Until recently, little was known about how data was collected and analyzed by the NSA as part of the “war on terror.” A report from Wired.com explains in great detail how the FBI quietly built a sophisticated system that performs instant wiretaps on almost any communications device.
The information was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The surveillance system is called DCSNet, short for Digital Collection System Network. It connects FBI wiretapping rooms to switches controlled by the phone companies, cellular companies and internet-telephony providers and is deeply woven into the telecom infrastructures.
DCSNet is a suite of software used to collect, sift and store phone numbers, phone calls and text messages. Although several details of the system were redacted in the document acquired by the EFF, it’s known that DCSNet includes at least three collection components that run on Windows-based computers:
- The DCS-3000, aka Red Hook handles pen-registers and trap-and-traces — collects numbers dialed from a telephone
- The DCS-5000 is a classified system used for wiretaps targeting spies and terrorists
- The DCS-6000 aka Digital Storm captures and collects content of phone calls and text messages