Vulnerabilities / Threats

4/19/2017
02:25 PM
Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

Snowden Says Mass Surveillance Programs 'Are About Power'

Edward Snowden shared his views of the implications of mass surveillance programs and the government's objective in implementing them.

There's a lot of uncertainty and debate around mass surveillance programs. Why do they exist? Who is interested in all of this data, and what do they want to do with it? These are a few of the questions explored during an event entitled "Democracy Under Surveillance: A Conversation with Edward Snowden," held yesterday at the College of William & Mary .

The discussion was moderated by Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, and distinguished professor of government and public policy at W&M.

"Surveillance technologies have outpaced democratic controls," said Snowden, who joined the event via satellite. "A generation ago, surveillance was extremely expensive … there was a natural limitation because governments had to spend extraordinary sums to track individual people."

Today, the dynamic is reversed. One person in front of a monitor can track "an unimaginably large" number of people, he continued. The NSA's surveillance program, deployed in secret and with "serious constitutional implications," he said, is an example.

To illustrate the sheer amount of data the NSA has gathered, Snowden - who is in exile in Russia after copying and leaking classified information from the spy agency - showed a photo of the organization's Mission Data Repository, originally named the Massive Data Repository. The troves of data garnered through surveillance is held "just in case."

While the US government and others view such surveillance measures as necessary for security, Snowden offered the flip-side argument.

"Perhaps this is true," Snowden said. "But we should always be aware that we may not get to choose what it is we're actually being protected from." He urged helathy skepticism of government efforts. As part of his discussion on mass surveillance programs, and their infringement on constitutional rights, he posed the question: do these programs really protect people from harm? His answer: mass surveillance in the US has never made a concrete difference in saving lives.

"These programs are about power," he argued during the event. For more than a decade, he claimed, mass surveillance has not countered terrorism, despite being justified on that premise.  

When asked by a W&M student whether increased surveillance could ever be justified, Snowden said he is less critical of targeted surveillance, in the event those watching use "the minimum amount of surveillance needed to achieve goals."

Targeted surveillance, he explained, has a "centuries-long track record" of saving lives. If someone has, for example, been associated with a terrorist group and demonstrated efforts to plan attacks, it's worth gathering information, Snowden said.

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Is Threat Intelligence Garbage?
Chris McDaniels, Chief Information Security Officer of Mosaic451,  5/23/2018
More Than Half of Users Reuse Passwords
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  5/24/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Shhh!  They're watching... And you have a laptop?  
Current Issue
Flash Poll
[Strategic Security Report] Navigating the Threat Intelligence Maze
[Strategic Security Report] Navigating the Threat Intelligence Maze
Most enterprises are using threat intel services, but many are still figuring out how to use the data they're collecting. In this Dark Reading survey we give you a look at what they're doing today - and where they hope to go.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-9641
PUBLISHED: 2018-05-25
PI Coresight 2016 R2 contains a cross-site request forgery vulnerability that may allow access to the PI system. OSIsoft recommends that users upgrade to PI Vision 2017 or greater to mitigate this vulnerability.
CVE-2018-10350
PUBLISHED: 2018-05-25
A SQL injection remote code execution vulnerability in Trend Micro Smart Protection Server (Standalone) 3.x could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on vulnerable installations due to a flaw within the handling of parameters provided to wcs_bwlists_handler.php. Authentication is requi...
CVE-2018-6232
PUBLISHED: 2018-05-25
A buffer overflow privilege escalation vulnerability in Trend Micro Maximum Security (Consumer) 2018 could allow a local attacker to escalate privileges on vulnerable installations due to a flaw within processing of IOCTL 0x22205C by the tmnciesc.sys driver. An attacker must first obtain the ability...
CVE-2018-6233
PUBLISHED: 2018-05-25
A buffer overflow privilege escalation vulnerability in Trend Micro Maximum Security (Consumer) 2018 could allow a local attacker to escalate privileges on vulnerable installations due to a flaw within processing of IOCTL 0x222060 by the tmnciesc.sys driver. An attacker must first obtain the ability...
CVE-2018-6234
PUBLISHED: 2018-05-25
An Out-of-Bounds Read Information Disclosure vulnerability in Trend Micro Maximum Security (Consumer) 2018 could allow a local attacker to disclose sensitive information on vulnerable installations due to a flaw within processing of IOCTL 0x222814 by the tmnciesc.sys driver. An attacker must first o...