It’s not really a surprise anymore, since basically everything will be abused and monitored – if possible – but for those which aren’t involved in the security topics – Edward Snowden is behind the new information writings by The Intercept revealing that the NSA has been tracking Bitcoin users since 2013.
Snowden has classified documentation that shows the NSA has access to the various fiber optic cables that have the entire of the internet running through them.
NSA Worked to Track Bitcoin Users
The Intercept states the following:
“As of 2013, the NSA’s Bitcoin tracking was achieved through program code-named OAKSTAR, a collection of covert corporate partnerships enabling the agency to monitor communications, including by harvesting internet data as it traveled along fiber optic cables that undergird the internet”.
MONKEYROCKET was used which is a sub-program of OAKSTAR itself, which gathers data from the Middle East, Europe, South America, and Asia. MONKEYROCKET, according to Truth in Media, is “also apparently falsely promoted to the public as a tool for anonymity. The documents describe MONKEYROCKET as a “non-Western Internet anonymization service” with a “significant user base” in Iran and China”.The NSA designed MONKEYROCKET in order to “attract targets engaged in terrorism, [including] Al Qaida” to use the “browsing product,” which “the NSA can then exploit”. We all know this as a honey pot, but the NSA knows it as MONKEYROCKET.
Silk Road was an illegal platform to buy weapons, drugs, … The documents showing that the program may have been used to illegally gather information to obtain data from all Silk Road users but it’s unclear if these data were enough to expose the owner or not.
… although the documents leaked by Snowden do not address whether the NSA aided the FBI’s Silk Road investigation, they show the agency working to unmask Bitcoin users about six months before Ulbricht was arrested.
Tor and other project funded by the U.S. government
Another paper shows that almost all projects are related to funds from th U.S. Government. Which is a big problems because that might bring them in a position to take control over it’s developing process, some servers and it would bring them in the position to gather information in order to deanonymize the entire network.
If you thought you were safe out there in the blockchain, think again – everything involving Bitcoin and most likely all cryptocurrencies, no matter the security layers or how many effort you spent to secure them.
Some people, organizations and the government will always try to get the data, no matter which protocol or which platforms, that’s not really a surprise anymore. Sadly, Snowden never gives an answer to the question how to avoid this or ideas how to make it better, encryption at some point is weak because we still use old algorithm which are 25 years old.
And another thing I only can criticize here is that not all the documents he possess have been leaked.