NSA Backdoor

Quite a good article written by Greenwald. No real surprises, but drives home just how invasive the NSA have become.



NSA sharing intelligence with Israel

It would appear the NSA are sharing unfiltered data with Israel. Interesting, as they are not part of the Echelon network. Does make me wonder who else they are sharing their information with? Even more concerning, the GCSB here have almost no real restrictions as to what they can gather here, despite John Keys assurances to the contrary.

Remember, that information, about New Zealand citizens can effectively be shared with member nations in the Echelon network, so what is picked up here by the GCSB, can, and almost definitely will, be shared with other member intelligence agencies.

So the upshot of that is, for arguments sake, the UK GCHQ could gather data on citizens here. What is interesting is that Israel has somehow gotten itself into the mixture. If you happen to be someone like Ahmed Zhoui (formally of Algeria, now a kebab vendor in Palmeston North), and the Israeli government, or worse yet, Mossad take a take a disliking to you, you may have a bit of a problem.

Forget New Zealand acting as a sovereign state, that doesn’t even come into the equation. And if a secret service in a third party state decides to take a hit on you, you have no comeback (read: political assassination). Something along those lines happened in Norway, involving Mossad a while back. I might hasten to add they got the wrong person. Oh, and the US uses this type of intelligence in their “war” using drones …


Snowden nominated for Sakharov Prize

Looks like Snowden might be up for a “freedom of thought” prize. Somewhat ironic, considering that currently he is residing in Russia, not a place exactly known for freedom of expression. He, at least in my opinion, does deserve this prize. He pretty much has blown wide open, just how evil the governments in the “free” world have become, in attempting to build the most invasive surveillance network the world has ever seen.


Don’t loose the plot

Interesting article in wired, briefly talking about the math behind encryption. If it is to be believed, our best defence is to keep increasing key sizes with the encryption methods we are using (AES and DES for symmetric encryption, RSA and the likes for public/private key encryption). I just hope he is right, because IF the NSA have discovered a fast and efficient way of factoring large numbers, kiss goodbye to RSA. At the rate quantum computers are progressing, I would be almost be willing to bet money the NSA are using them. Then all bets are off.


Google ramp up encryption effort

Interesting that Google have waited until half the IT mammoths were outed by Snowden as being compliant with the NSA, to further try to encrypt their content. By their own admission, this will not stop a determined NSA, but in theory slow them down, as universal decryption attempts will be costly, both in terms of money and time. The argument goes along the lines that if universal monitoring becomes expensive, the NSA and related oranisations will be forced to focus their efforts on certain individuals, rather than taking a sweeping approach. Why they have waited so long (and lets face it, they must have known what was going on 6 years ago), mystifies me, but at least it is a start. To be blatantly honest though, this is a small effort, and will probably not have that big an influence. The only way to get real results is to get the public at large to use strong encryption as a matter of course, something that I cannot see happening, pretty much relegated to the “too hard basket”


Talk and we jail you

So the CEO of Yahoo has come out and said the NSA informed them that is they spoke publically of what the NSA requested of them, they would go straight to jail. In her words, “If you talk, it is treason”. So, that begs the question, with the GCSB with its new found powers, and the TACS bill around the corner, can the New Zealand public expect the same treatment? This is of huge concern to me, because the surveillance community will be able to act with almost impunity, not really subject to any external controls, and able to muzzle anyone that questions their actions. In simple terms, who watches the watchers?


TOR venerable to NSA crypto attack

It looks as though that the keys that TOR uses (used for anonymous browsing) are fair game for the NSA. No one actually knows just how powerful the NSA’s decryption is, but it is almost a definite that SSL is toast. It would also be apparent that the RSA keys that TOR uses are also probably able to be decrypted, especially older versions of TOR. As it stands, the exit nodes were always venerable anyway, as traffic leaves to exit nodes in the clear. The only real advantage to using TOR was being able to hide your location. Interesting that IBM are fabricating custom chips for the NSA for the task of decrypting …