NSA monitored global financial transactions, report says

An NSA database, Tracfin, contained 180 million records in 2011, most of which were credit card transactions

A branch of the NSA has been collecting global financial data, including credit card transactions and data from SWIFT, which runs an international bank messaging system, according to a report Sunday from Der Spiegel.

The German publication provided details about a US National Security Agency branch called "Follow the Money" that inputs financial data into a system called "Tracfin" that it said came from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Tracfin contained 180 million records in 2011, of which some 84 percent of the data was comprised of credit card transactions, Der Spiegel reported. In an email statement Monday, the NSA said the U.S. government acquires economic and financial information related to terrorist financing and terror networks.

"This information is collected through regulatory, law enforcement, diplomatic, and intelligence channels, as well as through undertakings with cooperating foreign allies and partners," the statement said.

According to one presentation, the NSA sought to access Visa transactions for customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In a statement, Visa said it was not aware of unauthorized access to its network.

"Visa takes data security seriously and, in response any attempted intrusion, we would pursue all available remedies to the fullest extent of the law," the company said. "Further, it's Visa's policy to only provide transaction information in response to a subpoena or other valid legal process."

NSA analysts described at an internal conference how they apparently successfully searched through Visa's "complex transaction network for tapping possibilities," the publication reported, citing other documents.

The NSA's Tracfin data also contained information from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT. SWIFT, a cooperative owned by around 8,000 financial institutions, runs a messaging service that enables worldwide financial transactions between banks.

Der Spiegel reported that SWIFT was a target of spying by the NSA's "tailored access operations" division, which collected printer traffic data from numerous banks.

In 2006, an independent panel set up by the European Commission found that SWIFT violated European Union and Belgian data privacy laws by turning over information to U.S. authorities for terrorism investigations.

After the attacks on the U.S. on Sept 11, 2001, SWIFT responded to court orders to hand over messaging information to the U.S. Treasury Department to track financial transactions by suspected terrorists.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags visasecuritySociety for Worldwide Interbank Financial TelecommunicationU.S. National Security Agency

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?