Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

How did Snowden swipe all those NSA documents? The answer is far less thrilling than you think

Published Feb 14th, 2014 12:30AM EST
Snowden NSA Leaks

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

To some, he’s a hero. To others, a treasonous saboteur. But of one thing, there is no doubt: former NSA contractor Edward Snowden changed the course of history by leaking a mountain of confidential documents detailing various NSA programs used to covertly monitor communications around the world. Whether or not you agree with what Snowden did, there has always been a bit of curiosity surrounding exactly how the huge NSA breach went down. As it turns out, reality is far less thrilling than you might imagine.

A movie about the events surrounding Snowden and the NSA documents he leaked might feature Mission:Impossible style covert operations where the protagonist narrowly escapes capture in dramatic fashion. In reality, Snowden stole many of the documents he leaked by asking a civilian NSA worker with a higher security clearance to log into his workstation. When the employee did, Snowden apparently stole his password.

A memo obtained by NBC detailed the humdrum event, and the worker whose password Snowden allegedly stole has resigned and is no longer with the NSA.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.