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.


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