When I first heard about the PRISM mass surveillance program, conducted by the United States National Security Agency (NSA), I thought it was an hoax. Primarily, because up until then that kind of stuff belonged to Hollywood movies only, at least for the uninformed me. But as the news snowballed and caught the attention of the media, worldwide, the reality of mass surveillance programs and their implications started to dawn on me. I felt cautious and curious.
Around an year back I came across a book called, The Snowden Files authored by Luke Harding and published by Vintage Books. It presented a detailed account of why and how Edward Snowden blew the whistle on one of the most covert operations. It spoke in length about the PRISM program, it’s constituents and how the United States of America and it’s allies are leveraging it to establish their dominance in the global political regime. It also gave an insight into similar programs being conducted by other nations like China, Russia, Germany etc.
Given the nature of the task undertaken by Edward Snowden, one would wonder what instigated or motivated him to do it in the first place. He did it for the greater good, of course, but at what cost? His life became a living hell. The book delves deep into his background and motivations for blowing the whistle. While his intentions and his act are debatable but nonetheless they did got people thinking. At least now we know that the Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984 is watching us though not as actively yet.
This book is a must read if you’re interested in mass surveillance and how it impacts an average citizen. You’ll get an insight into the type of technology intelligence agencies have access to, the depth of research conducted by them and, most importantly, why you must watch your actions while using various communication mediums facilitated by today’s technologies. You might think you’re of no interest to them but give them one reason and they’ll dig up your entire history.
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Uday Mittal (OSCP, Associate CISSP, DCPP) is the founder of Yaksas CSC. He has over 4 years of experience in dealing with various issues related to cyber security. He is actively working towards educating people on cyber security risks and steps to mitigate them. He’s also a member of (ISC)2, ISACA and DSCI.