA snoops, terrorists do a bit more then snoop.

2 people like this | sp33dk1ngp1n sp33dk1ngp1n said:

Better then letting another 911 happen.

No its not. I'd rather die in a terrorist attack than live like a caged animal with no freedom.

1 person liked this | sp33dk1ngp1n sp33dk1ngp1n said:

Who are all these cowardly losers who are so paranoid of terrorists that they want to spy on every single man, woman, and child because they might be a terrorist. I mean, never mind that peanut allergies kill more people than terrorists, right? Like go f****** figure.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Damn @sp33dk1ngp1n, didn't you make grand entrance! (y)

sp33dk1ngp1n sp33dk1ngp1n said:

Damn @sp33dk1ngp1n, didn't you make grand entrance! (y)

What can I say? I'm a ninja of truth dealing butthurt to the brainwashed among us and the liars and criminals who inspire them!

1 person liked this | Guest said:

What I find most ironic about all of this surveillance is that with all the collecting of phone calls, emails, faxes, and hacking of equipment, etc., the NSA was caught completely unaware that ISIS was about to attack the Iraqi army and drive them out of northern Iraq. So, in light of this failure, can somebody explain to me just exactly the NSA thinks it's doing by conducting all this snooping?

havok585 havok585 said:

Better then letting another 911 happen.

911 was an inside job!

davislane1 davislane1 said:

What a complete tool:

I dunno Guys... I mean, it is the NSA. They have an extremely important job to do. I'd rather they play unfair and find terrorists and criminals than respect everyone's "right to privacy". They don't publicly share or arrest people for most of the petty criminal things they found "illegally." Who else is going to protect us from Terrorists trying to blow **** up, spread disease or other.

We have the largest most well funded military in the history of the world. We also have weapons systems capable of wiping entire populations from the map without ever sending an American into a combat zone. Had either of these tools been properly used in recent decades, "terror" and "war" would not be part of the American vernacular. Sadly, since WWII, American leadership in warfare has lost its spine - to the detriment of everyone with the misfortune of being drawn into combat.

The idea that the NSA is the only thing keeping us safe from terrorists is such a hilariously misinformed notion that it borders on the edge of parody. That they provide a sense of security from Islamic terrorism (see: the on-going religious holy war between Islam and Christianity) is an even bigger joke. They do their best to prevent the inevitable, but the threat of terror only ends with the death of the enemy (see: the actual rules of the game). The NSA is also by far not the only "spy" agency running around watching people. The Navy, Army, and Air Force do the same gig across the globe. Only, they focus on the bad guys.

So many 'hackers' and sickos are just up to no good, using these tools for nefarious purposes. I know most of the world would rather stick their heads in the sand and let their neighbors continue to do whatever so long as it doesn't affect them.

The irony emanating from this thought could vaporize a small insect. The whole reason laws and regulations exist is because people, on average, will do bad things when they fear no consequence. Violating legal rights under the premise of the ends justifying the means is the whole reason it was deemed necessary to write down the rights in the first place.

Im sure we've all read enough books to fear a totalitarian state which watches our every move but we are a far cry from that right now. Screw the illusion of privacy, if everything and everyone was more transparent we could cut down on alot of crime and focus on more pressing threats.

If by 'books' you mean history books, yes. The U.S. government is only special because of the uniqueness of its restrictive elements and the principles they were crafted upon. Beyond that, the U.S. gov is scarcely different from the government of any other empire that has risen, declined and/or fallen in history. They rise to power, corruption and ineptitude grow cancerous over time, they collapse and are then restructured. The overreach of the U.S. government and the complacency of the American people will continue to spread until something breaks and this nation once again descends into civil unrest and martial law.

Given the size and scope of the house of cards that has been created over the past 100 years and the Islamist threat, it's anyone's guess to what the actual "flashpoint" event will be. I do know, however, that people like yourself will be completely blindsided and genuinely bewildered by it. It'll be a real left-fielder, as it were.

So yeah, just had to play devils advocate, even though im a pretty private person myself, sry if that offends any of these "extremists"

This isn't playing devil's advocate. Playing devil's advocate is when you present a coherent argument for the opposing view for the sake of a more complete understanding of the issue. What you've done here is demonstrated the fear and absence of principles that defines the average Millennial. If this was your intent, bravo. But I strongly suspect your "advocacy" goes well beyond intellectual thoroughness.

maybe some of those creepers/crazos should spend less time moulding tin foil hats and cleaning guns and hating on people who actually work to make us safe.

Nobody displeased with the U.S. government and its various "Tentacles of Love and Caring" is critical of those who work to make us safe. If anything, we are culturally conditioned to worship the very ground they walk upon. The group of people we are upset with, that we are becoming increasingly intolerant of, are those in the head offices who are consistently sending those defenders orders that directly contradict the values they are supposed to uphold and enable the very tyranny they were intended to protect against.

It isn't the messenger we're upset with: we're upset with the men and women writing the instructions on the letter.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't spend so much time just to rant on a daft comment. This being the Fourth of July, however, provokes me to find something to get fired up about. For years, people have been putting forward woefully inadequate arguments like this in defense of every scandal and impropriety under the sun. Frequently, they ridicule, defame, and discredit their dissent at every opportunity only to be met with silent disagreement and the shaking of heads when they spew forth their own dogma. Given that, 238 years ago, a bunch of guys got together for an wholly unpopular and illegal war, I feel the least we can do a couple centuries later is have an equally uncivil dialogue with those who would consciously argue on behalf of throwing away the very values and principles those men fought and died for.

#Murica

1 person liked this | Guest said:

The NSA, like the rest of the Obama Administration, is just out of control. The idea that people who make their living as technologists and inquire on the Linux journal site, check out Tor, or any number of other online privacy sites and that automatically makes them "extremists" is ludicrous. That is what this Administration is looking to do, however, is classify and box people into convenient categories. That makes it okay to do the same to them. Obama according to the definition of James Madison is a tyrant. He has consistently sought to usurp the legislative powers of the Congress, the interpretive powers of the Supreme Court and further expand the powers of the Executive Branch. This dodges the checks and balances of the Constitution, and is why the Cato Institute has called Obama "the danger the Constitution was designed to prevent." If the NSA wants to stop harm to the country ... stop this tyrant from further harming America, and leave law-abiding citizens alone. You have become a law-breaking band of criminals along with Holder and the fools in this Administration.

Guest said:

My skills are a bit rusty but as a patriotic American who believes in freedom I am thinking I have to find a way to get some of this secure software written to CD or hard drives. It can only be a matter of time before the NSA gets their viruses and whatnot into just about everything. They bought the ISPs. Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook are now creepier and more evil than oil companies ever were...

Eric Holder doesn't believe Americans should have any privacy or literacy. If enough of us can get the software downloaded.... at least it makes it harder on the fascists.

What the hell happened to Obama? I never pegged him to be a neo-con but I was wrong.

Guest said:

Better then letting another 911 happen.

that is so lame. do you have any courage whatsoever? terrorists killed what 4000 out of 300 million in the last 50 years. you have a much better chance of being killed by an 18 wheeler on the highway.

in exchange you are willing to give up all privacy and freedom. wow. I don't want to live in the same country as you. I'm not afraid of terrorists. I am afraid of the NSA

Guest said:

"In carrying out its mission, NSA collects only what it is authorized by law to collect for valid foreign intelligence purposes".

And the trick, as people are starting to learn, is to craft progressively inclusive definitions of extremism.

...and the IRS is so concerned about the environment they recycle hard drives and re-use backup tapes.

TheLastPanda TheLastPanda said:

I really REALLY want to get searches for tor/Tails trending. Brb, gotta open 20-30 tabs

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