Internet companies begin releasing some data on government spying

Facebook and Microsoft have reached a agreements with the U.S. government "to release limited information about the number of surveillance requests they receive," which Reuters' Joe Menn and Gerry Shih report is a partial victory for the companies struggling with "fallout from recent disclosures about the NSA's secret program. "

Facebook and Microsoft released some information about the scope of secret orders with which each company has complied.

Google said Friday it is "negotiating with the government and that the sticking point was whether it could only publish a combined figure for all requests," adding that this would be "a step back for users," because it "already breaks out criminal requests and National Security Letters, another type of intelligence inquiry."

Paper Man (1971) - early movie about hackers (complete on YouTube)

Edgertor says: "No list of hacker movies i've found includes this one from 1971, it might also be the earliest!"

A prank that starts with a group of college students creating a fictitious person so they can get a credit card develops into a plot that leaves three of them dead.

With Dean Stockwell and Stephanie Powers! I can't wait to watch it as soon as I'm finished with my hard day of posting links here at the Boing Boing headquarters.

Hackers prepare for first "national holiday" in their honor

“The future of technology will be largely determined by citizens who will design, build, and hack their own”

Read the rest

Build your own quantum entanglement experiment at home

It may be a little late for folks on the East Coast to round up the necessary parts before the blizzard really hits, but this would be a fun trapped-in-the-house project. It's not cheap, but it does give you the opportunity to see how subatomic particles interact with one another in the privacy of your own home. In a post at Scientific American George Musser explains how he put his experiment together. A follow-up promises to show you how to use it, and what he found when he did.

Edward Tufte on Aaron Swartz and his own hacking career


Designer and theorist Edward Tufte was a friend and mentor of Aaron Swartz's. At Saturday's memorial to Aaron at the Cooper Union in NYC, Tufte remembered both Aaron and his own hacking career, inventing "blue boxes" and using them to make illegal calls on AT&T's network, and wondered about what would have become of him had he run into the same prosecutorial zeal as Aaron faced. Here's a quote from Dan Nguyen's transcript of the Livestream video feed:

…[Bowen] then became president of the Mellon Foundation and he had retired from the Mellon foundation. But he was asked by he foundation to handle the problem of JSTOR and Aaron.

So I wrote Bill Bowen an email about it. And I said first that Aaron is a treasure. And then I told a personal story about how I had done some illegal hacking as a student and had been caught at it and what happened.

In 1962, my housemate and I invented the first blue box. That’s a device that allows for free, undetectable, unbillable long-distance telephone calls.

And we got this up. And played around with it and at the end of our research came when we completed was what we thought was the longest long distance phone call ever made, which was from Palo Alto to New York time of day, via Hawaii.

Edward Tufte’s defense of Aaron Swartz and the “marvelously different”

The LED dawn at 29c3, the 29th Chaos Communication Congress

Dawn is breaking over last day of the annual Chaos Communication
Congress in Hamburg, Germany. CCC is the meeting of the Chaos Computer
Club (also CCC), a group of German hackers hanging out together
since 1981.

Read the rest

Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer, the Adrian Chen profile

Weev. Photo: Gawker

Adrian Chen at Gawker has a must-read profile on Weev: so-called "iPad hacker," founder of the anti-blogging Internet-trolling organization "Gay Nigger Association of America," and born-again Mormon troll. Snip:

For Auernheimer, the AT&T breach was one of his finest works as a troll. He personally didn't hack anything—the program used to collect the email addresses was written by Spitler—except the media. He was the hype man for Goatse, and he claims blew the breach up far beyond its actual significance. "The bug that I'm indicted over isn't a big deal," he says. "What made it big is the way I presented it." He boils down his success at promoting the AT&T job to three bullet points: "Rhetoric, persuasion, and meme reference."

But was collecting the email addresses actually a crime? "If somebody mistakenly puts information out there on the web and somebody mistakenly gets that information, that's not illegal," says Jennifer Granick, a lawyer and the director of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford. This is why Auernheimer decided to fight his charges instead of take a plea deal, as Spitler did last year.

"I contend there is no crime in telling the truth or using AT&T's, or anybody's, publicly accessible data, to cite it to talk about how they made people's data public," he told CNET.

Auernhemier's jury disagreed.

Read: The Internet's Best Terrible Person Goes to Jail: Can a Reviled Master Troll Become a Geek Hero?.

Ad-blocking box maker seeks funding

AdTrap is a planned $150 firewall box for consumers. Plugged in between your internet connection and router, it strips the web of advertising without requiring a moment's configuration. Unlike browser-based plugins, it covers the whole pipe rather than a single app: every device in the house managed from a single setup screen.

It's open-source and hackable, too, but the moral hazard with these concepts is always the same: the more successful they are in becoming a de facto middle-man between readers and publishers, the greater will be their incentive to research their way to concluding that you like some advertising after all.

Report: SEC's computers were vulnerable to security breaches

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission employees did not encrypt some computers that contained "highly sensitive information from stock exchanges, leaving the data vulnerable to cyber attacks, according to people familiar with the matter." Reuters has the full story. The SEC spent $200K to confirm that "no hacking or spying on the SEC's computers took place," however, and there is no evidence that any data was actually breached.

National Institutes of Health and Cancer.gov sites hacked this week

Man, come on, who hacks cancer.gov? Well, they did. And then a few days later, the National Institutes of Health Website was compromised. 5,000 user records were leaked. What's next, kittens.org? Cuddlybabies.tumblr.com? (via Chris Wysopal)

Data recovery firm gives man happy ending

Technology writer Mat Honan was "epically hacked," in a widely-circulated cautionary tale that should have you changing your passwords and turning on secondary authentication measures. The Novato, California-based firm DriveSavers helped Mat get his data back, and he traveled to the clean room to see how they did it. (wired.com)

Ecuador's president denies granting asylum to Wikileaks' Assange

The Guardian reports that the Ecuadorean government will grant asylum to embattled Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The New York Times notes that the president of Ecuador denies this.

Social engineer hacks Wal-Mart from Defcon

In a contest at the hacker conference Defcon, security specialist Shane MacDougall successfully penetrated Wal-Mart. "Social engineering is the biggest threat to the enterprise, without a doubt," MacDougall said after his call. "I see all these [chief security officers] that spend all this money on firewalls and stuff, and they spend zero dollars on awareness." (via @kevinmitnick)

Dropbox: "We wuz hacked"

A couple weeks ago, a few hundred Dropbox users noticed they were receiving loads of spam about online casinos and gambling websites, at email addresses those users had set up only for Dropbox-related actions. The online file storage service now admits that hackers snagged usernames and passwords from third party sites, and used this data to break into those Dropbox users' accounts. Dara Kerr, reporting for CNET:

"Our investigation found that usernames and passwords recently stolen from other websites were used to sign in to a small number of Dropbox accounts. We've contacted these users and have helped them protect their accounts," the company wrote in a blog post today. "A stolen password was also used to access an employee Dropbox account containing a project document with user email addresses. We believe this improper access is what led to the spam."

Over at Ars Technica, Jon Brodkin has more. Evidently, the illicit access happened because a Dropbox employee’s account was hacked.

Read the rest

Report: complexity of cyberspying botnets greater than previously known

Brian Krebs interviews Joe Stewart, a security researcher "who’s spent 18 months cataloging and tracking malicious software that was developed and deployed specifically for spying on governments, activists and industry executives." Speaking at Defcon in Las Vegas, Stewart says the "complexity and scope of these cyberspy networks now rivals many large conventional cybercrime operations.