Almost everybody knows about the massive surveillance program carried out by UK’s GCHQ. It’s an open secret now. It continued with zero accountability in the years before Edward Snowden’s leaks. Until today it was not known that who or which companies were helping UK’s GCHQ to upgrade and expand its spying campaign. Newly obtained documents by The Intercept and Television New Zealand shows that GCHQ purchased large amounts of “data acquisition” systems and “probes” from Endace which is a New-Zealand company that specializes in network data recording. UK’s GCHQ wanted to improve its monitoring of high-speed internet cables from 87 10Gbps lines in 2009 to 800 by 2013 and this New-Zealand company helped attain this goal.
These gears were not normal, they were custom made for GCHQ’s operations. Endace developed a special system named “Medusa” for GCHQ’s that can intercept data flowing at up to 100Gbps.
There is an important thing to notice that GCHQ is not its main customer and all its products are not spying equipment. Endace has government, telecom, and a bunch of financial institutions on its client list. That includes Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America. These companies are yet to give a statement about whether they use this type of equipment or not. Sprint revealed earlier this year that they bought “lawful intercept” devices which will only be used in extreme situations to get information of customers for the police.
The Endace connection shows how the surveillance business really works. It’s not only homemade devices, there are large companies that provide backup to do large scale mass surveillance for profit.