900 pages of leaked Iranian spy cables reveal how America's failures after invasions allowed Iran to seize control of Iraqi politics

An anonymous source claiming to be an Iraqi patriot sent The Intercept leaks of 900 pages' worth of spy-agency cables and memos sent by Iranian spies in Iraq; James Risen (previously) reported them out in a joint project with the New York Times that reveals how the US's post-invasion nation-building failures created a political vacuum that Iran filled, allowing it to dominate the political and tactical landscape in Iraq. Read the rest

Assessing the security of devices by measuring how many difficult things the programmers tried to do

The Cyber Independent Testing Lab is a security measurement company founded by Mudge Zadko (previously), late of the Cult of the Dead Cow and l0pht Heavy Industries and the NSA's Tailored Access Operations Group; it has a unique method for assessing the security of devices derived from methods developed by Mudge at the NSA. Read the rest

Ed Snowden says he'll stand trial and even go to prison in the USA if he can have a public trial and mount a public interest defense

On the occasion of the publication of Permanent Record, a memoir of Edward Snowden's journey from gung-ho would-be special forces sergeant to CIA and NSA spy to whistleblower -- a memoir that the US government is suing to repress -- Snowden has given an interview with CBS where he expresses his desire to return to the USA and stand trial for his actions, even if that means going to prison. Read the rest

Information security and warfare metaphors: a toxic mix made in hell

I once found myself staying in a small hotel with a "State Department" family whose members clearly all worked for some kind of three letter agency (the family patriarch had been with USAID with the tanks rolled into Budapest) and I had some of the weirdest discussions of my life with them. Read the rest

Edward Snowden's memoir, "Permanent Record," will go on sale on Sept 17

The whistleblower Edward Snowden announced today that he has written a memoir, Permanent Record, which will go on sale worldwide in more than 20 languages on September 17. Read the rest

Massive trove of Russian spy-agency docs hacked from private sector contractor and passed onto media

Sytech is a private sector contractor to FSB, the Russian spy-agency that is the successor to the KGB; on July 13th, hacking group 0v1ru$ defaced Sytech's site and claimed to have hacked their internal network and stolen their files -- this week, the Russian hacking group Digitalrevolution began to pass these files on to Russian media, claiming to have 7.5TB of data in all, making it the largest breach of any Russian spy agency in history. Read the rest

After Microsoft moves its servers back to the USA, German state's privacy commissioner advises schools not to use Office 365

After the Snowden revelations, US-based Big Tech companies raced to reassure their non-US customers that the NSA wasn't raiding their cloud-based data, moving servers inside their customers' borders and (theoretically) out of reach of the NSA; then came the Cloud Act (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act), in which the US government claimed the right to seize data held on overseas servers and the companies began consolidating their servers back in the USA. Read the rest

EFF publishes an indispensable, plain-language guide to "cell-site simulators": the surveillance devices that track you via your phone

In 2012, the Wall Street Journal first reported on a mysterious cellphone surveillance tool being used by law-enforcement; years later, we learned that the origin of this report was an obsessive jailhouse lawyer who didn't believe that the cops had caught him the way they said they had. Read the rest

UK ISP Association, spies, censorship organsation jointly condemn Mozilla for supporting secure DNS because it breaks UK internet censorship rules

ISPs in the UK are required to censor a wide swathe of content: what began as a strictly limited, opt-in ban on depictions of the sexual abuse of children has been steadily expanded to a mandatory ban on "extreme" pornography, "terrorist content," copyright and trademark infringement, and then there's the on-again/off-again ban on all porn sites unless they keep a record of the identity of each user and the porn they request.. Read the rest

The National Security Sublime: On the Aesthetics of Government Secrecy

[Matt Potolsky's new book, The National Security Sublime, is a tour through the look-and-feel of mass surveillance, as practiced by the most unlikely of aesthetes: big data authoritarian snoops and the grifter military contractors who wax fat on them. This is a subject dear to my heart. -Cory]

The US National Security Agency is big, really big. But it’s unlikely that most people outside the government can (or would even try to) quantify its size or powers with any specificity. The agency is just massive, a quality that can produce in those who try to contemplate it the overwhelming sense of awe and wonder called the sublime. Triggered by an encounter with something grand (towering mountain peaks) or verging on the infinite (the number of stars in the universe), it describes a generally pleasurable feeling of cognitive breakdown, the sensation that you just can’t wrap your head around an object or idea so vast and boundless. Read the rest

Ex-NSA whistleblower says she and other US ex-spooks targeted Americans on behalf of UAE

Lori Stroud is an ex-NSA spy who also contracted with the NSA through Booz Allen, who says that after she left the NSA, she was recruited to work on Project Raven, a secret, offensive surveillance and digital attack squad working for the autocratic United Arab Emirates regime alongside other ex-US intelligence operatives, working with the knowledge and approval of the NSA. Read the rest

Phone scammer tried to con William Webster, the only person ever to serve as director of both the CIA and FBI: it did not go well

Keniel A Thomas is part of the wave of violent phone scam gangs that have led to chaos in cities across the island; he made the mistake of trying to con the 90-year-old William Webster out of $50,000 with a hamfisted advance-fee fraud scam, not realizing that Webster is a top US spook, the only person ever to have served as chief of both the CIA and FBI. Read the rest

Undercover who targeted Citizen Lab over Israeli cyber-arms dealer is an ex-Israeli spook linked to black ops firm used by Harvey Weinstein

Last week, Citizen Lab and the AP published a blockbuster story revealing that Citizen Lab had been targeted by undercover operatives who pumped Lab employees for information on the group's work uncovering illegal surveillance operations undertaken by authoritarian governments using tools made by the notorious Israeli cyber-arms dealer NSO Group. Read the rest

Spies tried to infiltrate Citizen Lab and trick them into talking about their research on Israeli spytech company NSO Group

Citizen Lab (previously) is a world-renowned research group that specializes in deep, careful investigations into the nexus of state and private surveillance, outing everything from the Chinese spies who took over computers in Tibetan embassies around the world to the bizarre deployments of state-level cyberweapons against Mexicans who campaigned for limits on sugary sodas. Read the rest

Latvia opens up its KGB files and names 4,000+ "informants," many of whom claim they were framed

When Latvia attained independence in 1991, the retreating KGB left behind two sacks and two briefcases containing indexed records of the secret informants who had been paid to turn in their neighbors for offenses including anti-Kremlin activism and watching pornography. Read the rest

A deep dive into the technical feasibility of Bloomberg's controversial "Chinese backdoored servers" story

Last October, Bloomberg published what seemed to be the tech story of the year: a claim that Supermicro, the leading supplier of servers to clients from the Pentagon and Congress to Amazon, Apple and NASA, had been targeted by Chinese spies who'd inserted devastating, virtually undetectable hardware backdoors into their motherboards by subverting a small subcontractor in China. Read the rest

French spy used darknet to sell access to national mass-surveillance databases

A cop working for the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Intérieure (the French national domestic surveillance agency) used the darknet marketplace Black Hand to sell access to France's prodigious national surveillance apparatus to criminals: give him a phone number and he'd track its location; give him a name and he'd tell you whether that person was under police investigation and disclose the contents of the associated files; he'd also sell you everything you needed to forge papers and other official documents (he took payment in Bitcoin). Read the rest

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