Overview#TURMOIL is an National Security Agency (NSA) SIGINT program described as “high-speed passive collection systems intercept for foreign target satellite, microwave, and cable communications as they transit the globe”.
NSA collects using TURMOIL through a variety of sources. One of those is the RAMPART-A program, which provides foreign third-party “collection against long-haul international leased communications through special access initiatives with world-wide SIGINT partnerships”.
The Internet links that are tapped through RAMPART-A have “access to over 3 Terabits per second” of data, and “every country code in the world is seen at one or more RAMPART-A collection accesses”. In other words, friendly communications companies provide access to their backbone links, and those “partners work the fiber projects under the cover of an overt COMSAT communications satellite effort”
TURMOIL operates on the packet level, it can choose to handle certain types of traffic with special processing. From leaked documents, it is clear that there are at least three unique types of traffic that are handled at the TURMOIL level.