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What Glenn Greenwald Got Wrong | Popular Science January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in NSA, Security, Technology Reporting.
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The New York Times, in their own investigation, found that this locked box concept is probably what\’s going on here. The government uses FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (the statute that specifies how and in what manner the government can obtain data), to demand information, and instead of the companies handing it over in individual chunks, the government requested these locked boxes so the handoff of information could be efficient and secure. It\’s sort of the internet-age equivalent of a source meeting a handler on back-to-back park benches and exchanging manila file folders while never looking at each other. These requests, by the way, are legally binding and also come with a gag order preventing the companies from discussing them.

Fogel, and many other tech types I\’ve talked to, are outraged about the media handling of this story. In their mind, the media is bungling all of the intricate technical aspects of the story due to a lack of expertise in the field. And that\’s a fair point! Journalists, even tech journalists, are trained to report and write stories, not to have the same command of tech that an IT person has.

Fogel is being kind of ridiculous by calling Greenwald\’s discussion of \”direct access\” an \”epic botch,\” though. I do think Greenwald misinterpreted the use of the word \”servers\” and in turn may have misunderstood how this program actually works–not a small thing, and in a case as sensitive as PRISM, we need to make sure we have as many of the facts as possible. (I don\’t blame Greenwald for this, by the way; this was a brand-new story and nobody quite knew the scope or effect of it, and he did a hell of a job exposing the surface of the program.)

via What Glenn Greenwald Got Wrong | Popular Science.

Officials Say U.S. May Never Know Extent of Snowden’s Leaks – NYTimes.com January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in NSA, Politics, Security.
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In recent days, a senior N.S.A. official has told reporters that he believed Mr. Snowden still had access to documents not yet disclosed. The official, Rick Ledgett, who is heading the security agency’s task force examining Mr. Snowden’s leak, said he would consider recommending amnesty for Mr. Snowden in exchange for those documents.

“So, my personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about,” Mr. Ledgett told CBS News. “I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”

Mr. Snowden is living and working in Russia under a one-year asylum. The Russian government has refused to extradite Mr. Snowden, who was indicted by the Justice Department in June on charges of espionage and stealing government property, to the United States.

Mr. Snowden has said he would return to the United States if he was offered amnesty, but it is unclear whether Mr. Obama — who would most likely have to make such a decision — would make such an offer, given the damage the administration has claimed Mr. Snowden’s leaks have done to national security.

Because the N.S.A. is still uncertain about exactly what Mr. Snowden took, government officials sometimes first learn about specific documents from reporters preparing their articles for publication — leaving the State Department with little time to notify foreign leaders about coming disclosures.

via Officials Say U.S. May Never Know Extent of Snowden’s Leaks – NYTimes.com.

Ex-official: FBI can secretly activate an individual’s webcam without indicator light – MacDailyNews – Welcome Home January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in Computer Security, FBI, NSA, Security, Security State.
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“The FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years, and has used that technique mainly in terrorism cases or the most serious criminal investigations, said Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, now on the advisory board of Subsentio, a firm that helps telecommunications carriers comply with federal wiretap statutes,” Timberg and Nakashima report. “The ability to remotely activate video feeds was among the issues cited in a case in Houston, where federal magistrate Judge Stephen W. Smith rejected a search warrant request from the FBI in April. In that case, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, Smith ruled that the use of such technology in a bank fraud case was ‘extremely intrusive’ and ran the risk of accidentally capturing information of people not under suspicion of any crime.

via Ex-official: FBI can secretly activate an individual’s webcam without indicator light – MacDailyNews – Welcome Home.

Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in Security, Security State, US Military.
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The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an \”online persona management service\” that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

via Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media.

Schneier on Security: More about the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations Unit January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in FBI, NSA, Security, Security State.
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These minor disruptions in the parcel shipping business rank among the \”most productive operations\” conducted by the NSA hackers, one top secret document relates in enthusiastic terms. This method, the presentation continues, allows TAO to obtain access to networks \”around the world.\”

They can install the software implants using techniques like QUANTUM and FOXACID.

Related is this list of NSA attack tools. And here is another article on TAO from October.

Remember, this is not just about the NSA. The NSA shares these tools with the FBI\’s black bag teams for domestic surveillance, and presumably with the CIA and DEA as well. Other countries are going to have similar bags of tricks, depending on their sophistication and budgets. And today\’s secret NSA programs are tomorrow\’s PhD theses, and the next day\’s criminal hacking tools. Even if you trust the NSA to only spy on \”enemies,\” consider this an advance warning of what we have to secure ourselves against in the future.

via Schneier on Security: More about the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations Unit.

enterprisevafb.html January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in NSA, Security.
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Enterprise at SLC-6 (February 19, 1985)

via enterprisevafb.html.

Space Launch Complex 6 [SLC-6] — Vandenberg Air Force Base January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in NSA, Security.
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The Advanced KEYHOLE [\”KH-12\”] was a driving force behind the decision to build the the Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6) at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB). The satellite needed a polar orbit for coverage, and VAFB \”could provide near polar and retrograde azimuth launches which could not be achieved efficiently or safely from Kennedy.\”(3) The importance of accommodating the new generation reconnaissance satellite was DOD\’s underlying rationale for a West coast launch site.

However, the SLC-6 (pronounced slick six) facility was plagued by problems, including faulty construction, unanticipated operational hazards such as the weather, and the need for augmentation shuttle in order to boost the heavy KH-12. These problems delayed the initial operation of SLC-6 as well as the KH-12\’s debut, which, prior to the cancellation of West coast shuttle operations, was scheduled for the second Vandenberg shuttle flight. The expensive and problem-ridden SLC-6 complex itself came under increasing fire as critics urged rapid development of new expendable launch vehicles capable of boosting heavy payloads into polar orbit.

The SLC-6 saga illuminates the KH-12\’s impact on the space program not only regarding the decision to build the nearly three billion dollar launch site, but also because of shuttle design changes made to accommodate the satellite.

After Vandenberg was chosen as an STS launch site, the Air Force argued that conversion of SLC-6\’s partially complete Titan 3 facilities – the remains of the canceled Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program – would save over $100 million by precluding `bare ground\’ construction of Shuttle facilities.(4) Modification of existing MOL facilities nonetheless was extensive.

via Space Launch Complex 6 [SLC-6] — Vandenberg Air Force Base.

SECRET SPACE SHIPS Military Missions of the Space Shuttle January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in NSA, Security.
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The first military Shuttle mission was launched from Pad 39A at 1500Z on 27 June 1982. Military space missions also accounted for part or all of 14 out of 37 Shuttle flights launched from the Cape between August 1984 and July 1992. While many details of those missions are not releasable, some features of Shuttle payload ground processing operations and range support requirements can be summarized for what might be termed a \”typical\” military space mission.  – SOURCE: Global Security

A military space shuttle would have been the military equivalent of NASA\’s space shuttle. Many experts believe that it is extremely unlikely that NASA, the United States Department of Defense or any other Federal agency could keep the existence of such a spacecraft secret, given the official knowledge that stated extensive technical support and launching establishment would be necessary to fly it.

It should however be noted that, early in the design phase of what eventually became the Space Shuttle, there were plans for the U.S. military to purchase some of the vehicles for its own purposes (mainly the servicing and crewing of proposed \’surveillance space stations\’). The design requirements that thus emerged (in particular, the need for a longer-range glide capability, enabling the shuttle to land at specific U.S. Air Force bases), affected the eventual design of the vehicle, increasing its complexity. However, none of these \’Blue Shuttles\’ were ever built, and the U.S. military turned to increasingly sophisticated unmanned satellites as a more viable alternative.

via SECRET SPACE SHIPS Military Missions of the Space Shuttle.

Leaked NSA Doc Says It Can Collect And Keep Your Encrypted Data As Long As It Takes To Crack It – Forbes January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in Computer Security, NSA, Security, Security State.
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Leaked NSA Doc Says It Can Collect And Keep Your Encrypted Data As Long As It Takes To Crack It – Forbes.

Meet the Spies Doing the NSA’s Dirty Work January 9, 2014

Posted by sandyclaus in DITU, FBI, NSA, Privacy, Security, Security State.
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When the media and members of Congress say the NSA spies on Americans, what they really mean is that the FBI helps the NSA do it, providing a technical and legal infrastructure that permits the NSA, which by law collects foreign intelligence, to operate on U.S. soil. It\’s the FBI, a domestic U.S. law enforcement agency, that collects digital information from at least nine American technology companies as part of the NSA\’s Prism system. It was the FBI that petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to order Verizon Business Network Services, one of the United States\’ biggest telecom carriers for corporations, to hand over the call records of millions of its customers to the NSA.

But the FBI is no mere errand boy for the United States\’ biggest intelligence agency. It carries out its own signals intelligence operations and is trying to collect huge amounts of email and Internet data from U.S. companies — an operation that the NSA once conducted, was reprimanded for, and says it abandoned.

via Meet the Spies Doing the NSA’s Dirty Work.