The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has asked dozens of agencies in the US government to disclose whether they used switches made by Juniper, the disgraced US network technology giant that had at least two backdoors inserted into the software for one of its most popular product-lines. Read the rest
In the month since network security giant Juniper Networks was forced to admit that its products had NSA-linked backdoors, the company's tried a lot of different strategies: minimizing assurances, apologies, firmware updates -- everything, that is, except for removing th Dual_EC random number generator that is widely understood to have been compromised by the NSA. Read the rest
It's been a month since Juniper admitted that its firewalls had back-doors in them, possibly inserted by (or to aid) US intelligence agencies. In the month since, Juniper has failed to comprehensively seal those doors, and more suspicious information has come to light. Read the rest
Under the UK's new Snoopers Charter (AKA the Investigatory Powers Bill), the Secretary of State will be able to order companies to introduce security vulnerabilities into their software ("backdoors") and then bind those companies over to perpetual secrecy on the matter, with punishments of up to a year in prison for speaking out, even in court. Read the rest
In a new episode of the BBC's Panorama, Edward Snowden describes the secret mobile phone malware developed by GCHQ and the NSA, which has the power to listen in through your phone's mic and follow you around, even when your phone is switched off. Read the rest
The British spy-agency targeted anti-virus software and other common applications in reverse-engineering projects aimed at discovering and weaponizing defects in the code. Read the rest
The NSA's AURORAGOLD program -- revealed in newly released Snowden docs -- used plundered internal emails to compromise nearly every mobile carrier in the world, and show that the agency had planned to introduce vulnerabilities into future improvements into mobile security. Read the rest
Daniel Bernstein, the defendant in the landmark lawsuit that legalized cryptography (over howls of protest from the NSA) engages in a thought-experiment about how the NSA might be secretly undermining crypto through sabotage projects like BULLRUN/EDGEHILL.
crypto stays insecure [PDF/Daniel J Bernstein]
(via O'Reilly Radar) Read the rest
When Prime Minister David Cameron ordered two GCHQ spooks to go the the Guardian's offices and ritually exorcise two laptops that had held copies of the Snowden leaks, we assumed it was just spook-lunacy; but Privacy International thinks that if you look at which components the spies targeted for destruction, there are hints about ways that spies can control computer hardware. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
Australian Simon Gittany murdered his girlfriend, Lisa Harnum, after an abusive relationship that involved his surveillance of her electronic communications using off-the-shelf spyware marketed for purposes ranging from keeping your kids safe to spotting dishonest employees. As Rachel Olding writes in The Age, surveillance technology is increasingly a factor in domestic violence, offering abusive partners new, thoroughgoing ways of invading their spouses' privacy and controlling them.
The spyware industry relies upon computers -- laptops, mobile devices, and soon, cars and TVs and thermostats -- being insecure. In this, it has the same goals as the NSA and GCHQ, whose BULLRUN/EDGEHILL program sought to weaken the security of widely used operating systems, algorithms and programs. Every weakness created at taxpayer expense was a weakness that spyware vendors could exploit for their products.
Likewise, the entertainment industry wants devices that are capable of running code that users can't terminate or inspect, so that they can stop you from killing the programs that stop you from saving Netflix streams, running unapproved apps, or hooking unapproved devices to your cable box.
And Ratters, the creeps who hijack peoples' webcams in order to spy on them and blackmail them into sexual performances, also want computers that can run code that users can't stop. And so do identity thieves, who want to run keyloggers on your computer to get your banking passwords. And so do cops, who want new powers to insert malware into criminals' computers.
There are a lot of ways to slice the political spectrum -- left/right, authoritarian/anti-authoritarian, centralist/decentralist. Read the rest
In my latest Guardian column, What happens with digital rights management in the real world?, I explain why the most important fact about DRM is how it relates to security and disclosure, and not how it relates to fair use and copyright. Most importantly, I propose a shortcut through DRM reform, through a carefully designed legal test-case. Read the rest
The maintainers of the security-conscious FreeBSD operating system have declared that they will no longer rely on the random number generators in Intel and Via's chips, on the grounds that the NSA likely has weakened these opaque hardware systems in order to ease surveillance. The decision is tied to the revelations of the BULLRUN/EDGEHILL programs, wherein the NSA and GCHQ spend $250M/year sabotaging security in standards, operating systems, software, and networks. Read the rest
Ruth from the Open Rights Group sez, "With the huge amount of evidence leaked by Edward Snowden on surveillance by the NSA and the GCHQ, the Open Rights Group has compiled a list of the top 6 points that everyone should know about how their rights have been violated. To combat this tide of privacy-invasions ORG also list the 6 key things that they want to do in response, and how you can help the biggest year of campaigning against mass surveillance. We believe that if enough people speak up we can change how surveillance is done."
ORG is great organisation (I helped to found it, but am not involved in its daily operations in any way, apart from marvelling at the staffers and volunteers there) and their game-plan for mapping and securing redress for spy agencies' lawlessness is exemplary. I hope you'll join the group and help out. Read the rest
UK prime minister David Cameron has threatened to get a court order against the Guardian if it continues to publish the Snowden leaks. He accused the Guardian of having a "lah-di-dah, airy-fairy view" about the dangers of leaks, and said the if the paper didn't voluntarily censor itself out of a sense of "social responsibility" he would seek court injunctions against it.
The majority of the Snowden leaks have revealed crimes -- illegal spying, lying to Congress and Parliament, violation of international law. That these crimes were committed with the knowledge and approval of the highest levels of the US and UK government doesn't make them any less criminal. And what wasn't criminal was absolutely depraved in its indifference to the public good: for example, the UK government's Edgehill programme, which, with the US government's Bullrun program, sabotaged the security of software, hardware and cryptographic standards to the tune of USD250M/year.
There is nothing more cowardly and corrupt than a lawbreaking political leader who threatens the free press when they call him to account. I never liked Cameron, but with this, he's taken the Tories beyond their reputation of being "the nasty party" and turned them into full-blown Stalinists. Read the rest