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.

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