For me, the most under-reported, under-appreciated element of the Snowden leaks is the BULLRUN/EDGEHILL program, through which the NSA and GCHQ spend $250,000,000/year sabotaging information security. In a great Wired story, Andy Greenberg analyzes former NSA chief Keith Alexander's defense of the stockpiling of vulnerabilities to attack "bad guys." There is no delusion more deadly than the idea that spies will make us more secure by weakening our computers' security to make it easier to spy on us.
Last December, a group of advisers to the White House issued a report to President Obama calling on him to rein-in the intelligence community’s use of so-called zero-day vulnerabilities–newly discovered hackable software bugs for which there exist no patch. The group went on to propose that zero-days only be used sparingly for “high priority intelligence collection,” and that those uses must be approved by a “senior-level, interagency approval process.”
“In almost all instances, for widely used code, it is in the national interest to eliminate software vulnerabilities rather than to use them for US intelligence collection,” the report reads. “Eliminating the vulnerabilities–’patching’ them–strengthens the security of U.S. Government, critical infrastructure, and other computer systems.”
Obama’s response to his advisers’ review, however, added a major loophole, allowing any zero-day vulnerabilities to be exploited if they have a “clear national security or law enforcement” application.
Former NSA Chief Defends Stockpiling Software Flaws for Spying [Andy Greenberg/Wired]
Image: Commander Keith Alexander on the bridge, DonkeyHotey, CC-BY-SA)
Update: The library system has recovered access to its computers. The libraries of St Louis, MO have been crippled by a ransomware attack that has shut down the public terminals the library provides to the poor and vulnerable of St Louis, as well as the systems used to process book and material lending (the catalog […]
Even before he took the job of Chief Security Officer of Yahoo, Alex Stamos had a reputation for being a badass: a thoughtful security ethicist who served as an expert witness in defense of Aaron Swartz, Stamos cemented his reputation by publicly humiliating the director of the NSA over mass surveillance.
Opponents of Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa — himself a prolific and shrewd social media campaigner — have had their social media accounts hacked and used to dump embarrassing transcripts purporting to show their party in disarray and romantic scandals in their personal lives.
Whether I’m trying to relieve some stress at work or entertain myself on the metro, Space Putty is there. You can bring this magical goo home and try it for yourself for just $9.99Like Silly Putty of yesteryear, this viscoelastic substance can be molded into different shapes and stretched around in your hands. Use it […]
You know as well as I that writing complex, long-long form text requires significant organization. You’re probably also well aware that Word just isn’t up to the task. That’s why I’m a huge fan of Scrivener, the software suite used by best-selling authors and technical writers alike.Scrivener is much more than another digital typewriter. With a […]
Looking to upgrade your weekend? Here are three randomly awesome products on my mind this week.#3 FRESHeBUDS Pro Magnetic Bluetooth EarbudsAs more and more phones and gadgets switch to Bluetooth-only compatibility, you’ll need to get Bluetooth headphones like the rest of us. I’ve been super impressed with these affordable magnetic headphones. Pull the magnetic earbuds apart to auto-connect […]