Tuesday, June 10, 2014

OpenStack 06/11/2014 (a.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA, NSA-debunking, lies

    • Over the past year, as the Snowden revelations have rolled out, the government and its apologists have developed a set of talking points about mass spying that the public has now heard over and over again. From the President, to Hilary Clinton to Rep. Mike Rogers, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and many others, the arguments are often eerily similar.

      But as we approach the one year anniversary, it’s time to call out the key claims that have been thoroughly debunked and insist that the NSA apologists retire them. 

      So if you hear any one of these in the future, you can tell yourself straight up: “this person isn’t credible,” and look elsewhere for current information about the NSA spying. And if these are still in your talking points (you know who you are) it’s time to retire them if you want to remain credible. And next time, the talking points should stand the test of time.

  • Tags: computer-crime, Hammand, FBI, Stratfor, FBI-misconduct

    • Sitting inside a medium-security federal prison in Kentucky, Jeremy Hammond looks defiant and frustrated. 

      “[The FBI] could've stopped me,” he told the Daily Dot last month at the Federal Correctional Institution, Manchester. “They could've. They knew about it. They could’ve stopped dozens of sites I was breaking into.”

      Hammond is currently serving the remainder of a 10-year prison sentence in part for his role in one of the most high-profile cyberattacks of the early 21st century. His 2011 breach of Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor) left tens of thousands of Americans vulnerable to identity theft and irrevocably damaged the Texas-based intelligence firm's global reputation. He was also indicted for his role in the June 2011 hack of an Arizona state law enforcement agency's computer servers.

    • There's no question of his guilt: Hammond, 29, admittedly hacked into Stratfor’s network and exfiltrated an estimated 60,000 credit card numbers and associated data and millions of emails, information that was later shared with the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks and the hacker collective Anonymous.  

      Sealed court documents obtained by the Daily Dot and Motherboard, however, reveal that the attack was instigated and orchestrated not by Hammond, but by an informant, with the full knowledge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 

      In addition to directly facilitating the breach, the FBI left Stratfor and its customers—which included defense contractors, police chiefs, and National Security Agency employees—vulnerable to future attacks and fraud, and it requested knowledge of the data theft to be withheld from affected customers. This decision would ultimately allow for millions of dollars in damages.

  • Tags: computer-crime, Monsegur, FBI, FBI-misconduct

    • In early 2012, members of the hacking collective Anonymous carried out a series of cyber attacks on government and corporate websites in Brazil. They did so under the direction of a hacker who, unbeknownst to them, was wearing another hat: helping the Federal Bureau of Investigation carry out one of its biggest cybercrime investigations to date.

      A year after leaked files exposed the National Security Agency's efforts to spy on citizens and companies in Brazil, previously unpublished chat logs obtained by Motherboard reveal that while under the FBI's supervision, Hector Xavier Monsegur, widely known by his online persona, "Sabu," facilitated attacks that affected Brazilian websites.

      The operation raises questions about how the FBI uses global internet vulnerabilities during cybercrime investigations, how it works with informants, and how it shares information with other police and intelligence agencies. 

    • After his arrest in mid-2011, Monsegur continued to organize cyber attacks while working for the FBI. According to documents and interviews, Monsegur passed targets and exploits to hackers to disrupt government and corporate servers in Brazil and several other countries.

      Details about his work as a federal informant have been kept mostly secret, aired only in closed-door hearings and in redacted documents that include chat logs between Monsegur and other hackers. The chat logs remain under seal due to a protective order upheld in court, but in April, they and other court documents were obtained by journalists at Motherboard and the Daily Dot

  • I didn't see this one coming. I've got a Comcast account and their Arris Gateway modem. In our area, several coffeehouses, etc., that already offered free wireless connections are now broadcasting Comcast Xfinity wireless. So I'm guessing that this is a planned rollout nationwide. 

    Tags: broadband roll-out, wireless-hotspots, Comcast

    • Some time on Tuesday afternoon, about 50,000 Comcast Internet customers in Houston will become part of a massive public Wi-Fi hotspot network, a number that will swell to 150,000 by the end of June.

      Comcast will begin activating a feature in its Arris Touchstone Telephony Wireless Gateway Modems that sets up a public Wi-Fi hotspot alongside a residential Internet customer’s private home network. Other Comcast customers will be able to log in to the hotspots for free using a computer, smartphone or other mobile device. And once they log into one, they’ll be automatically logged in to others when their devices “see” them.

      Comcast says the hotspot – which appears as “xfinitywifi” to those searching for a Wi-Fi connection – is completely separate from the home network. Someone accessing the Net through the hotspot can’t get to the computers, printers, mobile devices, streaming boxes and more sitting on the host network.

      Comcast officials also say that people using the Internet via the hotspot won’t slow down Internet access on the home network. Additional capacity is allotted to handle the bandwidth.

      You can read more about Comcast’s reason for doing this in my report on HoustonChronicle.com.

    • What’s interesting about this move is that, by default, the feature is being turned on without its subscribers’ prior consent. It’s an opt-out system – you have to take action to not participate. Comcast spokesman Michael Bybee said on Monday that notices about the hotspot feature were mailed to customers a few weeks ago, and email notifications will go out after it’s turned on. But it’s a good bet that this will take many Comcast customers by surprise.

      If you have one of these routers and don’t want to host a public Wi-Fi hotspot, here’s how to turn it off.

    • The additional capacity for public hotspot users is provided through a separate channel on the modem called a “service flow,” according to Comcast. But the speed of the connection reflects the tier of the subscriber hosting the hotspot. For example, if you connect to a hotspot hosted by a home user with a 25-Mbps connection, it will be slower than if you connect to a host system on the 50-Mbps tier.
  • A partial win for the public. The judge makes plain that he disagrees with pre-Snowden disclosure precedent and recommends that the Supreme Court adopt the reasoning of Judge Richard Leon's ruling that finds the NSA call-metadata violative of the Fourth Amendment. The judge says his hands are tied by prior decisions in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that gave an expansive reading to Smith v. Maryland.

    Tags: surveillance state, NSA, NSA-reform, litigation

    • A federal judge in Idaho has upheld the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's program that gathers massive quanities of data on the telephone calls of Americans.

      The ruling Tuesday from U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill leaves the federal government with two wins in lawsuits decided since the program was revealed about a year ago by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden. In addition, one judge handling a criminal case ruled that the surveillance did not violate the Constitution.

      Opponents of the program have only one win: U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon's ruling in December that the program likely violates the Fourth Amendment.

      In the new decision, Winmill said binding precedent in the Ninth Circuit holds that call and email metadata are not protected by the Constitution and no warrant is needed to obtain it.

    • "The weight of the authority favors the NSA," wrote Winmill, an appointee of President Bill Clinton.

      Winmill took note of Leon's contrary decision and called it eloquent, but concluded it departs from current Supreme Court precedent — though perhaps not for long.

      "Judge Leon’s decision should serve as a template for a Supreme Court opinion. And it might yet," Winmill wrote as he threw out the lawsuit brought by an Idaho registered nurse who objected to the gathering of data on her phone calls.

      Winmill's opinion (posted here) does not address an argument put forward by some critics of the program, including some lawmakers: that the metadata program violates federal law because it does not fit squarely within the language of the statute used to authorize it.


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