Items tagged with Snowden

It hasn't even been a single week since we learned that the NSA could have been involved in creating a bunch of malware that trickled out over the past decade, and already we have another scandal to munch on. Unfortunately, this one is even more disgusting -- if you can believe that. Via documents leaked to The Intercept by Edward Snowden, it's been revealed that both the US' NSA and Britain's GCHQ have been teaming-up since 2010 to bypass the security of mobile SIM cards the world over. Kicking this off, the intelligence agencies broke into the network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards,... Read more...
One of the more interesting stops on our recent trip to Amsterdam was at The Hague Security Delta. For those of you who might not be aware, The Hague is the name of the government seat of the Netherlands (and yes, the article is capitalized). The Hague Security Delta (HSD) is the official title of a collaborative effort between Netherlands businesses, the government, and multiple research institutions to identify emerging security threats, share best practices, and foster collaboration between industry, governments, and universities. One of the most interesting topics that came up during our visit... Read more...
There's a fine line to balance when it comes to providing users with a comprehensive backup service and providing that service in a manner that fundamentally compromises the security of the people it's supposed to be protecting. According to security researcher Jeffrey Paul, iCloud has thoroughly breached that barrier thanks to unwelcome changes baked into OS X 10.10 (Yosemite). Here's the problem: Prior to now, if you were working in an application -- even a basic application like TextEdit (the Mac version of Notepad), and you quit the application, the machine would automatically save your documents... Read more...
Zero-day exploits are a nightmare for end-users and vendors alike as both groups have to scramble to patch and resolve problems. Today, Microsoft got tagged with one of the worst types of disclosures -- not only is there a vulnerability in every single shipping version of Windows, the vulnerability has been exploited for years by a team of Russian hackers, codenamed Sandworm. According to the iSight Partners, the Sandworm Team has been caught seeking data on the Ukrainian crisis (further undercutting the idea that the crisis in that state was anything but a Russian operation -- if such evidence... Read more...
One of the downsides to the news cycle is that no matter how big or hot a story is, something else inevitably comes along. The advent of ISIS and Ebola, combined with the passing of time, have pushed national security concerns out of the limelight -- until, that is, someone at the NSA helps out by reminding us that yes, the agency still exists and yes, it still has some insane policies and restrictions. Earlier this year, the Federation of American Scientists filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the NSA. The group was seeking information it thought would be relatively low-key... Read more...
News is out today of a survey from video advertising platform Ebuzzing claiming that it would cost an average of E140 per year per UK citizen to pay for an ad-free Internet and that the majority of users (98% of them, in fact) would never, ever be willing to pay such fees. I'm not surprised by results like this -- if someone asked me "Would you pay $185 a year to avoid pop-up ads?" my first thought would be "No, I'd install Ad Block" or "No, I'd just avoid the websites that show obnoxious ads I don't want to see." According to Ebuzzing's results, that's precisely what most of its respondents do.... Read more...
More details have surfaced on how the FBI uses its own custom malware to penetrate the Tor network's anonymizing service -- and while those tools have been deployed in some important investigations, it's sure to raise hackles in the post-Snowden era. Several years ago, the FBI launched a major sting operation against the operator of a Tor-anonymized website dubbed Pedoboard. They eventually traced the account back to one Aaron McGrath, discovered he was hosting three separate child pornography distribution hubs, and smashed all three of them. Hosting child pornography via Tor is a flagrant violation... Read more...
Over the past year, as criticism and anger have built over the NSA's numerous excesses and abuses of American civil rights, it's been easy to forget that underneath the justified anger, a genuine war has been raging. The NSA may have overreached in many respects, but that doesn't mean the government agency has invented problems from whole cloth -- and a new report drives that point home. According to the New York Times, top government officials have stated that Chinese hackers penetrated US government networks in March, potentially gaining access to thousands of dossiers on exactly which US citizens... Read more...
The good news, if you can call it that, is that after polling hundreds of technology experts, the Pew Research Internet Project found that they don’t believe that cybercrime or hacking are the chief problems facing the Internet by 2025. Unfortunately, that’s because they believe there are other problems that will be worse. Those problems center around government and business interference with access and security as well as the curious issue of having too much information available. To be clear, this isn’t a study per se; Pew polled thousands of individuals in the tech field... Read more...
Ever since Edward Snowden leaked details on how the government had forced various IT companies to disclose information (or secured their willing cooperation), companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have been desperate to regain their users' trust. Six months ago, Microsoft announced that it would reengineer its products and services to provide a much higher level of security -- today, the company revealed that its reached an important milestone in that process. As of now, Outlook.com uses TLS (Transport Layer Security) to provide end-to-end encryption for inbound and outbound email -- assuming... Read more...
Today, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision on data privacy, holding 9-0 that neither police officers nor federal law enforcement have a unilateral right to search cell phones without first procuring a warrant. Prior to today, the government had previously argued that the police could search a cell phone under previous court rulings that extended such rights in limited cases, including incidents where the officers on the scene had reason to believe evidence could be destroyed or that the evidence was on the individual (or within arms' reach). What the Court recognized today is that a cell... Read more...
Ever since 9/11 and the passage of the Patriot Act, the federal government has pursued an aggressive set of data collection policies and surveillance practices. Edward Snowden's leaks last year may have raised public awareness of many of these events, but simply being aware of practices doesn't do a thing to stop them. Recent court decisions, however, could be a sign that the wall of secrecy the NSA has constructed to veil its actions is cracking -- with profound long-term implications. First, earlier this week, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in United States v. Davis that cell phone users... Read more...
Last week, the ACLU was scheduled to meet with local police in Sarasota Florida to discuss the use of cell phone interception towers, dubbed stingrays, that are an increasingly common feature of federal and local investigations. A stingray is a fake cell phone tower that law enforcement can configure to temporarily replace the real towers a device would normally connect to. In an astonishing turn of events, the US Marshals Service has acted to prevent the meeting from taking place -- seizing all of the relevant records and claiming that they're the property of the Marshals (and by extension, the... Read more...
One of the most troubling facts that came out of Edward Snowden's disclosures last year was the degree to which the government has relied on National Security Letters to compel companies to reveal information about their clients without producing a warrant. Many NSLs were accompanied by non-disclosure orders that forbade the receiving company from revealing to the accused that their information had been demanded. Microsoft had previously gone to court over such tactics and today, the details of the company's strategic victory became public for the first time. Last year, the FBI demanded information... Read more...
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