A century from now, Microsoft will be remembered primarily via a footnote in a book about malware evolution
Posts tagged NSA
Hackers exploiting malicious software stolen from the National Security Agency executed damaging cyberattacks on Friday that hit dozens of countries worldwide, forcing Britain’s public health system to send patients away, freezing computers at Russia’s Interior Ministry and wreaking havoc on tens of thousands of computers elsewhere. The attacks amounted to an audacious global blackmail attempt spread by the internet and underscored the vulnerabilities of the digital age. Transmitted via email, the malicious software locked British hospitals out of their computer systems and demanded ransom before users could be let back in — with a threat that data would be destroyed if the demands were not met. By late Friday the attacks had spread to more than 74 countries, according to security firms tracking the spread. Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity firm, said Russia was the worst-hit, followed by Ukraine, India and Taiwan. Reports of attacks also came from Latin America and Africa.
While Clapper grudgingly accepts the damage the Snowden affair has done to his own reputation, he worries more deeply about the impact it’s had on the intelligence workforce. He hates the thought that America might turn on his employees. He fears that, in the same way the nation and Congress turned their backs on the CIA officers who ran the agency’s “black sites” and torture program in the wake of 9/11, the country will one day turn on the people who carry out drone attacks. “I worry that people will decide retroactively that killing people with drones was wrong, and that will lead us to criticize, indict, and try people who helped kill with drones,” he says. “I find it really bothersome to set a moral standard retrospectively,” he says. “People raise all sorts of good questions about things America has done. Everyone now agrees that interning Japanese [Americans] in World War II was egregious—but at the time it seemed like it was in the best interests of the country.”
Many facts about the SKYNET program remain unknown, however. For instance do analysts review each mobile phone user’s profile before condemning them to death based on metadata? How can the US government be sure it is not killing innocent people, given the apparent flaws in the machine learning algorithm on which that kill list is based?“On whether the use of SKYNET is a war crime, I defer to lawyers,” Ball said. “It’s bad science, that’s for damn sure, because classification is inherently probabilistic. If you’re going to condemn someone to death, usually we have a ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard, which is not at all the case when you’re talking about people with 'probable terrorist’ scores anywhere near the threshold. And that’s assuming that the classifier works in the first place, which I doubt because there simply aren’t enough positive cases of known terrorists for the random forest to get a good model of them.”
every device is a target for colonization, as each successfully exploited target is theoretically useful as a means to infiltrating another possible target. Port scanning and downloading banners to identify which software is operating on the target system is merely the first step of the attack (Figure 8). Top secret documents from the NSA seen by Heise demonstrate that the involved spy agencies follow the common methodology of online organized crime (Figure 9): reconnaissance (Figure 10) is followed by infection (Figure 11), command and control (Figure 12), and exfiltration (Figure 13). The NSA presentation makes it clear that the agency embraces the mindset of criminals. In the slides, they discuss techniques and then show screenshots of their own tools to support this criminal process (Figure 14, 15 and 16).
Dem Quelltext zufolge werden in XKeyscore Nutzer automatisch als Extremisten markiert, wenn sie im Internet nach Anonymisierungs-Tools wie Tor oder Tails suchen, dank der globalen Überwachung von Suchanfragen. Gerade diese Werkzeuge sind aber bei vielen Gruppen beliebt, die auf Anonymität angewiesen sind, also etwa auch Anwälte, Menschenrechtsaktivisten und Journalisten in aller Welt. Die werden demnach aber ganz gezielt von der NSA ausspioniert, etwa auch die Inhalte ihrer E-Mails.
Facebook and Google seem very powerful, but they live about a week from total ruin all the time. They know the cost of leaving social networks individually is high, but en masse, becomes next to nothing. Windows could be replaced with something better written. The US government would fall to a general revolt in a matter of days. It wouldn’t take a total defection or a general revolt to change everything, because corporations and governments would rather bend to demands than die. These entities do everything they can get away with — but we’ve forgotten that we’re the ones that are letting them get away with things.
Data is currency, and consumers are willing to hand over their information in exchange for “free or convenience,” Schneier said. Companies such as Facebook and Google want the data so that they can sell more stuff. Users hand it over to play games, to get email, or some other benefit. “I like to think of this as a feudal model. At a most fundamental model, we are tenant farming for companies like Google. We are on their land producing data,” he said. By handing the data over, users have an expectation of trust that Google, Facebook, and other data brokers will do the right thing with the personal data. However, this becomes a power play when governments get involved. Governments don’t need to collect the data themselves when corporations are already doing it. “The NSA woke up and said ‘Corporations are spying on the Internet, let’s get ourselves a copy,’” Schneier said. Most NSA surveillance “piggybacks” what the companies are already doing, he said.
If ZunZuneo looks ridiculous in retrospect, it’s because 2011 is a different country. We now know U.S. security apparatus may threaten the “open Internet” as much as an oppressive government, if not more. Clinton’s speeches as secretary of state dwell on freedom of expression but not freedom from surveillance, and now—following the NSA revelations—we have a good idea why. Beyond all this, as sociologist Zeynep Tufecki writes, it’s likely that the failure of ZunZuneo will threaten online activism abroad, even if it’s not associated with the U.S. government.
However, yesterday President Obama ended the political debate about the Snowden Operation with his much-anticipated speech about NSA and reform, based on the recommendations of his own panel. As my colleague Tom Nichols and I have long predicted, the reform package Obama has delivered is a stinging defeat for the NSA haters. Yes, it will be more difficult for NSA analysts to access metadata, but access it they will. Yes, NSA collection against top foreign leaders will be restricted, somewhat, but Agency support to U.S. and Allied diplomacy will continue. The bottom line is that President Obama’s reforms contain no significant changes to how NSA does business as the leading foreign intelligence agency in the United States and the free world.
What’s still unclear is whether the NSA is directly hacking Google or using some other way to track these cookies. But while the company is officially keeping quiet, the simple math of cookie tracking makes it likely that the NSA didn’t need any help from Google. Tracking cookies offers the NSA the perfect system for following suspects across the web: it’s pervasive, persistent, and for the most part, it’s still unencrypted. “It solves a bunch of tricky problems for bulk web surveillance that would otherwise be quite difficult,” says Jonathan Mayer, a fellow at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society who worked with the Washington Post on the report. The right cookie will follow you as your phone moves from 3G to a coffee shop’s Wi-Fi network, and in many cases it’ll broadcast your unique ID in plain text.
To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency’s impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs.
During the past decade, the NSA has secretly worked to gain access to virtually all communications entering, leaving, or going through the country. A key reason, according to the draft of a top secret NSA inspector general’s report leaked by Snowden, is that approximately one third of all international telephone calls in the world enter, leave, or transit the United States. “Most international telephone calls are routed through a small number of switches or ‘chokepoints’ in the international telephone switching system en route to their final destination,” says the report. “The United States is a major crossroads for international switched telephone traffic.” At the same time, according to the 2009 report, virtually all Internet communications in the world pass through the US. For example, the report notes that during 2002, less than one percent of worldwide Internet bandwidth—i.e., the international link between the Internet and computers—“was between two regions that did not include the United States.”
Selbst die Zentrale der Vereinten Nationen in New York wurde vom US-Geheimdienst NSA abgehört, obwohl ein Abkommen genau das untersagt. Auch das US-Konsulat in Frankfurt diente als Lauschposten.
The classified documents, which SPIEGEL has seen, demonstrate how systematically the Americans target other countries and institutions like the EU, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and the UN. They show how the NSA infiltrated the Europeans’ internal computer network between New York and Washington, used US embassies abroad to intercept communications and eavesdropped on video conferences of UN diplomats. The surveillance is intensive and well-organized – and it has little or nothing to do with counter-terrorism.
The first thing I did after I heard about the highly classified NSA PRISM program two years ago was set up a proxy server in Peshawar to email me passages from Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. A literary flight of fancy. I started sending back excerpts from Gerard Manley Hopkins poems.
Knowing how the government spies on us is important. Not only because so much of it is illegal – or, to be as charitable as possible, based on novel interpretations of the law – but because we have a right to know. Democracy requires an informed citizenry in order to function properly, and transparency and accountability are essential parts of that. That means knowing what our government is doing to us, in our name. That means knowing that the government is operating within the constraints of the law. Otherwise, we’re living in a police state.
“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”