Since the former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, became a whistleblower the world has realized the extent of their loss of privacy. People around the world have been tracked in many ways by the “five eyes” nations that include the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
A recent leak from Snowden has revealed the United Kingdom GCHQ’s “BADASS” secret surveillance program. According to the leaked documents, “intelligence agents applied BADASS software filters to streams of intercepted internet traffic, plucking from that traffic unencrypted uploads from smartphones to servers run by advertising and analytics companies,” found The Intercept.
BADASS is apparently an acronym that stands for “BEGAL Automated Deployment And Survey System.” However, it is not clear what “BEGAL” stands for.
The BADASS slideshow presentation is called “Mobile apps doubleheader: BADASS Angry Birds,” and promises “protocols exploitation in a rapidly changing world.”
BADASS analysts are able to write “rules” that look for specific types of tracking information as it travels across the internet. For example, when someone opens an app that loads an ad, their phone normally sends an unencrypted web request (called an HTTP request) to the ad network’s servers. If this request gets intercepted by spy agencies and fed into the BADASS program, it then gets filtered through each rule to see if one applies to the request. If it finds a match, BADASS can then automatically pull out the juicy information.
Additionally, the BADASS presentation mentions the capability of capturing GPS coordinates that get leaked when opening BlackBerry’s app store.
See the full details on how your privacy is being exploited from the (not so) BADASS program here.