The National Security Agency is looking to beef up its spying capabilities with the help of supercomputing. Data gathering and storing capabilities, as well as cryptanalysis, plays an integral role in keeping the country safe from threats. And now, using one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers and a new NSA facility in Utah, Stellar Wind, the NSA’s new site, is expected to be fully operational in 2013.
The new facility is reportedly more than five times the size of the U.S. Capitol and costs $2 billion. The site’s main focus is “collecting and analyzing data flowing from emails, phone calls, receipts, and other sources,” cites a recent report. The NSA will also now be able to store much more data than before, a necessary move given data’s recent growth. According to a 2007 DOD report, “the Pentagon is attempting to expand its worldwide communications network, known as the Global Information Grid, to handle yottabytes (1024 bytes) of data.”
According to a former NSA crypto-mathematician, the agency “has intercepted roughly between 15 to 20 trillion ‘communications’ since the 9/11 attacks.” These communications include anything and everything from financial transactions and travel plans to emails and phone calls. Of course, much of this data is encrypted, hence the need to extract the data with the use of supercomputing.
“To extract the information,” the report says, “the NSA had to employ brute force algorithms, and that require[s] a lot of computing power.”