Japan secretly funneled hundreds of millions to the NSA, breaking its own laws

The Intercept publishes a previously-unseen set of Snowden docs detailing more than $500,000,000 worth of secret payments by the Japanese government to the NSA, in exchange for access to the NSA's specialized surveillance capabilities, in likely contravention of Japanese privacy law (the secrecy of the program means that the legality was never debated, so no one is sure whether it broke the law). Read the rest

A look inside the shady world of Flexispy, makers of "stalkerware" for jealous spouses

Motherboard's Joseph Cox continues his excellent reporting on Flexispy, a company that make "stalkerware" marketed to jealous spouses through a network of shady affiliates who feature dudes beating up their "cheating girlfriends" after catching them by sneaking spyware onto their devices. Read the rest

DEA bought zero-day exploits from disgraced cyber-arms dealer Hacking Team

A Freedom of Information Act request reveals that the DEA spent $575,000 buying access to weaponized zero-day exploits sold by Hacking Team, the hacked and disgraced Italian cyber-arms dealer who outfitted despots, dictators, the FBI, and America's local police departments. Read the rest

Hackers shut down stalkerware companies that spy for spouses and parents, delete and dump their files

Two hackers supplied Motherboard with 130,000 account details hacked from Retina-X and FlexiSpy, who market covert surveillance tools to jealous spouses and nervous parents -- tools that are intended to be covertly installed on their laptops and mobile devices in order to tap into their keystrokes, mics, calls, stored photos and other capabilities. Read the rest

The latest NSA dump from the Shadow Brokers tells you how to break into banks

The mysterious tragicomic hacking group The Shadow Brokers continues to dump incredibly compromising cyberweapons and internal information looted from the NSA, accompanied by Borat-compliant gibberish that reads like someone trying to make you guess whether there's a false flag in play, and if so, who is waving it. Read the rest

Technology should serve us, not boss us around

Today on the Tor-Forge blog, I write about the nearly inescapable temptation of trying to solve our problems with other peoples' actions by redesigning the technology they use to boss them around, rather than serving them. Read the rest

Stingray for criminals: spreading mobile malware with fake cellphone towers

Police who rely on vulnerabilities in crooks' devices are terminally compromised; the best way to protect crime-victims is to publicize and repair defects in systems, but every time a hole is patched, the cops lose a tool they rely on the attack their own adversaries. Read the rest

Italy unveils a legal proposal to regulate government hacking

Internet traffic nowadays is mostly encrypted (“HTTPS”). Thus, for a few years now, Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) have been facing far more challenges at gathering data through the interception of connections than they used to.

Cyberarms dealer's weapons used against Mexican soda-tax activists

NSO is an Israel cyberarms dealer, which buys or researches vulnerabilities in software and then weaponizes them; claiming that these cyberweapons will only be used by democratic governments and their police forces to attacks serious criminals and terrorists -- a claim repeated by its competitors, such as Italy's Hacking Team and Gamma Group. Read the rest

This dump of Iphone-cracking tools shows how keeping software defects secret makes everyone less secure

Last month, a hacker took 900GB of data from Cellebrite, an Israeli cyber-arms dealer that was revealed to be selling surveillance and hacking tools to Russia, the UAE, and Turkey. Read the rest

After shutting down to protect user privacy, Lavabit rises from the dead

In 2013, Lavabit -- famous for being the privacy-oriented email service chosen by Edward Snowden to make contact with journalists while he was contracting for the NSA -- shut down under mysterious, abrupt circumstances, leaving 410,000 users wondering what had just happened to their email addresses. Read the rest

Whatsapp: Facebook's ability to decrypt messages is a "limitation," not a "defect"

Facebook spokespeople and cryptographers say that Facebook's decision to implement Open Whisper Systems' end-to-end cryptographic messaging protocol in such a way as to allow Facebook to decrypt them later without the user's knowledge reflects a "limitation" -- a compromise that allows users to continue conversations as they move from device to device -- and not a "defect." Read the rest

A critical flaw (possibly a deliberate backdoor) allows for decryption of Whatsapp messages -- UPDATED

Update: Be sure to read the followup discussion, which explains Facebook's point of view, that this is a deliberate compromise, and not a defect, that makes the app more usable for a wide variety of users, while putting them to little additional risk (namely, that Facebook might change its mind; or be forced to spy on its users; or suffer a security breach or internal rogue employee).

When Facebook implemented Open Whisper Systems' end-to-end encrypted messaging protocol for Whatsapp, they introduced a critical flaw that exposes more than a billion users to stealthy decryption of their private messages: in Facebook's implementation, the company can force Whatsapp installations to silently generate new cryptographic keys (without any way for the user to know about this unless a deep settings checkbox had been ticked), which gives the company the ability to decrypt user messages, including messages that have already been sent in the past.. Read the rest

Trump's NSA will be able to share its firehose of surveillance data with 16 government agencies (Thanks, Obama)

The new data-sharing rules enacted by the Obama administration will allow the NSA to lawfully share the unredacted, full take of its surveillance databases with sixteen other US government agencies -- meaning that, for example, Trump's door-to-door deportation squads could use that data to figure out who's doors to break down, and his Muslim surveillance database could bootstrap itself with NSA data. Read the rest

Germany, France and the UK are moving the EU to continuous, unaccountable, warrantless mass surveillance

Recent surveillance laws in Germany, France and the UK require online service providers to store (undoubtedly leaky and infinitely toxic) databases of everything you do online, and allow government agencies to raid these databases without accountability or meaningful oversight). Read the rest

Apple Store employees fired after accusations of snooping on customers' devices for sexual selfies and sharing them

Last October, an Apple Store in Brisbane, Australia terminated some of its employees after they were accused of searching customers' devices for sexually explicit selfies and sharing them with colleagues, rating them on a scale of 1-10. Read the rest

Free audiobook of Car Wars, my self-driving car/crypto back-door apocalypse story

Last month, Melbourne's Deakin University published Car Wars, a short story I wrote to inspire thinking and discussion about the engineering ethics questions in self-driving car design, moving beyond the trite and largely irrelevant trolley problem. Read the rest

More posts