This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS - See his portfolio and get alerts BEFORE every trade. Learn more NOW!

Google Gets Hacked Off

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - The cascading revelations of former NSA analyst Edward Snowden have deeply embarrassed one of the world's top intelligence gatherers, stirring outrage in high places.

The victim in this case isn't the super-sleuthing National Security Agency.

The victim is search giant Google (GOOG), a company that harvests hundreds of millions of emails, passwords, and other sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households; a company that dispatches camera-equipped vehicles down remote byways snapping random pictures of people and streetscapes; a company that maps earth images in the minutest detail; a company that invented wearable devices that record and transmit secretly (see Anton Wahlman's cautionary analysis of Google glasses); and a company that scans the contents of millions of private emails, picking up on key words to target advertising.

It is this company -- one of a raft of Internet providers identified by Snowden as NSA targets, including Yahoo! (YHOO), Microsoft (MSFT) and Facebook (FB) -- that finds itself in the peculiar position of protesting a massive breach of privacy after spending decades collecting data that some say breaches privacy.

"I was shocked that the NSA would do this," said Google Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt. The hacking of cables connecting Google servers is "outrageous" and "perhaps illegal," Schmidt said.

Brandon Downey, a Google network security specialist, went further in a posting on Google +.

"I've spent the last ten years of my life trying to keep Google's users safe and secure from the many diverse threats Google faces," he wrote. "Seeing this, well it's just a little like coming home from War with Sauron, destroying the One Ring, only to discover the NSA is on the front porch of the Shire chopping down the Party Tree and outsourcing all the hobbit farmers with half-orcs and whips."

Perhaps Google shouldn't be so surprised.

After all, the spy agency was just doing what spy agencies do, snooping by all means available.

Cable hacking, in particular, has been a favorite snooping technique. As far back as World War 1, British spy agencies tapped into undersea cables. While the program was of questionable legality -- the cables were privately owned -- the effort yielded results. Early in 1917, a message was intercepted from a German diplomat urging Mexico to attack the United States and take back lands lost in the Mexican-American war. The so-called Zimmermann Telegram outraged public opinion and played a role in getting the U.S. into the conflict.

And during the Cold War, the NSA and U.S. Navy sent miniature submarines and combat divers deep into the Sea of Okhotsk -- Soviet territorial waters -- to tap into cables connecting military installations. The blue-water eavesdropping furnished useful data that helped in the negotiating of arms reduction treaties.

That is not to say the NSA was right in targeting private companies like Google. Google is no enemy state. It gathers its information lawfully and has tough encryption programs and policies to protect it.

So Google has every right to be hacked off. 

Written by William Inman

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Try it NOW
Only $9.95
Try it NOW
14-Days Free
Try it NOW

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
GOOG $548.46 -0.65%
AAPL $124.49 -1.50%
FB $82.16 -1.20%
TSLA $188.77 -0.94%
YHOO $44.44 -1.10%

Markets

DOW 17,776.12 -200.19 -1.11%
S&P 500 2,067.89 -18.35 -0.88%
NASDAQ 4,900.8850 -46.5560 -0.94%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs