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12.04.13

NSA Leaks: Still Yielding New Scandals, But Fewer Than Before

Posted in Action at 5:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The NSA’s Stuxnet 2.0 is said to be under development

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Summary: A roundup of news about cracking, sabotage, privacy infringement and illegal surveillance by the NSA and its allies

TRUTH be told, the NSA stories are starting to dry up. Almost 6 months after it all began there is finally some sense that we know almost everything that’s worth knowing. So what are the latest revelations? Well, not much, but there are some news items enumerated below and we’ll try to summarise them.

The Chinese press says that German companies/authorities no longer trust smartphones that are tied to the US [1]; espionage is a concern. China itself is pulling away from dependence on US technology giants [2,3]. They should really pull out of Windows/Microsoft dependence, not try to extend this dependence [4]. Apple is just as bad [5] and Facebook is a “monstrous surveillance engine” (to quote Richard Stallman) which now targets students [6]. GNU/Linux is a much safer option.

The corporate media in the US continues to cover these issues, but sometimes it’s done in the context of comedy [7] even though these are very serious issues that extend beyond the digital world [8] and merit investigations. The political debate in the UK [9] and US [10] sure is changing and in the rest of Europe there are threats of cutting data-sharing ties [11,12].

Jimmy Wales has harsh words for the NSA [13], which may be going much further and deeper than we even realise [14,15]. Even immigration may be a matter of “national security” (as in “terrorism” etc.) now [16]. Read the shocking details about infiltration into medical records for immigration purposes.

Good people are trying to explain to the world why it is a big deal [17-19], with even the BBC covering these issues by giving a platform to the ‘British Snowden’ [20]. The British government is meanwhile embarrassing itself by taking its assault on the press public [21-24]. International relationships are affected by the revelations [25-30] and Linux-based solutions for privacy-seeking users gradually appear [31]. Domestic surveillance, as it turns out [32], has become just as bad if not worse than foreign surveillance [33]. The United Nations recently got involved [34-37] and “Switzerland Launches Criminal Probe Into NSA Surveillance,” says one article [38] (the only English article of this kind). A lot of what we know about security is being reassessed [39,40] while corporate media like Murdoch’s WSJ continues to distort the facts [41,42,43], along with the NSA itself [44-46]. WSJ did the same thing to smear and malign Wikileaks back in the days.

There are some new attacks on the messenger, Glenn Greenwald [47-49], and The Guardian says that even the MI5 is now being pulled into interrogations [50]. The Japanese press reprints The Guardian [51] while observing with glee how Britain burned and dumped ‘embarrassing’ colonial documents in Singapore [52] (where Japan committed huge atrocities).

Readers may recall the many calls for the assassination of Julian Assange. Well, right now the corporate press is using similar arguments against Edward Snowden [53]. They really have no shame.

It is possible that in 2014 there will hardly be any major revelations about the NSA, but the important thing is that we now know a lot more about our world and we have documents to prove previously-doubted claims. Dan Gillmor, writing back in July, worried about our privacy on the Web [54] and back then (also July) people wondered what could be done about it [55,56]. Well, now that we know all that stuff which Snowden helped reveal we ought to understand that Free/libre software is essential and encryption on the Web (even at DNS level) is imperative. Whether people, companies and governments will change their existing habits next year is another matter altogether. They can’t use ignorance as an excuse anymore. Snowden’s greatest fear was that his leaks would not have an impact.

The NSA’s crimes are not just about privacy by the way. They are about physical sabotage too, as [57] helps remind us. Stop the vandals, defund the shut down the NSA.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Deutsche Telekom offers secure smartphones after NSA snooping

    Telecoms firm has big hopes for secure-smartphone business after the news of US snooping on German leader’s calls, but device isn’t cheap

  2. NSA spying scandal accelerating China’s push to favor local tech vendors

    The NSA spying scandal has put a strain on the China business of Cisco and Qualcomm, the companies said recently

  3. Cisco Says NSA Costing Them Major Business Abroad

    Cisco Systems, one of the largest networking equipment sellers in the world, has been losing major business in the wake of the NSA spying scandal. The company has publicly blamed the NSA for sowing distrust between American technology companies and the rest of the world – potentially costing them billions.

  4. Beijing leans on Microsoft to maintain Windows XP support
  5. Apple free to spy on its users – as are all!

    This possibly applies all mobile device makers and app writers. In fact it was not Apple but apps such as Dictionary.com, Pandora, the Weather Channel and Backflip – creator of the Paper Toss app, that collected and passed on to third party ad networks “Confidential data including users’ geographic location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and political affiliations.”

  6. Zuckerberg Wants Your Kid’s Student Data

    Code.org—a tech non-profit backed by Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and other top brass—wants to improve computer science education for young women and minorities. And hey, that’s great. But it wouldn’t be a Zuck joint without something insidious: the group will hold private data about kids for years.

    The initiative is trying to sign up entire school districts to test the curriculum: Code.org will provide schools with course materials, teacher stipends, and general support. What a deal!

  7. Review: Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart take on NSA spying

    In “The Word” segment of Colbert’s show Rogers sets out an astounding defense of NSA surveillance.

  8. Like online stores, retail stores look to track you while shopping
  9. NSA leaks: former DPP calls for more scrutiny of UK’s security services

    Lord Macdonald says that ISC ‘needs more power, cash and opposition chair’

  10. US lawmakers promise to rein in NSA snooping

    The United States Congress is working on legislation to restrict the intelligence-gathering activities of the National Security Agency (NSA), a group of American lawmakers told the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee on Tuesday (26 November).

  11. Without NSA spying changes, Europe will stop sharing commercial and security data with the U.S.
  12. NSA surveillance: Europe threatens to freeze US data-sharing arrangements

    After Edward Snowden revelations, EU executive underlines US compliance with European law and ‘how things have gone badly’

  13. Jimmy Wales: NSA Surveillance Allows Oppressive Regimes to Continue Censoring Internet

    The Wikipedia founder believes the recent revelations about spying by western governments will only give oppressive regimes more reason to censor the internet.

  14. Did NSA Secretly Tap the Internet Backbone?

    Someday, the unraveling of the National Security Agency’s spying on virtually everyone might make a great spy movie. In the latest revelation, there are reports the secretive federal agency may have tapped Google and Yahoo through major Internet backbone providers.

  15. Forget about the NSA for a minute: The internet of things could kill the little white lie

    We may think we’re used to the potential harms of sharing too much data on social networks, but what happens when passive data collection from sensors can be shared –sometimes without your knowledge?

  16. Disabled woman denied entry to U.S. after agent cites supposedly private medical details

    Disabled woman denied entry to U.S. after agent cites supposedly private medical details

  17. Researchers use NSA’s own tactics to see how invasive NSA spying is
  18. ORG warns on Data Protection

    Reacting to the leaked documents detailing the proposed Data Protection Regulation, ORG Executive Director Jim Killock warned that ‘pseudonymous’ categories of data could create privacy problems for EU citizens.

  19. Edward Snowden: whistleblowers in the Digital Era
  20. BBC World interview re UK spy accountability

    Here’s a recent inter­view I did for BBC World about the three top Brit­ish spies deign­ing, for the first time ever, to be pub­licly ques­tioned by the Intel­li­gence and Secur­ity Com­mit­tee in par­lia­ment, which has a notional over­sight role…

  21. Guardian will not be intimidated over NSA leaks, Alan Rusbridger tells MPs

    Editor tells parliamentary committee that stories revealing mass surveillance by UK and US have prompted global debate

  22. Only 1% of Snowden files published – Guardian editor
  23. Guardian Editor Says Paper Published Only 1% of Snowden NSA Leaks
  24. Britain targets Guardian newspaper over intelligence leaks related to Edward Snowden

    Living in self-imposed exile in Russia, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden may be safely beyond the reach of Western powers. But dismayed by the continued airing of trans­atlantic intelligence, British authorities are taking full aim at a messenger shedding light on his secret files here — the small but mighty Guardian newspaper.

    The pressures coming to bear on the Guardian, observers say, are testing the limits of press freedoms in one of the world’s most open societies. Although Britain is famously home to a fierce pack of news media outlets — including the tabloid hounds of old Fleet Street — it also has no enshrined constitutional right to free speech.

  25. NSA files: what’s a little spying between old friends?

    By targeting allies and enemies alike, the ‘Five Eyes’ club of English-speaking powers have eroded trust on the world stage

  26. NSA spying revelations push US-German relations to the brink

    Germany’s opposition party, the Social Democrats, is gauging whether or not the European Union should approve a free-trade deal with the US CNN recently reported, “Negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership were already in a fragile state and will not be helped by claims that large French corporations such as telecom company Alcatel-Lucent have been targeted by the NSA.”

  27. NSA files live – Australia offered to share information on its citizens

    • Australia’s surveillance agency offered to share information collected about ordinary Australian citizens with its major intelligence partners, according to a secret 2008 document leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

  28. What now for the surveillance state?

    Even GCHQ and the NSA know their work may not be sustainable without a proper debate about their power

  29. Why the NSA has landed us all in another nice mess

    The Snowden revelations may not end internet surveillance, but they will certainly cause radical changes

  30. Read Snowden NSA document on G8, G20 summit surveillance
  31. Safeplug offers plug-and-play anonymous Web browsing using Tor

    Safeplug is a new network device from Cloud Engines, Inc., the company behind Pogoplug.

    Using Tor, Safeplug allows you to browse the Internet anonymously from any device that you own. This is possible because it is designed to be connected to your router. And once activated, all connections that originate from any device behind your router are anonymized.

  32. FBI’s Data Intercept Technology Unit (DITU), which is basically its own internal NSA.

    This is a long article about the FBI’s Data Intercept Technology Unit (DITU), which is basically its own internal NSA.

  33. Hacker with a Cause

    But the C.F.A.A.’s broad guidelines for calculating “loss” mean that digital protests often result in much harsher penalties than their real-world analogues in the U.S. For example, most of the seven hundred Occupy Wall Street protesters who were arrested for blocking off the Brooklyn Bridge in October, 2011, received a night in jail plus a small fine. But for their D.D.O.S. disturbance, the Paypal Fourteen are each facing up to fifteen years in prison, with a plea deal possible only if thirteen members of the group comply.

  34. Edward Snowden revelations prompt UN investigation into surveillance

    UN’s senior counter-terrorism official says revelations ‘are at the very apex of public interest concerns’

  35. NSA Spying Challenged in the United Nations

    The National Security Agency’s global spying activities have prompted 21 countries to pursue a resolution at the United Nations against the United States. Brazil and Germany presented this resolution to the General Assembly, appealing to the right to privacy enshrined in the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

  36. U.N. to investigate NSA, GHCQ spying
  37. United Nations counterterrorism official launches investigation into NSA surveillance
  38. Switzerland Launches Criminal Probe Into NSA Surveillance

    The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office has launched a criminal investigation into mass surveillance conducted by the US intelligence agencies.

    According to the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, the National Security Agency (NSA) could have violated article 271 of the penal code, which lists “unlawful activities on behalf of a foreign state”.

  39. How the Snowden leak is changing the tech landscape

    Revelations about the extent of the surveillance programmes undertaken by the NSA and GCHQ – as well as their efforts to undermine online security and encryption – have provoked fierce reaction around the world, sparking technical innovations, legal challenges, and moves towards political reform.

  40. How is the NSA breaking SSL?

    If tampering isn’t your style, why not put the backdoor in plain sight? That’s the approach NSA took with the Dual_EC RNG, standardized by NIST in Special Publication 800-90. There’s compelling evidence that NSA deliberately engineered this generator with a backdoor — one that allows them to break any TLS/SSL connection made using it. Since the generator is (was) the default in RSA’s BSAFE library, you should expect every TLS connection made using that software to be potentially compromised.

    And I haven’t even mentioned Intel’s plans to replace the Linux kernel RNG with its own hardware RNG.

  41. Wall Street Journal Columnist Repeatedly Gets His Facts Wrong About NSA Surveillance

    We actually have a specific example that proves Snowden’s point. As the New York Times reported in 2009, an NSA analyst “improperly accessed” former President Bill Clinton’s personal email. More recently, we’ve learned that the NSA analysts abused the agency vast surveillance powers to spying on ex-spouses or former lovers.

  42. WSJ columnist L. Gordon Crovitz is dead wrong about NSA spying
  43. A Tour Through The Bizarre Mind Of An NSA Defender: Discrediting Activists By Using Their Porn Surfing Is Just Like Journalism!
  44. NSA employees given talking points for discussing agency with family

    Document released just before holiday season includes disputed claims about spy agency to share with ‘family and close friends’

  45. The NSA’s Thanksgiving Dinner Talking Points: A Play in One Act
  46. ‘NSA’s mission is of great value to the Nation’: Under fire spy agency’s guide to Thanksgiving small talk revealed in leaked memo to employees
  47. Waiting for Greenwald: why India must react firmly to NSA spying

    No person in recent memory has succeeded in creating so big a misunderstanding within the global policy elite as Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who has drawn attention to US’s spying activities across the world.

  48. Greenwald: Privatized Reporting Claims Are Absurd

    Glenn Greenwald responded Sunday to accusations from news personalities that he has “monopolized” and “privatized” reporting (an accusation that seems to be newly cooked up for the purpose of discrediting journalists) on documents given to him by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

  49. NSA secrets journalist Glenn Greenwald defends himself against critics
  50. MPs ask MI5 boss to justify claim that NSA leaks endangered national security
  51. Why the NSA has landed us all in another nice mess
  52. British burned, dumped ‘embarrassing’ colonial documents
  53. Could Google and the NSA Make Whistleblowers Disappear?
  54. Point-scoring our web freedom

    We use ratings for all kinds of services, so let’s try scoring the way we use the internet to check on our security and privacy

  55. So, You Want to Hide from the NSA? Your Guide to the Nearly Impossible

    That is the worst case scenario. Yes, the NSA is definitely slurping up scads of information about your phone calls. It probably isn’t storing your Facebook chats, emails, and Skype calls. Our goal with this guide is to detail exactly what you need to do to assure that it can’t, even if it wants to. As you will see, it is a cumbersome process.

  56. Disgruntled Google users try to live a low-Google lifestyle
  57. Governments preparing Stuxnet 2.0 malware for nuclear strike

    It is currently unclear if the Farsnews report is accurate, though director of security strategy at FireEye Jason Steer said it is certainly plausible.

    “Given that this has already happened with Stuxnet, it is certainly more than plausible to believe that Stuxnet 2.0 is also possible. One would be naive to assume it wouldn’t happen again. With the change in relationship between Iran and the US, it is highly likely that Israel and Saudi Arabia united to try and negate the threat of nuclear bombs on their front door,” he said.

    The original Stuxnet worm hijacked control of Siemens industrial control systems, then forced them to alter key processes to damage machinery. The malware has since managed to spread outside of Iran and has affected several other power plants, some close to Europe.

    Steer told V3 that, given how successful the original Stuxnet was at spreading, the fallout of a more advanced variant could be devastating for power plants, but will be of little concern to most regular businesses.

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