Software systems: All swept up: An initial classification of NSA surveillance technology

M. Cayford, C. Van Gulijk, P. H A J M Van Gelder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The study was initiated as part of the FP7 SURVEILLE project commissioned by the European Commission. The goal is to examine the mass surveillance technology used by the NSA in the programs revealed by the Snowden leaks. This paper forms the basis from which to study the effectiveness of these surveillance technologies. Novelty: While there have been a lot of headlines regarding what the NSA is purportedly doing, discussion of the technology used to do this is scarce to nonexistent. There is also the problem of different programs being revealed via different media sources, thus making it difficult to know and follow the information being revealed regarding NSA programs. This paper attempts to bring the NSA programs and methods into one place, categorize those that are similar, and analyze the probable surveillance systems used. Relevance: This work is the beginning of developing a method of evaluating the effectiveness of surveillance technologies, the lack of which is notable in government oversight mechanisms. Methods and findings: The methods for this research begin with a review and analysis of the leaked NSA information and documents. Further, a study of articles delving deeper into the NSA programs is conducted. Lastly, the research focuses on a technical understanding of the technology involved through readings and interviews with experts. It is found that these numerous programs can be classified in a few categories of surveillance technology. This initial study forms for the basis for evaluation of the effectiveness of these technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSafety and Reliability
Subtitle of host publicationMethodology and Applications
EditorsTomasz Nowakowski, Marek Młyńczak, Anna Jodejko-Pietruczuk, Sylwia Werbińska-Wojchiechowska
PublisherCRC Press/Balkema
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780429226823, 9781315736976
ISBN (Print)9781138026810
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventEuropean Safety and Reliability Conference - Wroclaw, Poland
Duration: 14 Sep 201418 Sep 2014


ConferenceEuropean Safety and Reliability Conference
Abbreviated titleESREL 2014

Cite this