mfioretti: nsa*

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  1. We saw that President Obama, who was an outsider to the US military-intelligence complex, initially wanted to reign in the abuses of agencies like the CIA and the NSA, but in the end he did very little. Now we see a confrontation between president Trump and so-called Deep State, which includes the CIA and the NSA. Can a US president govern in opposition to such powerful entities?
    "Obama is certainly an instructive case. This is a president who campaigned on a platform of ending warrantless wiretapping in the United States, he said "that's not who we are, that's not what we do", and once he became the president, he expanded the program. He said he was going to close Guantanamo but he kept it open, he said he was going to limit extrajudicial killings and drone strikes that has been so routine in the Bush years. But Obama went on to authorize vastly more drone strikes than Bush. It became an industry. As for this idea that there is a Deep State, now the Deep State is not just the intelligence agencies, it is really a way of referring to the career bureaucracy of government. These are officials who sit in powerful positions, who don't leave when presidents do, who watch presidents come and go, they influence policy, they influence presidents and say: this is what we have always done, this is what we must do, and if you don't do this, people will die. It is very easy to persuade a new president who comes in, who has never had these powers, but has always wanted this job and wants very, very badly to do that job well. A bureaucrat sitting there for the last twenty years says: I understand what you said, I respect your principles, but if you do what you promised, people will die. It is very easy for a president to go: well, for now, I am going to set this controversy to the side, I'm going to take your advice, let you guys decide how these things should be done, and then I will revisit it, when I have a little more experience, maybe in a few months, maybe in a few years, but then they never do. This is what we saw quite clearly happen in the case of Barack Obama: when this story of Snowden exposing the NSA's mass surveillance » came forward in 2013, when Obama had been president for five years, one of the defences for this from his aides and political allies was: oh, Obama was just about to fix this problem! And sure enough, he eventually was forced from the wave of criticism to make some limited reforms, but he did not go far enough to end all of the programs that were in violation of the law or the constitution of the United States. That too was an intentional choice: he could have certainly used the scandal to advocate for all of the changes that he had campaigned on, to deliver on all of his promises, but in those five years he had become president, he discovered something else, which is that there are benefits from having very powerful intelligence agencies, there are benefits from having these career bureaucrats on your side, using their spider web over government for your benefit. Imagine you are Barack Obama, and you realise - yes, when you were campaigning you were saying: spying on people without a warrant is a problem, but then you realise: you can read Angela Merkel's text messages. Why bother calling her and asking her opinion, when you can just read her mind by breaking the law? It sounds like a joke, but it is a very seductive thing. Secrecy is perhaps the most corrupting of all government powers, because it takes public officials and divorces them from accountability to the public. When we look at the case of Trump, who is perhaps the worst of politicians, we see the same dynamic occurring. This is a president who said the CIA is the enemy, it's like Nazi Germany, they're listening to his phone calls, and all of these other things, some claims which are true, some claims which are absolutely not. A few months later, he is authorizing major powers for these same agencies that he has called his enemies. And this gets to the central crux of your question, which is: can any president oppose this? The answer is certainly. The president has to have some familiarity going in with the fact that this pitch is going to be made, that they are going to try to scare him or her into compliance. The president has to be willing to stand strongly on line and say: 'I was elected to represent the interests of the American people, and if you're not willing to respect the constitution and our rights, I will disband your agency, and create a new one'. I think they can definitely be forced into compliance, because these officials fear prison, just like every one of us."
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  2. The CIA declined to comment, and the NSA did not respond to requests for comment.

    But officials expressed concern about Trump’s handling of sensitive information as well as his grasp of the potential consequences. Exposure of an intelligence stream that has provided critical insight into the Islamic State, they said, could hinder the United States’ and its allies’ ability to detect future threats.

    On Russia, Trump and his top national security aides seem to be at odds »

    “It is all kind of shocking,” said a former senior U.S. official who is close to current administration officials. “Trump seems to be very reckless and doesn’t grasp the gravity of the things he’s dealing with, especially when it comes to intelligence and national security. And it’s all clouded because of this problem he has with Russia.”
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  3. NEW YORK - Dopo il caso del mezzo miliardo di account piratati dagli hacker, non bastasse la crisi aziendale, Yahoo affronta un nuovo terremoto: Secondo la Reuters, ha in gran segreto scansionato centinaia di milioni di email dei propri utenti per metterle a disposizione degli 007 Usa, dall'Fbi alla Nsa. A rivelarlo è un servizio dell'agenzia notizie in esclusiva l'agenzia Reuters che cita fonti vicine al dossier. Un'altra tegola per il gigante del web guidato da Merissa Mayer, accusato di aver tenuto all'oscuro i propri clienti di attacchi hacker attraverso cui sarebbero state rubate informazioni private di milioni di persone. Edward Snowden, il tecnico informatico che ha dato il via al Datagate, ha subito invitato su Twitter tutti i clienti di Yahoo a chiudere i loro account.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2016-10-04)
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  4. the order does not tell Apple to crack the encryption when Apple does not have the key. Rather, it is asking Apple to turn off a specific feature so that the FBI can try to brute force the key — and we can still argue over whether or not it's appropriate to force Apple to disable a key feature that is designed to protect someone's privacy. It also raises questions about whether or not Apple can just turn off that feature or if it will have to do development work to obey the court's order. In fact, the same report notes that there is no way for Apple to actually do this:

    According to industry officials, Apple cannot unilaterally dismantle or override the 10-tries-and-wipe feature. Only the user or person who controls the phone’s settings can do so. The company could theoretically write new software to bypass the feature, but likely would see that as a “backdoor” or a weakening of device security and would resist it, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

    So you could argue that this is effectively the same thing as asking Apple to break the encryption, since it (apparently) has no direct access to turning off that feature. However, the specifics do matter -- and most of the kneejerk responses to the order (and the reporting on it) are suggesting something very different than what the court order seems to say.

    I think it's still perfectly reasonable to argue that this order is highly problematic, and not legally sound. However, it is still quite different than what most are claiming. It also seems like something that could be quite dangerous. Apple is being pressured to write code that undermines an important security feature, and will probably have little time to debug or test it overall, meaning that this feature it is being ordered to build will almost certainly put more users at risk.

    Update: Okay, we've got the full order and it is, indeed, troubling

    COMMENT: So, we have Judge Pym stuck between the US Attorneys and defense counsel arguing about what Apple can/cannot do, driving her mad. She's gotta do something to move this forward, or at least to shut counsel up, and the best way to find out what Apple can or cannot do is to ask Apple.

    And she may well even understand the implications of asking Apple to undermine its own encryption. But the best way to get that in the record is to give Apple a chance to fully explain why it is a bad idea, or impossible. Notice and opportunity to be heard.

    And Apple is not likely to say "Yeah, we can write this backdoor brute-force buddy software" because that would mean that someone else could write that software, which would mean that Apple's encryption now has a known point of potential compromise. So Apple will say it can't write that software. And then the US Attys will hopefully shut up about it already.
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  5. sbloccare un iPhone 5c appartenuto a Syed Farook, che insieme alla moglie Tashfeen Malik ha ucciso 14 persone a dicembre 2015 a San Bernardino, in California. I due sono periti poco dopo in un conflitto a fuoco con la polizia e ora l'FBI vuole accedere all’iPhone di Farook nell’ambito delle proprie indagini, ma non ha la password del dispositivo. Non ce l'ha neanche Apple: l’unico ad averla era Farook.

    L’FBI non può tentare tutte le password possibili: ci vorrebbe troppo tempo, perché l’iPhone 5c impone una pausa lunghissima fra i tentativi e c’è il rischio che lo smartphone sia stato impostato in modo da cancellare i dati dopo dieci tentativi sbagliati. Inoltre i dati sul telefonino, in particolare foto e messaggi, sono cifrati e serve un codice di decifrazione.

    Gli inquirenti vogliono che Apple scriva una versione su misura di iOS che tolga a quello specifico telefonino le pause obbligate e la cancellazione dei dati, in modo che possano tentare rapidamente tutte le password possibili e alla fine trovare quella giusta.

    Come spiega bene The Register, Apple si rifiuta di collaborare per non stabilire un precedente legale pericoloso e preoccupante (lo ha sottolineato anche Sundar Pichal, CEO di Google, in una serie di tweet) e anche perché la protezione della privacy e della sicurezza dei propri clienti è uno dei punti fondamentali della propria immagine commerciale per distinguersi dai concorrenti: fondamentalmente, acconsentire alla richiesta dell'FBI dimostrerebbe che i suoi telefonini non sono così sicuri come sembrano. Va detto che l’iPhone in questione è un 5c, che non ha le ulteriori protezioni (per esempio la Secure Enclave) introdotte nei modelli successivi. Le autorità federali statunitensi stanno chiedendo ad Apple di dimostrare che è in grado di creare versioni insicure del proprio sistema operativo, minando così alla base la fiducia dei suoi clienti, che si chiederebbero se gli aggiornamenti di iOS contengono falle intenzionali di sicurezza su richiesta governativa.
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  6. what fbi actually asked
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  7. the problems don't end with the economic impact on US businesses. Every other foreign law enforcement and intelligence agency would demand the same access, pointing to the same precedent. At least for other countries, Silicon Valley may succeed in restricting these updates to only targets in the country giving the order. This still means that US travelers overseas would face greatly increased risk: a US based Lawfare reader could not install an OS update if touring France or Israel, as the DGSE or Unit 8200 could invoke the same authorities and precedents to attack what they would term a "lawful foreign intelligence target" under French or Israeli domestic law.

    The situation grows worse when one considers the "Athens Affair" problem with law enforcement "exceptional access" mechanisms. What happens to US government systems if an adversary manages to surreptitiously gain access to Microsoft's "All Writs Lawful Update" mechanism in the same way that unknown attackers accessed Vodafone Greece's CALEA interface or the Chinese hacked Google for surveillance?

    Yet the true disaster doesn't end with US interests placed at risk but extends to the general software ecosystem. Perhaps the greatest innovation in computer security in the past 15 years are automatic updates. It is automatic updates that protect the overall ecosystem, and anything which makes automatic updates untrustworthy would prove a boon to attackers.

    This case is very different from the other All Writs case Apple is fighting. In that one, I agree with Susan Hennessey that Apple seems to be deliberately obnoxious mostly for the sake of public perception, although I'll argue that the Justice Department's refusal to fire up their own copy of EnCase Forensic is also troubling.
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  8. When NSA seizes, in bulk, data belonging to U.S. citizens or residents, data that inevitably includes information from innocent people that the government does not have probable cause to investigate, the agency has already committed an unconstitutional “unreasonable seizure,” even if analysts never query the data about innocent U.S. persons.

    The NSA has legal justifications for all their surveillance: Section 215 of the Patriot Act, now expired, was used to justify bulk collection of phone and email metadata. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is currently used to justify so-called “upstream” collection, tapping the physical infrastructure that the Internet uses to route traffic across the country and around the world in order to import into systems like XKEYSCORE. Executive Order 12333, approved by President Reagan, outlines vague rules, which are littered with exceptions and loopholes, that the executive branch made for itself to follow regarding spying on Americans, which includes USSID 18.

    But these laws and regulations ignore the uncomfortable truth that the Fourth Amendment requires surveillance of Americans to be targeted; it cannot be done in bulk. Americans are fighting to end bulk surveillance in dozens of lawsuits, including Jewel v. NSA, which relies on whistleblower-obtained evidence that NSA tapped the fiber optic cables that carry Internet traffic in AT&T’s Folsom Street building in San Francisco. It’s easy for the government to stall cases like this, or get them dismissed, by insisting that talking about it at all puts our national security at risk.

    And, of course, let’s not forget the 6.8 billion people on Earth who are not in the United States. Article 12 of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights states:
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  9. Edward Snowden has spoken out on #DRIP, the surveillance bill that the UK's major parties have vowed to ram through without any debate.

    Snowden spoke on video, drawing parallels to the "Protect America" act that was rushed through Congress on the same "emergency" basis. He pointed out that the powers being sought by the Tories are the same ones that a top European court found to violate fundamental human rights, and questioned the supposed emergency that required the bill to be rushed through without debate: "There aren't U-boats in the harbor."

    Snowden was presented with a framed piece of one of the Guardian computers that GCHQ destroyed because they housed a copy of the leaks he brought with him out of the NSA.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-11-11)
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  10. Stando agli articoli comparsi fino a oggi su Wired Italia in relazione alla contromigrazione del Comune di Pesaro da OpenOffice a Microsoft Office 365, quella che è stata presa è una decisione ineccepibile, basata sui dati di una ricerca che dimostra come la soluzione open source sia più costosa di quella proprietaria, e attenta all’innovazione, tanto da utilizzare lo slogan “comune 3.0″.

    E invece è più o meno l’esatto contrario, visto che è stata presa una decisione in barba alla legge, basata su dati a dir poco fantasiosi che offrono una visione della realtà completamente distorta, e ignora alcuni elementi di pubblico dominio sulla azienda Microsoft e su alcuni aspetti del suo software. Per completezza delle informazioni, cercherò di ovviare a queste amnesie.

    Per brevità, eviterò di analizzare i dati della ricerca, visto che altri lo hanno già fatto, e mi limiterò a definirla “creativa”, più che rigorosa. Microsoft, che conosce le regole della comunicazione, sa che un numero – qualsiasi numero, anche quelli che derivano da una visione di parte – diventa credibile se viene inserito in un contesto adeguato come quello di una ricerca o di una presentazione, così come spiega in modo ironico la vignetta di Marketoonist 1 » .
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