Items tagged with NSA

Earlier this week, Apple released an updated set of legal guidelines spelling out exactly what it can and cannot access on your iDevice, what material it will turn over to the police, and under which circumstances it will surrender it. What's particularly interesting is the split response we've seen from different corners of the Internet. Everything Apple does tends to generate attention, but this particular set of announcements is getting a great deal of press -- and two very different narratives have emerged over what it means. Some readers and authors have reacted rather poorly to news that... Read more...
As Seth covered earlier today, Bloomberg has accused the NSA of benefiting from the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug. The NSA denies this in fairly strong terms. I'd like to draw attention to a different facet of the topic -- first, by discussing the semantics of the NSA's denial and then the wider impact of how that denial is perceived and what it means for the tech community as a whole. The NSA's Denial is Surprisingly Straightforward For the past year, the NSA's responses to the Snowden leaks have followed the same strategy: Either the organization claims that its activities are legal or it denies engaging... Read more...
The news of two truly horrible security breaches broke this year; one was the NSA’s shadowy data grabbing and surveillance program, and the other was the Heartbleed bug that left about two-thirds of the Internet utterly exposed to any bad actor. According to a Bloomberg report, these two stories have merged, as “two people familiar with the matter” have told the outlet that the NSA has known about the Heartbleed bug for at least two years and has regularly exploited it to gather intelligence. In an emailed statement to Bloomberg, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence... Read more...
As both the general public and CEOs of Internet companies seethe in the wake of NSA spying allegations, some researchers at MIT are working on a tool called Mylar that they claim would essentially spy-proof web applications. The pain point, according to the team, is the server. Every web application relies on servers for processing and storing data, but there are people with (legitimate) keys to that data as well as hackers and government snoopers. “Mylar protects data confidentiality even when an attacker gets full access to servers,” reads the researchers’ website. “Mylar... Read more...
For all the ire the NSA’s spying practices have fomented among users and Internet companies alike, the revelations are prompting some positive changes. For Gmail users, those changes are coming in the form of better encryption on Google’s part. Although it’s been the default option since 2010, Google says that Gmail will completely run over HTTPS when you send or check mail. Further, every single Gmail message will be encrypted internally. “This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Gmail's servers, but also as they move between Google's... Read more...
Google has had enough of government surveillance. The search giant has been encrypting web searches in China to more effectively circumvent the government’s sensors, and that encrypting is rolling out globally, too. Within months, all Google searches made over a modern browser will be encrypted. Make no mistake, this encryption is a not-so-subtle one-finger salute to the NSA, too. We’ve said before that when the scope of the NSA’s spying program came to light and its demands for customer data from Internet agencies became heavy-handed and shadowy, the agency poked the bear. Although... Read more...
A new comprehensive writeup at The Intercept claims to reveal additional details of the NSA's plans to infiltrate and conquer the Internet -- as well as its desire to bring virtually all data, everywhere, within its reach. A year ago, this kind of claim would've sounded like hyperbolic conspiracy theory, but no longer. Whether the NSA could ever effectively analyze that information is very much an open question, but the organization has launched a huge number of programs to pursue these ends. Own The Web What The Intercept report details is the NSA's plan for infiltrating target networks, right... Read more...
It's with panels like Glenn Greenwald's that makes me regret not making it down to the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. At this particular event, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was broadcast from Russia to answer a number of questions that Twitter users had for him, and in the end, one of the biggest things to take away from his discussion is that he has no regrets whatsoever about the leaks he coordinated. It's actually quite interesting that both Greenwald and Snowden were broadcast at SXSW, as Greenwald is one of three journalists that Snowden chose to give access to the enormous collection... Read more...
The numbers from Pinterest’s data request transparency report are either impressive or laughable, depending on your point of view. Although the tech industry is rising up in force in reaction against the NSA’s spying tactics and forceful and shadowy means of “requesting” data from major Internet companies with FISA, it appears that Pinterest users have little to worry about. The total number of user accounts that agencies requested data from? Thirteen. Thirteen user accounts, and those requests consisted of seven warrants and five subpoenas. All of the requests came from... Read more...
The United States Government has filed a lawsuit against Sprint Communications requesting triple damages to the tune of $63M. Sprint's crime? Overcharging the NSA, FBI, and various other government agencies for the cost of spying on millions of Americans and turning their data over to the government. This is another "unintended consequence" of the Snowden revelations last year, though likely not one anyone anticipated. In the past, the government would've had no choice but to conduct this kind of action behind the tightest of closed doors, lest secrets leak that would reveal to the American people... Read more...
If you’ve ever wondered how exactly NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was able to access as much as he did, it’s apparently because he had help. According to an L.A. Times report, at least three other NSA workers helped him--wittingly or not. An NSA memo says that one of the three was an active-duty military member, while another was a civilian contractor like Snowden. No details were revealed about those two, including whether or not they worked with Snowden at his NSA location in Hawaii, but it does say that they have both been barred from accessing NSA systems since then. Edward Snowden... Read more...
It didn't take long after NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed his employer's nefarious deeds for other nations to begin reevaluating how they go about working with the US. As a side-effect, some now wonder if the US has a little too much influence on certain matters that affect the entire world, such as with the overseeing of the basic design of the Internet. ICANN is the "Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers", and its responsibilities include assigning new top-level domains (.com, .eu, .co.uk, et cetera), managing DNS at its root, assigning IP addresses, and more. Simply... Read more...
Last summer, and not too long after Edward Snowden exposed the extent of NSA's spying tactics, The Guardian newspaper in the UK was forced to destroy all of the data that had been provided to it. At the time, I don't remember this news gaining much traction, but it's an important blip on the timeline to note. No longer did Britain want one of its most popular newspapers ruffling the feathers of the US. When Snowden decided to bring his information to light, it was made sure that the data wasn't just in one location - most people about to drop an epic bombshell would no doubt ensure the same.... Read more...
You'd have to imagine that the birds in Angry Birds are some of the angriest around, but last night, a "friend" of the hacking group Syrian Electronic Army saw it fit to add to their angst. For an undetermined amount of time, an image was plastered on the main Angry Birds site that changed the name to "Spying Birds". For added dramatic effect, an NSA logo was affixed to the lead character. The Syrian Electronic Army states that the hacker behind this is "anti-NSA", which is of little surprise given the attack. The group announced the attack (as a proxy, apparently) on Twitter, although judging... Read more...
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