Scary. Insane. Ridiculous. Invasive. Wrong. The Washington Post reports that the FBI has had the ability to secretly activate a computer’s camera “without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording” for years now. What in the hell is going on? What kind of world do we live in?
Marcus Thomas, the former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division, told the Post that that sort of creepy spy laptop recording is “mainly” used in terrorism cases or the “most serious” of criminal investigations. That doesn’t really make it less crazy (or any better) since the very idea of the FBI being able to watch you through your computer is absolutely disturbing.
The FBI team works much like other hackers, using security weaknesses in computer programs to gain control of users’ machines. The most common delivery mechanism, say people familiar with the technology, is a simple phishing attack — a link slipped into an e-mail, typically labeled in a misleading way.
Along with journalist colleagues Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, I spent six days with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong. He had spent almost all of his short adult life working in America’s spy agencies, but at the end of those six days, the unknown 29-year-old became one of the most famous faces on the planet. He went public in a Guardian video, revealing himself as the source of one of the biggest leaks in western intelligence history.
Only three months after the Snowden leaks on NSA snooping began, we learn from Ars Technica that the developers at FreeBSD have decided to rethink the way they access random numbers to generate cryptographic keys. Starting with version 10.0, users of the operating system will no longer be relying solely on random numbers generated by Intel and Via Technologies processors. This comes as a response to reports that government spooks can successfully open some encryption schemes.
Agency Implementing 2-Person Rule, Increasing Encryption Use
While British politics and media display a strong reluctance to confront the harsh realities of UK spying, we should be worried about further revelations of a dystopian, Orwellian surveillance system gone global, former MI5 agent Annie Machon told RT.
Here’s an RT interview I did about the media response to Edward Snowden, the media response, privacy and what we can do.
The facts that we know so far – from Fisa court documents to LOVEINT – show that the NSA has overstepped its powers
Before he left for Hawaii, the president was sending signals that government surveillance programs need an overhaul to restore the public’s faith on issues of national security.
The September 11th terrorist attacks revealed, in the starkest terms, just how dangerous and interconnected the world is. While Americans depended on technology for the conveniences of modernity, al-Qaeda plotted in a seventh-century milieu to use that technology against us. It was a bold jujitsu. And it succeeded because conventional intelligence gathering could not detect diffuse filaments connecting al-Qaeda.
Prior to the September 11th attacks, the National Security Agency (“NSA”) intercepted seven calls made by hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar, who was living in San Diego, California, to an al-Qaeda safe house in Yemen. The NSA intercepted those calls using overseas signals intelligence capabilities that could not capture al-Mihdhar’s telephone number identifier. Without that identifier, NSA analysts concluded mistakenly that al-Mihdhar was overseas and not in the United States. Telephony metadata would have furnished the missing information and might have permitted the NSA to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) of the fact that al-Mihdhar was calling the Yemeni safe house from inside the United States.
A Scottish sci-fi writer has cancelled the last instalment in a trilogy about high-tech government spying after discovering that the NSA has been doing exactly what he described in his books.
Snowden in 2013 revealed what George Orwell in 1949 had already revealed in 1984: that Big Brothers who spy on their citizens will go on to do very bad things. He then asked for asylum in a country with a long history of its own citizens seeking asylum from his country.
Sci-FI Made Real
Many Americans might never notice or care. I remember when telephone calls were considered to be private. In the 1940s and 1950s the telephone company could not always provide private lines. There were “party lines” in which two or more customers shared the same telephone line. It was considered extremely rude and inappropriate to listen in on someone’s calls and to monopolize the line with long duration conversations.
A leaked NSA cyber-arms catalog has shed light on the technologies US and UK spies use to infiltrate and remotely control PCs, routers, firewalls, phones and software from some of the biggest names in IT.
The exploits, often delivered via the web, provide clandestine backdoor access across networks, allowing the intelligence services to carry out man-in-the-middle attacks that conventional security software has no chance of stopping.
Corporate and Other
Kelly hired David Cohen, the former head of the C.I.A.’s spy division, to run the force’s intelligence outfit. Cohen, a trained economist known to be intensely loyal to his superiors (and profane with everyone else), created the Demographics Unit, which imbedded special recruits in eighteen Muslim neighborhoods to monitor every aspect of daily life. At the same time, Kelly created the International Liaison Program, which posted detectives in eleven hot spots overseas, including London, Paris, Madrid, Abu Dhabi, and Tel Aviv. “We’ve reorganized the department to accommodate this world view,” Kelly said. “You might say that the N.Y.P.D. has aspired to become a Council on Foreign Relations with guns.”
We have all heard by now of the massive surveillance being conducted by the NSA and other governments across the world. China is a well-known anti-privacy country and others have decided to also spy on their citizens’ social network activities amongst other things. The Internet censorship trends are getting pretty bad.
Older teenagers have turned their backs on Facebook, an EU-funded study has found. Young people are opting for alternative social networks like Twitter and WhatsApp, while the “worst people of all, their parents, continue to use the service.”
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