Release Date: 2014-08-25
Document Date: 2006-02-26
Description: This NSA Point Paper dated 22 February 2006 provides a history of the CRISSCROSS and PROTON information sharing systems that preceded ICREACH: see the Intercept article The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google, 25 August 2014.
Document: TOP SECRET//COMINT//ORCON/NOFORN//MR
PURPOSE: Provide DIRNSA information on subject.
22 Feb 06
(U) History of CRISSCROSS/PROTON (how did it come about, when, and by
• (S//OC, NF) Project CRISSCROSS began in the early 1990’s when CIA and DEA
collaborated on a database and analytical tool suite to perform link analysis and
cross-reference lookups against DEA and CIA collected telephone billing records
and phone directories.
• (S//OC, NF) NS A Office of Crime and Narcotics requested the software and
database capabilities of CRISSCROSS to enhance SIGINT data. CRISSCROSS
proved extremely successful at identifying new phone numbers associated with
‘lost’ drug targets and locating additional targets of interest. Expanding the
coverage from Latin America to worldwide then enhanced target development
efforts across all NSA product lines.
(U) Current CRISSCROSS/PROTON Agreements.
• (S//OC, NF) All CRISSCROSS/PROTON Agreements are via bilateral
Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) and exist between CIA, DEA, NSA, DIA,
and FBI. DEA and FBI do not currently share data with each other.
• (S//OC, NF) DIA provides support to various DoD elements (e.g JICs/JACs and
other Service Intelligence structures) as specified in MOU Addendums.
(U) How current data in CRISSCROSS/PROTON is "minimized" and by what
• (S//OC, NF) From its inception, NSA has only provided telephony data to
CROSSCROSS/PROTON , which constitutes: date, time, duration, called
number and calling number. NSA ‘minimizes” this metadata prior to its
transmission of data to CIA.
• (S//NF) NSA data is pulled from the FASCIA and HOMEBASE systems and
transmitted to a NSA terminal in CIA’s PROTON Project Office.
• (S//SI) For U.S. and 2nd party numbers, minimization is achieved by replacing
the rightmost 4 digits with four x’s.
Derived From: NSA/CSSM 1-52
Declassify On: 20290325
• (S//SI) The classification of the NSA call-event records is CONFIDENTIAL
• (S//OC, NF) NSA Office of General Counsel ruled that the data contiibuted by
CIA, DIA, DEA, and FBI does not need to be minimized by NSA before being
incorporated into the NSA PROTON system as each MO A signatory must
“minimize” according to their own authoiities.
(U) How CRISSCROSS/PROTON operates today (data flows/tape cornier, tools, etc.)
• (S//NF) PROTON is a proprietary system architecturally inconsistent with DoD
and NSA development guidelines and environment. It requires specific licensing
and maintenance expenses and currently cannot be integrated with other tools.
• (S//OC, NF) Data is transferred from NSA, DIA, and FBI to CIA electronically or
by cornier delivery of magnetic tapes.
(U) Current proposals to modify (pending) CRISSCROSS/PROTON with the
addition of other data elements/content/proc edures
• (S//OC, NF) New communications technologies necessitated evolution of the
CRISSCROSS software. The CRISSCROSS system only handled five call-record
fields: date, time, duration, called number and calling number. PROTON goes
further and analyzes additional data fields that are specific to cell and satellite
phones, such as IMEIs and IMSIs, lat/long coordinates. PROTON also analyzes
email headers (not content), SMS text messages, SIM cards, travel records
(passport #, flight #, description), VISA application data and excerpts from CIA
• (S//OC, NF) CIA, DIA, and FBI have added these additional data types to
PROTON and share this data with NSA. However, NSA has never agreed to
expand its contributions to PROTON.
• (S//OC, NF) PROTON performs entity analysis/contact chaining across data
types. Users may search on a target entity’s phone number and PROTON will
return the associated email, cell phone, call records, street address, and CIA
intelligence report excerpts.
• (S//OC, NF) PROTON tools find other entities that behave in a similar manner
to a specific target, it also identifies correspondents in common with two or more
targets, identifies potential new phone numbers when a target switches phones,
and identifies networks of organizations based on communications within the
• (S//OC, NF) PROTON provides search capabilities for exploiting commercial
phone books and data that do not conform to a particular type, such as excerpts
from CIA intelligence reports.
(U) Current NSA contribution to CRISSCROSS/PROTON (data elements/number of
records to date/records per week/month, etc.)
• (S//OC, NF) CIA, DIA, FBI, and DEA contributions over a three-month peiiod
totaled 11.7 billion records (which includes many records that are not
"communications-metadata contact records”.)
• (S//SI//NF) NSA contiibutions over the same three-month peiiod totaled 4.2
billion records (again, only limited to telephony contact data). (Note: under the
NSA proposal to create an IC-wide communications metadata repository, NSA’s
contribution would be in the 100’s of billions of contact records - telephony and
DNI contact records.)
(U) How NSA currently uses CRISSCROSS/PROTON in conjunction with other
NSA metadata repositories and tools.
• (S//OC, NF) NSA analysts use Proton to perform analysis against data from
CIA, NSA, DEA, FBI and DIA in a single common interface. Results provide
additional targets of interest for all product lines. Merging the data produces a
more complete picture of the target’s communications and activity.
• (TS//SI//NF) NSA Users reported the following regarding the importance of
• (S) SIGINT analysts in Iraq attributed PROTON for successes at locating and
apprehending High Value Individuals (HVIs). PROTON had the information
they needed to get U.S. troops in the right location.
• (S) PROTON was critical in capturing a HVI who was wanted by the FBI and
AFOSI for terrorist related activity in Denver.
• (S//SI) PROTON provided the location information of a money exchange
house that was connected to a Pakistani militant group.
• (S) PROTON allows a single stop to find registration information for phones
that are not being used by the person to whom they are registered. This is
particularly important for front companies, where tying multiple phones to
the same registration can provide critical information.”
(S) SID is recommending that a DNI IC-wide central communications metadata
repository be established and reside at NSA and that DIRNSA/CHCSS be made
Executive Agent for this IC repository. NSA and its foreign SIGINT partners stand
alone in conducting metadata analysis on such a large scale and as a result, our
tools and methodologies, as well as the infrastructure employed, are well tested and
have been proven efficient and effective. We already extensively share metadata
internally within the NSA/CSS enterprise and, having recently reached agreement
with our Second Party partners, are ready to begin implementing that agreement to
share Second Party metadata writ large.
(S//NF) Rather than continuing to push communications metadata out to the
PROTON repository, we propose using the existing IC shared information space
ICSIS (Intelligence Community System for Information Sharing) on INTELINK and
have IC users come in through an existing tool to pull data from metadata
repositories resident at NSA. We would implement IC access to our
GLOBALREACH federated query service via accounts and access verified by PKI
certificates. This service will provide the access requested and permit the auditing
of such repository users. We believe we can have GLOBALREACH capability ready
for the IC within approximately one to two months of a decision to proceed with this
for the IC-metadata proposal, and
for CRISSCROSS/PROTON, 22 Feb 06