Permanent Record | Edward Snowden

Summary of: Permanent Record
By: Edward Snowden


Step into the world of Edward Snowden, a figure who at one point or another has been labeled a hero, traitor, and everything in between. In ‘Permanent Record’, Snowden walks you through his journey from an introverted, tech-loving teenager to the infamous whistleblower who exposed the United States government’s mass surveillance programs. Explore Snowden’s rise through the ranks of the intelligence community, his love for technology, and his realization of the dangerous capabilities of the surveillance systems he helped create. This book summary delves into the ethical dilemma he faced and the decision he made to release classified documents to journalists, ultimately sacrificing his life as he knew it.

Edward Snowden and the Birth of the Internet

In the 90s, the internet was a wild west of amateur websites and forums, a place where people could explore different online identities and share obscure knowledge. It was in this environment that Edward Snowden found his passion for technology and hacking, connecting with people around the world who shared his interests. These interactions helped form his worldview and set the stage for his later role in exposing government surveillance.

Hacking Beyond Computers

Edward Snowden’s life story as a hacker will redefine the way you see rules and systems.

Edward Snowden, famously known for exposing the NSA’s controversial surveillance program, was a hacker long before his whistleblowing days. Contrary to popular belief, hacking doesn’t necessarily require technical computer knowledge. It involves mastering any given system’s rules and identifying how to use its weaknesses to your advantage. Snowden got his first taste of hacking at the age of six by manipulating his bedtime routine. He wound the clocks backward and convinced his parents that it wasn’t his bedtime yet. Snowden continued to hack the rules imposed upon him in high school, where he calculated that he could still pass the class without ever doing his homework. Unfortunately, his plans were derailed by mononucleosis, leaving him unable to attend school for months and leading to the need to repeat the grade. Using his hacking skills, Snowden managed to apply to a community college and receive a diploma equivalent to a high school degree.

It was at community college where Snowden’s technical knowledge caught the eye of a fellow classmate, Mae. The two started a web design business that grew into a tech-savvy freelancing business and became a profitable venture. Snowden’s story illustrates how hacking can be applied to all kinds of systems beyond computers, showing that the key to successful hacking is creativity, strategic thinking, and using the information available effectively.

Snowden: From Military to Intelligence

When Edward Snowden witnessed the chaos following the 9/11 terrorist attack, he felt a sense of patriotism that pushed him to serve his country. After an ankle injury ended his military career, Snowden applied for clearance to work in a tech position for the CIA or NSA. He eventually landed a security guard job at the NSA facility, but his true potential was quickly recognized, and he was promoted to high-level positions thanks to his prodigious computer skills. The expanding security efforts after 9/11 allowed the intelligence agencies to look for promising talents and waive degree requirements for exceptional candidates like Snowden.

Snowden’s Road To Becoming A Whistleblower

From the CIA to the NSA in Geneva, Edward Snowden transitioned from a systems administrator to a Technical Information Security Officer. In the process, he challenged authority, questioned the chain of command, and became one of the most infamous whistleblowers of the 21st century.

Edward Snowden, who started as a security guard, sought a better way to serve the government with his talents. He decided to attend government job fairs, where companies such as Dell, Intel, and Lockheed Martin recruited talent for government jobs. Snowden landed his first contracting job as a systems administrator at CIA headquarters, managing the agency’s private servers. After working in a dark basement for a few months, Snowden wanted to work abroad and became an official government employee by enrolling in a six-month CIA program.

During his training, Snowden requested to work at an embassy in the Middle East, where he thought he could gain a new and challenging experience. However, he challenged the authority of the CIA and made the mistake of writing lengthy emails to the director and his superior, complaining and demanding action. This worked, and the class was moved to a new training facility, but Snowden was punished for disobeying the chain of command and was sent to work for the NSA in Geneva.

Although it wasn’t what he hoped for, this job became a turning point in his career. Snowden found himself in the middle of the US government’s transition to technology-based intelligence. It was here that he began to question and challenge the morality of the intelligence-gathering practices which he felt violated his principles.

Snowden’s path from a systems administrator to a Technical Information Security Officer to a whistleblower is a remarkable journey. His story highlights the importance of challenging authority and questioning the chain of command when principles and integrity are at risk.

Snowden’s Revelation

After attending a conference in Hong Kong, Snowden began to question why the U.S wouldn’t spy on its citizens as China did. He stumbled upon a secret mass surveillance program that was collecting metadata from everyone’s phone and online-related activities. Burdened by this information and other factors like ill health, Snowden decided to take a break from his intelligence work.

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