Research Nugget #1

Link #1:

(2014, January). More NSA revelations: backdoors, snooping tools and worldwide reactions.Network Security. ELSEVIER. Retrieved from

The author’s main claim is the conflicting legal judgments in the US concerning the NSA’s recent spying activates. This article explains how the NSA gathered its intelligence, and through convincing evidence this article concludes that what the NSA was doing was wrong; that they should have done what they did differently.


“There have been two conflicting legal judgments in the US concerning the NSA’s activities. One federal judge, US District Judge Richard Leon in Washington DC, held the spying to be an infringement of the US Constitution and “almost-Orwellian”. “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systemic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” he wrote in a case brought by five people against the US Government. However, US District Judge William Pauley of New York ruled that the NSA’s bulk interception of phone metadata was lawful. It’s not clear whether the US Supreme Court will rule on this contradiction.”

What the majority of Americans are thinking right away after seeing what the NSA has done according to Snowden’s leaks are to condemn it for its “wrongful” actions. This general negativity towards the NSA has implications to why the US District Judge Richard Leon said what he said in the nugget above. But still some like US District Judge William Pauley don’t think of it like Leon did. So in short the discussion is still not definitive as most believe it is, according to this article.


“Other tools allow for the exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities on networking and other equipment. Many of these exploitable flaws are not known outside the NSA, or have been bought from companies such as Vupen. It has also been revealed that the NSA intercepts Windows crash reports – which are sent over the Internet in clear text – as a way of building a profile of potential vulnerabilities on target systems. In addition, it has been alleged that the TAO office has intercepted shipments of PCs in order to install malware on them. And it seems the NSA is working on a quantum computer that would be able to crack all encryption – although it’s likely that’s some way off yet.”

This nugget shows how far the NSA spying operations went, and some companies and software that was effected by it. And also it seems that the NSA was also working on a way to improve their intelligence gathering by creating quantum computers that could be able to break all encryptions and ultimately make all information in the world accessible to them, in short a dream come true for the NSA.


Finkbeiner, A. (2013, October 8). Researchers split over NSA hacking. nature news. Retrieved from

The article illustrates the importance of researchers around the USA for the NSA. And also states some of what the researchers think about this whole intelligence leak situation on the news that the NSA is involved in. According to this article researchers are a vital part in the NSA’s intelligence gathering process.


“The US National Security Agency (NSA) has upset a great many people this year. Since June, newspapers have been using documents leaked by former intelligence worker Edward Snowden to show how the secretive but powerful agency has spied on the communications of US citizens and foreign governments. Last month, the media reported that the NSA, which is based in Fort Meade, Maryland, had undermined Internet security standards. The revelations have sparked international outrage at the highest levels — even the president of Brazil cancelled a visit to the United States because of the spying.”

This explains the situation that the NSA is in right now because of former NSA intelligence employee Snowden’s leaks to the news. Not only are most of the Americans sad about this news, but also foreign governments are responding to this news in a similar way too.


“Mathematicians and the NSA are certainly interdependent. The agency declares that it is the United States’ largest math employer, and Samuel Rankin, director of the Washington DC office of the American Mathematical Society, estimates that the agency hires 30–40 mathematicians every year. The NSA routinely holds job fairs on university campuses, and academic researchers can work at the agency on sabbaticals. In 2013, the agency’s mathematical sciences program offered more than US$3.3 million in research grants. Furthermore, the NSA has designated more than 150 colleges and universities as centers of excellence, which qualifies students and faculty members for extra support. It can also fund research indirectly through other agencies, and so the total amount of support may be much higher. A leaked budget document says that the NSA spends more than $400 million a year on research and technology — although only a fraction of this money might go to research outside the agency itself.”

This signifies the methods the NSA are up to in order to obtain their research and development which is always vital in their operations. The NSA supports constant research all over the USA in order to propel their intelligence gathering programs, like PRISM. The researchers are reliant on the NSA for funds and the NSA is reliant on the researchers  for results from their research, and thus are interdependent of one another.


(2014, March 21). NSA Spying on Americans: How the NSA’s Domestic Spying Program Works. Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved from

The article illustrates exactly how the NSA’s intelligence gathering works. The process works in may different interlocking parts but when all put together creates an almost perfect image of what really goes on in America in real time. The author is trying to inform Americans about how exactly the NSA works.


“In the weeks after 9/11, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct a range of surveillance activities inside the United States, which had been barred by law and agency policy for decades. When the NSA’s spying program was first exposed by the New York Times in 2005, President Bush admitted to a small aspect of the program—what the administration labeled the “Terrorist Surveillance Program”—in which the NSA monitored, without warrants, the communications of between 500-1000 people inside the US with suspected connections to Al Qaeda.”

This sheds some light on the history of the NSA and what led up to the headline in the news about the NSA spying on Americans. 2014 also wasn’t the first time the NSA was exposed, and thus suggest that some leaks where made even earlier than Snowden’s about the NSA’s surveillance. This also shows the initial intent of the NSA surveillance program, which was to track down and gather intelligence about possible terrorist activities and possible connections to Al Qaeda.


“It works like this: when you send an email or otherwise use the internet, the data travels from your computer, through telecommunication companies’ wires and fiber optics networks, to your intended recipient. To intercept these communications, the government installed devices known as “fiber-optic splitters” in many of the main telecommunication junction points in the United States (like the AT&T facility in San Francisco). These splitters make exact copies of the data passing through them: then, one stream is directed to the government, while the other stream is directed to the intended recipients.”

This explains the exact method that most data in the US travels in order to reach the NSA for intelligence gathering. Telecommunication companies partner with the NSA and give them intelligence and the NSA sorts through them and tries to find patterns, gather intelligence, safe data for later use, and may other activities as well. But recently there has been some companies that have spoken, that deny any knowledge of the NSA using their data like this.


All three article relate to one another and help paint a brighter picture of the method the NSA uses in order to perform their domestic surveillance program. And the articles show just how much the NSA can pour into getting intelligence, some would say that their resources are endless, with an average of $400 million dollar only going into research alone annually each year. Also the articles did provide an extra subject of matter that was unknown to me until now, other than my research question, which was how the people felt about this NSA dilemma , from politicians, to researchers, to the average American public, a board scope of opinion and statements where made. This extra part that came from this research could prove to be quite helpful in making a interesting and cliffhanger like conclusion to my inquiry paper. And after reading My Research Strategy post again I can see now how all this research came together and what my results where from this assignment.


**Please note that APA citation was used from the information provided in each source and was done to the best of my ability**



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