A brief history of Alice & Bob, cryptography's first couple

Alice and Bob are the hypothetical communicants in every cryptographic example or explainer, two people trying to talk with one another without being thwarted or overheard by Eve, Mallory and their legion of nefarious friends. Read the rest

Office of the Director of National Intelligence admits its employee held down 15 other jobs and played games all day

Jason Leopold (previously -- Buzzfeed's public records activist, once branded a "FOIA terrorist" by the US government -- has secured records of an investigation into gross offenses by an unnamed employee of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, detailing the employee's incredible workplace conduct, from playing video games all day to moonlight for 15 separate employers while working for ODNI, to violating confidentiality rules to dig up dirt on Edward Snowden. Read the rest

Australia announces plan to ban working cryptography at home and in the US, UK, New Zealand, and Canada

The Australian Attorney General and a key Australian minister have published a memo detailing the demand they plan on presenting to the next Five Eyes surveillance alliance meeting, which will be held next week in Ottawa. Read the rest

Top Secret: New World Order: Merle M. Rasmussen reboots his 1980 RPG classic

The first time Merle Rasmussen played Dungeons & Dragons, he thought it was a Halloween game. “It was October 1975, and I was an 18-year-old freshman at Iowa State University. My roommate got this game filled with skeletons and undead monsters. I had no idea.” The role-playing bug had bitten him, but fantasy wasn’t his genre. So that same year, he started writing a game set in a modern world, the spy game that would become Top Secret.

How EFF cracked printers' "hidden dots" code in 2005

NSA whistleblower Reality Winner may have been caught thanks to a hidden pattern of dots that color printers bury in every page they print, as an assistance to law enforcement agencies. Read the rest

Leaked NSA docs: Russian military hacked US voting software company, spearphished 122 election officials

An anonymously leaked Top Secret NSA report on Russian state hackers interfering with the US elections has been published by The Intercept, which had the documents independently analyzed by a who's-who of America's leading security experts. Read the rest

The CIA's east-coast and west-coast bureaux had long-running rivalries over Champagne

Michael from Muckrock writes, "The 'friendly' rivalry between America's East and West Coasts extends from hip-hop feuds to pizza bagels, and recently unearthed memos regarding California champagne from the CIA's declassified archive shows that even the Agency isn't immune." Read the rest

Photographs from the archives of the Stasi, East Germany's legendary, paranoid secret police

Canadian Adrian Fish is one of the few photographers who've been permitted to take and publish photos from the archives of the Stasi, the legendarily invasive secret police of the former East Germany, who employed one snitch for every 60 people at their peak. 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

In 1965, CIA agents were fired for staging a "free for all" food-fight in the cafeteria

The wording of the memo, dated 15 Sept 1965, suggests that this wasn't the first time it had happened and not even the first time the CIA had to fire agents for food-fighting. Read the rest

How East Germany's Stasi tried to drive activists insane, and how they resisted

East Germany's secret police, the Stasi, were the most aggressive surveillance force of their day -- at the Stasi's peak, one in 60 East Germans was snitching for the agency. Read the rest

The CIA has developed board-games to train future spies

At SXSW, CIA Senior Collection Analyst David Clopper revealed a series of tabletop games developed as training materials for CIA internal training exercises: Collection, a Pandemic-style crisis-resolution game; Collection Deck, a Magic: The Gathering style intel-collection game; and Kingpin: The Hunt for El Chapo, designed "to train analysts who might work with law enforcement and other partners around world to find a well-armed, well-defended, well-protected bad guy." 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

Putinology considered harmful: the many legends we tell ourselves about Vladimir Putin

Russian emigre -- and Putin opponent -- Keith Gessen writes at length and very well about the different guises that Vladimir Putin takes on in the imaginations of western political writers: genius, nothing, secret stroke survivor, KGB agent, killer, kleptocrat, a man with the suspicious name of "Vladimir." 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

Leaked FBI manual reveals agency targets innocents as informants, blackmails them into cooperating, can deport them afterwards

Today, The Intercept has published a minimally redacted version of a 2015 edition of the FBI's Confidential Human Source Policy Guide, along with a series of in-depth articles reporting on the document (including the FBI's confirmation of a conspiracy by white supremacists to infiltrate law enforcement agencies). Among the most explosive revelations are the ways in which the FBI coerces domestic and foreign informants. 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

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