There is a struggling artist at the NSA. And he illustrates their PowerPoints.


Somewhere inside the National Security Agency, there is a struggling artist. And that artist illustrates their PowerPoint presentations. Case in point: Alongside coverage of the NSA's use of leaked app data, ProPublica included a drawing of a wand-wielding fairy magically conjuring information from a box on a table urging you to "leave traffic here." According to the caption, in its original context: "The drawing seems to suggest that phones, and the data they transmit, are a magical intelligence gift to the agency."

This drawing and other internal documents leaked to the media by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden suggest that some members of the agency take a mischievous sort of joy in exploiting security vulnerabilities in the course of their surveillance activities. A previously leaked presentation about how the NSA hacked into the links between Google data centers showed a cheeky smiley face pointing to the part of the system where encryption was added and removed.

(Washington Post)
(The Washington Post)

But the fairy drawing seems to bear a greater resemblance to the art styles that accompanied a presentation about the offensive hacking system FOX ACID.

(Der Spiegel)

It's unclear whether the FOXACID and fairy illustrations come from the same artist, but the Switch thinks the handwriting on the SPAM can looks suspiciously similar to that of the sign on the fairy drawing.

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.



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