Items tagged with NSA

If you think that the likes of the NSA needs to rely on zero-day exploits to get their job done, you apparently have things completely wrong. At the USENIX Enigma security conference in San Francisco this week, the NSA's chief of Tailored Access Operations, Rob Joyce said that it's his team's sheer talent makes its attacks successful, not simple flaws waiting to be exploited. While it does seem likely that the NSA makes use of zero-day exploits when the juicier ones are found, Joyce says that it's not as though his team simply has a "skeleton key" that's able to open any door it chooses. Instead,... Read more...
While many of us were seeking out the hottest deals this weekend, the US government carried out the greatest reduction of its spying efforts since they were expanded-upon following the attacks of Sept 11, 2001. Adhering to a law passed some six months ago, the National Security Agency is no long allowed to blindly pull down phone records of millions of Americans, a move that's being considered a major win by privacy advocates. Effective immediately, if the NSA wants to gather phone data on a target, it must get a court order and work with phone carriers to enable monitoring, and only for up to... Read more...
In the "vast majority of cases," when the U.S. government is made aware of a software vulnerability, it discloses that information to the vendor so that it can issue a patch to the public. What constitutes a "vast majority?" Nine times out of 10, or 91 percent of the time, according to the U.S. National Security Agency's own books. What about the other 9 percent of the time? The zero-day threats the NSA doesn't disclose are those that the vendors fixed before they were notified or, simply put, don't get disclosed in the interest of national security. "The National Security Council has an interagency... Read more...
Following the revelations from Edward Snowden that the U.S. has engaged in wide-scale surveillance programs that spy not only Americans, but also ally nations, many in the tech industry have called for even tougher software encryption to keep law enforcement and government agencies from overstepping their bounds with regards to citizens’ privacy. “Technologists have worked tirelessly to re-engineer the security of the devices that surround us, along with the language of the Internet itself,” said Snowden in a June op-ed for The New York Times. “Secret flaws in critical infrastructure that had been... Read more...
While the NSA had the support of all US telcos with its spying efforts, it's come to light that none offered the level of assistance that AT&T did. Recent documents that are part of the ongoing Snowden leaks show the NSA heaping a bit of praise on its relationship with AT&T, saying it was "highly collaborative" and that the company had an "extreme willingness to help." Beginning in 2003 and leading up to the time Edward Snowden blew the doors off the far-reaching spy efforts, AT&T gave the NSA access to an enormous amount of information through many methods under different legal rules.... Read more...
It's been a full two years since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the massive spying efforts of the NSA, and despite the sheer amount of information and revelations that have come out since then, there still seems to be a lot more to come. The latest reveal involves the NSA running an intrusion detection system on the Internet's backbone, something it was granted permission for behind-the-scenes. It's reported that in 2012, the Justice Department wrote secret memos to grant the agency the ability to monitor addresses that exhibited security risk behavior. It's important to note that this permission... Read more...
Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency who leaked confidential documents and information to the press regarding the U.S. government's PRISM program, says he has never been "so wrong," and for that he's "grateful." Let's add some context, shall we? Snowden says he was wrong to worry that his efforts and the risk he and the journalists who broke the story over the NSA's bulk collection of phone records would have been for nothing, "that the public would react with indifference, or practiced cynicism, to the revelations." "Never have I been so grateful... Read more...
In a 67-32 vote, the U.S. Senate passed an amended version of the USA Freedom Act, which among other things changes the way the National Security Agency can tap into phone records. The NSA can no longer collect phone records in bulk as it was allowed to do before that provision of the post-911 Patriot Act expired, and instead requires telecoms to store the records.The government can still access those records, but would need a court order. Part of the intent is that the NSA will only see phone records belonging to targeted individuals suspected of terrorism, as opposed to records belonging to thousands... Read more...
Senator Rand Paul, a presidential hopeful for the Republican party, was ultimately successful in his ongoing effort to prevent the U.S. Senate from voting on extensions to key provisions of the Patriot Act. As a result, the National Security Agency's legal authority to collect telephone records in bulk expired at the stroke of midnight Monday."Tonight we stopped the illegal NSA bulk data collection. This is a victory no matter how you look at it," Rand said in a statement. "It might be short lived, but I hope that it provides a road for a robust debate, which will strengthen our intelligence community,... Read more...
The fate of the National Security Agency's ability to collect phone records on a mass scale has yet to be determined as the Senate continues to shoot down measures passed by the House of Representatives. One of those measures was the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would effectively put an end to bulk telephone data collection.It's a bill that President Barack Obama and his administration adamantly supported. The House of Representatives also was favor of the USA Freedom Act, as both Republicans and Democrats came together to approve the measure with a majority 338-to-88 vote. However, the bill stalled... Read more...
Sen. Rand Paul spoke for nearly 10 and a half hours yesterday protesting the Patriot Act, which is soon to expire and is up for renewal. His attempted filibuster began at 1:18 PM and ended at 11:49 PM, though it wasn't quite as long as a 13-hour speech he gave two years ago on the topic of drones and to delay voting on the nomination of John O. Brennan as the Director of the CIA. This time around, the presidential candidate spoke out against the bulk collection of phone records that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been allowed to do as part of the Patriot Act. The apparent strategy is to... Read more...
If you thought that there couldn't possibly be more unbelievable stories to stem from Edward Snowden's leaks, you're sorely mistaken. Today, we learn of a truly appalling effort that the NSA and its partners worked together on to intercept Android users' connections to install malware and soak up information. The NSA's partners in crime are part of a group called 'Five Eyes', and in addition to the US, included countries are Canada, the UK, New Zealand, and Australia. Given other revelations that have trickled out in the past, this list shouldn't come as much of a surprise. The UK's GCHQ, which... Read more...
In a 338-to-88 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday showed strong support for the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would effectively end the National Security Agency's ability to collect phone records on a mass scale. It would also make other changes to the scope of the NSA's surveillance program, though a similar bill was voted down in the Senate last year. "All I know is, these programs expire at the end of this month. They are critically important to keep Americans safe," House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said ahead of the vote. "The House is going to act, and I would hope the... Read more...
The NSA’s practice of collecting the phone records of Americans is illegal, a Federal appeals court ruled today. The new decision in the case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) effectively kills the NSA’s position that its data collection practice was authorized by section 215 of the Patriot Act. Overturning an earlier opinion, the Federal appeals court wrote that “the bulk telephone metadata program is not authorized by section 215 (of the Patriot Act).” The decision doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the government’s data collection program, however. In its opinion, the Federal... Read more...
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