240 posts tagged with NSA.
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The Impact of Secrets and Dark Knowledge

The bottom line is, trauma and secondary trauma have identifiable symptoms and they are everywhere in the “industry.” The “hyper-real” space which the national security state creates by its very nature extends to everyone too, now, but it’s more intense for professionals. Living as “social engineers,” always trying to understand the other’s POV so one can manipulate and exploit it, erodes the core self. The existential challenge constitutes an assault on authenticity and integrity. Sometimes sanity is at stake, too, and sometimes, life itself.
Playing Through the Pain: A DEF CON 24 presentation by Richard Thieme (h/t Schneier)
posted by automatizing nihilist vortex on Oct 14, 2016 - 27 comments

Yahoo secretly monitored email for US government

Yahoo last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by US intelligence officials, sources have told Reuters. The company complied with a classified US government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency (NSA) or FBI, said two former employees and a third person who knew about the programme. [more inside]
posted by Bella Donna on Oct 4, 2016 - 52 comments

NSA malware released by "The Shadow Brokers"

Was the N.S.A. Hacked? A group calling itself The Shadow Brokers [Google cache], widely supposed to actually be Russian state-backed hackers, released an archive of purported NSA Tailored Access Operations/'Equation Group' malware, including zero-day exploits on commercial routers. NSA insiders confirm likely legitimacy. The archive dates to mid-2013, shortly after the Snowden revelations, leading him and others to ponder whether the resulting cleanup operation shut out the hackers. Schneier guesses the timing was meant to signal the Obama administration against sanctions for the DNC hack.
posted by p3on on Aug 17, 2016 - 51 comments

"I think it should actually be possible to break the law."

The Anarchist Sailor “Imagine if there were an alternate dystopian reality where law enforcement was 100 percent effective, such that any potential offenders knew they would be immediately identified, apprehended, and jailed,” he wrote. “How could people have decided that marijuana should be legal, if nobody had ever used it? How could states decide that same-sex marriage should be permitted?”
posted by bitmage on Aug 1, 2016 - 35 comments

Let's play Global Thermonuclear War: lasting impacts of WarGames

If, after the media dubbed Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (YT video, Wikipedia) as "Star Wars" (transcript) in 1983, you might quesiton his concerns triggered from another movie mere months later. But after watching WarGames, he was informed that "the problem is much worse than you think." WarGames was that accurate thanks in part to input in the script from an engineer named Willis Ware, who had concerns about network security (PDF) for decades before the movie. Reagan's fears lead to the first cybersecurity directive from any U.S. President and the first concerns about the NSA's potential role in "data base oversight" (Google books preview), as well as an attempt to regulate teenagers and teenaged technology (Gbp) that impacts US internet use to this day. And then there was the USSR computer program that nearly triggered WWIII. What a year. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 13, 2016 - 20 comments

How the Pentagon punished NSA whistleblowers

Long before Edward Snowden went public, John Crane was a top Pentagon official fighting to protect NSA whistleblowers. Instead their lives were ruined – and so was his. [more inside]
posted by cosmic.osmo on May 22, 2016 - 16 comments


The activist talks to Popular Science about digital naïveté
Security, surveillance, and privacy are not contrary goals. You don’t give up one and get more of the other. If you lose one, you lose the other. If you are always observed and always monitored, you are more vulnerable to abuse than you were before. [more inside]
posted by wonton endangerment on Apr 24, 2016 - 62 comments

At Sea with America's Largest Floating Gathering of Conspiracy Theorists

It’s an experience that may not appeal to everyone—a seven-day cruise at sea, with the aim of “taking back power from corrupt and greedy institutions, attain true self-authority, and realize our genuine Self behind the masks … discovering the truth, taking command of our lives, and attaining genuine inner realization” —with every odd belief you can think of listed as entertainment: GMOs, Monsanto, bee colony collapse, ecology, global warming, climate change, fracking, HIV, autism, Big Pharma, medical suppression, vaccinations, fluoridation,… electoral fraud, identity chips, 2nd amendment, and so much more. Anna Merlan writes charitably yet unflinchingly for Jezebel about her experience joining them [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Feb 29, 2016 - 121 comments

"We're gonna arm this thing and go hunting"

How Rogue Techies Armed The Predator, Almost Stopped 9/11, And Invented Remote Warfare [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 13, 2016 - 15 comments

We knew that they knew that we knew that they knew....

Ex NSA Analyst Bill Scannel talks about Teufelsberg, in Berlin. His talk describes the inner workings of an NSA field station in an interesting manner. The talk is 42 minutes, with a Q&A at the end. [more inside]
posted by pjern on Jan 21, 2016 - 11 comments

Passphrases That You Can Memorize — But That Even the NSA Can’t Guess

Passphrases That You Can Memorize — But That Even the NSA Can’t Guess. It turns out, coming up with a good passphrase by just thinking of one is incredibly hard, and if your adversary really is capable of one trillion guesses per second, you’ll probably do a bad job of it. If you use an entirely random sequence of characters it might be very secure, but it’s also agonizing to memorize (and honestly, a waste of brain power). ... But luckily this usability/security trade-off doesn’t have to exist. ... [more inside]
posted by dancestoblue on Dec 15, 2015 - 114 comments

Quantum computing! Brought to you by Google, Goldman Sachs, the NSA...

Google successfully tests the first commercially available quantum computer. Google/NASA's Quantum Computing / AI lab has verified that D-Wave Systems recently announced 1000+ qubit quantum computer works as designed: really, really, really fast. "A 100,000,000x leap in computing power", one of their board members claims. In addition to Google, NASA, and government grants, D-Wave's CEO, the former CTO of Goldman Sachs, also obtained large initial investments from the financial industry. One of their first customers? Los Alamos National Laboratory, "a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security." This obviously has huge implications for public key encryption, scientific research... everything, really.
posted by markkraft on Dec 8, 2015 - 121 comments

No cutesy adversaries

“I think the post-war turn towards social responsibility in science and engineering was less a turn than a sideways glance. .. If researchers like us were actually supposed to know or care about this stuff in any operationally significant way, well, I think we didn't get the memo.   So let me retransmit it. - Phillip Rogaway. The Moral Character of Cryptographic Work. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Dec 6, 2015 - 19 comments

Things That Can and Cannot Be Said

One morning as I scanned the news...I thought of Edward Snowden and wondered how he was holding up in Moscow. I began to imagine a conversation between him and Daniel Ellsberg... And then, interestingly, in my imagination a third person made her way into the room—the writer Arundhati Roy. It occurred to me that trying to get the three of them together would be a fine thing to do.
John Cusack (yes, that John Cusack) asks Arundhati Roy to join him and Daniel Ellsberg on a trip to Moscow to have a conversation with Edward Snowden [more inside]
posted by aerosolkid on Nov 9, 2015 - 31 comments

When Canada Learned It Had Spies

"Unknown even to the majority of parliament, by 1972 the CBNRC had grown to employ some 600 people—slightly smaller than the Department of Justice, and about half the size of the Canadian Forces unit for military signals intelligence. Every successive federal government vehemently denied that Canada engaged in any international espionage, while the CBNRC secretly helped to fight and even escalate the Cold War."
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 30, 2015 - 4 comments

Frankly, you sound a little paranoid

If someone had told me even a few years ago that such a thing wasn’t pure coincidence, I would have had my doubts about that someone. Now, however, I reserve my doubts for the people who still trust. There are so many ghosts in our machines—their locations so hidden, their methods so ingenious, their motives so inscrutable—that not to feel haunted is not to be awake. That’s why paranoia, even in its extreme forms, no longer seems to me so much a disorder as a mode of cognition with an impressive track record of prescience. --Walter Kirn on modern paranoia in The Atlantic [more inside]
posted by chavenet on Oct 14, 2015 - 33 comments

In Case You Aren't Paranoid Enough About Social Media & Privacy

"One broader implication of this is that no one should take the NSA seriously when they say they are only collecting “metadata” on whom someone contacts, rather than the content of the communication. Social network metadata is incredibly powerful." How to tell whether a Twitter user is pro-choice or pro-life without reading any of their tweets
posted by COD on Oct 9, 2015 - 47 comments

Of course I'd like to sit around and chat... but someone's listening in

Fresh from The Intercept (that fearless vanguard of journalism helmed by Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras): disturbing documents exposing the unfathomable reach of the United Kingdom's GCHQ in its quest for total awareness of global internet traffic. A hundred billion user actions logged per day. A "Black Hole" database of 1.1 trillion logs. Frightening programs like KARMA POLICE, MEMORY HOLE, and MUTANT BROTH that correlate the kilo-crore corpus -- IP addresses, cookies, forum posts, search histories, emails, and passwords all compiled and cross-referenced into a real-time "diary" that gives penetrating insight into the relationships, beliefs, and desires of every web user on the planet. Internal documents suggest only widespread encryption can threaten the regime -- a movement the UK is determined to subdue (previously). [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Sep 26, 2015 - 105 comments

NSA Mass Phone Surveillance Possibly Constitutional After All

On December 13, 2013, the US district court for the District of Columbia ruled that the NSA's bulk collection of American citizens' telephone records was "likely" to violate the Fourth Amendment (previously on MeFi). Today, DC's federal court of appeals overturned that ruling. The rationale is that the plaintiffs did not prove "that they were affected by the metadata-gathering program," so they did not have standing to challenge it in court. [more inside]
posted by Rangi on Aug 28, 2015 - 25 comments

Here’s how we figured out that it's AT&T.

Investigative journalism lives. How some journalists proved empirically that AT&T has been in a decades-long spying relationship with the NSA, using the Snowden documents as a starting point.
posted by pjern on Aug 18, 2015 - 25 comments

The Philosopher of Surveillance

When intelligence officials justify surveillance, they tend to use the stilted language of national security, and we typically hear only from senior officials who stick to their platitudes. It is rare for mid-level experts — the ones conducting the actual surveillance — to frankly explain what they do and why. And in this case, the candid confessions come from the NSA’s own surveillance philosopher. The columns answer a sociological curiosity: How does working at an intelligence agency turn a privacy hawk into a prophet of eavesdropping?
What Happens When a Failed Writer Becomes a Loyal Spy? Peter Maass for The Intercept
posted by p3on on Aug 11, 2015 - 26 comments

The Typewriters That Came In From The Cold

In 1983, the US got a tip-off that the Soviets had designed a new breed of hard-to-find bug, capable of relaying information from office equipment. The Moscow Embassy had more than ten tons of gear, all of which was immediately suspect. It had to be fixed, and now. Problem one: how do you replace it all? Problem two: how do you get the old stuff back? Problem three: what on earth were they looking for? What they found surprised them! A tale of bureaucracy, secrecy, narrow corridors and IBM Selectrics that weren't quite what they seemed. (SL NSA PDF)
posted by Devonian on Aug 5, 2015 - 35 comments

All your passwords belong to us

Yesterday a Fisa court judge issued final authorisation to a programme banned after Congress banned bulk collection of telephone data in the USA Freedom Act.
Today The Intercept is publishing 48 top-secret and other classified documents about XKEYSCORE dated up to 2013, which shed new light on the breadth, depth and functionality of this critical spy system.
posted by adamvasco on Jul 1, 2015 - 9 comments

This is the power of an informed public.

Edward Snowden believes there is reason to be hopeful about mass surveillance (SLNYT).
posted by andrewpcone on Jun 4, 2015 - 84 comments

We Are Always Listening

Eavesdropping on the population has revealed many saying “I’m not doing anything wrong so who cares if the NSA tracks what I say and do?”

Citizens don’t seem to mind this monitoring, so we’re hiding recorders in public places in hopes of gathering information to help win the war on terror. We've started with NYC as a pilot program, but hope to roll the initiative out all across The Homeland.
[more inside] posted by Elementary Penguin on May 20, 2015 - 58 comments

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

"I don't think they're all necessarily horrible people..." In an impressive display of solid intelligence tradecraft, the IC Watch project has released the Transparency Toolkit, whereby social media sites were mined for keywords, project names, employers, and locations known or suspected to be associated with the U.S. Intelligence Community. [more inside]
posted by Emperor SnooKloze on May 11, 2015 - 74 comments

"I would want the dickpic program changed."

John Oliver explores the topic of government surveillance in the context of the June 1st deadline to reauthorize the Patriot Act and the ongoing Edward Snowden case.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 6, 2015 - 108 comments

They Were Our Sisters

How the deaths of two women who mistakenly drove into high-security checkpoints reveal an intersection of racial and trans bias with fears about terrorism.
posted by emjaybee on Apr 3, 2015 - 78 comments

Wikimedia v. NSA

Today, the Wikimedia Foundation is filing suit against the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) of the United States. The lawsuit challenges the NSA’s mass surveillance program, and specifically its large-scale search and seizure of internet communications — frequently referred to as “upstream” surveillance.
posted by pashdown on Mar 10, 2015 - 39 comments

The grim nightmare of successfully banning booze

Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald recently did an AMA on Citizenfour, their Oscar winning documentary about Snowden and the NSA scandal. Among the highlights is Snowden discussing the relationship between people and their governments and how enforcing the law too well actually can have severe drawbacks.
posted by Drinky Die on Feb 24, 2015 - 24 comments

Ha ha ha “Security to be Free” ha ha ha

The Great SIM Heist
American and British spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys.
In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year.
posted by adamvasco on Feb 20, 2015 - 82 comments

This plan isn’t for the next two weeks or three months.

EFF’s Game Plan for Ending Global Mass Surveillance
For years, we’ve been working on a strategy to end mass surveillance of digital communications of innocent people worldwide. Today we’re laying out the plan, so you can understand how all the pieces fit together—that is, how U.S. advocacy and policy efforts connect to the international fight and vice versa. Decide for yourself where you can get involved to make the biggest difference.
posted by andoatnp on Jan 27, 2015 - 23 comments

I drink your milkshake

The Digital Arms Race: NSA Preps America for Future Battle.
New Snowden documents show that the NSA and its allies are laughing at the rest of the world.
posted by adamvasco on Jan 18, 2015 - 75 comments

Possible Supreme Court cases that could rein in the NSA in 2015

If the Supreme Court tackles the NSA in 2015, it’ll be one of these five cases. Detailed, thoughtful piece with lots of links from Ars Technica.
posted by mediareport on Jan 3, 2015 - 23 comments

Every breath you take

The Creepy Surveillance of Elf on a Shelf. How does the ubiquitous holiday tattletale work its behavioral magic? By teaching kids to expect that there's always someone watching.
posted by gottabefunky on Dec 25, 2014 - 93 comments

interview with filmmaker Laura Poitras

A nicely lengthy interview with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras. Poitras was one of the key figures involved in the revealing of Edward Snowden as the NSA whistleblower; she has a film (Citizenfour) opening this week. Poitras discusses her role as a documentary filmmaker, as well as her unique perspectives on the War on Terror, NSA surveillance, her status as a high-profile dissenter, and being on the receiving end of government harrassment.
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Nov 11, 2014 - 19 comments

Industry and government say "Collect Everything".

"Sometimes, society gets it wrong... When that happens, strong privacy protections—including collection controls that let people pick who gets their data, and when—allow the persecuted and unpopular to survive."

What happens when we let industry and government collect all the data they want.

posted by anemone of the state on Nov 9, 2014 - 21 comments

Grooming Students for A Lifetime of Surveillance

The same technologists who protest against the NSA’s metadata collection programs are the ones profiting the most from the widespread surveillance of students.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 24, 2014 - 27 comments

The NSA and me

The NSA and Me is an essay by James Bamford, author of The Puzzle Palace, an early book on the agency. It details how he came to write the book, and the NSA's efforts to keep him from publishing it in the late 70s/early 80s.
posted by Harald74 on Oct 13, 2014 - 13 comments

Retired NSA Technical Director Explains Snowden Docs

"I had an opportunity to attend a presentation by retired NSA technical director, William Binney, which provided context for some of the published documents released by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden. Because of the public value of Binney's expertise on the subject, I decided to publish his presentation and comments on my website." Via Bruce Schneier. (Previously: We Are Watching; Not My Department.)
posted by MonkeyToes on Oct 4, 2014 - 21 comments

The real problem with Big Data and ubiquitous surveillance

The question is not so much “do you trust the CIA/NSA/MI6/etc?”. It’s “Do you trust every single sysadmin working for these organisations? Every single analyst? Every single middle manager?”
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 24, 2014 - 23 comments

Who is really listening?

An international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) is a unique number, usually fifteen digits, associated with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network mobile phone users. An IMSI catcher is a device, used by the NSA drone program, the police, criminals, Chinese spammers and spies all around Washington DC and the world to spoof the identity of a GSM cell tower and intercept cellular voice and data communication. They come in all sizes and flavors, from tiny or body-worn professional surveillance devices, to easy to order off the shelf solutions, to Chinese DIY (links in Chinese) and have spawned efforts to retaliate with an IMSI-catcher-catcher. IMSI-catcher technology has become increasingly widespread, with far-reaching constitutional and technical implications.
posted by T.D. Strange on Sep 22, 2014 - 13 comments

clearly a lab computer!

Sentenced in a Swedish court, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg gets extradited to Denmark to stand trial for another case of system intrusion.

Mefi's Own, Jacob Applebaum has some choice words after his testimony in the Danish court. [more inside]
posted by xcasex on Sep 21, 2014 - 25 comments

"The present I was in right then didn’t make a lot of sense."

A Day of Speaking Truth to Power - Quinn Norton visits the Office of the Director of National Intelligence
posted by the man of twists and turns on Sep 3, 2014 - 20 comments

HJ! BI....BI....BI...Hotshot!

Crypto machines.
posted by pjern on Aug 31, 2014 - 9 comments

What's the matter with PGP?

If your cryptography predates The Fresh Prince, you need better cryptography. With recognition of the need for secure communication standards finally going mainstream, crypto researcher and Johns Hopkins University professor Matthew Green takes a hard look at the de facto standard everyone is jumping on, and suggests that we can and should do a lot better. [more inside]
posted by George_Spiggott on Aug 25, 2014 - 23 comments

The most wanted man in the world

Edward Snowden - The Untold Story, from Wired's Threat Level.
posted by nevercalm on Aug 13, 2014 - 103 comments

From "Not The Onion"

NSA Tried To Delete Court Transcript In Lawsuit Over Deleting Evidence On three separate occasions in the Jewel V. NSA case, the NSA sought to delete evidence. Then it sought to redact the transcript.
posted by Sleeper on Aug 9, 2014 - 43 comments

Fashion Solutions for Hiding from SkyNet

In Anti-Surveillance Camouflage for Your Face, technology reporter Robinson Meyer details an experiment in which he tried actually going about his day to day life in downtown Washington DC while wearing CV Dazzle, (previously on MeFi) makeup and hairstyles to confuse facial recognition software. The technique is inspired by the old naval technique of dazzle camouflage, which sought not to conceal a ship, but to confuse viewers as to its size and heading. Similarly, CV Dazzle aims to confuse software by making your face look less like a face and more like a confusing collection of shapes. This proves to have unanticipated effects on how Robinson is perceived by humans as well, leading to insights about how our appearance signals our privilege and place in the social hierarchy, and how that can overlap or conflict with the digital wakes we leave.
posted by Naberius on Jul 24, 2014 - 78 comments

NSA spies on mainstream muslim US citizens

In one of the most damning Snowden leaks yet revealed, Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain show that the NSA targets prominent Muslim-Americans under the FISA secret court program. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has in response issued a denial that any Americans were targeted for exercising their constitutional rights via its tumblr.
posted by p3on on Jul 9, 2014 - 93 comments

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