Searching the Web like the NSA

By Rob Sippel

Right after graduating from college, I worked in Anne Arundel County, Maryland for about 10 years.  It was commonly accepted among residents that the county’s largest employer was the National Security Agency (NSA), although the actual number of people employed by the agency was a closely guarded secret.  Though generally inclined to remain out of the limelight, the NSA’s facility was easily recognizable by its exceptional abundance of satellite dishes and antennae.

In the past year, the NSA and some of its more sophisticated information-gathering practices have been much in the news.  However, it turns out that the agency also engages in something quite familiar to the average citizen: searching the Internet.  If you want to learn how to search the web the NSA way, check the agency’s handy 651-page tome on the subject, Untangling the Web: a Guide to Internet Research.  It’s available (on the Internet, of course) at

By the way, you face no risk of exile or prison time for reading this book; it was declassified in 2013.

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