newyorker.com: NSA must now log-in to Facebook

newyorker.com: NSA must now log-in to Facebook

Satire from The Borowtiz Report

The National Security Agency is compensating for the expiration of its power to collect the American people’s personal information by logging on to Facebook, the agency confirmed on Monday.

The director of the N.S.A., Admiral Michael S. Rogers, said that when parts of the Patriot Act expired at midnight on Sunday, intelligence analysts immediately stopped collecting mountains of phone metadata and started reading billions of Facebook updates instead.

“From a surveillance point of view, the transition has been seamless,” Rogers said.

While the N.S.A. has monitored Facebook in the past, it is now spending twenty-four hours a day sifting through billions of baby pictures, pet videos, and photographs of recently enjoyed food to detect possible threats to the United States.

“Those status updates contain everything we want to know,” Rogers said. “In many cases, a good deal more than we want to know.”

Citing one possible downside of the new surveillance regime, Rogers said that some N.S.A. analysts who now do nothing but monitor Facebook all day report feelings of worthlessness and despair. “I remind them that they’re doing this for America,” he said.

The N.S.A.’s new strategy drew a sharp rebuke from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who told reporters, “I just blocked them.”

newyorker.com: Laura Poitras

newyorker.com: Laura Poitras

She comes from a wealthy, conservative family outside Boston. Her educational background is in art and social theory—she has a degree from the New School, in New York, where she was influenced by the cinéma-vérité documentaries of the Maysles brothers, D. A. Pennebaker, and Frederick Wiseman. She had already made one full-length documentary, “Flag Wars,” about the conflict between gay and black residents of a gentrifying neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio. It won several awards and taught her that there was nothing she’d “rather do than be behind the camera with people, in real time, confronting life decisions.

She moved to Berlin in the fall of 2012, after years of being repeatedly stopped at airports by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. (She thought it might have something to do with a film about Iraq that she released in 2006.) Prenzlauer Berg, where Poitras has her studio, is Berlin’s Williamsburg; the coffee shops are upscale and have play areas inside. The neighborhood has become the center of the German capital’s small community of surveillance expats.

In 2006, federal agents began stopping Poitras at airports as she was leaving or entering the U.S., asking questions about her travels and her work; on one occasion, they confiscated her electronic equipment. She began taking notes during the interrogations, and argued when she was told to stop. Altogether, she says, she was detained at least forty times between 2006 and 2012, without ever being told why. It might have had to do with a 2004 incident in Baghdad: American soldiers saw her filming from Dr. Riyadh’s roof during a firefight in the neighborhood, and, according to an article by Peter Maass in the Times Magazine, an officer wrote a report suggesting that she might have had foreknowledge of the attack. (She denied having any, and no evidence suggests otherwise.)

Poitras didn’t like to speculate about the reasons. Her feeling was: “I’ve done nothing to deserve being put on a watch list.” She also didn’t want to exaggerate the danger. “Let’s just be honest,” she told me. “If I had darker skin, or was carrying a different passport, the cast of guilt, the shadow, would go a lot longer.” Nevertheless, she felt that she had been sucked into an unaccountable system: once her name was flagged, her life changed, and she could never get an explanation for it. The experience led her to adopt extreme measures with computer and phone security and, eventually, to move to Berlin. She no longer believed that she could keep privileged material safe when travelling to and from the U.S. The airport interrogations ended only after Greenwald wrote a column for Salon about them, in 2012.

Snowden urged her to find a collaborator for publishing the documents, which were complex and voluminous, and she agreed to do so. She didn’t care about sharing, or even losing, a scoop—the documents were a print story. She was interested in Snowden. She wanted to know what drove him to risk everything. “Unlike my previous films, this was somebody I had built a dialogue with, and wanted to meet,” she told me. “Because I cared.” In May, 2013, Poitras flew to New York and awaited word from Snowden, who told her to meet him in Hong Kong.

Snowden asked her to involve Greenwald, who at the time was a columnist for the Guardian. In fact, he had approached Greenwald before Poitras, but Greenwald hadn’t made the effort to install encryption software for e-mails, and Snowden had moved on. Greenwald was contacted again, and in late May he flew from Rio to New York. Now Poitras had a partner. “Glenn, to his credit, as soon as he was in the loop, he was on the plane,” Poitras said.

theguardian.com: Edward Snowden says Australia’s new data retention laws are ‘dangerous’

theguardian.com: Edward Snowden says Australia’s new data retention laws are ‘dangerous’

Snowden said mass surveillance had not stopped the Sydney siege, the Boston marathon bombings or the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in France.

“These were people who have a long record and the reason these attacks happened isn’t because we didn’t have enough surveillance, it’s that we had too much,” he said. “We didn’t prioritise because we’d wasted too many resources watching people who didn’t present a threat.”

Snowden said governments needed to cooperate to avoid a world “where we choose between surveillance and security”.

He also criticised Australia’s attorney general, George Brandis, claiming he “doesn’t even know what metadata is”, and said people who say they don’t worry about their privacy because they have nothing to hide “is like saying I don’t care about free speech because I have nothing to say”.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression: Snowden Digital Surveillance Archive

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression: Snowden Digital Surveillance Archive

This archive is a collection of all documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that have subsequently been published by news media.

Our aim in creating this archive is to provide a tool that would facilitate citizen, researcher and journalist access to these important documents. Indexes, document descriptions, links to original documents and to related news stories, a glossary and comprehensive search features are all designed to enable a better understanding of state surveillance programs within the wider context of surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) along with its partners in the Five Eyes countries – U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Our hope is that this resource will contribute to greater awareness of the broad scope, intimate reach and profound implications of the global surveillance infrastructures and practices that Edward Snowden’s historic document leak reveals.

The Snowden Archive is the result of a research collaboration between Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Politics of Surveillance Project at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Partners and supporters of this initiative include the Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen’s University; the Digital Curation Institute, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto; and the Centre for Free Expression, Faculty of Communications and Design, Ryerson University.

wired.com: How the NSA’s Firmware Hacking Works and Why It’s So Unsettling

wired.com: How the NSA’s Firmware Hacking Works and Why It’s So Unsettling

One of the most shocking parts of the recently discovered spying network Equation Group is its mysterious module designed to reprogram or reflash a computer hard drive’s firmware with malicious code. The Kaspersky researchers who uncovered this said its ability to subvert hard drive firmware—the guts of any computer—“surpasses anything else” they had ever seen.

Kaspersky has so far uncovered 500 victims of the Equation Group, but only five of these had the firmware-flashing module on their systems.

Hard drive disks have a controller, essentially a mini-computer, that includes a memory chip or flash ROM where the firmware code for operating the hard drive resides.

When a machine is infected with EquationDrug or GrayFish, the firmware flasher module gets deposited onto the system and reaches out to a command server to obtain payload code that it then flashes to the firmware, replacing the existing firmware with a malicious one. The researchers uncovered two versions of the flasher module: one that appears to have been compiled in 2010 and is used with EquatinoDrug and one with a 2013 compilation date that is used with GrayFish.

The Trojanized firmware lets attackers stay on the system even through software updates. If a victim, thinking his or her computer is infected, wipes the computer’s operating system and reinstalls it to eliminate any malicious code, the malicious firmware code remains untouched. It can then reach out to the command server to restore all of the other malicious components that got wiped from the system.

Even if the firmware itself is updated with a new vendor release, the malicious firmware code may still persist because some firmware updates replace only parts of the firmware, meaning the malicious portions may not get overwritten with the update. The only solution for victims is to trash their hard drive and start over with a new one.

edwardsnowden.com: Free Snowden — In Support of Edward Snowden

edwardsnowden.com: Free Snowden — In Support of Edward Snowden

I don’t want to live in a world where everything I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity and love or friendship is recorded.

Edward Snowden is a 31 year old US citizen, former Intelligence Community officer and whistleblower. The documents he revealed provided a vital public window into the NSA and its international intelligence partners’ secret mass surveillance programs and capabilities. These revelations generated unprecedented attention around the world on privacy intrusions and digital security, leading to a global debate on the issue.