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Secret GCHQ system can map web connections of entire countries

The British spy agency GCHQ can map internet connections of entire countries and log all of this data automatically in minutes, it has been revealed

By Tamlin Magee on Aug 18, 2014 07:13 am CDT - 0 mins, 49 secs reading time

Britain's GCHQ spy agency, which was revealed to be working in partnership with America's NSA to monitor the online communications of pretty much everyone ever, has been scanning the internet connections of entire countries in order to find weaknesses its agents can exploit.

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According to documents obtained by Heise Online, a GCHQ programme called Hacienda examines every single internet address in a country to find out what kinds of connections are being used and any software running in tandem with those addresses. Weaknesses are reported back to agents - allowing them to gain access to steal user data, or alternatively, to put phishing websites in place of legitimate ones. Hacienda looks at protocols like SSH and SNMP, as well as HTTP and FTP.

The documents state there's another system, called Olympia, which is capable of scanning all the information in just minutes and automatically. Five countries are reported to have had all of this data, although it's not yet public which countries these are.

Tamlin Magee

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Tamlin Magee

Tamlin Magee is based in London. His name can be found around the web and in print, and he's mostly interested in the ways the rapid rate of technological development is affecting us and our surroundings.

NEWS SOURCES:gizmodo.co.uk, heise.de

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