The NSA is good at gaining access to the computers of others, but its own systems were not good enough to prevent former contractor Edward Snowden from walking way with over 200,000 classified information, which are now out in the public and hurting the agency's reputation considerably. The big question, however is, how did Snowden manage to walk away with that amount of information in the first place? The answer might surprise you.
One might have believed that Edward Snowden pulled off a stunt similar to that of James Bond or any other super spies in the movies, but that isn't the case. According to the New York Times, Snowden used a standard web crawler tool to get the job done. For those not aware, a web crawler tool is used to index websites for search engines, so we find it utterly surprising that such a simple tool was behind this mess the NSA is currently in.
"Using "web crawler" software designed to search, index and back up a website, Mr. Snowden "scraped data out of our systems" while he went about his day job, according to a senior intelligence official. "We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a machine and downloading this much material in sequence," the official said. The process, he added, was "quite automated," said the New York Times.
Furthermore, it is understood that Snowden was very lucky in his scheming. Apparently, the NSA has a defense on such practices to swipe information via a web crawler tool. However, Snowden was able to get away with his plans since the Hawaii outpost where he was stationed was not yet upgraded with the new security measures designed to pick up on such activities.
Strangely enough, Snowden's activities were questioned a few times, but he was able to come up with good excuses to get out of the bind.
"In at least one instance when he was questioned, Mr. Snowden provided what were later described to investigators as legitimate-sounding explanations for his activities: As a systems administrator he was responsible for conducting routine network maintenance. That could include backing up the computer systems and moving information to local servers, investigators were told," reports the New York Times.
This information proves how incompetent the NSA is on securing its own files. It's an embarrassment, one that will be felt for years to come.