‘ScareMail’ Browser Extension Seeks To Confuse And Overload NSA Monitoring Systems

/ 3 years ago


Benjamin Grosser, a software developer from Illinois, has developed something he has called Scaremail – a browser extension he claims will foil, or at least damage, the NSA’s surveillance attempts. By now we all know that the NSA actively monitors all emails and online chats in the USA and across the world, trying to filter out key buzzwords like “Al-Qaeda”, “hostage”, “bomb” and so on. Scaremail is browser extension that plays on this list of “selector” terms used by the NSA in its Xkeyscore monitoring program. Scaremail works with Gmail to insert selector terms randomly into emails and chat messages, which get sent to yourself.

Grosser claims to have used leaked documents to compile a full list of selector terms used by the NSA and integrate this into his Scaremail program. An example of one of the sentences he developed includes:

“Captain Beatty failed on his Al-Shabaab, hacking relentlessly about the fact to phish this far, and strand her group on the wall-to-wall in calling suspicious packages”

The result is that each randomly generated sentences includes so many selector terms it will automatically notify the NSA’s filters several times and draw their attention towards it. Scaremail took him around 3 weeks to build and he hopes if enough people use it will totally overload the NSA’s surveillance system that is based on the monitoring of key selector words.

Benjamin Grosser explains that the “ability to use whatever words we want is one of our most basic freedoms, yet the NSA’s growing surveillance of electronic speech threatens our first amendment rights… ScareMail reveals one of the primary flaws of the NSA’s surveillance efforts: words do not equal intent.”

See more details on his Scaremail project here.

Image courtesy of Benjamin Grosser

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  • toppris

    Someone give this man a medal!

    • Really, you dimwit, really? You applaud this idiot for what he’s doing?

      • James Armstrong

        It’s clever, but also not clever.
        Imagine if they traced your IP to your very house.

        • Patrick Ratatoskr Baxter

          Then you could come all the way to Australia, wasting american taxmoney, to ask if they can look at my computer. To which I’d say no.

          Yes. I see your point. Taxmoney.

          • James Armstrong

            Well the government aren’t clever, and wouldn’t surprise me if they were to travel stupid distances. I understand the whole act of trying to prevent terrorism etc, but also freedom of speech is equally as important, if not more.

            I personally believe there isn’t a way to counter-act this balance between freedom and protection. The internet has become far too populated to act on everyone’s actions. Bad things will happen regardless in the world, and targeting .01% of people and arresting them is mainly a waste of time and money.

  • Pete

    Given that certain Hoaxes and wasting police time are criminal offenses in many parts of the world using this seems foolish.

    • Robert Lee Dunn SR

      Its the NSA, FBI, Police’s time to waste not ours…. not only that but them spying on us is a violation of our rights…. seems to me that all american’s sue the government for violating our rights. I would think if everyone sues for 10 Million a piece that the government would make changes that spying would be illegal.

  • simo

    What a noob, Greatly increasing the risk of real terrorist action not being caught and risking the lives of millions, someone give this man a slap round the head!

  • G

    Pretty sure this thing must be breaking some laws, deliberately helping terrorists etc.

  • Ema Nymton

    All the NSA have to do is set a filter for the phrase “Following Text Generated by ScareMail” and it has suddenly all become a waste of time.

    • Interpoop

      One does not simply set a filter of that phrase.

      • GeneralChaos13

        LULZ off topic i like ur Avatar Pic XD

      • pickaname

        But then wouldn’t real terrorists use that phrase to bypass MSA’s systems? lol

        • pickaname


  • GeneralChaos13

    LOVE IT Perfect to get back at those Cyber Terrorist Called NSA this Evil will Fall by r own hands and this Evil NSA should not be here