#CyberFLASH: One quarter of Canadian online traffic vulnerable to NSA sweeps: researchers

leaked_data_focus_455234A large amount of Canadian internet traffic is being routed through the United States, leaving it vulnerable to collection and probing by the National Security Agency.

And most Canadians have no idea of how exposed they are to American data sweeps, say the researchers behind a new tool that aims to show Canadians what path their internet traffic takes to connect to the websites they want to visit.

In a new online project launched Thursday, researchers from the University of Toronto and York University have partnered with Open Media to create a tool to show the paths Canadians’ internet data take when they access websites or send online communications.

While past estimates have suggested roughly 90 per cent of Canadian internet traffic is routed through the United States — particularly in cases where a Canadian visits an American or foreign website — the new data gathered so far by the researchers build on that and suggest that even when both the origin and destination of the traffic are in Canada, there’s still a one-in-four chance it goes through the U.S.

“I think most Canadians would be really surprised to learn that quite so much of our internet traffic, even our domestic Canada-to-Canada traffic, actually ends up being routed through the U.S.,” said David Christopher, spokesperson for Open Media.

“Canada’s lack in sufficient internet exchange points within our borders is really a big reason why so much of our traffic does travel through the U.S. I think nowadays a lot of people think of the internet as almost like a cloud and I think a lot of people don’t put a lot of thought into what happens when we visit a website on the other side of the country.”

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