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Links 23/2/2016: Meizu Pro 5 at MWC, Bill Gates Openly Promotes Back Doors

Posted in News Roundup at 7:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Office 365 suffers European outage due to ‘high resource utilisation’

    Office 365 is experiencing a European outage, marking the second time in three months that Microsoft’s critical enterprise systems are unavailable for a sustained period.

    The company has been quoted as attributing the problems to “high resource utilisation”.

    Many users are unable to log into Office 365 through its front-end portal, resulting in perpetual lag, while the website promising that technicians are “working on it”. If users are able to log in to services – for example Outlook – they are experiencing further lag inside the service environment when trying to open emails.

  • Hardware

    • NXP unveils a tiny 64-bit ARM processor for the Internet of Things

      Additionally, the LS1012A is the first processor designed specifically for an emerging new storage solution, dubbed object-based storage. Object-based storage relies on a smart hard disk drive that is directly connected to the data center’s Ethernet network. The processor must be small enough to be integrated directly on the circuit board for a hard disk drive.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Kaminsky: A Skeleton Key of Unknown Strength
    • A Skeleton Key of Unknown Strength

      TL;DR: The glibc DNS bug (CVE-2015-7547) is unusually bad. Even Shellshock and Heartbleed tended to affect things we knew were on the network and knew we had to defend. This affects a universally used library (glibc) at a universally used protocol (DNS). Generic tools that we didn’t even know had network surface (sudo) are thus exposed, as is software written in programming languages designed explicitly to be safe. Who can exploit this vulnerability? We know unambiguously that an attacker directly on our networks can take over many systems running Linux. What we are unsure of is whether an attacker anywhere on the Internet is similarly empowered, given only the trivial capacity to cause our systems to look up addresses inside their malicious domains.

    • IPFire 2.17 Core Update 98 Patches Glibc Vulnerability for the Linux Firewall

      Michael Tremer, a developer working on the open source IPFire Linux firewall project, announced on February 22, 2016, the availability of a new Core Update for the distribution.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • No, Michael Hayden–The Case for Drones is Much More Complicated Than That

      I don’t really know where to start with Michael Hayden’s piece in the New York Times defending drone strikes. Perhaps with the report last fall from the Intercept that shows that the very data we use to characterize the results of drone strikes is cooked “by categorizing unidentified people killed in a strike as enemies, even if they were not the intended targets.” Drone strikes are automatically effective if you assume they are effective, and you can do that by the casual us versus them analysis that says “If you live in one of these areas, or are walking near particular people, you’re probably a terrorist.” The only (ironic) way in which this might be true is that, if you didn’t hate the United States before indiscriminate drone killings, you’re much more likely to afterwards, when someone you know was killed. Not that the targets are necessarily well-chosen, either. One analyst has described these methods as “completely bullshit.”

    • Michael Hayden’s Defense of Drone Warfare Doesn’t Add Up

      It should be acknowledged that it is difficult to evaluate Hayden’s op-ed, because he refers to intelligence reports that the American public will never see. Moreover, it is impossible to know whether everything Hayden wanted to reveal is included in the published Times piece, since the content of the op-ed must have been approved by the CIA Publications Review Board, whether as a stand-alone piece or an excerpt from his forthcoming book. Nevertheless, there are a few troubling aspects to the op-ed, which are consistent with all U.S. government officials’ arguments in support of drone strikes: how the program is framed and what complicating bits of information that are left out.

    • Let’s hope the NSA hasn’t actually used this machine-learning model to target drone strikes

      The U.S. National Security Agency could be relying on a seriously flawed machine-learning model to target drone strikes in Pakistan, according to a new analysis of slides uncovered last year by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

      Published last May by The Intercept, the slides detail the NSA’s so-called Skynet program, in which machine learning is apparently used to identify likely terrorists in Pakistan. While it’s unclear if the machine-learning model has been used in the NSA’s real-world efforts, it has serious problems that could put lives at risk if it were, according to Patrick Ball, director of research at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Mozilla, EFF, and Creative Commons call for more openness in trade negotiations

      Browser maker Mozilla, digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Creative Commons have called for more openness in global trade agreements.

      The trio—alongside a variety of expert “stakeholders representing Internet users, consumers, innovative businesses, cultural institutions, and scholars”—released a “Brussels Declaration on Trade and the Internet,” which was launched on Monday to coincide with the start of the 12th round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations in Brussels.

  • Finance

    • Global Alliance Condemns Internet Rulemaking Through Closed Trade Agreements

      EFF has spent years battling the undemocratic Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); not because we are against free trade, but because we fear that the undue influence that vested interests have over the United States Trade Representative (USTR). In turn, the USTR exercises its own influence over foreign policymakers, ultimately resulting in punishingly strict copyright rules and ham-fisted digital policies sweeping the globe. These concerns have been fully validated with the belated release of the final text of the agreement.

      In fact, even we have been surprised at some of the new Internet-related policies that have now been subsumed into these closed trade negotiations—such as rules dictating how countries have to manage their country-code domain names, and limiting their flexibility to mandate the review of source code in consumer technology, or to require private data of their citizens to be hosted locally. It would be fair to say that until recently nobody ever expected such rules to be the subject of closed door negotiations between trade negotiators, rather than being openly debated in national parliaments, or in more transparent international bodies such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), or even the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • People Are Freaking Out About This Insane Picture Of Mark Zuckerberg

      A picture of Mark Zuckerberg brandishing a slightly evil smile on his face, walking past thousands of people wearing VR headsets, has caused a havoc online. It happened at this year’s Mobile World Congress, during Samsung’s Galaxy S7 launch event in Barcelona.

    • NSA data centre brings 300 million daily security scares to its Utah home

      Utah is being hit with up to 300 million security incidents a day, the state’s public safety commissioner says.

      He complains that the undefined “incidents”, the bulk of which are likely automated scans, have skyrocketed since 2010 when the number of incidents peaked at 80,000 a day.

      Commissioner Keith Squires told local broadcaster KUTV he suspected the increase is thanks to construction of the National Security Agency’s major data centre in the state.

    • Wikileaks Reveals the NSA Spied on World Leaders’ Secret Meetings

      Wikileaks released tonight a new cache of documents, showing that the United States’ National Security Administration bugged private meetings between major world leaders, including the United Nations Secretary General.

      The N.S.A. bugged meetings between U.N.S.G. Ban Ki-Moon, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and several representatives from other major world governments, listening in on their conversations on climate change, global economics, and even “how to deal with Obama,” according to the new documents.

    • WikiLeaks Releases Documents on NSA’s Spying on World Leaders’ Negotiations
    • Wikileaks: NSA bugged Netanyahu-Berlusconi meeting on US-Israel relations
    • WikiLeaks: NSA Spied on Israel’s Attempts to Repair Relations With U.S.
    • NSA Targets World Leaders for US Geopolitical Interests
    • WikiLeaks: NSA spied on UN’s Ban Ki-Moon & other world leaders for US oil companies
    • NSA Tapped a Netanyahu-Berlusconi Call Over U.S.-Israel Relations
    • Court Says EFF Can Move Forward With Discovery In Its Big Case Against NSA Surveillance

      Jewel v. NSA is the EFF’s big case against the NSA over its surveillance efforts. It predates the Snowden revelations (from a lot), and stems from that time an AT&T technician, Mark Klein, just walked through the doors of the EFF to provide the organization with evidence that AT&T basically routes a bunch of data through NSA filters for “upstream” collection (part of the NSA’s “702″ collection program). The case has gone through a bunch of permutations and procedural issues, many of which have not gone the EFF’s way, unfortunately.

    • Spying Suit Against NSA Moves Forward

      For the first time, mass surveillance opponents can dig into evidence on the National Security Agency’s phone and Internet spying programs, a federal judge ruled Friday.

    • Former NSA director asks fed court to quash metadata lawsuit

      Keith Alexander, former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and newly minted startup founder, filed a motion asking a federal court to quash a lawsuit that named him personally violating Americans’ constitutional rights through the NSA’s bulk metadata telephone surveillance program.

      The lawsuit – which resulted in the groundbreaking ruling by Judge Richard Leon that the bulk metadata collection program “likely violates the Constitution” – also named President Obama, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, and others.

    • The ’80s Classic ‘WarGames’ Apparently Set The Stage For NSA Spying

      WarGames is an ’80s classic and, for many people, their first introduction to the concept of hacking. Matthew Broderick plays a hacker who thinks he’s found a fun war simulation, but is in fact talking to a NORAD supercomputer that controls the nukes, and nearly starts World War III. And believe it or not, it not only had a basis in reality, it set up how the government perceives, and deals with, cybersecurity.

    • New Hampshire Legislator Introduces Bill Protecting Libraries’ Right To Run Tor Relays

      A small town library in New Hampshire that went to war with the DHS over a Tor relay has become the unlikely impetus for new legislation aimed at protecting public libraries from government overreach.

    • Issues with corporate censorship and mass surveillance

      There are companies – such as CloudFlare – which are effectively now Global Active Adversaries. Using CF as an example – they do not appear open to working together in open dialog, they actively make it nearly impossible to browse to certain websites, they collude with larger surveillance companies (like Google), their CAPTCHAs are awful, they block members of our community on social media rather than engaging with them and frankly, they run untrusted code in millions of browsers on the web for questionable security gains.

      It would be great if they allowed GET requests – for example – such requests should not and generally do not modify server side content. They do not do this – this breaks the web in so many ways, it is incredible. Using wget with Tor on a website hosted by CF is… a disaster. Using Tor Browser with it – much the same. These requests should be idempotent according to spec, I believe.

    • Yle MOT: Supo to get Big Brother-type muscle

      Finnish authorities are moving ahead with plans to give security and intelligence officials web surveillance powers, says Yle’s investigative journalism programme. According to MOT the move follows revelations by US whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed extensive global intelligence programmes involving governments and telecoms companies, but in which Finland was not involved.

    • Bill Gates Says Apple Should Unlock Shooter’s iPhone For FBI
    • Bill Gates backs the U.S. government in Apple’s iPhone privacy standoff
    • Bill Gates sides with government in Apple clash
    • Bill Gates Is Backing the FBI in Its Case Against Apple

      In an interview with the Financial Times published late Monday night, Gates dismissed the idea that granting the FBI access would set a meaningful legal precedent, arguing that the FBI is “not asking for some general thing, [it is] asking for a particular case.”

    • Bill Gates says Apple should unlock the San Bernardino iPhone

      The tech industry has been generally supportive of Apple in its fight against the FBI’s demand to unlock an iPhone linked to the San Bernardino shootings, but one big name is on the FBI’s side: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who seems unswayed by fears of compromised security and a potential legal precedent.

    • The FBI Says Its Fight With Apple Is Just About One Phone. Police and Prosecutors Say Otherwise

      The war between Apple and the FBI over the iPhone used by Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino shooters, hinges mostly on one major question: Is the court order telling Apple to help the FBI unlock Farook’s iPhone an isolated case, or is it just the start of a new method for the government to guarantee access to anyone’s device?

    • No, The FBI Does Not ‘Need’ The Info On Farook’s iPhone; This Is Entirely About The Precedent

      Over and over again as people keep talking about the Apple / FBI encryption stuff, I keep seeing the same line pop up. It’s something along the lines of “but the FBI needs to know what’s on that phone, so if Apple can help, why shouldn’t it.” Let’s debunk that myth. The FBI absolutely does not need to know what’s on that phone. It might not even care very much about what’s on that phone. As the Grugq ably explained last week, there’s almost certainly nothing of interest on the phone. As he notes, Farook destroyed his and his wife’s personal phones, indicating that if there were anything truly important, he would have destroyed the last phone too.

    • Remember When The FBI & NYPD Told People To Upgrade Their iPhones To Enable Stronger Security?

      Look, let’s face facts here. For all the talk coming from the law enforcement community that they need backdoors into encryption to stop crime, they absolutely know that the reverse is true: strong encryption prevents crime. Lots of it. Strong encryption on phones makes stealing those phones a lot less worthwhile, because all the information on them is locked up.

    • More Support for Justice Department Than for Apple in Dispute Over Unlocking iPhone

      As the standoff between the Department of Justice and Apple Inc. continues over an iPhone used by one of the suspects in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, 51% say Apple should unlock the iPhone to assist the ongoing FBI investigation. Fewer Americans (38%) say Apple should not unlock the phone to ensure the security of its other users’ information; 11% do not offer an opinion on the question.

    • Apple Hires Former Solicitor General, Who Lost Wife In 9/11, To Defend It Against FBI

      Two can play at the “pull on the heart strings about losses due to terror” game apparently. While the FBI has rolled out the “but the poor victims of San Bernardino” argument for why it wants to force Apple into hacking the security of its own customers, Apple has countered with a big gun of its own: it has hired former Solicitor General Ted Olson to defend the company against the FBI in this case. Olson is a mega-star in legal circles. He’s argued tons of cases before the Supreme Court, and of course, was Solicitor General under George W. Bush (whose election he helped ensure in representing him in Bush v. Gore).

    • Freedom, the US Government, and why Apple are still bad

      In order to prevent unauthorised firmware being installed on a device, Apple (and most other vendors) verify that any firmware updates are signed with a trusted key. The FBI don’t have access to Apple’s firmware signing keys, and as a result they’re unable to simply replace the software themselves. That’s why they’re asking Apple to build a new firmware image, sign it with their private key and provide it to the FBI.

    • Michael Hayden on Apple’s fight with FBI, 2016 campaigns

      A powerful intelligence insider is weighing in on Apple’s standoff with the FBI over unlocking the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone. Retired Gen. Michael Hayden says Apple is right in principle, but the government has a point. The former director of the National Security Agency and the CIA created and oversaw controversial programs designed to keep Americans safe. Hayden joins “CBS This Morning” to discuss his new book, “Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror.”

    • FBI’s Own Actions Likely Made Farook’s iPhone Data Inaccessible

      On Friday, we noted that one of the reasons that the FBI was unable to get access to the data on the remaining iPhone from Syed Farook was because after the shooting and after the phone was in the hands of the government, Farook’s employer, the San Bernardino Health Department, initiated a password change on his iCloud account. That apparently messed stuff up, because without that, it would have been possible to force the phone to backup data to the associated iCloud account, where it would have been available to the FBI. But, after we published that article, a rather salient point came out: the Health Department only did this because the FBI asked it to do so.

    • FBI Director: We’re Only Forcing Apple To Undermine Security Because We Chase Down Every Lead

      Over the weekend the narrative the FBI has been trying to spread around the legal effort to get Apple to build a system that lets the FBI hack Apple customers began to crumble, as it was revealed that the FBI’s own actions were largely responsible for the fact that the information on Syed Farook’s phone was no longer accessible. That gave more and more weight to the argument that the whole reason that the FBI did this was to set a precedent that judges can force companies to hack their own customers, should the FBI want them to do so. Again, it seems fairly obvious that the FBI chose this case in particular, because basically everyone agrees that Farook and his wife were bad people who murdered a bunch of Farook’s co-workers. That obviously makes the FBI’s case more sympathetic for setting a precedent. But with the shady actions that resulted in the data being locked up, that nice story was starting to slip away.

    • NSA Would Like to Keep Zero-Day Bugs Secret for as Long as It Can

      The NSA (National Security Agency) is in the midst of a two-year-old lawsuit with the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) for the right to keep its zero-day handling process secret from the prying eyes of the outside world.

  • Civil Rights

    • Military Prison Blocks Chelsea Manning from Reading EFF Blog Posts

      EFF was dismayed to learn last week that the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) at Fort Leavenworth has refused to provide inmate Chelsea Manning with printouts of EFF blog posts and other materials related to prisoner censorship. Worse yet, it appears that the reason is ostensibly to protect EFF’s copyrights.

      Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for her role in the release of military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks. A volunteer from her support network attempted to send her a series of articles EFF wrote last year about our work defending the rights of inmates to maintain an online presence. This included articles about severe punishments leveled at inmates with Facebook profiles and our views on how prison telecommunications systems should be regulated. Also attached were relevant public records from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, EFF’s comments to the Federal Communications Commission, and articles from Buzzfeed and the Harvard Business Review.

    • Military Prison Blocks Won’t Let Chelsea Manning Read EFF Blog… To Protect EFF’s Copyright

      Officials at Ft. Leavenworth prison, where Chelsea Manning is confined has apparently become super interested in protecting EFF’s copyright. Or so they claim. Manning has been blocked from reading printouts of EFF blog posts, and the US Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) insists it’s just about the copyright and not because they might disapprove of the EFF’s message.

    • State-funded Danish Muslim school tells girls not to date

      The private Muslim school Iqra Privatskole, located in Copenhagen’s Nørrebro district, received 18.5 million kroner in state-funded support in 2015. But the school’s outlook on dating may put future funding in jeopardy.

    • Yanis Varoufakis: “The UK should stay in the EU to fight tooth and nail against the EU’s anti-democratic institutions”

      In an interview with EUROPP’s editor Stuart Brown, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis discusses the launch of his new ‘Democracy in Europe’ movement (DiEM25), the UK’s upcoming referendum on EU membership, and why a surge of democracy is needed to prevent the EU from sliding toward disintegration.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • US Congressional Hearing On WIPO Accountability This Week

      Brown was brought in as a high-level adviser to Gurry, a fellow Australian, at the start of his first term in 2008, but she soon balked at what she saw as unacceptable practices by Gurry and later left the organisation as a whistleblower.

    • Copyrights

      • Three Strikes System In Australia ‘Too Costly’ For Industry; Seems Piracy Not Such A Massive Problem After All

        It was evident when the “three strikes” or “graduated response” was first proposed in France back in 2009 that it was a really bad idea. After all, in its crudest form, it cuts people off from what has become a necessity for modern life — the Internet — simply because they are accused of copyright infringement, an area of law that is notoriously full of uncertainties. Given that inauspicious start, it’s no surprise that over the years, the three strikes system has failed everywhere, with some of the early adopters either dropping it, or putting it on hold.

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