Items tagged with Prism

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 exploited by governments to facilitate mass surveillance have been detected and corrected. Basic... Read more...
The Edward Snowden revelations have faded a bit from public view in light of other, more recent political activities, but a new report regarding the NSA and Yahoo has people talking about it once more. Reportedly, the United States government threatened to fine Yahoo a quarter of a million dollars <i>per day</i> in 2008 "if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user communications." Yahoo's stance was that doing so would violate the U.S. constitution, but that didn't stop the feds from pressuring with such staggering fines to comply with its PRISM program. Unsealed documents -- around 1,500 pages worth -- show that Yahoo actually went through great lengths to resist... 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 down to individual PCs. There are a dizzying number of codenames -- TURBINE is the automated system... 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 exactly how monitored our telecommunications are. Now, in the wake of the Snowden leaks, there's... Read more...
Microsoft's onetime Chief Privacy Advisor, Caspar Bowden, has come out with a vote of no-confidence in the company's long-term privacy measures and ability or interest to secure user data in the wake of the NSA's PRISM program. From 2002 - 2011, Bowden was in charge of privacy at Microsoft, and oversaw the company's efforts in that area in more than 40 countries, but claims to have been unaware of the PRISM program's existence while he worked at the company. In the two years since leaving Microsoft, Bowden has ceased carrying a cell phone and become a staunch open source user, claiming that he no longer trusts a program unless he can see the source.   "The public now has to think about the... Read more...
Yahoo, new logo and all, it turning over a new leaf when it comes to privacy, reporting, and what the public is allowed to know. In the wake of the NSA / PRISM scandal, which is honestly still ongoing, Yahoo has followed Facebook in issuing a public transparency report. Facebook did likewise last month, and now Yahoo has published the company's first global transparency report, which details government data requests from January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2013. As you might expect, the report includes national security requests. Here's the bottom line from Yahoo: "For each country in this Transparency Report, we show the number of government data requests that we received during the reporting period... Read more...
Sir Walter Scott warned long about about weaving a tangled web through deception, but apparently the Department of Justice (DoJ) and National Security Agency (NSA) aren't fans of old poetry. If they were, they'd drop the secrecy behind the PRISM program that whistleblower Edward Snowden blew wide open earlier this year. The truth eventually comes out anyway, as it did with Google's reluctant participation in PRISM. Google wants to offer its users transparency about what's going on, but its hands are tied after the DoJ won a court ruling to keep the search giant from talking about federal demands for using data. Doing so would be a threat to national security, the DoJ argued. Image Source: Flickr... Read more...
One of the contentious issues that's swirled around the NSA since whistleblower Edward Snowden began leaking information on the organization's capabilities is exactly what it can -- or can't -- do. Snowden has stated that as a contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton, "I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you, or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President if I had a personal email." The NSA has strongly denied these claims,  arguing that it had neither the technological capability to engage in such monitoring nor the authority to do so. The authority question may be up for discussion, but new leaks from The Guardian today have blown gaping... Read more...
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference between someone being stupid and being evil. According to Justin Elliott of ProPublica, writing in the Huffington Post, the NSA responded to his freedom of information request with a stonewall. Elliott said he was asking for emails between NSA employees and the National Geographic Channel within a certain time period so he could research how the NSA handles public relations. He said that NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told him: "There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately,” and added (probably with a nervous laugh) that the NSA’s email system is... Read more...
Things are getting a little hairy on the wild, wild Internet. With privacy fears at an all-time high and the whole Snowden episode stirring up worries that governments can easily convince companies to hand out just about any digital information in the world, the mere notion of whimsically cruising the Internet is becoming a little frightening for some. Now, a NYT report is shedding light on two Italian hackers who spend their days sifting through code in software used by hundreds of millions of people. Why? Because governments all over the globe are evidently willing to pay top-dollar to know about exploits, in order to attack and sift through databases on enemy soil. Image credit: Flickr / timonoko... Read more...
It’s deeply disconcerting, to say the least, that the NSA has been able to extract data about U.S. citizens from Internet companies using the secret (until recently) PRISM program. Because all of those companies likely handle data a little differently, it’s hard to say how much information the government is able to extract from email records, but a tool called “Immersion”, developed by MIT, shows you what your Gmail account can say about you. Immersion uses the same data that the government would have access to if it requested it from Google; it’s metadata, which includes the names and email addresses of everyone you communicate with. With that metadata, it’s... Read more...
I'm not sure we needed another example of just how opportunistic malware creators can be, but thanks to Android.AntiObscan, we got one. This is a piece of malware that's been floating around the Web recently that mimics Jay-Z's brand-new album app, Magna Carta Holy Grail. Weeks before its launch, this album hit the headlines in a big way due to a Samsung deal that would see 1 million Galaxy device owners receive the album for free (in effect making the album Platinum certified even before its release). That, along with the fact that we're dealing with Jay-Z here, is enough grab a lot of people's attention. As its name suggests, Android.AntiObscan refers to government spying. This is further proven... Read more...
It appears that the Swiss have turned a reputation for having the most secure banks in the world into a possible refuge for corporations trying to keep data from the spying eyes of the NSA. The NSA’s PRISM program used the shadowy Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and a secret court to request data on U.S. citizens from major providers of Internet services such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. If you missed it, we’ve had quite a bit to say about the subject. Now, according to Ibtimes, it seems that U.S. companies are losing faith in domestic cloud storage providers, from large-scale operations such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure to smaller-scale (but frequently... Read more...
More information is coming out regarding the NSA’s PRISM program wherein the agency has been requesting/demanding data on U.S. citizens from major Internet companies. (We have further reading on the subject here, here, and here.) After adamant declarations from some companies, perhaps most notably Facebook--Mark Zuckerberg wrote a personal, angry post about it--that they refused to allow the NSA direct access to company servers, there were plenty of questions remaining about how much data the NSA requested, and from whom. Facebook's Menlo Park campus Facebook has directly addressed the situation via a blog post written by the company’s general counsel, Ted Ullyot. First, Ullyot claims... Read more...
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, personality-wise, was the yin to Steve Jobs yang, and the effervescent and jovial Woz is typically an entertaining fellow, always good for a fresh perspective on mobile devices or other technology. Not so the other day in the airport. FayerWayerTV snagged some one-on-one time with Woz as he was waiting for his flight, and the topic of conversation turned to the NSA’s PRISM spying program as well as cloud services. Woz teed off on the NSA by comparing its spying on the American public as akin to communist Russia. “Communist Russia was so bad because they followed their people, they snooped on them, they arrested them, they put them in secret prisons,... Read more...
In the week since word of the NSA's Boundless Informant and Prism programs leaked online, there's been a great deal of concern over to what degree various companies cooperated with the NSA's requests. Some companies, like Google, have pointed to their repeated requests for greater transparency. Twitter, of course, is the major social app that isn't on Prism's list at all. And then, there's Microsoft. It's been notably quiet since the Prism leak, and while the PR team has had its hands full dealing with the fallout over the Xbone E3 debacle, there's certainly been bandwidth for a situation as serious as the idea that MS is facilitating the NSA's access to its user databases. Worse, the company... Read more...
In the wake of the Washington Post leaks, there's been a great deal of discussion over how, exactly, companies like Google share data with the government. The original report implied that the NSA has direct datacenter access and either grabs the information directly  from Google or was copying and analyzing traffic as it flowed through the tubes. Google has gone on the offensive in recent days to simultaneously clarify its own cooperation with the NSA and to push for greater transparency where access requests are concerned. It should be noted, in fairness to Google, that this greater transparency push lines up with the company's pre-Snowden statements. In recent months, Google has filed... Read more...
Yesterday, we talked about PRISM, the NSA's tool for spying on all foreign Internet traffic routed through the United States. Today, we've got news a fresh leak and another troubling aspect of the NSA's spying capabilities. The newly revealed program, dubbed Boundless Informant, is an analysis tool that creates heat maps of where NSA information comes from and who provides it. PRISM, in other words, provides the raw data -- Boundless Informant analyzes that data and breaks it down by source, volume, and capability. According to Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian, Boundless Informant collected roughly three billion pieces of information in a 30 day window during March, 2013. According to the declassified... Read more...
There have been two major leaks this past week that we want to talk about. First, news that Verizon turns over all phone call metadata -- the numbers called, dialed, and the duration of the phone call in question -- to the NSA. Second, news that the NSA has agreements with major tech companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, that require those companies to turn over information. Every firm named in these slides has come out and said it does not reveal information about US citizens without an appropriate court order. The NSA has released a statement confirming this, saying: "It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located... Read more...
T-Mobile announced its latest budget-friendly smartphone in the form of the T-Mobile Prism. This Huawei-made device will cost just $20 after a rebate and with a two-year contract. Users who don't want to commit to the contract can purchase the phone for $150. The Prism runs on Android 2.3 and features a 3.5-inch HVGA touchscreen. T-Mobile hasn't released a lot of other specifications about the phone, but it's been reported the Prism has a 600MHz processor. Although a 600MHz processor is weak by today's high-end phone standards, we suspect the phone's budget-friendly price will persuade many cost-conscious users. The smartphone will be available this Sunday, May 6. T-Mobile Introduces Its Latest... Read more...