A virtual private network, or VPN, is a method used by people all around the world to have a more secure and private connection on the internet. Businesses use them for internal communications and storage; journalists and dissidents use them to get around blocked sites in restrictive countries; and many people use them just to visit websites that are outside their region. While they’ve generally been trustworthy for years, they aren’t bulletproof. From the information in newly released documents, it seems that the NSA has found a way to get around them and spy on users.
While it may not be surprising that the NSA has found another way to violate people’s privacy, some of the naming conventions this time around are kind of hilarious. When the NSA cracks a VPN, it stores all of its traffic in a repository call VULCANDEATHGRIP. A different repository is set up just for SSL data and it’s called VULCANMINDMELD. If the traffic turns out to be of interest, it’s processed by a system called TURTLEPOWER.
Ok NSA, we know your people are nerds and all, but it kinda sucks that we now have to associate beloved pop culture figures with your programs. You can take our privacy, but you’ll never take our Ninja Turtles.