Five Eyes: An intelligence alliance that includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US.
Interested in surfing the Internet securely? Don’t like the idea of cybercriminals and others snooping on what you view? If you said “yes” to either question, or are interested in most any other security-related issue, you might be a target of the Five Eyes or, at least, one of the agencies involved.
What Makes them Pay Attention?
There are any number of legitimate reasons that intelligence agencies might get interested in someone based on what they look at online. Obviously, someone interested in extremist groups will, and arguably should, be watched.
You don’t have to be interested in extremism of any kind, however, to get intelligence agencies interested in you, according to multiple sources.
Tor, for instance, has been a thorn in the side of the NSA for a long time. It’s considered one of the biggest threats to the intelligence agency’s ability to gather information and using it might get you targeted.
According to Defense One, the NSA uses the XKeyscore tool to monitor the Tor network. Tor servers at MIT have been targeted for monitoring, along with nine others, according to German media, referenced in the Defense One article.
It seems that using Tor isn’t the only thing that will make the Five Eyes take a look at you. In fact, if you’re interested in privacy tools in general, it’s likely that alone will get their attention.
For instance, maybe you’re a bit put off by the way that Microsoft insists on monitoring what you do if you’re running their Windows operating system. Being a savvy individual, you decide that Linux’s superior security and open-source nature are more appealing.
Searching for information on Linux will get you watched. The same thing applies for checking out information on other privacy tools, and probably even looking up information on VPNs.
As Laissez Faire points out, from the NSA’s perspective, anyone who wants to protect their privacy online is a potential threat. Essentially, being smart about protecting yourself from identity theft and other very real, very common threats means that the NSA and, potentially, other agencies, want to take a look at what you’re doing.
Can You Protect Yourself from the Snooping?
The NSA does make efforts to weaken encryption and to spy on the Tor network, but that doesn’t mean you’re helpless.
According to Edward Snowden, in fact:
“Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on.”
He goes on to say, however, that endpoints are commonly exploited.
While it might get you noticed by the Five Eyes, encrypting your Internet traffic, email and other communications seems to make sense right now. You can use a VPN to handle the Internet portion.
If you’re wondering if you’re someone who needs to protect their privacy, even reading this article could have gotten you noticed, so it’s likely a good idea to go ahead and start securing your communications as much as possible. It would be nice to say that you never know who’s watching but, increasingly, it seems to be pretty obvious who’s watching us, though their reasons don’t always make sense.