Friday, February 27, 2015

OpenStack 02/27/2015 (p.m.)

  • " CANADIAN SPIES COLLECT DOMESTIC EMAILS IN SECRET SECURITY SWEEP BY RYAN GALLAGHER AND GLENN GREENWALD @rj_gallagher@ggreenwald YESTERDAY AT 2:02 AM SHARE TWITTER FACEBOOK GOOGLE EMAIL PRINT POPULAR EXCLUSIVE: TSA ISSUES SECRET WARNING ON ‘CATASTROPHIC’ THREAT TO AVIATION CHICAGO’S “BLACK SITE” DETAINEES SPEAK OUT WHY DOES THE FBI HAVE TO MANUFACTURE ITS OWN PLOTS IF TERRORISM AND ISIS ARE SUCH GRAVE THREATS? NET NEUTRALITY IS HERE — THANKS TO AN UNPRECEDENTED GUERRILLA ACTIVISM CAMPAIGN HOW SPIES STOLE THE KEYS TO THE ENCRYPTION CASTLE Canada’s electronic surveillance agency is covertly monitoring vast amounts of Canadians’ emails as part of a sweeping domestic cybersecurity operation, according to top-secret documents. The surveillance initiative, revealed Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, is sifting through millions of emails sent to Canadian government agencies and departments, archiving details about them on a database for months or even years. The data mining operation is carried out by the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, Canada’s equivalent of the National Security Agency. Its existence is disclosed in documents obtained by The Intercept from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The emails are vacuumed up by the Canadian agency as part of its mandate to defend against hacking attacks and malware targeting government computers. It relies on a system codenamed PONY EXPRESS to analyze the messages in a bid to detect potential cyber threats. Last year, CSE acknowledged it collected some private communications as part of cybersecurity efforts. But it refused to divulge the number of communications being stored or to explain for how long any intercepted messages would be retained. Now, the Snowden documents shine a light for the first time on the huge scope of the operation — exposing the controversial details the government withheld from the public. Under Canada’s criminal code, CSE is not allowed to eavesdrop on Canadians’ communications. But the agency can be granted special ministerial exemptions if its efforts are linked to protecting government infrastructure — a loophole that the Snowden documents show is being used to monitor the emails. The latest revelations will trigger concerns about how Canadians’ private correspondence with government employees are being archived by the spy agency and potentially shared with police or allied surveillance agencies overseas, such as the NSA. Members of the public routinely communicate with government employees when, for instance, filing tax returns, writing a letter to a member of parliament, applying for employment insurance benefits or submitting a passport application. Chris Parsons, an internet security expert with the Toronto-based internet think tank Citizen Lab, told CBC News that “you should be able to communicate with your government without the fear that what you say … could come back to haunt you in unexpected ways.” Parsons said that there are legitimate cybersecurity purposes for the agency to keep tabs on communications with the government, but he added: “When we collect huge volumes, it’s not just used to track bad guys. It goes into data stores for years or months at a time and then it can be used at any point in the future.” In a top-secret CSE document on the security operation, dated from 2010, the agency says it “processes 400,000 emails per day” and admits that it is suffering from “information overload” because it is scooping up “too much data.” The document outlines how CSE built a system to handle a massive 400 terabytes of data from Internet networks each month — including Canadians’ emails — as part of the cyber operation. (A single terabyte of data can hold about a billion pages of text, or about 250,000 average-sized mp3 files.) The agency notes in the document that it is storing large amounts of “passively tapped network traffic” for “days to months,” encompassing the contents of emails, attachments and other online activity. It adds that it stores some kinds of metadata — data showing who has contacted whom and when, but not the content of the message — for “months to years.” The document says that CSE has “excellent access to full take data” as part of its cyber operations and is receiving policy support on “use of intercepted private communications.” The term “full take” is surveillance-agency jargon that refers to the bulk collection of both content and metadata from Internet traffic. Another top-secret document on the surveillance dated from 2010 suggests the agency may be obtaining at least some of the data by covertly mining it directly from Canadian Internet cables. CSE notes in the document that it is “processing emails off the wire.” The Canadian government has previously accused China of trying to hack into its systems. And last year, the country’s revenue agency shut down after a hacker broke into its site following the exposure of a security vulnerability known as Heartbleed. Of the masses of emails the agency was scanning and storing using PONY EXPRESS in 2010, however, only about 0.001 percent of them were deemed to contain potentially malicious viruses. According to the documents, 400 each day triggered alerts. Of those, only about four a day were judged serious enough to inform the government departments affected. Since the 2010 documents were authored, it is likely the scale of the domestic data collection has increased. CSE states in the documents that it is working to bolster its capabilities. Under a heading marked “future,” the agency notes: “metadata continues to increase linearly with new access points.” A CSE spokesman told The Intercept and CBC News in a statement that the agency eventually deletes intercepted Canadians’ emails if they are found to contain no cyberthreat, but would not comment on the amount of emails collected, or discuss the period of time that the messages are retained for. “Under its cyber security mandate, CSE collects data and metadata that is relevant and necessary to understand the nature and methods of malicious cyber threats,” the spokesman said. “Data and metadata are deleted according to established data retention schedules that are documented in internal policies and procedures. To provide more detail could assist those who want to conduct malicious cyber activity against government networks.” Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto Email the authors: ryan.gallagher@theintercept.com, glenn.greenwald@theintercept.com 37 DISCUSSING + ADD COMMENTSHOW COMMENTS RECOMMENDED In Midst of War, Ukraine Becomes Gateway for Jihad Long March of the Yellow Jackets: How a One-Time Terrorist Group Prevailed on Capitol Hill Chicago’s “Black Site” Detainees Speak Out How Junk Science Sent Claude Garrett to Prison For Life Gemalto Doesn’t Know What It Doesn’t Know Net Neutrality Is Here — Thanks To an Unprecedented Guerrilla Activism Campaign Exclusive: TSA Issues Secret Warning on ‘Catastrophic’ Threat to Aviation Canadian Spies Collect Domestic Emails in Secret Security Sweep © FIRST LOOK MEDIA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ABOUTTERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYRSSCONTACT Edit bookmark PrivateRead LaterCache Recent Tags:war & peaceUkraineRussiaCrimeamemo Recommended:via:packrati.usIFTTTCanadaTwittersurveillanceFeedly Group dictionary:internetGooglesurveillance statewebkitopen sourcelinuxmicrosoftfreefreedomNSA Share my existing annotations Savecancel "

    Tags: surveillance state, Canada, CSE, bulk-collection, email

    • Canada’s electronic surveillance agency is covertly monitoring vast amounts of Canadians’ emails as part of a sweeping domestic cybersecurity operation, according to top-secret documents.

      The surveillance initiative, revealed Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, is sifting through millions of emails sent to Canadian government agencies and departments, archiving details about them on a database for months or even years.

      The data mining operation is carried out by the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, Canada’s equivalent of the National Security Agency. Its existence is disclosed in documents obtained by The Intercept from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

      The emails are vacuumed up by the Canadian agency as part of its mandate to defend against hacking attacks and malware targeting government computers. It relies on a system codenamed PONY EXPRESS to analyze the messages in a bid to detect potential cyber threats.

    • Last year, CSE acknowledged it collected some private communications as part of cybersecurity efforts. But it refused to divulge the number of communications being stored or to explain for how long any intercepted messages would be retained.

      Now, the Snowden documents shine a light for the first time on the huge scope of the operation — exposing the controversial details the government withheld from the public.

      Under Canada’s criminal code, CSE is not allowed to eavesdrop on Canadians’ communications. But the agency can be granted special ministerial exemptions if its efforts are linked to protecting government infrastructure — a loophole that the Snowden documents show is being used to monitor the emails.

      The latest revelations will trigger concerns about how Canadians’ private correspondence with government employees are being archived by the spy agency and potentially shared with police or allied surveillance agencies overseas, such as the NSA. Members of the public routinely communicate with government employees when, for instance, filing tax returns, writing a letter to a member of parliament, applying for employment insurance benefits or submitting a passport application.

    • Chris Parsons, an internet security expert with the Toronto-based internet think tank Citizen Lab, told CBC News that “you should be able to communicate with your government without the fear that what you say … could come back to haunt you in unexpected ways.”

      Parsons said that there are legitimate cybersecurity purposes for the agency to keep tabs on communications with the government, but he added: “When we collect huge volumes, it’s not just used to track bad guys. It goes into data stores for years or months at a time and then it can be used at any point in the future.”

      In a top-secret CSE document on the security operation, dated from 2010, the agency says it “processes 400,000 emails per day” and admits that it is suffering from “information overload” because it is scooping up “too much data.”

      The document outlines how CSE built a system to handle a massive 400 terabytes of data from Internet networks each month — including Canadians’ emails — as part of the cyber operation. (A single terabyte of data can hold about a billion pages of text, or about 250,000 average-sized mp3 files.)

    • The agency notes in the document that it is storing large amounts of “passively tapped network traffic” for “days to months,” encompassing the contents of emails, attachments and other online activity. It adds that it stores some kinds of metadata — data showing who has contacted whom and when, but not the content of the message — for “months to years.”

      The document says that CSE has “excellent access to full take data” as part of its cyber operations and is receiving policy support on “use of intercepted private communications.” The term “full take” is surveillance-agency jargon that refers to the bulk collection of both content and metadata from Internet traffic.

      Another top-secret document on the surveillance dated from 2010 suggests the agency may be obtaining at least some of the data by covertly mining it directly from Canadian Internet cables. CSE notes in the document that it is “processing emails off the wire.”

  • Marcy Wheeler's specuiulation that various government databases simply move to another agency when they're brought to light is not without precedent. When Congress shut down DARPA's Total Information Awareness program, most of its software programs and databases were just moved to NSA. 

    Tags: surveillance state, DEA, FBI, IG-investigation, phone-databases

    • Man, at some point Congress is going to have to declare the FBI legally contemptuous and throw them in jail.

      They continue to refuse to cooperate with DOJ’s Inspector General, as they have been for basically 5 years. But in Michael Horowitz’ latest complaint to Congress, he adds a new spin: FBI is not only obstructing his investigation of the FBI’s management impaired surveillance, now FBI is obstructing his investigation of DEA’s management impaired surveillance.

      I first reported on DOJ IG’s investigation into DEA’s dragnet databases last April. At that point, the only dragnet we knew about was Hemisphere, which DEA uses to obtain years of phone records as well as location data and other details, before it them parallel constructs that data out of a defendant’s reach.

    • But since then, we’ve learned of what the government claims to be another database — that used to identify Shantia Hassanshahi in an Iranian sanctions case. After some delay, the government revealed that this was another dragnet, including just international calls. It claims that this database was suspended in September 2013 (around the time Hemisphere became public) and that it is no longer obtaining bulk records for it.

      According to the latest installment of Michael Horowitz’ complaints about FBI obstruction, he tried to obtain records on the DEA databases on November 20, 2014 (of note, during the period when the government was still refusing to tell even Judge Rudolph Contreras what the database implicating Hassanshahi was). FBI slow-walked production, but promised to provide everything to Horowitz by February 13, 2015. FBI has decided it has to keep reviewing the emails in question to see if there is grand jury, Title III electronic surveillance, and Fair Credit Reporting Act materials, which are the same categories of stuff FBI has refused in the past. So Horowitz is pointing to the language tied to DOJ’s appropriations for FY 2015 which (basically) defunded FBI obstruction.

      Only FBI continues to obstruct.

    • There’s one more question about this. As noted, this investigation is supposed to be about DEA’s databases. We’ve already seen that FBI uses Hemisphere (when I asked FBI for comment in advance of this February 4, 2014 article on FBI obstinance, Hemisphere was the one thing they refused all comment on). And obviously, FBI access another DEA database to go after Hassanshahi.

      So that may be the only reason why Horowitz needs the FBI’s cooperation to investigate the DEA’s dragnets.

      Plus, assuming FBI is parallel constructing these dragnets just like DEA is, I can understand why they’d want to withhold grand jury information, which would make that clear.

      Still, I can’t help but wonder — as I have in the past — whether these dragnets are all connected, a constantly moving shell game.

      That might explain why FBI is so intent on obstructing Horowitz again.


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

OpenStack 02/27/2015 (a.m.)

  • Edward Snowden for President in 2016!

    Tags: surveillance state, Snowden, civil-disobedience

    • In a question and answer session on Reddit earlier today, Edward Snowden wrote:
  • Tags: surveillance state, DEA, bulk-collection, IG, withholding

    • Late last week, the Inspector General (IG) for the Justice Department sent a letter to Congress complaining of the FBI’s refusal to set a timeline for turning over documents related to an IG investigation of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s use of subpoenas to gain access to and use certain bulk data collections.

      The IG has been seeking documents related to its investigation since Nov. 20, 2014. While the FBI has provided some of the requested information to the IG, negotiations over other documents led to a production deadline of Feb. 13, 2015. When the FBI communicated it would miss that deadline, it would not commit to a new deadline, triggering the IG’s letter to Congress.

      Interestingly, the IG also challenged the FBI’s interpretation of what information can be withheld during IG investigations. As the IG pointed out, allowing “access to records of the [DOJ] only when granted permission by the Department’s leadership is inconsistent” with the IG Act, the Appropriations Act, and general IG independence.

      The full letter is below.

  • Tags: net neutrality, FCC

    • Net neutrality has won at the FCC. In a 3-to-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission today established a new Open Internet Order that implements strict net neutrality rules, including prohibitions on site and app blocking, speed throttling, and paid fast lanes.
    • Critically, the order also reclassifies internet providers' offerings as telecommunications services under Title II of the Communications Act. Though this is likely to provoke a challenge in court, Title II gives the commission the tools it needs to enforce these strict rules.

      This is also the first time that net neutrality rules will apply, in full, to mobile internet service. Additionally, the commission uses the new order to assert its ability to investigate and address complaints about "interconnect" agreements — deals made between internet providers like Comcast and content companies like Netflix, which has regularly complained that these deals are unfair.

      The FCC's new order establishes a standard that requires internet providers to take no actions that unreasonably interfere with or disadvantage consumers or the companies whose sites and apps they're trying to access. At most, internet providers may slow down service only for the purpose of "reasonable network management" — not a business purpose.

  • Privacy measures that the ACLU is pushing at the state level in Oregon. Links are to short summaries of legislation.

    Tags: surveillance state, Oregon, legislation, ACLU, digital-privacy


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

OpenStack 02/25/2015 (a.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, FBI, NSLs, litigation, 1st Amendment, civil-liberties

    • Despite the post-Snowden spotlight on mass surveillance, the intelligence community’s easiest end-run around the Fourth Amendment since 2001 has been something called a National Security Letter.

      FBI agents can demand that an Internet service provider, telephone company or financial institution turn over its records on any number of people — without any judicial review whatsoever — simply by writing a letter that says the information is needed for national security purposes. The FBI at one point was cranking out over 50,000 such letters a year; by the latest count, it still issues about 60 a day.

      The letters look like this:

    • Recipients are legally required to comply — but it doesn’t stop there. They also aren’t allowed to mention the order to anyone, least of all the person whose data is being searched. Ever. That’s because National Security Letters almost always come with eternal gag orders. Here’s that part:
    • Despite the use of the word “now” in that first sentence, however, the FBI has yet to do any such thing. It has not announced any such change, nor explained how it will implement it, or when.

      Media inquiries were greeted with stalling and, finally, a no comment — ostensibly on advice of legal counsel.

      “There is pending litigation that deals with a lot of the same questions you’re asking, out of the Ninth Circuit,” FBI spokesman Chris Allen told me. “So for now, we’ll just have to decline to comment.”

      FBI lawyers are working on a court filing for that case, and “it will address” the new policy, he said. He would not say when to expect it.

    • That means the NSL process utterly disregards the First Amendment as well.

      More than a year ago, President Obama announced that he was ordering the Justice Department to terminate gag orders “within a fixed time unless the government demonstrates a real need for further secrecy.”

      And on Feb. 3, when the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced a handful of baby steps resulting from its “comprehensive effort to examine and enhance [its] privacy and civil liberty protections” one of the most concrete was — finally — to cap the gag orders:

      In response to the President’s new direction, the FBI will now presumptively terminate National Security Letter nondisclosure orders at the earlier of three years after the opening of a fully predicated investigation or the investigation’s close.

      Continued nondisclosures orders beyond this period are permitted only if a Special Agent in Charge or a Deputy Assistant Director determines that the statutory standards for nondisclosure continue to be satisfied and that the case agent has justified, in writing, why continued nondisclosure is appropriate.

    • There is indeed a significant case currently before the federal appeals court in San Francisco. Oral arguments were in October. A decision could come any time.

      But in that case, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which is representing two unnamed communications companies that received NSLs, is calling for the entire NSL statute to be thrown out as unconstitutional — not for a tweak to the gag. And it has a March 2013 district court ruling in its favor.

      “The gag is a prior restraint under the First Amendment, and prior restraints have to meet an extremely high burden,” said Andrew Crocker, a legal fellow at EFF. That means going to court and meeting the burden of proof — not just signing a letter.

      Or as the Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez put it, “To have such a low bar for denying persons or companies the right to speak about government orders they have been served with is anathema. And it is not very good for accountability.”

    • In a separate case, a wide range of media companies (including First Look Media, the non-profit digital media venture that produces The Intercept) are supporting a lawsuit filed by Twitter, demanding the right to say specifically how many NSLs it has received.

      But simply releasing companies from a gag doesn’t assure the kind of accountability that privacy advocates are saying is required by the Constitution.

      “What the public has to remember is a NSL is asking for your information, but it’s not asking it from you,” said Michael German, a former FBI agent who is now a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice. “The vast majority of these things go to the very large telecommunications and financial companies who have a large stake in maintaining a good relationship with the government because they’re heavily regulated entities.”

    • So, German said, “the number of NSLs that would be exposed as a result of the release of the gag order is probably very few. The person whose records are being obtained is the one who should receive some notification.”

      A time limit on gags going forward also raises the question of whether past gag orders will now be withdrawn. “Obviously there are at this point literally hundreds of thousands of National Security Letters that are more than three years old,” said Sanchez. Individual review is therefore unlikely, but there ought to be some recourse, he said. And the further back you go, “it becomes increasingly implausible that a significant percentage of those are going to entail some dire national security risk.”

      The NSL program has a troubled history. The absolute secrecy of the program and resulting lack of accountability led to systemic abuse as documented by repeated inspector-general investigations, including improperly authorized NSLs, factual misstatements in the NSLs, improper requests under NSL statutes, requests for information based on First Amendment protected activity, “after-the-fact” blanket NSLs to “cover” illegal requests, and hundreds of NSLs for “community of interest” or “calling circle” information without any determination that the telephone numbers were relevant to authorized national security investigations.

    • Obama’s own hand-selected “Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies” recommended in December 2013 that NSLs should only be issued after judicial review — just like warrants — and that any gag should end within 180 days barring judicial re-approval.

      But FBI director James Comey objected to the idea, calling NSLs “a very important tool that is essential to the work we do.” His argument evidently prevailed with Obama.

    • NSLs have managed to stay largely under the American public’s radar. But, Crocker says, “pretty much every time I bring it up and give the thumbnail, people are shocked. Then you go into how many are issued every year, and they go crazy.”

      Want to send me your old NSL and see if we can set a new precedent? Here’s how to reach me. And here’s how to leak to me.

  • Watch for massive class action product defect litigation to be filed against the phone companies.and mobile device manufacturers.  In most U.S. jurisdictions, proof that the vendors/manufacturers  knew of the product defect is not required, only proof of the defect. Also, this is a golden opportunity for anyone who wants to get out of a pricey cellphone contract, since providing a compromised cellphone is a material breach of warranty, whether explicit or implied..   

    Tags: surveillance state, Gemalto, SIM-card-keys

    • European officials are demanding answers and investigations into a joint U.S. and U.K. hack of the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile SIM cards, following a report published by The Intercept Thursday.

      The report, based on leaked documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, revealed the U.S. spy agency and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ, hacked the Franco-Dutch digital security giant Gemalto in a sophisticated heist of encrypted cell-phone keys.

      The European Parliament’s chief negotiator on the European Union’s data protection law, Jan Philipp Albrecht, said the hack was “obviously based on some illegal activities.”

      “Member states like the U.K. are frankly not respecting the [law of the] Netherlands and partner states,” Albrecht told the Wall Street Journal.

      Sophie in ’t Veld, an EU parliamentarian with D66, the Netherlands’ largest opposition party, added, “Year after year we have heard about cowboy practices of secret services, but governments did nothing and kept quiet […] In fact, those very same governments push for ever-more surveillance capabilities, while it remains unclear how effective these practices are.”

    • “If the average IT whizzkid breaks into a company system, he’ll end up behind bars,” In ’t Veld added in a tweet Friday.

      The EU itself is barred from undertaking such investigations, leaving individual countries responsible for looking into cases that impact their national security matters. “We even get letters from the U.K. government saying we shouldn’t deal with these issues because it’s their own issue of national security,” Albrecht said.

      Still, lawmakers in the Netherlands are seeking investigations. Gerard Schouw, a Dutch member of parliament, also with the D66 party, has called on Ronald Plasterk, the Dutch minister of the interior, to answer questions before parliament. On Tuesday, the Dutch parliament will debate Schouw’s request.

      Additionally, European legal experts tell The Intercept, public prosecutors in EU member states that are both party to the Cybercrime Convention, which prohibits computer hacking, and home to Gemalto subsidiaries could pursue investigations into the breach of the company’s systems.

    • According to secret documents from 2010 and 2011, a joint NSA-GCHQ unit penetrated Gemalto’s internal networks and infiltrated the private communications of its employees in order to steal encryption keys, embedded on tiny SIM cards, which are used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the world. Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year.

      The company’s clients include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers. “[We] believe we have their entire network,” GCHQ boasted in a leaked slide, referring to the Gemalto heist.

    • While Gemalto was indeed another casualty in Western governments’ sweeping effort to gather as much global intelligence advantage as possible, the leaked documents make clear that the company was specifically targeted. According to the materials published Thursday, GCHQ used a specific codename — DAPINO GAMMA — to refer to the operations against Gemalto. The spies also actively penetrated the email and social media accounts of Gemalto employees across the world in an effort to steal the company’s encryption keys.

      Evidence of the Gemalto breach rattled the digital security community.

      “Almost everyone in the world carries cell phones and this is an unprecedented mass attack on the privacy of citizens worldwide,” said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a non-profit that advocates for digital privacy and free online expression. “While there is certainly value in targeted surveillance of cell phone communications, this coordinated subversion of the trusted technical security infrastructure of cell phones means the US and British governments now have easy access to our mobile communications.”

    • For Gemalto, evidence that their vaunted security systems and the privacy of customers had been compromised by the world’s top spy agencies made an immediate financial impact. The company’s shares took a dive on the Paris bourse Friday, falling $500 million. In the U.S., Gemalto’s shares fell as much 10 percent Friday morning. They had recovered somewhat — down 4 percent — by the close of trading on the Euronext stock exchange. Analysts at Dutch financial services company Rabobank speculated in a research note that Gemalto could be forced to recall “a large number” of SIM cards.

      The French daily L’Express noted today that Gemalto board member Alex Mandl was a founding trustee of the CIA-funded venture capital firm In-Q-Tel. Mandl resigned from In-Q-Tel’s board in 2002, when he was appointed CEO of Gemplus, which later merged with another company to become Gemalto. But the CIA connection still dogged Mandl, with the French press regularly insinuating that American spies could infiltrate the company. In 2003, a group of French lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to create a commission to investigate Gemplus’s ties to the CIA and its implications for the security of SIM cards. Mandl, an Austrian-American businessman who was once a top executive at AT&T, has denied that he had any relationship with the CIA beyond In-Q-Tel. In 2002, he said he did not even have a security clearance.

    • AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon could not be reached for comment Friday. Sprint declined to comment. Vodafone, the world’s second largest telecom provider by subscribers and a customer of Gemalto, said in a statement, “[W]e have no further details of these allegations which are industrywide in nature and are not focused on any one mobile operator. We will support industry bodies and Gemalto in their investigations.”

      Deutsche Telekom AG, a German company, said it has changed encryption algorithms in its Gemalto SIM cards.

      “We currently have no knowledge that this additional protection mechanism has been compromised,” the company said in a statement. “However, we cannot rule out this completely.”

    • Update: Asked about the SIM card heist, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he did not expect the news would hurt relations with the tech industry:

      “It’s hard for me to imagine that there are a lot of technology executives that are out there that are in a position of saying that they hope that people who wish harm to this country will be able to use their technology to do so. So, I do think in fact that there are opportunities for the private sector and the federal government to coordinate and to cooperate on these efforts, both to keep the country safe, but also to protect our civil liberties.”


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

OpenStack 02/21/2015 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, GCHQ, NSA, privacy-litigation

    • Thousands of people are signing up to join an unprecedented legal campaign against the United Kingdom’s leading electronic surveillance agency.

      On Monday, London-based human rights group Privacy International launched an initiative enabling anyone across the world to challenge covert spying operations involving Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, the National Security Agency’s British counterpart.

      The campaign was made possible following a historic court ruling earlier this month that deemed intelligence sharing between GCHQ and the NSA to have been unlawful because of the extreme secrecy shrouding it.

    • Consequently, members of the public now have a rare opportunity to take part in a lawsuit against the spying in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a special British court that handles complaints about surveillance operations conducted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

      Privacy International is allowing anyone who wants to participate to submit their name, email address and phone number through a page on its website. The group plans to use the details to lodge a case with GCHQ and the court that will seek to discover whether each participant’s emails or phone calls have been covertly obtained by the agency in violation of the privacy and freedom of expression provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. If it is established that any of the communications have been unlawfully collected, the court could force GCHQ to delete them from its vast repositories of intercepted data.

    • By Tuesday evening, more than 10,000 people had already signed up to the campaign, a spokesman for Privacy International told The Intercept.

      In a statement announcing the campaign on Monday, Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, said: “The public have a right to know if they were illegally spied on, and GCHQ must come clean on whose records they hold that they should never have had in the first place.

      “We have known for some time that the NSA and GCHQ have been engaged in mass surveillance, but never before could anyone explicitly find out if their phone calls, emails, or location histories were unlawfully shared between the U.S. and U.K.

      “There are few chances that people have to directly challenge the seemingly unrestrained surveillance state, but individuals now have a historic opportunity finally hold GCHQ accountable for their unlawful actions.”


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

OpenStack 02/20/2015 (p.m.)

  • Remember all those NSA claims that no evidence of their misbehavior has emerged? That one should never take wing again. Monitoring call content without the involvement of any court? Without a warrant? Without probable cause?  Was there even any Congressional authorization?  Wiretapping unequivocally requires a judicially-approved search warrant. It's going to be very interesting to learn the government's argument for this misconduct's legality. 

    Tags: surveillance state, NSA, GCHQ, SIM-card-keys, mobile-devices, decryption

    • AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

      The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.

      The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.

      In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is “Security to be Free.”

    • With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.
    • Leading privacy advocates and security experts say that the theft of encryption keys from major wireless network providers is tantamount to a thief obtaining the master ring of a building superintendent who holds the keys to every apartment. “Once you have the keys, decrypting traffic is trivial,” says Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The news of this key theft will send a shock wave through the security community.”
    • According to one secret GCHQ slide, the British intelligence agency penetrated Gemalto’s internal networks, planting malware on several computers, giving GCHQ secret access. We “believe we have their entire network,” the slide’s author boasted about the operation against Gemalto.

      Additionally, the spy agency targeted unnamed cellular companies’ core networks, giving it access to “sales staff machines for customer information and network engineers machines for network maps.” GCHQ also claimed the ability to manipulate the billing servers of cell companies to “suppress” charges in an effort to conceal the spy agency’s secret actions against an individual’s phone. Most significantly, GCHQ also penetrated “authentication servers,” allowing it to decrypt data and voice communications between a targeted individual’s phone and his or her telecom provider’s network. A note accompanying the slide asserted that the spy agency was “very happy with the data so far and [was] working through the vast quantity of product.”

    • The U.S. and British intelligence agencies pulled off the encryption key heist in great stealth, giving them the ability to intercept and decrypt communications without alerting the wireless network provider, the foreign government or the individual user that they have been targeted. “Gaining access to a database of keys is pretty much game over for cellular encryption,” says Matthew Green, a cryptography specialist at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute. The massive key theft is “bad news for phone security. Really bad news.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

OpenStack 02/18/2015 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA, GCHQ, info-request

    • In the UK earlier this month, human rights groups Liberty and Privacy International were cheered by a tribunal decision that declared GCHQ’s access to NSA spies’ data illegal. Though it was a hollow victory, as the tribunal also declared all current activities, including all those blanket surveillance projects much derided by free speech activists, entirely legal. The practices previously broke the law because the public was unaware of what safeguards were in place for the UK’s access to data from NSA programs like Prism; as soon as Snowden blew everything wide open the snoops had to explain themselves, and that was enough for the tribunal to confirm the legality of GCHQ’s operations.

      But the case has had one significant effect: anyone can now figure out if their data was illegally shared by the agencies. Privacy International has set up a simple webpage that anyone in the world can sign up to. You can visit the page here.

    • Once the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal has determined whom was affected, it has to inform them. Though participants should find out whether their data were unlawfully obtained by GCHQ from the millions of private communications hoovered up by the NSA up until December 2014, it won’t be anytime soon. Privacy International warned in its FAQs: “Count on it being many months, and likely years before this action is completed.”

      And somewhat ironically Privacy International has to collect participant’s information, including their name and email address, to supply the service. They may ask for more information from willing participants once the group has determined if more is required from the IPT. Anyone who wants to submit directly to the tribunal can do so here.

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA, NSA-methods, embedded-spyware

    • The United States has found a way to permanently embed surveillance and sabotage tools in computers and networks it has targeted in Iran, Russia, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and other countries closely watched by American intelligence agencies, according to a Russian cybersecurity firm.

      In a presentation of its findings at a conference in Mexico on Monday, Kaspersky Lab, the Russian firm, said that the implants had been placed by what it called the “Equation Group,” which appears to be a veiled reference to the National Security Agency and its military counterpart, United States Cyber Command.

    • It linked the techniques to those used in Stuxnet, the computer worm that disabled about 1,000 centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. It was later revealed that Stuxnet was part of a program code-named Olympic Games and run jointly by Israel and the United States.

      Kaspersky’s report said that Olympic Games had similarities to a much broader effort to infect computers well beyond those in Iran. It detected particularly high infection rates in computers in Iran, Pakistan and Russia, three countries whose nuclear programs the United States routinely monitors.

    • Some of the implants burrow so deep into the computer systems, Kaspersky said, that they infect the “firmware,” the embedded software that preps the computer’s hardware before the operating system starts. It is beyond the reach of existing antivirus products and most security controls, Kaspersky reported, making it virtually impossible to wipe out.
    • In many cases, it also allows the American intelligence agencies to grab the encryption keys off a machine, unnoticed, and unlock scrambled contents. Moreover, many of the tools are designed to run on computers that are disconnected from the Internet, which was the case in the computers controlling Iran’s nuclear enrichment plants.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

OpenStack 02/13/2015 (a.m.)

  • Tags: cybersecurity, alternative-media

    • Facebook teamed up with several corporate “friends” to adapt Facebook’s in-house software to identify cyber threats and their source with other corporations. Countering cyber threats sounds positive while there are serious questions about transparency when smaller, independent media fall victim to major corporation’s unwillingness to reveal the source of attacks resulted in websites being closed for hours or days. Transparency, yes, but for whom?

      Among the companies Facebook is teaming up with are Printerest, Tumblr, Twitter, Yahoo, Drpbox and Bit.ly, reports Susanne Posel at Occupy Corporatism. The stated goal of “Threat Exchange” is to locate malware, the source domains, the IP addresses which are involved as well as the nature of the malware itself.

    • While the platform may be useful for major corporations, who can afford buying the privilege to join the club, the initiative does little to nothing to protect smaller, independent media from being targeted with impunity.

      The development prompts the question “Cyber security for whom?” The question is especially pertinent because identifying a site as containing malware, whether it is correct or not, will result in the site being added to Google’s so-called “Safe Browsing List”.

    • An article written by nsnbc editor-in-chief Christof Lehmann entitled “Censorship Alert: The Alternative Media are getting harassed by the NSA” provides several examples which raise serious questions about the lack of transparency when independent media demand information about either real or alleged malware content on their media’s websites.

      An alleged malware content in a java script that had been inserted via the third-party advertising company MadAdsMedia resulted in the nsnbc website being closed down and added to Google’s Safe Browsing list. The response to nsnbc’s request to send detailed information about the alleged malware and most importantly, about the source, was rejected.

      MadAdsMedia’s response to a renewed request was to stop serving advertisements to nsnbc from one day to the other, stating that nsnbc could contact another company, YieldSelect, which is run by the same company. Shell Games?

      SiteLock, who partners with most western-based web hosting providers, including BlueHost, Hostgator and many others contacted nsnbc warning about an alleged malware threat. SiteLock refused to provide detailed information.

    • BlueHost refused to help the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC)  during a Denial of Service DoS attack. Asked for help, BlueHost reportedly said that they should deal with the issue themselves, which was impossible without BlueHost’s cooperation.

      The news agency’s website was down for days because BlueHost reportedly just shut down IMEMC’s server and told the editor-in-chief, Saed Bannoura to “go somewhere else”.

      The question is whether “transparency” can be the privilege of major corporations or whether there is need for legislation that forces all corporations to provide detailed information that enables media and other internet users to pursue real or alleged malware threats, cyber attacks and so forth, criminally and legally. That is, also when the alleged or real threat involves major corporations.

  • The article should have mentioned that the decision was on cross-motions for *partial* summary judgment. The Jewel case will proceed on other plaintiff claims. 

    Tags: surveillance state, NSA, litigation, Jewel

    • A district court in California has issued a ruling in favor of the National Security Agency in a long-running case over the spy agency’s collection of Internet records.

      The challenge against the controversial Upstream program was tossed out because additional defense from the government would have required “impermissible disclosure of state secret information,” Judge Jeffrey White wrote in his decision.

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      Under the program — details of which were revealed through leaks from Edward Snowden and others — the NSA taps into the fiber cables that make up the backbone of the Internet and gathers information about people's online and phone communications. The agency then filters out communications of U.S. citizens, whose data is protected with legal defenses not extended to foreigners, and searches for “selectors” tied to a terrorist or other target.

      In 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the government over the program on behalf of five AT&T customers, who said that the collection violated the constitutional protections to privacy and free speech.

    • But “substantial details” about the program still remain classified, White, an appointee under former President George W. Bush, wrote in his decision. Moving forward with the merits of a trial would risk “exceptionally grave damage to national security,” he added.

      The government has been “persuasive” in using its state secrets privilege, he continued, which allows it to withhold evidence from a case that could severely jeopardize national security.   

      In addition to saying that the program appeared constitutional, the judge also found that the AT&T customers did not even have the standing to sue the NSA over its data gathering.

      While they may be AT&T customers, White wrote that the evidence presented to the court was “insufficient to establish that the Upstream collection process operates in the manner” that they say it does, which makes it impossible to tell if their information was indeed collected in the NSA program.  

      The decision is a stinging rebuke to critics of the NSA, who have seen public interest in their cause slowly fade in the months since Snowden’s revelations.

    • The EFF on Tuesday evening said that it was considering next steps and noted that the court focused on just one program, not the totality of the NSA’s controversial operations.

      “It would be a travesty of justice if our clients are denied their day in court over the ‘secrecy’ of a program that has been front-page news for nearly a decade,” the group said in a statement.

      “We will continue to fight to end NSA mass surveillance.”

      The name of the case is Jewel v. NSA. 


Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.