Friday, July 04, 2014

OpenStack 07/04/2014 (p.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA-targets, Tor, Tails

      • Alleged leaked documents about the NSA's XKeyscore snooping software appear to show the paranoid agency is targeting Tor and Tails users, Linux Journal readers – and anyone else interested in online privacy.

        Apparently, this configuration file for XKeyscore is in the divulged data, which was obtained and studied by members of the Tor project and security specialists for German broadcasters NDR and WDR.

        In their analysis of the alleged top-secret documents, they claim the NSA is, among other things:

        • Specifically targeting Tor directory servers
        • Reading email contents for mentions of Tor bridges
        • Logging IP addresses used to search for privacy-focused websites and software
        • And possibly breaking international law in doing so.

        We already know from leaked Snowden documents that Western intelligence agents hate Tor for its anonymizing abilities. But what the aforementioned leaked source code, written in a rather strange custom language, shows is that not only is the NSA targeting the anonymizing network Tor specifically, it is also taking digital fingerprints of any netizens who are remotely interested in privacy.

    • These include readers of the Linux Journal site, anyone visiting the website for the Tor-powered Linux operating system Tails – described by the NSA as "a comsec mechanism advocated by extremists on extremist forums" – and anyone looking into combining Tails with the encryption tool Truecrypt.

      If something as innocuous as Linux Journal is on the NSA's hit list, it's a distinct possibility that El Reg is too, particularly in light of our recent exclusive report on GCHQ – which led to a Ministry of Defence advisor coming round our London office for a chat.

    • If you take even the slightest interest in online privacy or have Googled a Linux Journal article about a broken package, you are earmarked in an NSA database for further surveillance, according to these latest leaks.

      This is assuming the leaked file is genuine, of course.

      Other monitored sites, we're told, include HotSpotShield, FreeNet, Centurian, FreeProxies.org, MegaProxy, privacy.li and an anonymous email service called MixMinion. The IP address of computer users even looking at these sites is recorded and stored on the NSA's servers for further analysis, and it's up to the agency how long it keeps that data.

      The XKeyscore code, we're told, includes microplugins that target Tor servers in Germany, at MIT in the United States, in Sweden, in Austria, and in the Netherlands. In doing so it may not only fall foul of German law but also the US's Fourth Amendment.

    • The nine Tor directory servers receive especially close monitoring from the NSA's spying software, which states the "goal is to find potential Tor clients connecting to the Tor directory servers." Tor clients linking into the directory servers are also logged.

      "This shows that Tor is working well enough that Tor has become a target for the intelligence services," said Sebastian Hahn, who runs one of the key Tor servers. "For me this means that I will definitely go ahead with the project.”

    • While the German reporting team has published part of the XKeyscore scripting code, it doesn't say where it comes from. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden would be a logical pick, but security experts are not so sure.

      "I do not believe that this came from the Snowden documents," said security guru Bruce Schneier. "I also don't believe the TAO catalog came from the Snowden documents. I think there's a second leaker out there."

      If so, the NSA is in for much more scrutiny than it ever expected.


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