Retracted! Wcry ransomware is reborn without its killswitch, starts spreading anew

Motherboard has retracted this story: "Correction: This piece was based on the premise that a new piece of WannaCry ransomware spread in the same manner as the one that was responsible for widespread attacks on Friday, and that it did not contain a so-called kill switch. However, after the publication of this article one of the researchers making this claim, Costin Raiu, director of global research and analysis team at Kaspersky Lab, realized that was not the case. The ransomware samples without the kill switch did not proflierate in the same manner, and so did not pose the same threat to the public. Motherboard regrets the error."

Yesterday, the world got a temporary respite from the virulent Wcry ransomware worm, which used a leaked NSA cyberweapon to spread itself to computers all over the world, shutting down hospitals, financial institutions, power companies, business, and private individuals' computers, demanding $300 to reactivate them. Read the rest

The NSA no longer claims the right to read your email in case you're talking about foreigners

For more than a decade, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been suing the NSA over its extraordinarily broad interpretation of its powers under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act -- a law that the NSA says gives it the power to spy on Americans any time they mention a foreigner. Read the rest

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

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

America's spooks want Congress to extend massive spying powers but still won't answer Congress's basic questions

Two of the NSA's mass surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden are Prism (which give the NSA "bulk data" access to the servers of Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others) and Upstream (through which the NSA taps the internet's fiber optic backbones). Both are possible because of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which expires this year. Read the rest

A Good American: a documentary about Bill Binney, an NSA whistleblower who says 9/11 could have been prevented

Bill Binney resigned from the NSA in October 2001, after 30 years with the agency where he was viewed as one of their best analysts: he quit because he believed that Bush-appointed leaders in the Agency had chosen to respond to the challenge of electronic communications by building out illegal, indiscriminate mass-surveillance programs that left the country vulnerable to terrorists while diverting billions to private contractors with political connections. 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

U.S. to disclose number of Americans our government spied on as soon as January 2017

The United States intelligence community has promised lawmakers it will provide as soon as January 2017 a public estimate of the number of Americans whose digital communications were subject to surveillance under the pretense of capturing foreign espionage, according to a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers' letter that Reuters saw and reports here.

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Learning about the internal culture of the NSA from 262 leaked articles from its internal employee newsletter

The Intercept continues its work analyzing SID Today, the NSA's internal employee newsletter, with a fresh release of 262 articles -- these are in addition to the 166 articles published last spring. Read the rest

NSA’s best employees are "leaving in big numbers"

It seems younger NSA employees are bummed out by the agency's lying and lawbreaking and are leaving for private sector jobs. Former NSA Director Keith Alexander is sad about it, and blames Edward Snowden and the media.

From Cyberscoop:

“What really bothers me is that the people of NSA, these folks who take paltry government salaries to protect this nation, are made to look like they are doing something wrong,” Alexander said Tuesday. “They are doing exactly what our nation has asked them to do to protect us. They are the heroes. They are the ones that deserve our praise. Not a guy who took this race to Hong Kong and to Moscow.”

...

In large part, Alexander blamed the press for propagating an image of the NSA that causes people to believe they are being spied on at all times by the U.S. government regardless of their independent actions.

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America's top spy won't stick around to watch Donald Trump wield his doomsday device

James Clapper, the US Director of National Intelligence, has tendered his resignation. He says he will serve through the handover to the new administration, whereupon Donald Trump will inherit an arsenal of cyberweapons and a $52B/year army of 107,000 secret, unaccountable spies that Clapper has strengthened and emboldened in one of the most sustained and successful exercises in empire-building in US governmental history. Read the rest

What's inside the windowless AT&T/NSA spying hub in lower Manhattan?

The windowless, 550'-tall AT&T tower at 33 Thomas Street in lower Manhattan is the building referred to as TITANPOINTE in the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden, and was likely the staging point for the NSA's BLARNEY operation, which illegally spied upon communications to and from "International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Bank of Japan, the European Union, the United Nations, and at least 38 different countries, including U.S. allies such as Italy, Japan, Brazil, France, Germany, Greece, Mexico, and Cyprus." Read the rest

In 2000, the NSA hacked the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

A reader writes, "According to last week's Shadow Brokers leak, the NSA compromised a DNS server of the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in September 2000, two years after the Iraq Liberation Act and Operation Desert Fox, but before the Bush election." Read the rest

The Shadow Brokers dump more intel from the NSA's elite Equation Group

In August, anonymous hacker(s) dumped a cache of cyberweapons that appeared to originate with The Equation Group, an elite, NSA-affiliated hacking squad. Read the rest

NSA contractor Harold Thomas Martin to face espionage charges over 50TB of "stolen code"

A former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor who worked with the National Security Agency will face charges of espionage in a case involving 50 terabytes or more of highly sensitive NSA data the government says were stolen.

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After being outed for massive hack and installing an NSA "rootkit," Yahoo cancels earnings call

What do you do if your ailing internet giant has been outed for losing, and then keeping silent about, 500 million user accounts, then letting American spy agencies install a rootkit on its mail service, possibly scuttling its impending, hail-mary acquisition by a risk-averse, old economy phone company? Just cancel your investor call and with it, any chance of awkward, on-the-record questions. (via /.) Read the rest

5 companies now control 80% of America's contracted spying

America paid about $16 billion to five companies last year for 80% of our contracted domestic and international surveillance: Leidos Holdings, CSRA Inc., SAIC, CACI International, and Booz Allen Hamilton, recently in the news following an employee arrest on cyberweapons theft charges.

Tim Shorrock at The Nation did the legwork to to come up with the numbers.

“The problem with just five companies providing the lion’s share of contractors is that the client, the U.S. government, won’t have much alternative when a company screws up,” says David Isenberg, the author of Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq. [...] “There comes a point when the marketplace is so concentrated that the service provider simply becomes too big to fail, no matter how lousy their performance,” says Isenberg, who closely monitors the privatization of national-security work. “If that makes you think of the financial-services industry, well, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.”

5 Corporations Now Dominate Our Privatized Intelligence Industry (The Nation)

Image: Thomas Tolkein Read the rest

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