Google 'outraged' by claims NSA hacked its data links
NSA diagram showing how to glean data includes smiley face in 'cheeky victory over Google security'
GOOGLE has expressed "outrage" at claims that the US National Security Agency (NSA) hacked its main communication links which carry its users' data around the world.
The Washington Post says that millions of records – including text, audio and video, as well as 'metadata', which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when – were gleaned daily from Google and Yahoo's internal networks.
The report, based on documents leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden, claims the data was then sifted by an NSA programme called Muscular, operated with its British counterpart GCHQ.
The leaked documents include a hand-drawn diagram that appears to show how the spy agency could secretly hack into Google's data centres. It even includes a smiley face, which the Washington Post describes as a "cheeky celebration of victory over Google security".
Two engineers with close ties to Google reportedly "exploded in profanity" when they saw the drawing.
Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, said the company was "outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fibre networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform".
He added that Google had not been aware of the alleged activity but had "long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping".
The hacking reportedly took place outside of the US, meaning it was subject to fewer legal constraints.
Gen Keith Alexander, NSA's director, has said the agency is "not authorised to go into a US company's servers and take data". The agency later released a carefully worded statement, denying that it used a specific presidential order to circumvent the restrictions on domestic spying. However, The Guardian notes that this is not a direct denial of the rest of the claims.
A spokesman for Yahoo said the company had "strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centres" and had not given access to its data centres to the NSA or to any other government agency. A GCHQ spokesman said it was aware of the story but did not have any comment. ·