We already knew from the Snowden leaks in 2013 that governments around the world had been spying on their citizens through the use of various technologies. We now know that at least one spy agency, GCHQ in the UK, enlisted the help of New Zealand network monitoring vendor Endace. Here’s what we know.
The company helped the GCHQ develop interception technology that allowed the agency to capture vast amounts of data at speeds of up to 100Gbps from trans-continental undersea cables that carried internet traffic. Endace had reportedly used New Zealand taxpayer money to help fund the development of this technology.
Endace is known for its network monitoring offerings and it recently began getting into the Internet-of-things (IoT) business by partnering with Cisco. On the surface, it’s just a vendor dealing with technology to help businesses secure their networks by offering them visibility. Behind the scenes, Endace has been dabbling in the lucrative global spy trade for the past decade, according to leaked documents obtained by The Intercept.
Since 2010, Endace has been paid by the GCHQ for tools to monitor and store internet traffic that go through undersea fibre cables. This culminated in the creation of an interception tool called Medusa that was able to capture internet traffic at up to 100Gbps. The Intercept noted that leaked documents from the GCHQ had talked about Endace products when referring to data that can be used to discern people's usage of online services such as Gmail, Hotmail, WhatsApp and Facebook.
According to the Intercept, the documents also revealed that Medusa was partially funded by research grants Endace received from the New Zealand government.
Unsurprisingly, the GCHQ, Endace and the New Zealand government have refused to respond specifically about the report by the Intercept.
It is also worth noting that Endace's leaked customer list showed that it worked with government agencies from around the world including the Canadian and Australian defence departments, Morocco's spy operation, the US Army, the US Navy, the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and Denmark's Defense Intelligence Service.
Endace's commercial customers include Telstra, Verizon, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley.
[Via The Intercept]