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‘Einstein’ replaces ‘Big Brother’ in Internet surveillance

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Wayne Madsen
Online Journal
Friday, Sept 19, 2008

WMR has learned from government sources that the Bush administration has authorized massive surveillance of the Internet using as cover a cyber-security multi-billion dollar project called the “Einstein” program.

Billed as a cyber-security intrusion detection system for federal computer systems and networks, WMR has been told that the actual intent of Einstein is to initially monitor the email and web surfing activities of federal employees and contractors and not in protecting government computer systems from intrusion by outsiders.

In February 2008, President Bush signed a directive that designated the National Security Agency (NSA) as the central administrator for the federal government’s computer and network security.

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Although Einstein is primarily a program under the aegis of the Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) of the National Cyber Security Division of the Homeland Security Department, WMR has learned that it has the personal support of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Mike McConnell, a former NSA director. Einstein is advertised as merely conducting traffic analysis within the dot (.) gov and dot (.) mil domains, including data packet lengths, protocols, source and destination IP addresses, source and destination ports, time stamp information, and autonomous system numbers. However, WMR has learned that Einstein will also bore down into the text of email and analyze message content. In fact, most of the classified budget allotted to Einstein is being used for collecting information from the text of messages and not the header data.

In fact, WMR has learned that most of the classified technology being used for Einstein was developed for the NSA in conducting signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations on email networks in Russia. Code-named PINWHEEL, the NSA email surveillance system targets Russian government, military, diplomatic, and commercial email traffic and burrows into the text portions of the email to search for particular words and phrases of interest to NSA eavesdroppers. According to NSA documents obtained by WMR, there is an NSA system code-named ”PINWALE.”

The DNI and NSA also plan to move Einstein into the private sector by claiming the nation’s critical infrastructure, by nature, overlaps into the commercial sector. There are classified plans, already budgeted in so-called “black” projects, to extend Einstein surveillance into the dot (.) com, dot (.) edu, dot (.) int, and dot (.) org, as well as other Internet domains. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has budgeted $5.4 billion for Einstein in his department’s FY2009 information technology budget. However, this amount does not take into account the “black” budgets for Einstein proliferation throughout the U.S. telecommunications network contained in the budgets for NSA and DNI.

In anticipation of the regulatory problems inherent in domestic email surveillance by the NSA, the Bush administration has ensured that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and industry associations have been stacked with pro-surveillance loyalists to ensure that Einstein is widely accepted and implemented.

This article was posted: Friday, September 19, 2008 at 9:46 am





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