xkeyscore

House-sized rubber duck escapes; is later recaptured

Daphne the Duck escaped during the Cockburn Masters ocean swim competition in Perth. She was only able to make it about 5 miles, where she was discovered a week later hiding near Rottnest Island west of the city. Read the rest

Happy Data Privacy Day! A turning point for anonymity, privacy, and the tools that deliver them

Last week, we celebrated Data Privacy day. Everything we do online—whether on a computer or on a mobile device—is being tracked, traced, compiled, crunched, bought and sold by familiar tech-titans like Google, Facebook, Verizon and hundreds of lesser known data brokers who help advertisers build frighteningly detailed digital profiles of users by harvesting data from a variety of sources, including customer databases and online platforms. After I lecture to my students on this topic, rattling off a dozen mechanisms by which corporations and governments can spy and pry on us, threating both anonymity and privacy, their reaction is usually either indifference (because, you know, they think they have nothing to hide) or for those that I’ve convinced they should care, some measure of despair.

The best inflatable unicorn

My quest for an inflatable tardigrade is yet to yield results, but they say the journey is the destination and I have discovered a plethora of inflatable unicorns along the way. This one is the best. It's quite expensive, at $43 shipped, but you can't cut corners when it comes to quality inflatables.

P.S. The inflatable unicorn wall head is just incredibly nasty, thanks to the uncannily realistic horse photo printed on it. Unless you're putting it in someone's bed as a warning, avoid.

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

Netzpolitik publishes more damning, leaked German surveillance reports, despite previous treason prosecution

Netzpolitik is an amazing German activist/journalist organization; in 2015, they braved a treason investigation by publishing Snowden docs that showed that the German intelligence services were conducting illegal surveillance and illegally collaborating with the NSA; now they've done it again, publishing a new leaked oversight report on spying at the Bad Aibling surveillance station. Read the rest

Anti-surveillance activists send a drone to pamphlet-bomb an NSA complex in Germany

Intelexit is an activist group whose mission is to get spies to quit their jobs; they've recently installed billboards around spy complexes in the US and UK. Read the rest

Germany's spy agency gave the NSA the private data of German citizens in exchange for Xkeyscore access

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV -- Germany's domestic spy agency) coveted access to Xkeyscore, the NSA's flagship tool for searching and analyzing mass-surveillance data, so they secretly, illegally traded access to Germans' data with the NSA for it. Read the rest

XKEYSCORE: under the hood of the NSA's search engine for your Internet activity

Following up on its in-depth look at which communications the secret XKEYSCORE tool lets the NSA search, The Intercept makes some observations about how the technology actually works. Read the rest

How the NSA searches the world's intercepted private communications

XKEYSCORE is a secret NSA program that indexes data slurped up from covert fiber-taps, hacked systems, and smartphones, including "full take" data and metadata. Read the rest

Vodafone made millions helping GCHQ spy on the world

A newly released Snowden doc, published in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, shows how Cable and Wireless (now a Vodafone subsidiary) made millions of pounds illegally installing fiber-taps to help GCHQ conduct its programme of mass surveillance. Read the rest

If you read Boing Boing, the NSA considers you a target for deep surveillance

The NSA says it only banks the communications of "targeted" individuals. Guess what? If you follow a search-engine link to Boing Boing's articles about Tor and Tails, you've been targeted. Cory Doctorow digs into Xkeyscore and the NSA's deep packet inspection rules.

NSA spies on human rights groups, including those in the USA

During video testimony to the Council of Europe, whistleblower Edward Snowden reiterated that the NSA targets human rights groups, including those in the USA, for surveillance. It uses its Xkeyscore technology to "fingerprint" communications from these groups and targets them for deep surveillance. Groups that have been targeted in this way include UNICEF and many others. Read the rest

TAO: the NSA's hacker plumber-wunderkinds

A new Snowden leak disclosed in Der Spiegel details the operations of the NSA's Tailored Access Operations group (TAO), the "plumbers" of the spy agency who collect and deploy exploits to infiltrate computer systems. Reportedly, Edward Snowden turned down a chance join the group.

TAO's repertoire of attacks included unpublished exploits and back-doors for products from major US IT companies like Microsoft and Cisco, as well as foreign companies like Huawei. Spiegel reports that TAO infiltrated networks in 89 countries, including "the protected networks of democratically elected leaders of countries." They took special interest in Mexico's anti-terror efforts, running an operation called WHITETAMALE that compromised the Mexican Secretariat of Public Security.

The tactics deployed by TAO relied upon other NSA programs, like the infamous XKeyscore, which was used to passively intercept crash reports from computers running Windows in order to profile these systems and tailor attacks aimed at them. TAO also compromised the Blackberry's BES email servers, and were able to read mail sent and received by Blackberry users.

One interesting wrinkle: TAO used interception of ecommerce shipping reports to discover when a target ordered new computer equipment. These shipments would be intercepted and loaded with malware before delivery. I know an ex-MI5 whistleblower who only buys computers by walking into a store at random and plucking them off the shelf, to prevent this sort of attack. When I learned about this practice, it sounded a little paranoid to me, but it seems that it's actually a very reasonable precaution. Read the rest

Release the Quacken: giant duck visits Pittsburgh

An enormous inflatable duck floats on the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh on Sept 27, 2013. Created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, the 40 ft duck kicked off the Pittsburgh Arts Festival and will spend its first evening under the 6th street bridge. Last seen deflated in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor, the latest duck sibling will be moored at Point State Park for three weeks. Photo: Heather Beschizza Read the rest

Opinion: NSA's surveillance programs are the "most serious attacks on free speech we’ve ever seen."

The NSA's state surveillance programs are anti-democratic and unconstitutional. They could be the most serious attacks on free speech we’ve ever seen.

On Sunday, U.K. intelligence officers held Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda for nine hours at Heathrow Airport, confiscating his laptop, phone and documents and even forcing him to reveal his passwords to online accounts.

And on Monday, we learned that the British intelligence unit GCHQ demanded that the Guardian return all of the data related to Edward Snowden’s leaks. The agents stormed the Guardian’s London headquarters--even though the NSA reporting is flowing from the paper's New York office--and oversaw the destruction of journalists’ computers and hard drives.

These were not just overly aggressive police actions. They were political moves designed to intimidate journalists and silence dissent. Read the rest

Greenwald drops another Snowden scoop on NSA internet surveillance program XKeyscore

At the Guardian, Glenn Greenwald writes: "A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its 'widest-reaching' system for developing intelligence from the internet." [theguardian.com] Read the rest

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