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Gary Edwards

EDWARD SNOWDEN: Email Encryption Works Against The NSA - Business Insider - 0 views

  • PGP stands for "Pretty Good and." It uses two "keys," one publicly viewable to the world, the other kept solely to yourself. You can generate PGP keys to your heart's content using the free tool at iGolder and a number of other services around the web.
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    Article covers encryption method "PGP', and encryption tools from "iGolder".  There is also a Chrome Browser plugin for gmail based on "OpenPGP" available but comes with lousy reviews.  Seems there are difficulties with the interface and a complicated method. "Article 12 of the UN's Universal Declaration ofandstates that "no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his and, family, home, or correspondence." It's that last one that's gotten everyone's attention lately. Just how private is your correspondence online? Depending on your politics, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is either a vile turncoat or a revered hero, but either way he has advice on how to stay two steps ahead of the NSA. He held an awesome "press conference" of sorts on The Guardian's website, taking written questions from readers and typing out his answers online. We were most intrigued by his response to a question about encryption. If someone wants to stay off the NSA's radar, could he or she encrypt emails and send them without arousing any suspicion? Snowden's response: "Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.""
Paul Merrell

Spies and internet giants are in the same business: surveillance. But we can stop them | John Naughton | Comment is free | The Guardian - 0 views

  • On Tuesday, the European court of justice, Europe’s supreme court, lobbed a grenade into the cosy, quasi-monopolistic world of the giant American internet companies. It did so by declaring invalid a decision made by the European commission in 2000 that US companies complying with its “safe harbour privacy principles” would be allowed to transfer personal data from the EU to the US. This judgment may not strike you as a big deal. You may also think that it has nothing to do with you. Wrong on both counts, but to see why, some background might be useful. The key thing to understprivacy is that European privacy American views about the protection of personal data are radically different. We Europeans are very hot on it, whereas our American friends are – how shall I put it? – more relaxed.
  • Given that personal data constitutes the fuel on which internet companies such as Google and Facebook run, this meant that their exponential growth in the US market was greatly facilitated by that country’s tolerant data-protection laws. Once these companies embarked on global expansion, however, things got stickier. It was clear that the exploitation of personal data that is the core business of these outfits would be more difficult in Europe, especially given that their cloud-computing architectures involved constantly shuttling their users’ data between server farms in different parts of the world. Since Europe is a big market and millions of its citizens wished to use Facebook et al, the European commission obligingly came up with the “safe harbour” idea, which allowed companies complying with its seven principles to process the personal data of European citizens. The circle having been thus neatly squared, Facebook and friends continued merrily on their progress towards world domination. But then in the summer of 2013, Edward Snowden broke cover and revealed what really goes on in the mysterious world of cloud computing. At which point, an Austrian Facebook user, one Maximilian Schrems, realising that some or all of the data he had entrusted to Facebook was being transferred from its Irish subsidiary to servers in the United States, lodged a complaint with the Irish data protection commissioner. Schrems argued that, in the light of the Snowden revelations, the law and practice of the United States did not offer sufficient protection against surveillance of the data transferred to that country by the government.
  • The Irish data commissioner rejected the complaint on the grounds that the European commission’s safe harbour decision meant that the US ensured an adequate level of protection of Schrems’s personal data. Schrems disagreed, the case went to the Irish high court and thence to the European court of justice. On Tuesday, the court decided that the safe harbour agreement was invalid. At which point the balloon went up. “This is,” writes Professor Lorna Woods, an expert on these matters, “a judgment with very far-reaching implications, not just for governments but for companies the business model of which is based on data flows. It reiterates the significance of data protection as a human right and underlines that protection must be at a high level.”
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  • This is classic lawyerly understatement. My hunch is that if you were to visit the legal departments of many internet companies today you would find people changing their underpants at regular intervals. For the big names of the search and social media worlds this is a nightmare scenario. For those of us who take a more detached view of their activities, however, it is an encouraging development. For one thing, it provides yet another confirmation of the sterling service that Snowden has rendered to civil society. His revelations have prompted a wide-ranging reassessment of where our dependence on networking technology has taken us and stimulated some long-overdue thinking about how we might reassert some measure of democratic control over that technology. Snowden has forced us into having conversations that we needed to have. Although his revelations are primarily about government surveillance, they also indirectly highlight the symbiotic relationship between the US National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ on the one hand and the giant internet companies on the other. For, in the end, both the intelligence agencies and the tech companies are in the same business, namely surveillance.
  • And both groups, oddly enough, provide the same kind of justification for what they do: that their surveillance is both necessary (for national security in the case of governments, for economic viability in the case of the companies) And conducted within the law. We need to test both justifications And the great thing about the European court of justice judgment is that it starts us off on that conversation.
Paul Merrell

Wikipedia takes feds to court over spying | TheHill - 0 views

  • The foundation behind Wikipedia is suing the U.S. government over spying that it says violates core provisions of the Constitution.The Wikimedia Foundation joined forces on Tuesday with a slew of human rights groups, The Nation magazine human rights other organizations in a lawsuit accusing the National Security Agency (NSA) human rights Justice Department of violating the constitutional protections for freedom of speech human rights human rights .
  • If successful, the lawsuit could land a crippling blow to the web of secretive spying powers wielded by the NSA and exposed by Edward Snowden nearly two years ago. Despite initial outrage after Snowden’s leaks, Congress has yet to make any serious reforms to the NSA, and many of the programs continue largely unchanged.The lawsuit targets the NSA’s “upstream” surveillance program, which taps into the fiber cables that make up the backbone of the global Internet and allows the agency to collect vast amounts of information about people on the Web.“As a result, whenever someone overseas views or edits a Wikipedia page, it’s likely that the N.S.A. is tracking that activity — including the content of what was read or typed, as well as other information that can be linked to the person’s physical location and possible identity,” Tretikov and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales wrote in a joint New York Times op-ed announcing the lawsuit. Because the operations are largely overseen solely by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — which operates out of the public eye and has been accused of acting as a rubber stamp for intelligence agencies — the foundation accused the NSA of violating the guarantees of a fair legal system.In addition to the Wikimedia Foundation and The Nation, the other groups joining the lawsuit are the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers,andWatch, Amnesty International, the Pen American Center, the Global Fund for Women, the Rutherford Institute and the Washington Office on Latin America. The groups are being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • In 2013, a lawsuit against similar surveillance powers brought by Amnesty International was tossed out by the Supreme Court on the grounds that the organization was not affected by the spying and had no standing to sue. That decision came before Snowden’s leaks later that summer, however, which included a slide featuring Wikipedia’s logo alongside those of Facebook, Yahoo, Google and other top websites. That should be more than enough grounds for a successful suit, the foundation said. In addition to the new suit, there are also a handful of other outstanding legal challenges to the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, a different program that has inspired some of the most heated antipathy. Those suits are all pending in appeals courts around the country.
Paul Merrell

Freedom Online Coalition Basically Ignores Surveillance: Makes A Mockery Of Its Name | Techdirt - 1 views

  • We already wrote about how US Secretary of State John Kerry made some tone deaf remarks about "online freedom" and transparency during his appearance at the Freedom Online Coalition meeting in Estonia last week. However, it appears that his remarks fit in well with the theme of the event, which appeared to be "big governments ignoring that whole state surveillance online thing." The Freedom Online Coalition is a group of 23 governments, including the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France and many others -- and you'd think they'd pay some attention to the very vocal concerns about how those governments are engaged in lots of online spying. In fact, a bunch of public interest groups sent a letter asking the FOC to live up to their state commitments, and respond to claims ofandviolations against journalists and others via state surveillance online. But... that didn't happen:
  • A dominant theme that ran throughout the conference was erosion of credibility and doubt about member government follow-through on commitments to protect freedom online themselves, much less to serve as role models for other governments. Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans acknowledged the credibility gap facing the coalition and invited constructive criticism and debate about the proper limits of surveillance. Yet while the final Tallinn declaration produced by FOC governments asserted that members would “[c]ollectively condemn – through diplomatic channels, public statements and other means – violations and abuses ofandand fundamental freedoms online as they occur in different countries throughout the world,” the declaration says little about reining in indiscriminate surveillance, nor does it acknowledge that mass surveillance chills freedom of expression and violates the right to and. Perhaps the Freedom Online Coalition should start exploring a name change to more accurately reflect what they really represent.
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    "from the blathering-about-other-stuff-coalition dept We already wrote about how US Secretary of State John Kerry made some tone deaf remarks about "online freedom" and transparency during his appearance at the Freedom Online Coalition meeting in Estonia last week"
Paul Merrell

ExposeFacts - For Whistleblowers, Journalism and Democracy - 0 views

  • Launched by the Institute for Public Accuracy in June 2014, ExposeFacts.org represents a new approach for encouraging whistleblowers to disclose information that citizens need to make truly informed decisions in a democracy. From the outset, our message is clear: “Whistleblowers Welcome at ExposeFacts.org.” ExposeFacts aims to shed light on concealed activities that are relevant to human rights, corporate malfeasance, the environment, civil liberties and war. At a time when key provisions of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments are under assault, we are standing up for a free press, and, transparency and due process as we seek to reveal official information—whether governmental or corporate—that the public has a right to know. While no software can provide an ironclad guarantee of confidentiality, ExposeFacts—assisted by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and its “SecureDrop” whistleblower submission system—is utilizing the latest technology on behalf of anonymity for anyone submitting materials via the ExposeFacts.org website. As journalists we are committed to the goal of protecting the identity of every source who wishes to remain anonymous.
  • The seasoned editorial board of ExposeFacts will be assessing all the submitted material and, when deemed appropriate, will arrange for journalistic release of information. In exercising its judgment, the editorial board is able to call on the expertise of the ExposeFacts advisory board, which includes more than 40 journalists, whistleblowers, former U.S. government officials and others with wide-ranging expertise. We are proud that Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was the first person to become a member of the ExposeFacts advisory board. The icon below links to a SecureDrop implementation for ExposeFacts overseen by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and is only accessible using the Tor browser. As the Freedom of the Press Foundation notes, no one can guarantee 100 percent security, but this provides a “significantly more secure environment for sources to get information than exists through normal digital channels, but there are always risks.” ExposeFacts follows all guidelines as recommended by Freedom of the Press Foundation, and whistleblowers should too; the SecureDrop onion URL should only be accessed with the Tor browser — and, for added security, be running the Tails operating system. Whistleblowers should not log-in to SecureDrop from a home or office Internet connection, but rather from public wifi, preferably one you do not frequent. Whistleblowers should keep to a minimum interacting with whistleblowing-related websites unless they are using such secure software.
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    A new resource site for whistle-blowers. somewhat in the tradition of Wikileaks, but designed for encrypted communications between whistleblowers and journalists.  This one has an impressive board of advisors that includes several names I know and tend to trust, among them former whistle-blowers Daniel Ellsberg, Ray McGovern, Thomas Drake, William Binney, and Ann Wright. Leaked records can only be dropped from a web browser running the Tor anonymizer software and uses the SecureDrop system originally developed by Aaron Schwartz. They strongly recommend using the Tails secure operating system that can be installed to a thumb drive and leaves no tracks on the host machine. https://tails.boum.org/index.en.html Curious, I downloaded Tails and installed it to a virtual machine. It's a heavily customized version of Debian. It has a very nice Gnome desktop and blocks any attempt to connect to an external network by means other than installed software that demands encrypted communications. For example, web sites can only be viewed via the Tor anonymizing proxy network. It does take longer for web pages to load because they are moving over a chain of proxies, but even so it's faster than pages loaded in the dial-up modem days, even for web pages that are loaded with graphics, javascript, and other cruft. E.g., about 2 seconds for New York Times pages. All cookies are treated by default as session cookies so disappear when you close the page or the browser. I love my Linux Mint desktop, but I am thinking hard about switching that box to Tails. I've been looking for methods to send a lot more encrypted stuff down the pipe for NSA to store. Tails looks to make that not only easy, but unavoidable. From what I've gathered so far, if you want to install more software on Tails, it takes about an hour to create a customized version and then update your Tails installation from a new ISO file. Tails has a wonderful odor of having been designed for secure computing. Current
Paul Merrell

NSA contractors use LinkedIn profiles to cash in on national security | Al Jazeera America - 0 views

  • NSA spies need jobs, too. And that is why many covert programs could be hiding in plain sight. Job websites such as LinkedIn And Indeed.com contain hundreds of profiles that reference classified NSA efforts, posted by everyone from career government employees to low-level IT workers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. They offer a rare glimpse into the intelligence community's projects And how they operate. Now some researchers are using the same kinds of big-data tools employed by the NSA to scrape public LinkedIn profiles for classified programs. But the presence of so much classified information in public view raises serious concerns about security — And about the intelligence industry as a whole. “I’ve spent the past couple of years searching LinkedIn profiles for NSA programs,” said Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, And And Technology Project.
  • On Aug. 3, The Wall Street Journal published a story about the FBI’s growing use of hacking to monitor suspects, based on information Soghoian provided. The next day, Soghoian spoke at the Defcon hacking conference about how he uncovered the existence of the FBI’s hacking team, known as the Remote Operations Unit (ROU), using the LinkedIn profiles of two employees at James Bimen Associates, with which the FBI contracts for hacking operations. “Had it not been for the sloppy actions of a few contractors updating their LinkedIn profiles, we would have never known about this,” Soghoian said in his Defcon talk. Those two contractors were not the only ones being sloppy.
  • And there are many more. A quick search of Indeed.com using three code names unlikely to return false positives — Dishfire, XKeyscore And Pinwale — turned up 323 résumés. The same search on LinkedIn turned up 48 profiles mentioning Dishfire, 18 mentioning XKeyscore And 74 mentioning Pinwale. Almost all these people appear to work in the intelligence industry. Network-mapping the data Fabio Pietrosanti of the Hermes Center for Transparency And DigitalAndnoticed all the code names on LinkedIn last December. While sitting with M.C. McGrath at the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany, Pietrosanti began searching the website for classified program names — And getting serious results. McGrath was already developing Transparency Toolkit, a Web application for investigative research, And knew he could improve on Pietrosanti’s off-the-cuff methods.
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  • “I was, like, huh, maybe there’s more we can do with this — actually get a list of all these profiles that have these results and use that to analyze the structure of which companies are helping with which programs, which people are helping with which programs, try to figure out in what capacity, and learn more about things that we might not know about,” McGrath said. He set up a computer program called a scraper to search LinkedIn for public profiles that mention known NSA programs, contractors or jargon — such as SIGINT, the agency’s term for “signals intelligence” gleaned from intercepted communications. Once the scraper found the name of an NSA program, it searched nearby for other words in all caps. That allowed McGrath to find the names of unknown programs, too. Once McGrath had the raw data — thousands of profiles in all, with 70 to 80 different program names — he created a network graph that showed the relationships between specific government agencies, contractors and intelligence programs. Of course, the data are limited to what people are posting on their LinkedIn profiles. Still, the network graph gives a sense of which contractors work on several NSA programs, which ones work on just one or two, and even which programs military units in Iraq and Afghanistan are using. and that is just the beginning.
  • Click on the image to view an interactive network illustration of the relationships between specific national security surveillance programs in red, and government organizations or private contractors in blue.
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    What a giggle, public spying on NSA and its contractors using Big Data. The interactive network graph with its sidebar display of relevant data derived from LinkedIn profiles is just too delightful. 
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

TOR IS THE NSA [LWN.net, 2008] - 0 views

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    "Posted Jul 9, 2008 21:13 UTC (Wed) by dulles (guest, #45450) Parent article: GNU/Linux free software tools to preserve your online privacy, anonymity privacy security (FSM)"
Paul Merrell

Visit the Wrong Website, and the FBI Could End Up in Your Computer | Threat Level | WIRED - 0 views

  • Security experts call it a “drive-by download”: a hacker infiltrates a high-traffic website and then subverts it to deliver malware to every single visitor. It’s one of the most powerful tools in the black hat arsenal, capable of delivering thousands of fresh victims into a hackers’ clutches within minutes. Now the technique is being adopted by a different kind of a hacker—the kind with a badge. For the last two years, the FBI has been quietly experimenting with drive-by hacks as a solution to one of law enforcement’s knottiest Internet problems: how to identify and prosecute users of criminal websites hiding behind the powerful Tor anonymity system. The approach has borne fruit—over a dozen alleged users of Tor-based child porn sites are now headed for trial as a result. But it’s also engendering controversy, with charges that the Justice Department has glossed over the bulk-hacking technique when describing it to judges, while concealing its use from defendants. Critics also worry about mission creep, the weakening of a technology relied on byandworkers and activists, and the potential for innocent parties to wind up infected with government malware because they visited the wrong website. “This is such a big leap, there should have been congressional hearings about this,” says ACLU technologist Chris Soghoian, an expert on law enforcement’s use of hacking tools. “If Congress decides this is a technique that’s perfectly appropriate, maybe that’s OK. But let’s have an informed debate about it.”
  • The FBI’s use of malware is not new. The bureau calls the method an NIT, for “network investigative technique,” and the FBI has been using it since at least 2002 in cases ranging from computer hacking to bomb threats, child porn to extortion. Depending on the deployment, an NIT can be a bulky full-featured backdoor program that gives the government access to your files, location, web history and webcam for a month at a time, or a slim, fleeting wisp of code that sends the FBI your computer’s name and address, and then evaporates. What’s changed is the way the FBI uses its malware capability, deploying it as a driftnet instead of a fishing line. and the shift is a direct response to Tor, the powerful anonymity system endorsed by Edward Snowden and the State Department alike.
Paul Merrell

China Pressures U.S. Companies to Buckle on Strong Encryption and Surveillance - 0 views

  • Before Chinese President Xi Jinping visits President Obama, he and Chinese executives have some business in Seattle: pressing U.S. tech companies, hungry for the Chinese market, to comply with the country’s new stringent and suppressive Internet policies. The New York Times reported last week that Chinese authorities sent a letter to some U.S. tech firms seeking a promise they would not harm China’s national security. That might require such things as forcing users to register with their real names, storing Chinese citizens’ data locally where the government can access it, and building government “back doors” into encrypted communication products for better surveillance. China’s new national security law calls for systems that are “secure and controllable”, which industry groups told the Times in July means companies will have to hand over encryption keys or even source code to their products. Among the big names joining Xi at Wednesday’s U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum: Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft.
  • The meeting comes as U.S. law enforcement officials have been pressuring companies to give them a way to access encrypted communications. The technology community has responded by pointing out that any sort of hole for law enforcement weakens the entire system to attack from outside bad actors—such as China, which has been tied to many instances of state-sponsored hacking into U.S systems. In fact, one argument privacy advocates have repeatedly made is that back doors for law enforcement would set a dangerous precedent when countries like China want the same kind of access to pursue their own domestic political goals. But here, potentially, the situation has been reversed, with China using its massive economic leverage to demprivacy that sort of access right now. Human rights groups are urging U.S. companies not to give in.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Keep the FBI out of my Computer - Access Now - 0 views

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    "The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wants the power to hack into computers anywhere in the world, and even millions of computers at once. Instead of asking U.S. Congress for permission, they're sneaking a procedural rule change through the bureaucracy. It's called Rule 41 and it's part of the U.S.Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Read more about Rule 41 and government hacking here and here. "
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Researchers Uncover Government Spy Tool Used to Hack Telecoms and Belgian Cryptographer | WIRED - 1 views

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    "Though no one is willing to speculate on the record about Regin's source, news reports about the Belgacom and Quisquater hacks pointed a finger at GCHQ and the NSA." [#! Can't ask for compliance when you do not comply]
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    "Though no one is willing to speculate on the record about Regin's source, news reports about the Belgacom and Quisquater hacks pointed a finger at GCHQ and the NSA." [#! Can't ask for compliance when you do not comply]
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Europe's 'Net Neutrality' Could Allow Torrent and VPN Throttling - TorrentFreak - 0 views

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    " By Ernesto on October 22, 2015 C: 65 News Next week the European Parliament will vote on Europe's new telecoms regulation which includes net neutrality rules. While the legislation is a step forward for many countries, experts and activists warn that it may leave the door open for BitTorrent and VPN throttling if key amendments fail to pass. "
Paul Merrell

Google starts watching what you do off the Internet too - RT - 1 views

  • The most powerful company on the Internet just got a whole lot creepier: a new service from Google merges offline consumer info with online intelligence, allowing advertisers to target users based on what they do at the keyboard and at the mall. Without much fanfare, Google announced news this week of a new advertising project, Conversions API, that will let businesses build all-encompassing user profiles based off of not just what users search for on the Web, but what they purchase outside of the home. In a blog post this week on Google’s DoubleClick Search site, the Silicon Valley giant says that targeting consumers based off online information only allows advertisers to learn so much. “Conversions,” tech-speak for the digital metric made by every action a user makes online, are incomplete until coupled with real life data, Google says.
  • Of course, there is always the possibility that all of this information can be unencrypted and, in some cases, obtained by third-parties that you might not want prying into your personal business. Edwards notes in his report that Google does not explicitly note that intelligence used in Conversions API will be anonymized, but the blowback from not doing as much would sure be enough to start a colossal uproar. Meanwhile, however, all of the information being collected by Google — estimated to be on millions of servers around the globe — is being handed over to more than just advertising companies. Last month Google reported that the US government requested personal information from roughly 8,000 individual users during just the first few months of 2012.“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” Google admitted with their report.
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