From sophisticated satellites that vacuum up virtually every form of telecommunications to high speed computers that can break even the most sophisticated encryption, there is very little a person can do in the modern world that can’t be monitored. That doesn’t even begin to count surveillance satellites, drones and other tools the watchful eyes of the government have at its disposal. Even real spies, who have the backing of government resources when it comes to producing credentials, are having trouble with new biometric scanning at airports and borders.
Even your local police are getting into the surveillance act with license plate readers, a vast network of traffic cameras, stingray devices that can track and monitor cell phones and the ability to assemble video footage from a host of private businesses. With all the surveillance resources out there, it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that it’s almost impossible to completely escape surveillance these days and you have to go to crazy lengths to even make it hard for someone to monitor what you’re doing.
Odds Are In Your Favor
First, some perspective is in order. A recent hack exposed that the FBI has roughly 35,000 total employees, not counting contractor support. Law enforcement experts estimate that it takes roughly 45 people to provide round the clock surveillance of an individual. That means if every employee of the FBI did nothing but surveillance, the agency could watch fewer than a thousand people. Unless you’re a major player in a drug cartel or a terrorist kingpin, you’re probably not worth that kind of manpower. That means, if the government wants to watch you, they’re limited to gadget surveillance.
High Tech Monitoring
Almost any electronic device can be turned into a monitoring device. Cell phones, computers, tablets, even your car’s entertainment system can all be borked to supply Uncle Sam with real-time monitoring of your every move. Monitoring financial transactions these days is also fairly trivial, so assume the government could get real time data about where you’re spending money. Now it’s not just the FBI but the NSA and CIA with the resources to listen to every conversation. Much of the information we have about the NSA’s capabilities comes to us from Edward Snowden. We know that the NSA has the capability of sweeping in virtually all of your electronic communications from cell phones and the internet.
You’re Just Not Worth It
Again, it comes down to resource allocation. The NSA, DHS and FBI are more concerned with monitoring potential terrorists than you. Even with sophisticated gadget security, all that data still has to be reviewed by an actual person. Right now the government is collecting massive amounts of garbage data and it’s easy for an individual to get lost in the shuffle. We’ve seen radicalized individuals slip through the net to launch attacks in the U.S. Those that have been caught came to the attention of authorities via a tip from a watchful citizen.
Easy To Be Difficult
It’s also frustratingly easy for you to make gadget monitoring insanely difficult and resource intensive. Using simple and free tools, like JavaScrypt it’s easy to make your routine communications almost impossible to read. You can take a simple text message and turn it into the character jumble you see below.
##### Encrypted: decrypt with http://www.fourmilab.ch/javascrypt/
ZZZZZ STNKF DKXFK VDLEQ RUFOS MVGCE SEXJB XHETH GKQFU PBILS XPPVK WTNEE BLMTE NSEUS MWMMV HEIFT JDOVN OWIKP QSFXC TTWKO UESWN ENAWG EBCGA DVWAJ BSSCE XCAPG MPJMP XAXNS QXFXW SSEEF KFSKX JHRFR DHWQQ HETWM NDACQ NTKXR OFLUD BXJEB IIFNG DLNAI FNEQF QBFOH WVRNE RJEGB PLFMA FXVFF DDPGW VFIDW ASXEV RUTNP TRBKX CEMOL MMKBF HIQCP IKDDL WQOCS LTUMC HDNKW PSQTB LFTGI NXIPI TMHFK MDHLK RSKNE PJKTA EOIJS HASCK DPVPR HXQIX TAMOI TRGKQ BUBGO GORJV XKPHE BAIUK DICFF VQRHW VLKSK DEUJC ILINC WBWAC QBDXD LIVVL RFINX SCBUE QAEJN CSKTH TURVJ TBAUJ DBJXV HGSCS RQPSC EHGAF BKAPI LFIEX OFHBJ KAFJB YYYYY
##### End encrypted message
To decrypt this message just follow the directions on the JavaScrypt page and copy/paste the title of this article as the decoding key.
Gadget security has its limitations and the government is limited by manpower considerations. It’s also trivial to employ fairly good cryptography to hide the things you want to keep hidden. The more people encrypting routine communications, the bigger the headache for Big Brother.