An online login to an international border communications network could be the key to stopping an attack, security experts have warned.
The Frontier Communications Network (FCC) has been used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct its surveillance of travellers coming to the United States from Ireland, Britain and the Netherlands, and has been criticised by critics as a “trap” that allows the government to spy on its own citizens.
The FCC is a network of high-speed, encrypted, fibre optic cables that provide internet access to a vast array of US-based companies including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.
The Government has defended the use of the FCC as essential for protecting the country from the spread of a “threat to our national security” and in order to keep the country secure from foreign governments.
But it is not the only network used by DHS to monitor Americans entering and leaving the country, and many people are concerned the DHS is using the network to monitor people from other countries.
This is the third time DHS has used the FCC to monitor travellers coming into the country since it was created in 2002.
Last year, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) conducted a “backdoor” operation to access the FCC in an attempt to get access to the network.
The operation resulted in the arrest of several people in the US and an arrest warrant for an Irish citizen.
However, this operation was foiled by US officials.
The DHS has repeatedly defended the FCC’s use of border stations and border control agents.
In its defence, the agency said it was only following the orders of a US court.
In an emailed statement to The Irish Examiner, a DHS spokesperson said: “The FCC operates with the support of a broad range of government and private partners, including local law enforcement, and is a secure, secure and secure network that is used by over 10,000 US and international companies and organisations, including many government agencies and private companies.”
“It is the responsibility of the DHS to protect Americans’ civil liberties from the threat of terrorist attacks, cyber crime and other criminal activity, and it is important that the United State Government and its partner countries, including Ireland, continue to work with our US partners to ensure these protections are implemented.”
The spokesperson added that the FCC has also been used for surveillance of US citizens since the 1990s.
However a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that the use and abuse of border station networks “has not been limited to border control”.
The GAO concluded that border stations were used by a range of entities to monitor visitors to the US including:A number of US and foreign corporations and individualsThe Irish Department of JusticeA number that have been prosecuted by US authorities for criminal activityIn the UK, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) used border stations to monitor foreign nationals entering the UK in the past.
The report said:”The use of foreign nationals in border control is widely understood to be an important tool for the security of the border, as it allows for the collection of information about foreign nationals travelling to the UK and allows authorities to investigate foreign criminal activity.”
However, there is no evidence that the DCMS has used border station data to monitor UK nationals.
In response to questions about the use, the department said:The use by the UK Border Force of border controls to monitor the movements of foreign individuals and individuals has been a matter of public record.
“The UK Border Service operates on a highly sensitive level, and the Government has made clear its intention to work to ensure that the protection of the UK border is not compromised by the use by UK authorities of UK border controls.”
A spokesperson for the Department said the use was authorised under UK law and that the Government had a range, including the Home Office, which provides oversight.
“We are constantly seeking new ways to help protect UK citizens from foreign terrorism and criminals and are working with UK and international partners to continue to improve our border control capabilities,” the spokesperson said.
“This is also true of the US, where the Department has made it clear that we are committed to strengthening our border security and our capabilities.”
Our work to combat the global threat of terrorism is a priority and we will continue to invest in our border controls and the technology that supports them, so that they can be as effective as possible.
“A spokesman for the US Department of State said:As part of its broader counter-terrorism strategy, the US has deployed border agents to detect, disrupt and dismantle international terrorist networks, including those of the Islamic State group.
The US Government has a long history of working closely with the UK to ensure the safe flow of people and goods between the two countries.
Last month, a US federal judge ruled that the government’s controversial immigration detention centres at Guantanamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq violate international human rights.
In the court ruling, the judge, William Pauley, found that the Guantanamo and Abu Ghreib facilities