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  1. Cyber Professionals at NSA: "... it feels like home." :) "You're dealing with cutting-edge technologies." :) "It allowed me to find something I really liked." :) "We have fun coming to work ... but are serious about our work." :) Intelligence. It's the ability to think abstractly. Challenge the unknown. Solve the impossible. And at NSA, it's about protecting the Nation. A career at NSA offers the opportunity to work with the best, shape the course of the world, and secure your own future. Isn't it time to put your intelligence to work? Career Paths in Foreign Language as a Language Analyst Arabic Chinese (Mandarin) Pashto Persian-Dari Persian-Farsi Russian http://www.nsa.gov/careers N.B. They will find plenty of traitors in these and any other languages!
  2. By Matthew Cole First published February 8th 2014, 1:14 am ritish spies have developed “dirty tricks” for use against nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into “honey traps.” Documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and exclusively obtained by NBC News describe techniques developed by a secret British spy unit called the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG) as part of a growing mission to go on offense and attack adversaries ranging from Iran to the hacktivists of Anonymous. According to the documents, which come from presentations prepped in 2010 and 2012 for NSA cyber spy conferences, the agency’s goal was to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them, planting misinformation and shutting down their communications. Both PowerPoint presentations describe “Effects” campaigns that are broadly divided into two categories: cyber attacks and propaganda operations. The propaganda campaigns use deception, mass messaging and “pushing stories” via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. JTRIG also uses “false flag” operations, in which British agents carry out online actions that are designed to look like they were performed by one of Britain’s adversaries. In connection with this report, NBC is publishing documents that Edward Snowden took from the NSA before fleeing the U.S., which can be viewed by clicking here and here. The documents are being published with minimal redactions. The spy unit’s cyber attack methods include the same “denial of service” or DDOS tactic used by computer hackers to shut down government and corporate websites. Other documents taken from the NSA by Snowden and previously published by NBC News show that JTRIG, which is part of the NSA’s British counterpart, the cyber spy agency known as GCHQ, used a DDOS attack to shut down Internet chat rooms used by members of the hacktivist group known as Anonymous. Read the first NBC report on JTRIG and the Snowden documents. Read an earlier exclusive NBC report on the Snowden documents. Civil libertarians said that in using a DDOS attack against hackers the British government also infringed free speech by individuals not involved in any illegal hacking, and may have blocked other websites with no connection to Anonymous. While GCHQ defends the legality of its actions, critics question whether the agency is too aggressive and its mission too broad. Eric King, a lawyer who teaches IT law at the London School of Economics and is head of research at Privacy International, a British civil liberties advocacy group, said it was “remarkable” that the British government thought it had the right to hack computers, since none of the U.K.’s intelligence agencies has a “clear lawful authority” to launch their own attacks. “GCHQ has no clear authority to send a virus or conduct cyber attacks,” said King. “Hacking is one of the most invasive methods of surveillance.” King said British cyber spies had gone on offense with “no legal safeguards” and without any public debate, even though the British government has criticized other nations, like Russia, for allegedly engaging in cyber warfare. But intelligence officials defended the British government’s actions as appropriate responses to illegal acts. One intelligence official also said that the newest set of Snowden documents published by NBC News that describe “Effects” campaigns show that British cyber spies were “slightly ahead” of U.S. spies in going on offense against adversaries, whether those adversaries are hackers or nation states. The documents also show that a one-time signals surveillance agency, GCHQ, is now conducting the kinds of active espionage operations that were once exclusively the realm of the better-known British spy agencies MI5 and MI6. Intelligence officials defended the British government’s actions as appropriate responses to illegal acts. According to notes on the 2012 documents, a computer virus called Ambassadors Reception was “used in a variety of different areas” and was “very effective.” When sent to adversaries, says the presentation, the virus will “encrypt itself, delete all emails, encrypt all files, make [the] screen shake” and block the computer user from logging on. But the British cyber spies’ operations do not always remain entirely online. Spies have long used sexual “honey traps” to snare, blackmail and influence targets. Most often, a male target is led to believe he has an opportunity for a romantic relationship or a sexual liaison with a woman, only to find that the woman is actually an intelligence operative. The Israeli government, for example, used a “honey trap” to lure nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu from London to Rome. He expected an assignation with a woman, but instead was kidnapped by Israel agents and taken back to Israel to stand trial for leaking nuclear secrets to the media. The version of a “honey trap” described by British cyber spies in the 2012 PowerPoint presentation sounds like a version of Internet dating, but includes physical encounters. The version of a “honey trap” described by British cyber spies in the 2012 PowerPoint presentation sounds like a version of Internet dating, but includes physical encounters. The target is lured “to go somewhere on the Internet, or a physical location” to be met by “a friendly face.” The goal, according to the presentation, is to discredit the target. A “honey trap,” says the presentation, is “very successful when it works.” But the documents do not give a specific example of when the British government might have employed a honey trap. An operation described in the 2010 presentation also involves in-person surveillance. “Royal Concierge” exploits hotel reservations to track the whereabouts of foreign diplomats and send out “daily alerts to analysts working on governmental hard targets.” The British government uses the program to try to steer its quarry to “SIGINT friendly” hotels, according to the presentation, where the targets can be monitored electronically – or in person by British operatives. A slide from the documents taken from the NSA by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC News. The existence of the Royal Concierge program was first reported by the German magazine Der Spiegel in 2013, which said that Snowden documents showed that British spies had monitored bookings of at least 350 upscale hotels around the world for more than three years “to target, search and analyze reservations to detect diplomats and government officials.” According to the documents obtained by NBC News, the intelligence agency uses the information to spy on human targets through “close access technical operations,” which can include listening in on telephone calls and tapping hotel computers as well as sending intelligence officers to observe the targets in person at the hotels. The documents ask, “Can we influence hotel choice? Can we cancel their visits?” The 2010 presentation also describes another potential operation that would utilize a technique called “credential harvesting” to select journalists who could be used to spread information. According to intelligence sources, spies considered using electronic snooping to identify non-British journalists who would then be manipulated to feed information to the target of a covert campaign. Apparently, the journalist’s job would provide access to the targeted individual, perhaps for an interview. The documents do not specify whether the journalists would be aware or unaware that they were being used to funnel information. The executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon, said that the revelation about “credential harvesting” should serve as a “wake up call” to journalists that intelligence agencies can monitor their communications. Simon also said that governments put all journalists at risk when they use even one for an intelligence operation. “All journalists generally are then vulnerable to the charge that they work at the behest of an intelligence agency,” said Simon. The journalist operation was never put into action, according to sources, but other techniques described in the documents, like the Ambassadors Reception computer virus and the jamming of phones and computers, have definitely been used to attack adversaries. In Afghanistan, according to the 2012 presentation, the British used a blizzard of text messages, phone calls and faxes to “significantly disrupt” Taliban communications, with texts and calls programmed to arrive every minute. In a set of operations that intelligence sources say were designed to stop weapons transactions and nuclear proliferation, JTRIG used negative information to attack private companies, sour business relationships and ruin deals. The British cyber spies also used blog posts and information spread via blogs in an operation against Iran. Other effective methods of cyber attack listed in the documents include changing photos on social media sites and emailing and texting colleagues and neighbors unsavory information. The documents do not give examples of when these techniques were used, but intelligence sources say that some of the methods described have been used by British intelligence to help British police agencies catch suspected criminals. The documents from 2010 note that “Effects” operations, GCHQ’s offensive push against Britain’s enemies, had become a “major part” of the spy agency’s business. The presentation from 2012 illustrates that two years later GCHQ had continued to shift its workload from defending U.K. cyber networks to going on offense -- targeting specific people or governments. The British government’s intelligence apparatus, which also includes MI5 and MI6, had a role in the 2010 Stuxnet computer virus attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to sources at two intelligence agencies. GCHQ would not comment on the newly published documents or on JTRIG’s “Effects” operations. It would neither confirm nor deny any element of this report, which is the agency’s standard policy. In a statement, a GCHQ spokesperson emphasized that the agency operated within the law. “All of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework,” said the statement, “which ensure that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All of our operational processes rigorously support this position.” Journalist Glenn Greenwald was formerly a columnist at Salon and the Guardian. In late 2012 he was contacted by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who later provided him with thousands of sensitive documents, and he was the first to report on Snowden’s documents in June 2013 while on the staff of the Guardian. Greenwald has since reported on the documents with multiple media outlets around the world, and has won several journalism awards for his NSA reporting both in the U.S. and abroad. He is now helping launch, and will write for, a new, non-profit media outlet known as First Look Media that will “encourage, support and empower … independent, adversarial journalists.” First published February 8th 2014, 1:14 am Matthew Cole . . Matthew Cole is an investigative producer for NBC News focusing on national security matters. He joined NBC News in 2013 after three years as an investigative producer for ABC News. He has reported from... Expand Bio http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/snowden-docs-british-spies-used-sex-dirty-tricks-n23091
  3. Microsoft has teamed up with some of its biggest rivals to try to get the U.S. government to help reform the data collection efforts of the National Security Agency. The Washington Post reports that Microsoft, along with Google, Apple, Facebook, AOL and Yahoo!, sent a letter to several members of the U.S. Congress on Thursday on this topic. The letter itself said that while more transparency on how the NSA collects its information is needed, it added that the six companies "... believe that government surveillance practices should also be reformed to include substantial enhancements to privacy protections and appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms for those programs." This newest development in the NSA data spying scandal shows how much Microsoft and other tech companies want to distance themselves from this matter. When the story first broke earlier this year, Microsoft denied it had any direct involvement with the NSA program called PRISM, stating that it only provides customer data when it gets "a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis." The company has since filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government in an effort to reveal more information on the types of data collection requests it receives. source: neowin
  4. Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, the man who is supposed to take the reins of the National Security Agency, may have just ruined the efforts of advocacy groups everywhere by nudging US lawmakers to revive CISPA. It’s not exactly the first time that cybersecurity bills have gone through the Congress, but the White House has always stepped in and killed the projects before they could damage anything. Now, however, Rogers has testified in front of the Congress and has suggested that real-time sharing of cyber threat information can be approached differently, on two lanes, which would be consistent with the country’s efforts to protect the privacy and civil liberties of US citizens, as ZDNet reported. Basically, in a way, he brings CISPA back into discussion and backs this particular bill. Unfortunately for everyone else, his word may weight in quite a bit, especially since he’s supposed to take on the leading role at the National Security Agency, a government agency that should be protecting national security. The Senate Intelligence Committee has already been working on a piece of legislation that borrows a lot from CISPA and has announced that it is very close to wrapping it up. The additional support is certainly welcome and if the White House doesn’t intervene again, chances are the new CISPA will become a reality, affecting all Internet users’ privacy. CISPA and the NSA It wasn’t all that long ago when CISPA, SOPA and PIPA were on everyone’s lips. All these laws have in common the fact that they seek to change something when it comes to the digital world, be it online piracy or cyberattacks. While this may not sound all that terrible, it’s the consequences of adopting such laws that bother people. It’s not the main purpose of the projects that annoy so many, but how these would affect the way the Internet works and, more importantly, user privacy. CISPA, for its part, proposed to allow the sharing of Internet traffic information between the United States government and technology and manufacturing companies, seeking on the surface to investigate cyber threats and make sure that networks are secure against cyberattacks. In depth, however, this would allow the United States to play the role of Big Brother, looking over Internet traffic under the pretense of cybersecurity, thus killing privacy. Of course, this was before it was revealed that the National Security Agency already helped the country play that very same role, albeit in an extremely hidden manner. Basically, many of those opposing CISPA back in the day used very similar phrases to those you can hear nowadays from opposers of the National Security Agency’s efforts to infiltrate everyone’s private lives without making any difference between criminals and innocent people. The idea that data should be collected in bulk just because it may contain some vital information with no concern to individual privacy seems to be increasingly common among US lawmakers and state agencies, despite nation-wide protests and international displeasure with such actions. Basic human rights seem to matter very little to these people. Even worse, while US citizens may get some sort of protection from the Constitution (although not even that’s a guarantee anymore), the rest of the world is doomed. Adding some sort of protection for non-US citizens has been discussed in recent months in the context of the NSA scandal, but nothing has been done in this direction and US lawmakers may as well have scoffed at the idea. Reviving CISPA is a terrible idea. Even if it comes under a different name, the problems remain the same. While the United States may be relinquishing some of its control over the Internet, it seems like it’s trying to make sure it compensates by making its nosiness legal. Source
  5. February 04, 2014 22:42 The US National Security Agency likely collects intelligence on congressional lawmakers and members of their staff, a Justice Department official admitted at a committee hearing on Tuesday. Deputy Attorney General James Cole of the US Department of Justice testified during a House Judiciary Committee hearing which was examining proposals to reform the NSA surveillance policies that have been revealed in an ongoing series of disclosures since June. Among the most damning revelations leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was the realization that the NSA indiscriminately forces companies to provide phone records belonging to millions of Americans. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA.) pressed Cole Tuesday on whether the NSA dragnet includes the number codes that pertain to congressional offices. “Mr. Cole, do you collect 202-225 and four digits afterwards?” Issa asked, as quoted by the National Journal. “We probably do, Mr. Congressman,” Cole replied. “But we’re not allowed to look at any of those, however, unless we have reasonable, articulable suspicion that those numbers are related to a known terrorist threat.” This admission is not the first time members of Congress were given a clue that their activities might be being monitored. Earlier this month, Senator Bernie Sanders - an Independent who represents Vermont - sent a letter to the intelligence agency asking whether democratically elected legislators are being spied upon. Sanders included in his definition of spying “gathering metadata on calls made from official or person phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business.” The agency replied to Sanders the next day with a somewhat cryptic response. “NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons. Such privacy protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons,” the NSA stated. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) used the same hearing to suggest that Glenn Greenwald - one of the few journalists who have published details on the Snowden leak - should be prosecuted. Rogers broached the issue multiple times, claiming that Greenwald is selling classified US intelligence secrets to news organizations. “For personal gain, he’s now selling his access to information, that’s how they’re terming it…A thief selling stolen material is a thief,” Rogers said after an exchange with FBI director James Comey. Greenwald has publicly asserted that he is in possession of a trove of documents leaked by Snowden, with stories based on those documents consistently appearing in international publications over the past six months. “If I’m a newspaper reporter for fill-in-the-blank and I sell stolen material is that legal because I’m a newspaper reporter?” Rogers asked. “If you’re a newspaper reporter and you’re hawking stolen jewelry, it’s still a crime,” Comey said reluctantly. He added that the issue of a journalist selling access to information was “a harder question” because of “First Amendment implications.” The hearing comes just one day after a group of Silicon Valley heavyweights revealed the scope of national security requests they received from the government. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tumblr have provided figures from 2012 and 2013 showing that tens of thousands of customer accounts were targeted over a six-month period. http://rt.com/usa/nsa-probably-congress-greenwald-arrest-651
  6. By STEPHEN BRAUN and MICHAEL LIEDTKE Feb. 3, 2014 5:59 PM EST WASHINGTON (AP) — Freed by a recent legal deal with government lawyers, major technology firms released new data Monday on how often they are ordered to turn over customer information for secret national security investigations — figures that show that the government collected data on thousands of Americans. The details disclosed by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr provided expanded details from 2012 and 2013 showing how often the government has sought information on the firms' customers in counter-terrorism and other intelligence-related probes. The companies provided limited information in the past about government requests for data, but a new agreement reached last week with the Obama administration allowed a broadened, though still circumscribed, set of figures to be made public. Seeking to reassure customers and business partners alarmed by revelations about the government's massive collection of Internet and computer data, the firms stressed details indicating that only small numbers of their customers were targeted by authorities. Still, even those small numbers showed that thousands of Americans were affected by the government requests approved by judges of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The data releases by the five major tech firms offered a mix of dispassionate graphics, reassurances and protests, seeking to alleviate customer concerns about government spying while pressuring national security officials about the companies' constitutional concerns. The shifting tone in the releases showed the precarious course that major tech firms have had to navigate in recent months, caught between their public commitments to Internet freedom and their enforced roles as data providers to U.S. spy agencies. In a company blog post, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith scolded the U.S. and allied governments for failing to renounce the reported mass interception of Internet data carried by communications cables. Top lawyers and executives for major tech firms had previously raised alarms about media reports describing that hacking by U.S. and UK spy agencies and cited them during conversations with U.S. officials during President Barack Obama's internal review of planned changes to the government's spying operations. "Despite the president's reform efforts and our ability to publish more information, there has not yet been any public commitment by either the U.S. or other governments to renounce the attempted hacking of Internet companies," Smith said in a Microsoft blog release. Smith added that Microsoft planned to press the government "for more on this point, in collaboration with others across our industry." The figures released Monday came just a week after major tech firms announced a legal agreement with the Justice Department that provided for a limited, but broadened ability to tell the public about government information requests. But lawyers and executive for the companies openly vented their discomfort with the government's continuing insistence that they could only provide broad ranges instead of the actual numbers of government requests. The companies said they would press for narrower data ranges that would offer more details. "We will also continue to advocate for still narrower disclosure ranges, which will provide a more accurate picture of the number of national security-related requests," said Erika Rottenberg, LinkedIn's general counsel. A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the companies' releases and comments. The spokesman pointed to a late January statement by DNI James Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder that said the agreement would allow the firms to "disclose more information than ever before to their customers." Liedtke reported from San Francisco. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/internet-firms-release-data-nsa-spy-requests
  7. BERLIN February 3, 2014 (AP) 36 mins ago (AP) A group of computer hackers and human rights campaigners in Germany say they are suing their government for allegedly breaking the law by aiding foreign spies. The Chaos Computer Club and the International League for Human Rights said they submitted a criminal complaint Monday claiming that Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government tolerated spying and effectively even helped members of the U.S. National Security Agency and Britain's GCHQ to spy on German citizens. The groups point to documents released by NSA leaker Edward Snowden as evidence. In a statement they say the criminal complaint is meant to spark a "long-overdue investigation by federal prosecutors" into alleged lawbreaking by German officials and foreign spies. Federal prosecutors have been considering for months whether to open an investigation of alleged NSA activities. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/hackers-sue-german-government-nsa-spying-22342715 Edit: Chaos Computer Club: http://www.ccc.de/en/
  8. January 31, 2014 05:41 Edited time: January 31, 2014 06:21 Documents released by US whistleblower Edward Snowden show the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) used airport Wi-Fi to track passengers from around the world. Travelers passing through a major Canadian airport were potentially caught up in a vast electronic surveillance net, which allowed the nation’s electronic spy agency to track the wireless devices of thousands of airline passengers - even for days after they had departed the terminal, a document obtained by CBC News revealed. The document shows the spy agency was then able to track travelers for a week or more as the unwitting passengers, together with their wireless devices, visited other Wi-Fi "hot spots" in locations across Canada - and even across the border at American airports. The CBS report said any place that offered Wi-Fi internet access, including "airports, hotels, coffee shops and restaurants, libraries, ground transportation hubs" was vulnerable to the surveillance operation. After reviewing details of the leaked information, one of Canada's leading authorities on internet security says the secret operation was almost certainly illegal. "I can't see any circumstance in which this would not be unlawful, under current Canadian law, under our Charter, under CSEC's mandates," Ronald Deibert told CBC News: The CSES is specifically tasked with gathering foreign intelligence by intercepting overseas phone and internet traffic, and is forbidden by law from collecting information on Canadians - or foreigners in Canada - without a court warrant. As CSEC Chief John Forster recently stated: "I can tell you that we do not target Canadians at home or abroad in our foreign intelligence activities, nor do we target anyone in Canada. "In fact, it's prohibited by law. Protecting the privacy of Canadians is our most important principle." However analysts who have had access to the document say that airline passengers in a Canadian airport were clearly on the territory of Canada. CSEC spokesperson Lauri Sullivan told the Star, an online Canadian news outlet, that the “classified document in question is a technical presentation between specialists exploring mathematical models built on everyday scenarios to identify and locate foreign terrorist threats.” Disclosure of the program puts those techniques at risk, she said. Teaming up with NSA Early assessment of the leaked information indicates the passenger tracking operation was a trial run of a powerful new software program CSEC was developing with help from its American partner, the National Security Agency. The technology was to be shared with the so-called “Five Eyes” surveillance bloc composed of Canada, the United States, Britain, New Zealand and Australia. In the document, CSEC described the new spy technology as "game-changing," saying it could be used for powerful surveillance on "any target that makes occasional forays into other cities/regions." Sources told CBC News the “technologies tested on Canadians in 2012 have since become fully operational.” CSEC claims "no Canadian or foreign travellers' movements were 'tracked,'" although CBC News questioned in its report why the comment "put the word "tracked" in quotation marks." http://rt.com/news/canada-snowden-spying-nsa-airport-442 Not only US, UK, Canada but also most likely all other Anglo-American (AU, Ireland, NZ) Spy agencies involved in this shame, too :) Time will show.
  9. By NICOLE PERLROTH February 11, 2014, 9:13 pm So much for mass protest. A consortium of Internet and privacy activists had long promoted Feb. 11 as the day the Internet would collectively stand up and shout down surveillance by the National Security Agency. The group called Tuesday, “The Day We Fight Back,” and encouraged websites to join an online campaign modeled after protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect I.P. Act two years ago, when sites like Reddit and Wikipedia and companies like Google and Facebook helped successfully topple antipiracy legislation. Instead, the protest on Tuesday barely registered. Wikipedia did not participate. Reddit — which went offline for 12 hours during the protests two years ago — added an inconspicuous banner to its homepage. Sites like Tumblr, Mozilla and DuckDuckGo, which were listed as organizers, did nothing to their homepages. The most vocal protesters were the usual suspects: activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and Greenpeace. The eight major technology companies — Google, Microsoft, Facebook, AOL, Apple, Twitter, Yahoo and LinkedIn — that joined forces in December in a public campaign to “reform government surveillance” only participated Tuesday insofar as having a joint website flash the protest banner. A promotional video from the organizers of “The Day We Fight Back.” The difference may be explained by the fact that two years ago, the Internet powerhouses were trying to halt new legislation. On Tuesday, people were being asked to reverse a secret, multi-billion dollar surveillance effort by five countries that has been in place for nearly a decade. And unlike 2012, when the goal was simply to block the passage of new bills, the goal of the protests on Tuesday were more muddled. This time around, participants were urged to flash a banner on their sites that urged visitors to call their congressional representative in support of the U.S.A. Freedom Act — a bill sponsored by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, and Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, which seeks to reform the N.S.A.’s metadata database. They were also asked to oppose the FISA Improvements Act, a bill proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein that would help legalize the N.S.A.’s metadata collection program. All was not lost. By late Tuesday, some 70,000 calls had been placed to legislators and roughly 150,000 people had sent their representatives an email. But on privacy forums and Reddit, significant discussions failed to materialize. “Online petitions,” one Reddit user wrote of the protest. “The very least you can do, without doing nothing.” http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/the-day-the-internet-didnt-fight-back/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0Nsane was among the 6000 website? Only Nsane Management Team would have the answer :)
  10. By Andrew Zajac and Phil Milford Feb 13, 2014 6:23 AM GMT President Barack Obama was sued by Senator Rand Paul over U.S. electronic surveillance he claims is illegal, adding to challenges that may land post-Sept. 11 government data collection in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Kentucky Republican announced today that he had filed his complaint in Washington federal court. Paul was joined as co-plaintiff by FreedomWorks Inc., a Tea Party-backed group. The filing couldnt be immediately confirmed in court records. The government is collecting phone data about U.S. citizens without any belief by defendants at the time of collection or retention or searches that any of the information is connected with international terrorism or an international terrorist organization, in violation of the U.S. Constitutions Fourth Amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches, according to a draft copy of Pauls suit provided by his office. Consumers willingness to provide companies with information about themselves to get phone service does not reflect a willingness or expectation that they are surrendering the privacy of the information, Paul said in his complaint. The suit challenges the National Security Agencys bulk collection of phone records of millions of Americans, a program disclosed last year by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, referred a request for comment on the suit to the Justice Department. The council, a White House group, consists of administration advisers, mostly from the Cabinet and the military. Found Legal We believe the program as it exists is lawful, Hayden said by e-mail, addressing the data collection generally. It has been found to be lawful by multiple courts. And it receives oversight from all three branches of government. We remain confident that the Section 215 telephone metadata program is legal, as at least 15 judges have previously found, Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment on the specific litigation. He repeated Obamas position that the program is lawful and has been upheld by courts. A federal judge in New York ruled Dec. 27 that the program is legal. The ruling came less than two weeks after a federal court in Washington said it may be illegal. The two judges came to opposite conclusions about a landmark 1979 ruling on telephone data in the pre-Internet age. A divided U.S. privacy-policy board last month concluded the NSA program is illegal and should be stopped. Minimal Usefulness The five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created by Congress under post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism laws, said in a 238-page report that the program to collect and store the records has provided only minimal help in thwarting terrorist attacks. The NSA receives phone records from U.S. telecommunications companies and stores them in a database that can be queried to determine who is in contact with suspected terrorist organizations. The surveillance was authorized by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks,. It has been defended as critically important to national security, according to records declassified this month by National Intelligence Director James Clapper. In the two court rulings, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III in Manhattan granted a government motion to dismiss a suit filed by groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union. D.C. Decision In Washington, Judge Richard Leon barred collection of metadata from the Verizon Wireless accounts of the two plaintiffs. Leon suspended the injunction for a government appeal. The ACLU appealed Pauleys ruling to the federal Court of Appeals in New York. If appeals courts uphold their respective lower courts, creating a split, the Supreme Court is more likely to take the case. The information at issue in all three cases involves metadata, which includes the numbers used to make and receive calls and their duration. It doesnt include information about the content of the communications or the names, addresses or financial information of parties, according to government filings in the Washington case. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-12/obama-sued-by-rand-paul-over-surveillance-as-challenges-grow-1-.html
  11. Luke Harding Saturday 1 February 2014 He was politically conservative, a gun owner, a geek – and the man behind the biggest intelligence leak in history. In this exclusive extract from his new book, Luke Harding looks at Edward Snowden's journey from patriot to America's most wanted In late December 2001, someone calling themselves TheTrueHOOHA had a question. He was an 18-year-old American male with impressive IT skills and a sharp intelligence. His real identity was unknown. Everyone who posted on Ars Technica, a popular technology website, did so anonymously. TheTrueHOOHA wanted to set up his own web server. It was a Saturday morning, a little after 11am. He posted: "It's my first time. Be gentle. Here's my dilemma: I want to be my own host. What do I need?" Soon, regular users were piling in with helpful suggestions. TheTrueHOOHA replied: "Ah, the vast treasury of geek knowledge that is Ars." He would become a prolific contributor; over the next eight years, he authored nearly 800 comments. He described himself variously as "unemployed", a failed soldier, a "systems editor", and someone who had US State Department security clearance. His home was on the east coast of America in the state of Maryland, near Washington DC. But by his mid-20s he was already an international man of mystery. He popped up in Europe – in Geneva, London, Ireland, Italy and Bosnia. He travelled to India. Despite having no degree, he knew an astonishing amount about computers. His politics appeared staunchly Republican. He believed strongly in personal liberty, defending, for example, Australians who farmed cannabis plants. At times he could be rather obnoxious. He called one fellow-Arsian, for example, a "cock"; others who disagreed with his sink-or-swim views on social security were "fucking retards". His chat logs cover a colourful array of themes: gaming, girls, sex, Japan, the stock market, his disastrous stint in the US army, his negative impressions of multiracial Britain (he was shocked by the number of "Muslims" in east London and wrote, "I thought I had gotten off of the plane in the wrong country… it was terrifying"), the joys of gun ownership ("I have a Walther P22. It's my only gun but I love it to death," he wrote in 2006). In their own way, the logs form a Bildungsroman. Then, in 2009, the entries fizzle away. In February 2010, TheTrueHOOHA mentions a thing that troubles him: pervasive government surveillance. "Society really seems to have developed an unquestioning obedience towards spooky types… Did we get to where we are today via a slippery slope that was entirely within our control to stop? Or was it a relatively instantaneous sea change that sneaked in undetected because of pervasive government secrecy?" TheTrueHOOHA's last post is on 21 May 2012. After that, he disappears, a lost electronic signature amid the vastness of cyberspace. He was, we now know, Edward Snowden. Edward Joseph Snowden was born on 21 June 1983. His father Lonnie and mother Elizabeth – known as Wendy – were high-school sweethearts who married at 18. Lon was an officer in the US coastguard; Snowden spent his early years in Elizabeth City, on North Carolina's coast. He has an older sister, Jessica. When Snowden was small – a boy with thick blond hair and a toothy smile – he and his family moved to Maryland, within DC's commuter belt. As his father recalls, Snowden's education went wrong when he got ill, probably with glandular fever. He missed "four or five months" of class in his mid-teens. Another factor hurt his studies: his parents were drifting apart. He failed to finish high school. In 1999, aged 16, Snowden enrolled at Anne Arundel community college, where he took computer courses. In the aftermath of his parents' divorce, Snowden lived with a roommate, and then with his mother, in Ellicott City, just west of Baltimore. He grew up under the giant shadow of one government agency in particular. From his mother's front door, it takes 15 minutes to drive there. Half-hidden by trees is a big, green, cube-shaped building. An entrance sign off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway reads: "NSA next right. Employees only." The Puzzle Palace employs 40,000 people. It is the largest hirer of mathematicians in the US. For Snowden, the likelihood of joining was slim. In his early 20s, his focus was on computers. To him, the internet was "the most important invention in all human history". He chatted online to people "with all sorts of views I would never have encountered on my own". He wasn't only a nerd: he kept fit, practised kung fu and, according to one entry on Ars, "dated Asian girls". The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq prompted Snowden to think seriously about a career in the military. "I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression," he has said. The younger Snowden was into computers, kung fu – and even tried his hand at amateur modelling. Photograph: © TheTrueHOOHA The military offered what seemed, on the face of it, an attractive scheme, whereby recruits with no prior experience could try out to become elite soldiers. In May 2004, Snowden took the plunge and enlisted, reporting to Fort Benning in Georgia. It was a disaster. He was in good physical shape but an improbable soldier, shortsighted and with unusually narrow feet. During infantry training, he broke both his legs. After more than a month's uncertainty, the army finally discharged him. Back in Maryland, he got a job as a "security specialist" at the University for Maryland's Centre for Advanced Study of Language. It was 2005. (He appears to have begun as a security guard, but then moved back into IT.) Snowden was working at a covert NSA facility on the university's campus. Thanks perhaps to his brief military history, he had broken into the world of US intelligence, albeit on a low rung. The centre worked closely with the US intelligence community, providing advanced language training. In mid-2006, Snowden landed a job in IT at the CIA. He was rapidly learning that his exceptional IT skills opened all kinds of interesting government doors. "First off, the degree thing is crap, at least domestically. If you 'really' have 10 years of solid, provable IT experience… you CAN get a very well-paying IT job," he wrote online in July 2006. In 2007, the CIA sent Snowden to Geneva on his first foreign tour. Switzerland was an awakening and an adventure. He was 24. His job was to maintain security for the CIA's computer network and look after computer security for US diplomats. He was a telecommunications information systems officer. He also had to maintain the heating and air-con. In Geneva, Snowden was exposed to an eclectic range of views. On one occasion, he gave an Estonian singer called Mel Kaldalu a lift to Munich. They had met at a Free Tibet event in Geneva; they didn't know each other brilliantly well, but well enough for Snowden to offer him a lift. They chatted for hours on the empty autobahn. Snowden argued that the US should act as a world policeman. Kaldalu disagreed. "Ed's an intelligent guy," he says. "Maybe even a little bit stubborn. He's outspoken. He likes to discuss things. Self-sustainable. He has his own opinions." The Estonian singer and the CIA technician talked about the difficulty pro-Tibet activists had in getting Chinese visas. Snowden was sceptical about the Beijing Olympics. Kaldalu said the Israeli occupation of Palestine was morally questionable. Snowden said he understood this, but viewed US support for Israel as the "least worst" option. Kaldalu suggested a "deconstructive" approach. The pair also discussed how rapid digital changes might affect democracy and the way people governed themselves. At the time, the figure who most closely embodied Snowden's rightwing views was Ron Paul, the most famous exponent of US libertarianism. Snowden supported Paul's 2008 bid for the US presidency. He was also impressed with the Republican candidate John McCain. He wasn't an Obama supporter as such, but he didn't object to him, either. Once Obama became president, Snowden came to dislike him intensely. He criticised the White House's attempts to ban assault weapons. He was unimpressed by affirmative action. Another topic made him even angrier. The Snowden of 2009 inveighed against government officials who leaked classified information to newspapers – the worst crime conceivable, in Snowden's apoplectic view. In January of that year, the New York Times published a report on a secret Israeli plan to attack Iran. The Times said its story was based on 15 months' worth of interviews with current and former US officials, European and Israeli officials, other experts and international nuclear inspectors. TheTrueHOOHA's response, published by Ars Technica, is revealing. In a long conversation with another user, he wrote the following messages: "WTF NYTIMES. Are they TRYING to start a war?" "They're reporting classified shit" "moreover, who the fuck are the anonymous sources telling them this? those people should be shot in the balls" "that shit is classified for a reason" "it's not because 'oh we hope our citizens don't find out' its because 'this shit won't work if iran knows what we're doing'" Snowden's anti-leaking invective seems stunningly at odds with his own later behaviour, but he would trace the beginning of his own disillusionment with government spying to this time. "Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world. I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good," he later said. In February 2009, Snowden resigned from the CIA. Now he was to work as a contractor at an NSA facility on a US military base in Japan. The opportunities for contractors had boomed as the burgeoning US security state outsourced intelligence tasks to private companies. Snowden was on the payroll of Dell, the computer firm. The early lacunae in his CV were by this stage pretty much irrelevant. He had top-secret clearance and outstanding computer skills. He had felt passionately about Japan from his early teens and had spent a year and a half studying Japanese. He sometimes used the Japanese pronunciation of his name – "E-do-waa-do" – and wrote in 2001: "I've always dreamed of being able to 'make it' in Japan. I'd love a cushy .gov job over there." Japan marked a turning point, the period when Snowden became more than a disillusioned technician: "I watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in." Between 2009 and 2012, he says he found out just how all-consuming the NSA's surveillance activities are: "They are intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them." He also realised that the mechanisms built into the US system and designed to keep the NSA in check had failed. "You can't wait around for someone else to act. I had been looking for leaders, but I realised that leadership is about being the first to act." He left Japan for Hawaii in 2012, a whistleblower-in-waiting. Snowden's new job was at the NSA's regional cryptological centre (the Central Security Service) on the main island of Oahu, near Honolulu. He was still a Dell contractor, working at one of the 13 NSA hubs devoted to spying on foreign interests, particularly the Chinese. He arrived with an audacious plan to make contact anonymously with journalists interested in civil liberties and to leak them stolen top-secret documents. His aim was not to spill state secrets wholesale. Rather, he wanted to turn over a selection of material to reporters and let them exercise their own editorial judgment. According to an NSA staffer who worked with him in Hawaii and who later talked to Forbes magazine, Snowden was a principled and ultra-competent if somewhat eccentric colleague. He wore a hoodie featuring a parody NSA logo. Instead of a key in an eagle's claws, it had a pair of eavesdropping headphones, covering the bird's ears. He kept a copy of the constitution on his desk and wandered the halls carrying a Rubik's cube. He left small gifts on colleagues' desks. He almost lost his job sticking up for one co-worker who was being disciplined. In Hawaii, by early 2013, Snowden's sense of outrage was still growing. But his plan to leak appeared to have stalled. He faced too many obstacles. He took a new job with the private contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, yielding him access to a fresh trove of information. According to the NSA staffer who spoke to Forbes, Snowden turned down an offer to join the agency's tailored access operations, a group of elite hackers. On 30 March, in the evening, Snowden flew to the US mainland to attend training sessions at Booz Allen Hamilton's office near Fort Meade. His new salary was $122,000 (£74,000) a year, plus a housing allowance. On 4 April, he had dinner with his father. Lon Snowden says he found his son preoccupied and nursing a burden. "We hugged as we always do. He said: 'I love you, Dad.' I said: 'I love you, Ed.'" "My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world [that] the NSA hacked," Snowden told the South China Morning Post, adding that this was exactly why he'd accepted it. He was one of around 1,000 NSA "sysadmins" allowed to look at many parts of this system. (Other users with top-secret clearance weren't allowed to see all classified files.) He could open a file without leaving an electronic trace. He was, in the words of one intelligence source, a "ghost user", able to haunt the agency's hallowed places. He may also have used his administrator status to persuade others to entrust their login details to him. Although we don't know exactly how he harvested the material, it appears Snowden downloaded NSA documents on to thumbnail drives. Thumb drives are forbidden to most staff, but a sysadmin could argue that he or she was repairing a corrupted user profile and needed a backup. Sitting back in Hawaii, Snowden could remotely reach into the NSA's servers. Most staff had already gone home for the night when he logged on, six time zones away. After four weeks in his new job, Snowden told his bosses at Booz that he was unwell. He wanted some time off and requested unpaid leave. When they checked back with him, he told them he had epilepsy (a condition that affects his mother). And then, on 20 May, he vanished. In December 2012, a reader pinged an email to Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, one of the more prominent US political commentators of his generation, based in Brazil. The email didn't stand out; he gets dozens of similar ones every day. The sender didn't identify himself. He (or it could have been a she) wrote: "I have some stuff you might be interested in." "He was very vague," Greenwald recalls. This mystery correspondent asked Greenwald to install PGP encryption software on his laptop. Once up and running, it guarantees privacy (the initials stand for Pretty Good Privacy) for an online chat. Greenwald had no objections. But there were two problems. "I'm basically technically illiterate," he admits. Greenwald also had a lingering sense that the kind of person who insisted on encryption might turn out to be slightly crazy. A month after first trying Greenwald and failing to get a response, Snowden tried a different route. At the end of January 2013, he sent an email to Greenwald's friend and collaborator Laura Poitras, a documentary film-maker. She was another leading critic of the US security state – and one of its more prominent victims. For six years, between 2006 and 2012, agents from the Department of Homeland Security detained Poitras each time she entered the US. They would interrogate her, confiscate laptops and mobile phones, and demand to know whom she had met. They would seize her camera and notebooks. Nothing incriminating was ever discovered. Poitras became an expert in encryption. She decided to edit her next film, her third in a trilogy about US security, from outside America, and moved temporarily to Berlin. Snowden's email to Poitras read: "I am a senior member of the intelligence community. This won't be a waste of your time." (The claim was something of an exaggeration: he was a relatively junior infrastructure analyst.) Snowden asked for her encryption key. She gave it. "I felt pretty intrigued pretty quickly," Poitras says. "At that point, my thought was either it's legit or it's entrapment." The tone of the emails was serious, though there were moments of humour. At one point Snowden advised Poitras to put her mobile in the freezer. "He's an amazing writer. His emails were good. Everything I got read like a thriller," she recalls. Then Snowden delivered a bombshell. He said he had got hold of Presidential Policy Directive 20, a top-secret 18-page document issued in October 2012. It said that the agency was tapping fibre optic cables, intercepting telephone landing points and bugging on a global scale. And he could prove all of it. "I almost fainted," Poitras says. The source made it clear he wanted Greenwald on board. Poitras moved ultra-cautiously. It was a fair assumption that the US embassy in Berlin had her under some form of surveillance. It would have to be a personal meeting. In late March, she returned to the US and met Greenwald in the lobby of his hotel, the Marriott in Yonkers. They agreed that they needed to get hold of the national security documents: without them, it would be difficult to rattle the doors on these issues. Poitras had assumed that Snowden would seek to remain anonymous, but he told her: "I hope you will paint a target on my back and tell the world I did this on my own." By late spring 2013, the possibility of a meeting was in the air. Snowden intended to leak one actual document. The file would reveal collaboration between the NSA and giant internet corporations under a secret program called Prism. Poitras flew again to New York for what she imagined would be her meeting with a senior intelligence bureaucrat. The source then sent her an encrypted file. In it was the Prism PowerPoint, and a second document that came as a total surprise: "Your destination is Hong Kong." The next day, he told her his name for the first time. Poitras knew that if she searched Snowden's name on Google, this would immediately alert the NSA. Attached was a map, a set of protocols for how they would meet, and a message: "This is who I am. This is what they will say about me. This is the information I have." In mid-April, Greenwald received a FedEx parcel containing two thumb drives with a security kit allowing him to install a basic encrypted chat program. Snowden now contacted Greenwald himself. "I have been working with a friend of yours… We need to talk, urgently." The whistleblower finally had a direct, secure connection to the elusive writer. Snowden wrote: "Can you come to Hong Kong?" The demand struck Greenwald as bizarre. His instinct was to do nothing. He contacted Snowden via chat. "I would like some more substantial idea why I'm going and why this is worthwhile for me?" Over the next two hours, Snowden explained to Greenwald how to boot up the Tails system, one of the securest forms of communication. Snowden then wrote, with what can only be called understatement, "I'm going to send you a few documents." Snowden's welcome package was around 20 documents from the NSA's inner sanctuaries, most stamped Top Secret. At a glance, it suggested the NSA had misled Congress about the nature of its domestic spying activities, and quite possibly lied. "It was unbelievable," Greenwald says. "It was enough to make me hyperventilate." Two days later, on 31 May, Greenwald sat in the office of Janine Gibson, the Guardian US's editor in New York. He said a trip to Hong Kong would enable the Guardian to find out about the mysterious source. Stuart Millar, the deputy editor of Guardian US, joined the discussion. Both executives agreed that the only way to establish the source's credentials was to meet him in person. Greenwald would take the 16-hour flight to Hong Kong the next day. Independently, Poitras was coming along, too. But Gibson ordered a third member on to the team, the Guardian's veteran Washington correspondent Ewen MacAskill. The 61-year-old Scot and political reporter was experienced and professional. He was calm. Everybody liked him. Except Poitras. She was exceedingly upset. As she saw it, an extra person might freak out the source, who was already on edge. "She was insistent that this would not happen," Greenwald says. "She completely flipped out." He tried to mediate, without success. However, at JFK airport, the ill-matched trio boarded a Cathay Pacific flight. Poitras sat at the back of the plane. She was funding her own trip. Greenwald and MacAskill, their bills picked up by the Guardian, were farther up in Premium Economy. As flight CX831 took off, there was a feeling of liberation. Up in the air, there is no internet – or at least there wasn't in June 2013. Once the seatbelt signs were off, Poitras brought a present they were both eager to open: a USB stick. Snowden had securely delivered her a second cache of secret NSA documents. This latest data set was far bigger than the initial "welcome pack". It contained 3,000-4,000 items. For the rest of the journey, Greenwald read the latest cache, mesmerised. Sleep was impossible: "I didn't take my eyes off the screen for a second. The adrenaline was so extreme." From time to time Poitras would come up from her seat in the rear and grin at Greenwald. "We would just cackle and giggle like schoolchildren. We were screaming and hugging and dancing with each other up and down," he says. Their celebrations woke up some of their neighbours; they didn't care. The first rendezvous was in Kowloon's Mira hotel, a chic, modern edifice in the heart of the tourist district. Poitras and Greenwald were to meet Snowden in a quiet part of the hotel, next to a large plastic alligator. They would swap pre-agreed phrases. Snowden would carry a Rubik's cube. Everything Greenwald knew about Snowden pointed in one direction: that he was a grizzled veteran of the intelligence community. "I thought he must be a pretty senior bureaucrat," Greenwald says. Probably 60-odd, wearing a blue blazer with shiny gold buttons, receding grey hair, sensible black shoes, spectacles, a club tie. Perhaps he was the CIA's station chief in Hong Kong. The pair reached the alligator ahead of schedule. They sat down. They waited. Nothing happened. The source didn't show. Strange. If the initial meeting failed, the plan was to return later the same morning. Greenwald and Poitras came back. They waited for a second time. And then they saw him – a pale, spindle-limbed, nervous, preposterously young man. He was dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans. In his right hand was a scrambled Rubik's cube. Had there been a mistake? The young man – if indeed he were the source – had sent encrypted instructions as to how the initial verification would proceed: Greenwald: What time does the restaurant open? The source: At noon. But don't go there, the food sucks… Greenwald – nervous – said his lines, struggling to keep a straight face. Snowden then said simply, "Follow me." The three walked silently to the elevator. They rode to the first floor and followed the cube-man to room 1014. Optimistically, Greenwald speculated that he was the son of the source, or his personal assistant. If not, then the encounter was a waste of time, a hoax. Over the course of the day, however, Snowden told his story. He had access to tens of thousands of documents taken from NSA and GCHQ's internal servers. Most were stamped Top Secret. Some were marked Top Secret Strap 1 – the British higher tier of super-classification for intercept material – or even Strap 2, which was almost as secret as you could get. No one – apart from a restricted circle of security officials – had ever seen documents of this kind before. What he was carrying, Snowden indicated, was the biggest intelligence leak in history. Greenwald bombarded him with questions. His credibility was on the line. So was that of his editors at the Guardian. Yet if Snowden were genuine, at any moment a CIA Swat team could burst into the room, confiscate his laptops and drag him away. As he gave his answers, they began to feel certain Snowden was no fake. And his reasons for becoming a whistleblower were cogent, too. The NSA could bug "anyone", from the president downwards, he said. In theory, the spy agency was supposed to collect only "signals intelligence" on foreign targets. In practice this was a joke, Snowden told Greenwald: it was already hoovering up metadata from millions of Americans. Phone records, email headers, subject lines, seized without acknowledgment or consent. From this you could construct a complete electronic narrative of an individual's life: their friends, lovers, joys, sorrows. The NSA had secretly attached intercepts to the undersea fibre optic cables that ringed the world. This allowed them to read much of the globe's communications. Secret courts were compelling telecoms providers to hand over data. What's more, pretty much all of Silicon Valley was involved with the NSA, Snowden said – Google, Microsoft, Facebook, even Steve Jobs's Apple. The NSA claimed it had "direct access" to the tech giants' servers. It had even put secret back doors into online encryption software – used to make secure bank payments – weakening the system for everybody. The spy agencies had hijacked the internet. Snowden told Greenwald he didn't want to live in a world "where everything that I say, everything that I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of love or friendship is recorded". Snowden agreed to meet MacAskill the next morning. The encounter went smoothly until the reporter produced his iPhone. He asked Snowden if he minded if he taped their interview, and perhaps took some photos? Snowden flung up his arms in alarm, as if prodded by an electric stick. "I might as well have invited the NSA into his bedroom," MacAskill says. The young technician explained that the spy agency was capable of turning a mobile phone into a microphone and tracking device; bringing it into the room was an elementary mistake. MacAskill dumped the phone. Snowden's own precautions were remarkable. He piled pillows up against the door to stop anyone eavesdropping from outside in the corridor. When putting passwords into computers, he placed a big red hood over his head and laptop, so the passwords couldn't be picked up by hidden cameras. On the three occasions he left his room, Snowden put a glass of water behind the door next to a bit of tissue paper. The paper had a soy sauce mark with a distinctive pattern. If anyone entered the room, the water would fall on the paper and it would change the pattern. MacAskill asked Snowden, almost as an afterthought, whether there was a UK role in this mass data collection. It didn't seem likely to him. MacAskill knew that GCHQ had a longstanding intelligence-sharing relationship with the US, but he was taken aback by Snowden's vehement response. "GCHQ is worse than the NSA," Snowden said. "It's even more intrusive." The following day, Wednesday 5 June, Snowden was still in place at the Mira hotel. That was the good news. The bad news was that the NSA and the police had been to see his girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, back at their home in Hawaii. Snowden's absence from work had been noted, an automatic procedure when NSA staff do not turn up. Snowden agonised: "My family does not know what is happening. My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner." He admitted, "That keeps me up at night." But the CIA hadn't found him yet. This was one of the more baffling aspects of the Snowden affair: why did the US authorities not close in on him earlier? Once they had spotted his absence, they might have pulled flight records showing he had fled to Hong Kong. There he was comparatively easy to trace. He had checked into the $330-a-night Mira hotel under his own name. He was even paying the bill with his personal credit card. That evening, Greenwald rapidly drafted a story about Verizon, revealing how the NSA was secretly collecting all the records from this major US telecoms company. Greenwald would work on his laptop, then pass it to MacAskill. MacAskill would type on his computer and hand Greenwald his articles on a memory stick; the sticks flowed back and forth. Nothing went on email. In New York, Gibson drew up a careful plan for the first story. It had three basic components: seek legal advice; work out a strategy for approaching the White House; get draft copy from the reporters in Hong Kong. She wrote a tentative schedule on a whiteboard. (It was later titled The Legend Of The Phoenix, a line from 2013's big summer hit, Daft Punk's Get Lucky.) Events were moving at speed. MacAskill had tapped out a four-word text from Hong Kong: "The Guinness is good." This code phrase meant he was now convinced Snowden was genuine. Gibson decided to give the NSA a four-hour window to comment, so the agency had an opportunity to disavow the story. By British standards, the deadline was fair: long enough to make a few calls, agree a line. But for Washington, where journalist-administration relations sometimes resemble a country club, this was nothing short of outrageous. In London, the Guardian's editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, headed for the airport for the next available New York flight. The White House sent in its top guns for a conference call with the Guardian. The team included FBI deputy director Sean M Joyce, a Boston native with an action-man resumé – investigator against Colombian narcotics, counter-terrorism officer, legal attaché in Prague. Also patched in was Chris Inglis, the NSA's deputy director. He was a man who interacted with journalists so rarely, he was considered by many to be a mythical entity. Then there was Robert S Litt, the general counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Litt was clever, likable, voluble, dramatic, lawyerly and prone to rhetorical flourishes. On the Guardian side were Gibson and Millar, sitting in Gibson's small office, with its cheap sofa and unimpressive view of Broadway. By fielding heavyweights, the White House had perhaps reckoned it could flatter, and if necessary bully, the Guardian into delaying publication. Gibson explained that the editor-in-chief – in the air halfway across the Atlantic – was unavailable. She said: "I'm the final decision-maker." After 20 minutes, the White House was frustrated. The conversation was going in circles. Finally, one of the team could take no more. Losing his temper, he shouted, "You don't need to publish this! No serious news organisation would publish this!" Gibson replied, "With the greatest respect, we will take the decisions about what we publish." Over in Hong Kong, Snowden and Greenwald were restless. Greenwald signalled that he was ready and willing to self-publish or take the scoop elsewhere if the Guardian hesitated. Time was running out. Snowden could be uncovered at any minute. Just after 7pm, Guardian US went ahead and ran the story. That evening, diggers arrived and tore up the sidewalk immediately in front of the Guardian's US office, a mysterious activity for a Wednesday night. With smooth efficiency, they replaced it. More diggers arrived outside Gibson's home in Brooklyn. Soon, every member of the Snowden team was able to recount similar unusual moments: "taxi drivers" who didn't know the way or the fare; "window cleaners" who lingered next to the editor's office. "Very quickly, we had to get better at spycraft," Gibson says. Snowden now declared his intention to go public. Poitras recorded Greenwald interviewing him. She made a 12-minute film and got the video through to New York. In the Guardian US office, the record of Snowden actually speaking was cathartic. "We were completely blown away," Millar says. "We thought he was cool and plausible." When the moment arrived, with the video ready to go live, the atmosphere in the newsroom was deeply emotional. Five people, including Rusbridger, were in the office. The video went up about 3pm local time on Sunday 9 June. "It was like a bomb going off," Rusbridger says. "There is a silent few seconds after a bomb explodes when nothing happens." The TV monitors were put on different channels; for almost an hour they carried prerecorded Sunday news. Then at 4pm the story erupted. Each network carried Snowden's image. It was 3am in Hong Kong when the video was posted online. It was the most-viewed story in the Guardian's history. Snowden had just become the most hunted man on the planet. The chase was already on. Greenwald, in one of his many TV interviews, had been captioned by CNN as "Glenn Greenwald, Hong Kong" – a pretty big clue. The local Chinese media and international journalists now studied every frame of the video for clues. One enterprising hack used Twitter to identify the Mira from its lamps. And then Snowden vanished. • © Luke Harding 2014 This is an edited extract from The Snowden Files: The Inside Story Of The World's Most Wanted Man, by Luke Harding http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/01/edward-snowden-intelligence-leak-nsa-contractor-extract
  12. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released more documents that reveal remote spying operations that include bulk data collection and user tracking, this time concerning the Canadian public, CBC News reports. According to a presentation dating back to May 2012, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has used an airport’s free Wi-Fi system over a period of two weeks to collect information from travellers that had cellphones or laptops with them – including Canadians, according to unnamed experts – and then used the data to further track the same users at other airports in the country and even at U.S. airports for more than a week, as their devices appeared on other Wi-Fi networks. “The document shows CSEC had so much data it could even track the travellers back in time through the days leading up to their arrival at the airport, these experts say,” CBC News writes. Representatives from Canada’s main airports in Toronto and Vancouver say they have not helped the CSEC with this project. Similarly, Boingo, who offers wireless services in some Canadian airports, says it did not help the agency. According to the presentation, this was a trial run for CSEC, which was developing a new surveillance program together with the NSA. In a different pilot project, the CSEC said in the presentation that it obtained access to two communications systems with more than 300,000 users and that it would have been able to “’sweep’ an entire mid-sized Canadian city to pinpoint a specific imaginary target in a fictional kidnaping.” However, it’s not clear how the data was collected and what means were used to track users once they left the airport in question. The agency said that the technologies used were “game-changing,” and that the system could be employed to monitor “any target that makes occasional forays into other cities/regions.” According to sources that talked to CBC News, “the technologies tested on Canadians in 2012 have since become fully operational.” The document also reveals that CSEC intended to share its advancements with spy agencies from the U.S., U.K., New Zealand and Australia. Privacy watchdogs and security experts believe that CSEC’s data collection trial program has been illegal. The agency says that it has not spied on Canadians and that it only collected metadata during the operation, not actual communication contents, something it’s legally authorized to do. “CSEC claims “no Canadian or foreign travellers’ movements were ‘tracked,’” although it does not explain why it put the word “tracked” in quotation marks,” CBC News wrote. Source
  13. Many people are divided on their beliefs about major companies like Microsoft and Google making claims of not being complicit with spying efforts carried out by the National Security Agency. However, it can’t be argued that such news is bad for business, and therefore makes the arguments against any kind of partnership with the NSA more believable. For his part, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general council and executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs, famously called the US Government an “advanced and persistent threat”. He then proceeded to outline the company’s plans to deal with this menace, in much the same way the corporation would treat "malware" (another term he used). One of the ideas outlined was the creation of “transparency centers” across the Americas, Europe and Asia. Now Microsoft has unveiled one of those locations. At today’s Munich Security Conference, Matt Tomlinson, vice president of security, announced a transparency center will be placed in Brussels, Belguim. “The Brussels center will build upon on our long-standing program that provides government customers with the ability to review our source code, reassure themselves of its integrity and confirm there are no back doors. It is my hope to open the Brussels Transparency Center by the end of this year”, Tomlinson states. He goes on to talk about the encryption efforts being made by the company to help better protect customer information. That includes both data stored by the company, as well as what is transmitted between it and other services. We still await the announcements of other locations, and the question remains regarding how much customers will trust the company, given the current news cycle. Source
  14. The latest revelation from the cache of Snowden documents shows that the NSA targets sysadmins to gain access to the infrastructure that they are responsible for. System administrators that are not necessarily the target of NSA surveillance are being targeted by the American spy agency because of their access to networks that the NSA wishes to gain entry into. As reported by The Intercept, the NSA looks to track down the personal email and Facebook accounts of sysadmins to infiltrate networks and the data they carry. "Sys admins are a means to an end," states the latest document from Snowden, entitled "I Hunt Sys Admins". "Upfront, sysadmins generally are not my end target. My end target is the extremist/terrorist or government official that happens to be using the network some admins takes care of." The document details its author's technique, whose name has been suppressed by The Intercept, for targeting suspected system administrators in order to gain access to infrastructure via the NSA's QUANTUM program, which uses malware and sometimes physical transmitters placed in hardware to return information to the NSA, even if the targeted computer is not networked. For sysadmins that are still using Telnet, the NSA has a tool called DISCOROUTE that is "specially designed to suck up and database router configuration files seen in passively collected Telnet sessions". By looking at the whitelisted IP address in the access list of the router's configuration, the author explains that they then look for any logins to Hotmail, Yahoo, Facebook, and other monitored services in the recent past to create a "probable list of personal accounts" for sysadmins controlling a network that the NSA wants to access. At this point, QUANTUM is engaged and the NSA can then "proceed with pwnage". Taking the program a step further, the author outlines a system where all the DISCOROUTE data could be used to create an address book that pairs up networks with personal accounts of system administrators to exploit. "As soon as one of those networks becomes a target, all TAO has to do is query the database, see if we have any admins pre-identified for that network, and, if we do, automatically queue up tasking and go-go-CNE [computer network exploitation]" said the document. "All of this can be done by tweaking the data that we already have at our fingertips!!!" SSH is some protection to the monitoring of the NSA — in that, unlike Telnet, the NSA is not able to view the contents of communications between a server and a machine used by a sysadmins by passively monitoring a connection — but the author details a process based on monitoring the length of SSH sessions to determine the IP address of a potential system administrator: Sessions where an unsuccessful login occurs in the majority of cases would be of shorter duration than a successful connection were the sysadmins is performing tasks on the server. "You can guesstimate whether an SSH session was successful or not purely based off of the size of the session in the server-to-client direction." Since passive monitoring of communications allows the NSA to know the IP address of the machines attempting to connect to a server, the NSA can then use that IP address as a selector to search other NSA data and look for any social or email service logins. "If a server IP is ever in a network that I want access to, I don't have to decrypt the admin's SSH session; all I have to do is hope he checked his Facebook/webmail within a certain timeframe of SSH'ing to the server. If he did, that selector is now tasked for QUANTUM, and we wait to get access to his box." The author goes onto describe how hacking large routers, such as those sold by Cisco, Juniper, and Huawei, has been used by spying agencies in the US, the UK, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia for some time, but other, unnamed nation states are starting get in on the action. The rest of the document has been removed by The Intercept, which said it was redacted to "prevent helping countries improve their ability to hack foreign routers and spy on people undetected". Source
  15. Published time: January 24, 2014 19:21 The Republican National Committee has passed a resolution pushing conservative lawmakers to put an end to the National Security Agencys blanket surveillance of American citizens' phone records. The resolution also calls for an investigation of the NSAs metadata collection practices, which it labeled a gross infringement of the rights of US citizens. Under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the NSA has been authorized to collect and store the records of nearly all domestic phone calls the phone numbers involved and duration of the calls, but not the content of the conversations themselves. Specifically, the RNC will push Republican lawmakers to pass amendments to Section 215 stating that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity, phone records and correspondence electronic, physical, and otherwise of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court. The resolution also adds that the mass collection and retention of personal data is in itself contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. While Republicans have generally been split on their reaction to the NSAs spying programs libertarian-leaning lawmakers have been more critical of the NSA than national security "hawks" Time reported that no RNC members spoke out against the new resolution when it came up for a voice vote. It reportedly passed with an overwhelming majority. Exactly how lawmakers will receive this new resolution remains unclear. Despite the apparent widespread support within the RNC to reign in the NSA, the partys Republican legislators are not obligated to vote according to these suggestions. Still, the move reflects growing unease concerning the NSAs practices within the conservative movement and will undoubtedly be embraced by civil liberties advocates who have called for an overhaul of the surveillance program ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began leaking details about the agencys behavior to the press. Last week, President Barack Obama announced reforms of his own regarding the surveillance efforts while simultaneously defending the program as necessary. He stated that going forward, government officials will need to obtain a court order to access the archive of data collected by the NSA. Though Obama did not say who would be in charge of overseeing the archive, he called on Congress, intelligence officials, and Attorney General Eric Holder to take the next steps. I believe we need a new approach, Obama said. I am therefore ordering a transition that will end the Section 215 bulk metadata collection program as it currently exists, and establishes a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata. While Obamas proposals were welcomed, some civil liberties groups - such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch - stated that he did not go far enough, offering only vague assurance that the government would not abuse its powers. http://rt.com/usa/republicans-vote-end-nsa-surveillance-164
  16. Updated: 14:22, Friday January 24, 2014 The US government is seeking billions of dollars in penalties and damages from the company that did the background check on National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. The US government is seeking billions of dollars in penalties and damages from the company that did the background check on National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. The Justice Department, in its complaint, said US Investigations Services, the largest of several companies that have government contracts to investigate current and prospective federal employees, lied about 665,000 checks it conducted between March 2008 and September 2012. USIS devised an elaborate scheme in which the Virginia company told the government it had completed investigations of people whose backgrounds, in fact, had not been thoroughly vetted, according to the complaint, which was filed on Wednesday in a federal court in Alabama as part of an continuing civil lawsuit against the company. USIS set production quotas - monthly, quarterly and annual targets - and then used a process of 'dumping' or 'fishing' to submit incomplete background reports to meet the quotas, the Justice Department said. The company used a software system called Blue Zone to help run the fraudulent reports, according to the complaint. It said the US government's Office of Personnel Management relied on the reports to pay USIS. 'Due to its fraudulent conduct, USIS received millions of dollars that it otherwise would not have received had OPM been aware that the background investigations had not gone through the quality-review process required by the fieldwork contracts,' the Justice Department said in its complaint. The OPM oversees employment background checks and investigations for security clearances granted to federal employees. It does some of its own investigations but hires USIS and other companies to do most of them. USIS received more than $US2 billion ($A2.29 billion) from the OPM to conduct security checks in the four years covered by the Justice Department brief, according to USAspending.gov, a government website that compiles federal contracting data. Ellen Davis, a USIS spokeswoman, said in a statement that the alleged fraudulent behaviour was limited to 'a small group of individuals.' While the government doesn't say that USIS submitted a phoney security check on Snowden, that check was purportedly completed in 2011 during the time covered by the Justice Department brief. The 665,000 allegedly phoney background checks represented 40 per cent of all such checks conducted by USIS in that time for the federal government. The government also hired USIS to do the security check on Aaron Alexis, another contract employee, who shot and killed 12 people September 16 at the Washington Navy Yard. Snowden stole huge caches of classified digital data from the NSA and leaked them to news organisations before fleeing the country for Hong Kong last May. USIS executives joked about defrauding the government, according to internal company emails obtained by the Justice Department and contained in its brief. 'We all own this baby, and right now this is one ugly baby,' the company's vice president of field operations wrote in one email, according to the Justice Department. http://www.skynews.com.au/world/article.aspx?id=944598
  17. WASHINGTON Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:12pm EST A picture of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), is seen on a computer screen displaying a page of a Chinese news website, in Beijing in this June 13, 2013 photo illustration. Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee said on Sunday he is investigating whether former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden had help from Russia in stealing and revealing U.S. government secrets. "I believe there's a reason he ended up in the hands - the loving arms - of an FSB agent in Moscow. I don't think that's a coincidence," U.S. Representative Mike Rogers told the NBC program "Meet the Press," referring to the Russian intelligence agency that is a successor of the Soviet-era KGB. Snowden last year fled the United States to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he was granted at least a year of asylum. U.S. officials want Snowden returned to the United States for prosecution. His disclosures of large numbers of stolen U.S. secret documents sparked a debate around the world about the reach of U.S. electronic surveillance. Rogers did not provide specific evidence to back his suggestions of Russian involvement in Snowden's activities, but said: "Some of the things we're finding we would call clues that certainly would indicate to me that he had some help." Asked whether he is investigating Russian links to Snowden's activities, Rogers said, "Absolutely. And that investigation is ongoing." Senator Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on "Meet the Press" that Snowden "may well have" had help from Russia. "We don't know at this stage," Feinstein said. Feinstein said Snowden gained employment at the National Security Agency "with the intent to take as much material down as he possibly could." On the ABC program "This Week," U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, also expressed his belief that Snowden had foreign help. "Hey, listen, I don't think ... Mr. Snowden woke up one day and had the wherewithal to do this all by himself," he said. "I personally believe that he was cultivated by a foreign power to do what he did," McCaul said. Asked whether he thought Russia was that "foreign power," McCaul said, "You know, to say definitively, I can't. I can't answer that." 'TOTALITY OF THE INFORMATION' Rogers indicated that the nature of the material that Snowden obtained suggested foreign involvement. "When you look at the totality of the information he took, the vast majority of it had to do with military, tactical and operational events happening around the world," he told the CBS program "Face the Nation." Michael Morell, the former deputy CIA director, said he shared Rogers' concern about what Russian intelligence services may be doing with Snowden. "I don't have any particular evidence but one of the things I point to when I talk about this is that the disclosures that have been coming recently are very sophisticated in their content and sophisticated in their timing - almost too sophisticated for Mr. Snowden to be deciding on his own. And it seems to me he might be getting some help," Morell said on "Face the Nation." Other U.S. security officials have told Reuters as recently as last week that the United States has no evidence at all that Snowden had any confederates who assisted him or guided him about what NSA materials to hack or how to do so. Snowden told the New York Times in October he did not take any secret NSA documents with him to Russia when he fled there in June 2013. "There's a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents," Snowden told the Times. In remarks aired on Sunday on ABC's "This Week," President Vladimir Putin discussed Snowden's freedom of movement in Russia and that the American would be free to attend the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics. "Mr. Snowden is subject to the treatment of provisional asylum here in Russia. He has a right to travel freely across the country. He has no special limitation. He can just buy a ticket and come here," Putin said. (Reporting by Will Dunham, Toni Clarke and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Jim Loney and Chris Reese) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/19/us-usa-security-snowden-idUSBREA0I0EW20140119
  18. Published time: January 20, 2014 22:58 The overwhelming majority of Americans said that President Obama’s recent speech regarding changes to the National Security Agency had little to no effect on their opinion on the surveillance programs, according to a poll released Monday. In a highly anticipated speech last Friday, Obama said that the NSA would continue to collect metadata on millions of Americans, but the agency would need a judge’s approval and would also have to turn the information over to a third party instead of storing it in the NSA’s databases. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and USA Today has found that Obama’s speech, which came after an intelligence review board recommended the NSA discontinue the collection of phone metadata immediately, did little to change their opinion. Of the 1,504 adults polled between January 15 and 19, half said they had heard nothing about the President’s proposed changes and another 41 percent said they only heard “a little bit.” A mere eight percent said they heard a lot about potential changes. Researchers also found that fewer US citizens are in favor of the agency’s mass surveillance than when Edward Snowden first leaked classified documents in June of last year. In July, just weeks after the first Snowden documents were published by the Guardian and the Washington Post, 50 percent of Americans said they were in favor of the measures, believing they were necessary to fight terrorism. Now, though, 40 percent approve of the far-reaching programs and 53 percent disapprove. The NSA review board previously suggested in December that the intelligence agency turn over the phone metadata to a phone company or other third party to reduce the risk of government abuse. It also recommended that the NSA be required to seek approval from a judge in order to sift through that information. Obama said Friday that those suggestions will be the new basis for his NSA reforms. But nearly half of the citizens polled, 48 percent, say there are still not sufficient safeguards on what internet and phone data the government is permitted to collect. Even fewer, just 41 percent, said that there are adequate limits on the data collection as a whole. Support for the NSA program was clearer when researchers examined party lines. In June 2013 45 percent of Republicans approved of the surveillance while 51 percent disapproved. Seven months later, 37 percent approved and 56 percent disapproved. Democrats, perhaps out of loyalty to the Obama administration, said in June that they approved of the NSA by 58 percent, with only 38 percent speaking against the policies. By January, the number who approve had fallen to 46 percent while the number who disapproved jumped to 48 percent. “Among those that did hear about the proposals, large majorities of Republicans (86%) and independents (78%) say these changes will not make much difference when it comes to protecting people’s privacy,” the Pew Research Center wrote Monday. “Among Democrats who have heard of the changes, 56% say they won’t make much difference.” http://rt.com/usa/obama-nsa-speech-trust-doubt-917 :)
  19. By Associated Press 30 minutes ago BERLIN (AP) — Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden claims in a new interview that the U.S. agency is involved in industrial espionage. German public television broadcaster ARD released a written statement before an interview airing Sunday night in which it quotes Snowden as saying that if German engineering company Siemens had information that would benefit the United States — but had nothing to do with national security needs — the National Security Agency would still use it. ARD did not give any further context and it was not clear what exactly Snowden accused the NSA of doing with such information. Snowden faces felony charges in the U.S. after revealing the NSA's mass surveillance program. He has temporary asylum in Russia. http://news.yahoo.com/german-tv-snowden-says-nsa-spies-industry-110712060--finance.html
  20. By Michael J de la Merced Jan 26, 2014, 06.18 AM IST DAVOS (Switzerland): Russia plans to extend its offer of asylum to Edward J Snowden beyond August, a Russian lawmaker said on Friday at the WEF here. The lawmaker, Aleksei K Pushkov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, hinted during a panel discussion that the extension of temporary refugee status for Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, might be indefinite. "He will not be sent out of Russia," Pushkov said. "It will be up to Snowden." He added that Snowden's father believes his son could not get a fair trial in the United States. Pushkov made his comments came against a backdrop of broad criticism of the American spying programs that have come to light since the summer. He pointed to the sheer volume of information that American authorities are able to gather. "The US has created a Big Brother system," Pushkov said. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Snowdens-asylum-may-be-extended-by-Russia/articleshow/29384008.cms
  21. By Robert T. Gonzalez Today 11am Just a friendly reminder that the NSA's children's website, "CryptoKids," is an actual thing that exists. In today's New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt reports on the "furry, smiley face" the Agency puts on its mission: The turtle wearing a hat backward, baggy jeans and purple sunglasses looks just like other cartoon characters that marketers use to make products like cereal and toys appealing to children. But the reptile, known as T. Top, who says creating and breaking codes is really "kewl," is pushing something far weightier: the benefits of the National Security Agency. "In the world of diplomacy, knowing what your enemy is planning helps you to prepare," the turtle says. "But it is also important that your enemies do not know what you have planned. It is the mission of the National Security Agency and the Central Security Service to learn what it can about its potential enemies to protect America's government communications." Such an enthusiastic endorsement of the N.S.A.'s mission might seem particularly timely given the criticism directed at the agency since one of its former contractors, Edward J. Snowden, began leaking documents he had stolen from it. But T. Top and a troupe of eight other smiley-faced cartoon characters have been busy promoting the N.S.A.'s mission for the past nine years as part of a governmentwide attempt to make agencies more understandable to the public. With cartoon characters, interactive games and puzzles, the N.S.A.'s CryptoKids website for "future codemakers and codebreakers" tries to educate children about spying duties and recruit them to work for the agency. You can check out the rest of Schmidt's piece here, where you'll read all about the NSA's efforts to remind children with cartoon characters that, while the Internet is a "great" place, "there are people out there who don't have your best interests in mind." (Just remember kids: Every month should be cybersecurity awareness month. No matter what the NSA tells you.) http://io9.com/the-nsas-website-for-kids-isnt-creepy-nope-not-cree-1508865211
  22. Eight of the biggest companies in technology have united to speak out against the NSA's leaked surveillance programs and demand sweeping reforms. AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo have all signed a letter to President Obama and Congress that The Hill reports will run in national print ads on Monday. "We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens," begins the letter. "But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide." The letter also appears on a new website, Reform Government Surveillance, which further outlines the group's positions. Most of these companies signed an open letter back in October calling for changes in the way the NSA operates, and all of them have backed bills allowing them to reveal more about government data requests, but the Reform Government Surveillance campaign is more populist and explicit about exactly what the companies expect from authorities in the future. The coalition calls for five principles behind surveillance reform: limiting governments' authority to collect users' information, oversight and accountability, transparency about government demands, respecting the free flow of information, and avoiding conflicts among governments. "The security of users' data is critical, which is why we've invested so much in encryption and fight for transparency around government requests for information," says Google CEO Larry Page. "This is undermined by the apparent wholesale collection of data, in secret and without independent oversight, by many governments around the world." Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says that "it is time for the United States government to act to restore the confidence of citizens around the world," a sentiment echoed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who believes that the government "should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right." Source
  23. A published report this weekend says that besides the NSA, local police are also spying on your cellphone calls. According to the report, local and state police are using new technologies to snoop in realtime. This allows the authorities to capture information on people even if they are not the subject of an investigation. Based on a study of 124 police agencies in 33 states, 25% of police agencies employ a method known as a "tower dump" that provides law-enforcement with information including the location, identity and activity of any cellphone that connects to a particular cell tower. The technology used by the police should be scary to those who guard their privacy. A device called the Stingray, which is the size of a suitcase, is placed inside a car that is driven around local neighborhoods. Basically a portable cell tower, Stingray tricks your cellphone into believing that it is a real tower and connects to it, giving the cops information and data. This equipment costs as much as $400,000, but is funded by the federal government thanks to anti-terror grants. "When this technology disseminates down to local government and local police, there are not the same accountability mechanisms in place. You can see incredible potential for abuses."-Catherine Crump, Attorney, ACLU While organizations like the ACLU are worried about the amount of data being collected by police without a warrant, the cops say that they need to mine this information to track criminals, terrorists and kidnappers. The fear is that in the course of sifting through data, the police will stumble on other illegal activities not listed in the court order. But most police officials say that they are interested only in the information generated by a targeted criminal or a victim. Once a tower dump reveals information, the police can refine the data by asking the courts to force the carrier's to release more information like addresses, call logs and texts. Any information that violates a person's constitutional rights will not be allowed to be used by the courts. The problem is that with the recent worry about NSA spying, most Americans are greatly concerned about what is being done with all of the data generated by their cellphone. How Stingray tracks your calls Source
  24. By JOSH KELLER, ALICIA PARLAPIANO, DAVID E. SANGER and CHARLIE SAVAGEJAN. 17, 2014 President Obama announced on Friday that he will place new limits on intelligence agencies’ bulk collection of phone call records. But he rejected some other recommendations to rein in surveillance made by a panel of outside advisers. Phone Records Documents released in June reveal that the N.S.A. has been systematically collecting logs of every Americans’ phone calls and storing the data for five years. Agency analysts may examine call records of people up to three links (or “hops”) removed from any number for which they decide there is “reasonable, articulable suspicion” of ties to terrorism. Mr. Obama says he wants to find a way not to have the government collect records in bulk, but rather keep them in private hands. In the meantime, analysts will now be able to examine only records of people two hops away from a suspect number. And the N.S.A. must obtain a court order ahead of time from a judge who agrees that the standard of suspicion has been, with an exception for after-the-fact court review in a fast-moving exigency. There are two options for doing this. One is to require each telecommunications provider to retain its customers’ calling records for a certain time and store the data in a way that the government could quickly get access it – and cross-reference it with other providers’ records. The other is to create a private consortium that would comingle the records. Mr. Obama says there are difficulties with both options, and has directed his administration to study options and work with Congress to come up with a solution. Mr. Obama has rejected the idea of scrapping the program entirely, as some lawmakers and civil libertarians have called for, saying he wants to retain its capabilities but restructure it to reduce the possibility of abuses. Aides said Mr. Obama would like to get the N.S.A. out of the business of holding the data at all, so it was deemed to make little sense to order the agency to purge the data more quickly. That leaves open the question of how long telecommunications providers or a consortium would be required to retain the records. Emails and Phone Calls Mr. Obama said he would ask the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to come up with ideas for additional restrictions on government’s ability to retain, search and use the communications of Americans that were “incidentally” collected without a warrant. National Security Letters National Security Letters are subpoenas the F.B.I. can use to compel businesses to turn over a range of records about their customers, like financial transactions or data on communications, while gagging the recipients from talking about them. The F.B.I. uses the device tens of thousands of times a year, and it objected to losing the power to issues them unless a court approved. Mr. Obama rejected the recommendation to impose a court approval requirement. But he is ending the open-ended secrecy, saying the gag orders will expire after a fixed period in most cases. And he said providers would be allowed to say more to the public about the scope and scale of the orders they receive. Foreign Leaders and Foreign Nationals Disclosures that the N.S.A. has been eavesdropping on foreign leaders, including the cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, led to a diplomatic crisis for the Obama administration in October. Mr. Obama said he would generally ban the practice for “close friends and allies” and a senior administration official said this list included “dozens” of leaders of foreign countries, without specifying them. The administration did not address whether the U.S. would spy on other top officials from those countries. Recent disclosures revealed that the N.S.A. collects vast amounts of information from overseas telecommunications networks, vacuuming up metadata in bulk and intercepting the contents of communications. Mr. Obama said that new safeguards would limit the duration that the government can hold personal information about foreigners and restrict its use. While he acknowledged the United State’s responsibility to ask “tough questions” about its technological capabilities, he made clear that foreigners overseas do not enjoy the same protections as U.S. citizens. “This is not unique to America,” he said. “Few, if any, spy agencies around the world constrain their activities beyond their own borders.” Fisa Court Structure A senior official said the advocates would be called on only in cases presenting novel and important privacy law issues. The panel would apparently not have the authority to monitor the court’s caseload and independently decide when a case warranted its presence. Currently, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., selects all the judges who serve a term of extra duty on the secret court, and he has used that power to overwhelmingly pick Republican-appointed judges. Critics have called for diversifying the court by having other Supreme Court justices, or the chief judges of the appeals courts, play a role. Administration officials said that Mr. Obama would accept that kind of a change if Congress made it. Cybersecurity and Encryption In July, The New York Times reported that the N.S.A. had been collecting previously undiscovered “zero day” flaws in common computer programs and using them for mounting cyberattacks. White House says the recommendation is now under review by the security council to “review and, as necessary, adjust existing processes.’’ Documents released in September revealed that the agency had been working to weaken encryption standards so it could more easily crack secure systems. White House says its cybersecurity and science and technology offices are reviewing the issues and “we support the recommendation’s aim to protect the standards for commercial encryption.’’ Agency Organization and Security In 2009, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates combined into one position the heads of the N.S.A., which is responsible for gathering intelligence, and the Cyber Command, the military's cyberwarfare unit. Mr. Obama has already rejected the recommendation to split command of the N.S.A. from the Cyber Command. The public debate over the scope of N.S.A. surveillance started when a former N.S.A. contractor, Edward J. Snowden, secretly made copies of four hard drives worth of top-secret documents and then leaked them. While Mr. Obama acknowledged Mr. Snowden’s role in starting the debate over privacy and national security, he did not address recommendations to secure classified information. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/01/17/us/nsa-changes-graphic.html?hp&_r=0
  25. By Steve Holland, Mark Hosenball and Jeff Mason Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:09pm EST 1 of 5. U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency from the Justice Department in Washington January 17, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Reuters) - President Barack Obama banned U.S. eavesdropping on the leaders of close friends and allies on Friday and began reining in the vast collection of Americans' phone data in a series of limited reforms triggered by Edward Snowden's revelations. In a major speech, Obama took steps to reassure Americans and foreigners alike that the United States will take into account privacy concerns highlighted by former spy contractor Snowden's damaging disclosures about the sweep of monitoring activities of the National Security Agency (NSA). "The reforms I'm proposing today should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies maintain the tools they need to keep us safe," he said. While the address was designed to fend off concerns that U.S. surveillance has gone too far, Obama's measures fell short of dismantling U.S. electronic spying programs. Even as the White House put the final touches on the reform plan this week, media outlets reported that the NSA gathers nearly 200 million text messages a day from around the world and has put software in almost 100,000 computers allowing it to spy on those devices. Obama promised that the United States will not eavesdrop on the heads of state or government of close U.S. friends and allies, "unless there is a compelling national security purpose." A senior administration official said that would apply to dozens of leaders. The step was designed to smooth over frayed relations between, for example, the United States and Germany after reports surfaced last year that the NSA had monitored the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff postponed a state visit to Washington in protest of the NSA spying on her email and cellphone. "The leaders of our close friends and allies deserve to know that if I want to learn what they think about an issue, I will pick up the phone and call them, rather than turning to surveillance," Obama said. Still, he said, U.S. intelligence will continue to gather information about the intentions of other governments, and will not apologize simply because U.S. spy services are more effective. Obama is trying to balance public anger at the disclosure of intrusion into Americans' privacy with his commitment to retain policies he considers critical to protecting the United States. In doing so, he bucked the advice of some U.S. intelligence leaders. Some of his proposals drew skepticism from Republicans in Congress who expressed concerns that he was going too far in reining in essential spying programs. "While we will need much more detail on the president's new policies before passing final judgment, I am concerned that some of his proposals go too far, limiting our ability to protect the nation with little benefit to civil liberties of Americans," said Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. One of the biggest changes will be an overhaul of the government's handling of bulk telephone "metadata" - lists of million of phone calls made by Americans that show which numbers were called and when. Obama said the program as it currently exists will end. In a nod to privacy advocates, the government will not hold the bulk telephone metadata, a decision that could frustrate some intelligence officials. A presidential advisory panel had recommended that the data be controlled by a third party such as the telephone companies, but Obama did not propose who should store the phone information in the future. He asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the intelligence community to report back to him before the metadata program comes up for reauthorization on March 28 on how to preserve the necessary capabilities of the program, without the government holding the metadata. In addition, Obama said the U.S. the government will need a judicial review by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court every time intelligence agencies want to check the database of millions of telephone calls, unless there is a true emergency. "The biggest deal is going to the court each time," said retired General Michael Hayden, a former director of both the NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency. SECRET COURTS The usefulness of keeping metadata phone records has been questioned by a review panel appointed by Obama. It found that while the program had produced some leads for counter-terrorism investigators, such information had not proven decisive in a single case. Among a list of reforms, Obama called on Congress to establish an outside panel of privacy advocates for the FISA Court that considers terrorism cases. The former chief judge of the FISA court had opposed such a step. Members of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence called for more restraint on the NSA. "In particular, we will work to close the 'back-door searches' loophole and ensure that the government does not read Americans' emails or other communications without a warrant," Senators Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Martin Heinrich said in a joint statement. Obama made clear that his administration's anger at Snowden's revelations has not abated. Snowden, living in asylum in Russia, is wanted on espionage charges, although some Americans would like him to be granted amnesty for exposing secrets they feel needed to be made public. "Given the fact of an open investigation, I'm not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden's actions or his motivations," Obama said, making a rare mention of the former NSA contractor by name. "The sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come," he added. Obama was silent on a number of his review group's recommendations, including some that called for a rebalancing of the intelligence agencies' sometimes conflicting missions to enhance cybersecurity while conducting computer spying and offensive operations. The group had asked the administration to end efforts to weaken cryptography so that spies and law enforcement can more easily break into communications. The panel also sought a wholesale change to the government's practice of developing or buying information about weaknesses in software design. The White House did not address those points, to the disappointment of outside experts who feel the United States is making Internet security worse. "NSA sabotage of crypto standards was the thing most conspicuously absent for me," University of Pennsylvania cryptographer Matt Blaze wrote on Twitter. (Additional reporting by Mark Felsenthal, Susan Heavey and Joseph Menn; Editing by Alistair Bell, Sandra Maler and Amanda Kwan) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/17/us-usa-security-obama-idUSBREA0G0JI20140117 Sure, Lite and Shought banned fapping, too; "The Residents" still "in crime" :)
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