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)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just filed a lawsuit that challenges the Constitutionality of Section 1201 of the DMCA, the “Digital Rights Management” provision of the law, a notoriously overbroad law that bans activities that bypass or weaken copyright access-control systems, including reconfiguring software-enabled devices (making sure your IoT light-socket will accept third-party lightbulbs; tapping […]
Exiled NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and legendary hardware hacker Andrew bunnie” Huang have published a paper detailing their new “introspection engine” for the Iphone, an external hardware case that clips over the phone and probes its internal components with a miniature oscilloscope that reads all the radio traffic in and out of the device to […]
The baseband firmware in your phone is the outermost layer of software, the “bare metal” code that has to be implicitly trusted by the phone’s operating system and apps to work; a flaw in that firmware means that attackers can do scary things to your hone that the phone itself can’t detect or defend against.
Home audio has taken some big leaps forward in recent years–not just in terms of sound quality, but also in the style department. The FRESHeBAR Leather Soundbar, now 56% off in the Boing Boing Store, is proof.The FRESHeBAR comes packing almost all the options you’d ever need for a home sound system, including Bluetooth streaming capabilities.The unit’s 90 […]
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3D printers are hot, but they’re also pricey. While the prospect of cranking out everything we can dream up is enticing, cost is often one factor that keeps us from jumping onto the 3D printing train.Now, thanks to M3D, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can now get its flagship 3D printer–plus four reels of filaments–for just […]