Edward Snowden has used a Beam telepresence robot to take part in the TED Conference in Vancouver. According to the whistleblower, a lot of information about the NSA’s spying capabilities still hasn’t been brought to light, but it will, soon.
Snowden documents published back in September 2013 showed that the NSA had a highly classified program dubbed “Bullrun.” The goal of this program is to break the encryption that’s used to protect Internet communications.
“It’s a program thorough which the NSA intentionally misleads corporate partners, saying these are safe standards and we need to work with you to secure the system. In reality, it’s bad advice to companies that degrades the quality of service,” Snowden told the audience at TED.
“They’re building in backdoors that not only can the NSA exploit, but so can anyone else with time and resources. They’re letting themselves into the world’s communications and this is really dangerous,” he added.
“If we lose a single standard, if we lose the trust of SSL, we will live in a less safe world overall. We won’t be able to access banks or commerce without worrying about people monitoring our communications.”
Snowden highlights the fact that the backdoors leveraged by the NSA leave companies open to attacks from other sources.
“The NSA has traditionally worn two hats; it’s been in charge of offensive operations and defensive operations. Usually, it prioritizes defense over offense; American secrets are worth more,” Snowden explained.
“If we hack Chinese business and steal its secrets, or those in Berlin, that’s of less value to the American people than making sure that the Chinese can’t get access to our secrets. In reducing the security of our own communications, they’re putting us at risk in a fundamental way.”
Last week, reports published by The Intercept revealed that the NSA had processes in place that enabled the agency to automatically plant malware on millions of devices worldwide. At the time, the NSA denied indiscriminately infecting computers.
The latest revelations show that the NSA is capable of recording the phone calls of an entire foreign country. The country has not been named, but the intelligence agency reportedly stored all recorded conversations for 30 days.
NSA representatives have said that the agency sometimes collects signals intelligence in bulk in order to identify new or emerging threats that might be hidden within modern global communication systems.
At TED, Snowden revealed that the most important reporting about the NSA’s capabilities was yet to come.