Friday, May 10, 2013

How The NSA Used The Internet

It says used instead of uses because the handbook guide the gentleman produced for them was outdated before it was published and he even told them that.

The handbook Untangling The Web was printed back in 2007 when internet technology was still exploding and some of the resources mentioned no longer exist.

Still, it is a very useful tool and can be used to this day.

The NSA is collecting millions of emails and phone calls from normal Americans, but sometimes they've got to use Google like you and me. The 642-page guidebook Untangling The Web (pdf) was written in 2007 by Robyn Winder and Charlie Speight, according to MuckRock, which obtained the document in a FOIA request. The guide is written in a surprisingly down-to-earth, equivocating style for a book published by an organization whose headquarters looks like something from the Minority Report set, full of literary references and light-hearted asides.


You can download the .pdf file for yourself and peruse it at your leisure here.

One of the more intriguing parts of the manual is a section that gives researches tips on "Google hacking." Also known as "Google dorking," the technique relies on using creative Google searches to turn up information accidentally made public on the web. "In short," according to Untangling The Web, "it's using clever but legal techniques to find information that doesn't belong on the public internet." This includes "personal and/or financial information," "userids, computer or account logins, passwords," and "sensitive government information." For example, one can search for "stock words and phrase" that might signal sensitive data such as "Proprietary, confidential, not for distribution, etc." Coupled with searches for specific filetypes, especially excel spreadsheets and Word Documents, one might stumble upon some nugget of secret info.

I will admit I have been busier than a one legged man at an ass kicking contest lately and have not had time to read the whole thing but I have it and plan to read it thoroughly because it it has some seriously helpful internet browsing tips in it.

Nice to know one of the most powerful and secretive government agencies in the world had to have it's own version of The Idiots Guide To The Internet though.

idiots guide

Speaking of the internet, I would like to thank FARK for the link to GAWKER who had the link to MuckRock who actually did the FOI request to get the damn thing.

Ain't the internets grand?

Cross posted over at Ornery Bastard.


  1. I like your blog, and I put it in my links.

  2. Why thank you. I returned the favor and when I get a minute I will zip over and give it a read.
    I just got home from work and am catching up on the days activities.

    1. LOL, somehow it doesn't come out right in print when I say "Why thank you.

      Let me rephrase that.

      Thank you very much.


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