Why is Yahoo sucking now

NSA sucks data from Google and Yahoo!

By Christoph Dernbach

The data sniffing by the Anglo-American secret services is obviously even larger than previously thought. If the latest revelations by the former secret service employee Edward Snowden correspond to reality, the US service NSA and its British partner GCHQ with their project "Muscular" intercept millions of data from the internal servers at Google and Yahoo every day.

These recent revelations of in-depth surveillance of the Google and Yahoo networks are not only threatening the businesses of the two Internet giants. They also fundamentally question the security of cloud services and Google's Android smartphone system.

Snowden had already revealed in early summer that the security authorities can gain access to the content and metadata on the Google and Yahoo servers via secret court orders. The gigantic secret data vacuum cleaner "Tempora", with which the British spy on transatlantic fiber optic cables, was also made public through the Snowden Papers. So far it was not known that the NSA and GCHQ services apparently additionally obtained direct access to data lines between the data centers of Google and Yahoo in order to satisfy their hunger for data. At least that is what the Washington Post claims, relying on documents from Snowden. Since breaking into the back door on American soil would be illegal, the services presumably made these attacks overseas.

Smartphones are also at risk

Google and Yahoo operate huge data centers around the world that are connected with fiber optic cables. According to Snowden's papers, these lines were tapped and allowed full access to the floppy hats. At Google, this could not only affect the email service GMail, but all cloud services - such as Google Docs, photos saved online, the search history associated with a Google account or the locations and routes determined by Google Maps. Smartphones with the Android system could also be massively affected, as they can hardly be operated without Google services. Then there is the metadata: who sent whom and from where an email? What was searched for on Google and where was the user found? This list can be extended almost indefinitely. The amount of data fished out by the NSA and its British helpers is therefore so large that it cannot be completely stored over a long period of time. For this reason, filter systems from the NSA should be used, which ensure that only a small part of the data is archived in the long term.

Given the dimensions of "Muscular", it is not surprising that the Google boss floor is raging: "We are upset about how far the government has apparently gone to tap data from our private fiber optic networks," said Chief Legal Counsel David Drummond. Those responsible for Google know very well that the business success of the group is massively threatened if the users lose trust in the services.

The first Snowden revelations in the summer had hardly led to public protests or even a turn away from cloud services, especially among Internet users in the USA. But meanwhile resistance is also stirring in the motherland of the Internet. And the recent revelations will give a further boost to critical initiatives like StopWatching.us.

Against this background, Google is accelerating activities to protect its internal data lines. The Internet giant had already started encrypting data traffic between its data centers last year. After the revelations about the NSA sniffing project “Prism” in June, the Google leadership decided to accelerate the crypto program, reported the “Information Week”. But even these measures will not convince all skeptical users. Google and Yahoo have some work to do to restore confidence in their services. (dpa)