Snowden Convinced Colleagues to Give Him Their Passwords

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Edward Snowden, former NSA employees and current tech support worker, supposedly gained access to some of the information he leaked by convincing his colleagues to willingly give him their login usernames and passwords. A new reports from Reuters says that Snowden convinced about two dozen other employees at the NSA station in Hawaii to provide their login credentials so that he could complete his task as a systems administrator, and then used the credentials to access the files and documents that he would later leak to the press.

The report says that a "handful" of employees were removed from their positions following an internal investigation, but it is unclear whether they were fired or reassigned. The new informations comes on the heels of a report last month that the facility where Snowden worked had delayed installation of anti-leak security measures.

What's particularly ironic about Snowden getting his colleagues' passwords is that a support worker asking for a user's login credentials is actually a huge security red flag for many of the technology giants that the NSA's PRISM program has a back door into.

From Google's account security page:

Also, never send your password via email. Google will never email you to ask for your password or other sensitive information.

Microsoft's security page:

We will never ask for your password in email, so never reply to email asking for any personal information (even if they claim to be from or Microsoft).

Apple's account security tips:

  • Don’t share your password with anyone, even family members.
  • Never send your password or any private account information over email.

Yahoo's privacy advice:

Yahoo will never ask you for your password in an unsolicited email or phone call. And we'll never ask you to send your password or credit card information by email.


Facebook will never ask you for your password in an email or Facebook message.


Sometimes, you may receive scam emails that ask for your username, password or other personal information. Never provide your password or personal details in any email because AOL will NEVER ask you for your password or any billing information through an email.

Long story short: don't tell anyone your password. Ever.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.