The agency accessed fiber optic connections between servers, Snowden documents show.
More documents from the Edward Snowden leak show that the National Security Agency has tapped Google and Yahoo's cloud networks to access massive amounts of data, including from Americans.
The report released Wednesday by The Washington Post indicates that the NSA has gained access to the fiber optic connections between the servers that power each company's network.
According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — ranging from “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.
When you send email or store files with an internet company, that data is regularly shared among servers around the world, in order to ensure quick access to your information from wherever you happen to be. Google and Yahoo run customized private networks to shuttle that information around, passing between and within countries, as the Post indicates in a graphic. To move that information, the companies use fiber optic connections, light-speed networks running over thin glass cables. According to the Post, it's those connections that the NSA is able to monitor. None of Yahoo's inter-server traffic is encrypted. Not all of Google's are either, prompting a little smiley face in a slide obtained by the Post.