Items tagged with NSA

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 of individuals. It's an amendment to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, one of three key provisions... 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, while also respecting our Constitution."Image Source: Flickr (Ashleigh Nushawg)There were three... 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 in the Senate, where it was shot down by a 57-to-42 vote, coming up three votes short of the 60... 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 prevent Congress from passing legislation to either continue or reform parts of the Patriot Act before... 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 regularly works with the NSA on joint projects One of the Five Eyes' focal points was UC Browser, a... 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 Senate would act soon as well." There's a division among politicians in how to balance civil liberties... 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 court points out that the program is merely not authorized by the Patriot Act and suggests that... Read more...
Here we go again. This past November, the US' Department of Justice latched onto public heartstrings by saying that encryption on mobile phones could lead to the death of children, and in January, president Obama followed-up to plainly say that encryption should under no circumstance hinder police and spy agencies. The government can say what it wants, of course, but that doesn't mean that whatever it suggests will be kosher as far as our civil liberties go. Looking beyond the fact that criminals can benefit from encryption (just as they can benefit from a slew of other things), it stands to reason that citizens have the right to protect themselves from the prying eyes of the government. Even... Read more...
U.S. President Barack Obama is getting a little hot under the collar, and we’re not talking about the speech that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave this morning. Instead, President Obama is troubled over new regulations that are being proposed by the Chinese government, which would affect American tech companies that conduct business within China’s borders. President Obama is fearful that China’s plans — which include allowing the Chinese government to install security backdoors, requiring companies to hand over encryption keys, and keeping user data on Chinese soil — are an assault on intellectual property held by American companies and leaves customers open to privacy violations.... Read more...
Dutch SIM card maker Gemalto has been enduring unwanted media attention for the past few weeks after reports surfaced that Britain’s GCHQ and the United States’ NSA may have breached the company’s networks. Today, Gemalto released a statement acknowledging that an attack in 2010 was probably the work of the spy agencies, but denied that they now had access to the encryption keys for millions of SIM cards.“If we look back at the period covered by the documents from the NSA and GCHQ, we can confirm that we experienced many attacks,” the company said in a statement. “In particular, in 2010 and 2011, we detected two particularly sophisticated intrusions which could be related to the operation."GCHQBut... Read more...
As we reported on late last week, the world's largest SIM card maker was broken into digitally as part of a joint operation between the United States' NSA and United Kingdom's GCHQ. The attack, which began back in 2010, gave these agencies unparalleled access to the global smartphone network, ultimately enabling them to decrypt and record phone data of virtually anyone they wanted. As a result of the news, Gemalto's stock took a 7.5% hit on Friday, something I considered to be unfortunate given it seemed very likely that any company could have suffered the same attack. If the world's biggest intelligence agencies want in, they'll unfortunately be quite successful. Nonetheless, Gemalto's outlook... Read more...
When the U.S. State Department’s email was hacked back in November, it was a black eye for the government. But, to many of us, this seemed the sort of problem that would be quickly eradicated – after all, our guys are the no slouches when it comes to cyberattacks. But as it turns out, the State Department’s email woes don’t appear to be over, and the culprits have yet to be unmasked.Russia has been brought up as a possible suspect, though the NSA hasn’t (at least, publicly) nailed down a culprit at this point – three months after the hack was revealed to the public. The State Department is still working on the problem. “We have robust security to protect our systems and information, and we deal... Read more...
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, Gemalto. As of the time of writing, Gemalto has been unable to find traces of a breach. Britain's GCHQ... Read more...
Security firms the world over dream of a day like this, but this one belongs to Kaspersky. The Russian-based firm has discovered the existence of a threat actor that could be linked to the US Government, and NSA in particular. Kaspersky has dubbed the group Equation, as it became clear that the folks involved loved advanced encryption algorithms and other obfuscation techniques. Through its Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT), Kaspersky has discovered that Equation has itself created advanced malware - dating back to at least the early 2000s - and also had extremely close ties to groups responsible for some infamous malware, such as Stuxnet. Here's how Kaspersky summarizes Equation: The... Read more...
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