The hackers at the National Security Agency have repeatedly shown themselves to be some of the most talented in the world and have hacked into the private data centers of both Google and Microsoft. Why, then, hasn’t the FBI turned to the NSA for help in unlocking the iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook? The Intercept has written an interesting article asking that very question and it concludes that the NSA likely does have the technical means to break into an iPhone that was released all the way back in 2013. More →
The United States and the European Union are about to reach a new privacy agreement intended to replace the old Safe Harbor agreement that came under intense scrutiny after the Snowden leaks revealed the scope of NSA’s data collection operations.
The new Privacy Shield was published in full a few days ago, showing the principles that would govern the exchange of digital information between EU consumers and U.S. companies. However, the new agreement also has provisions that explain how and when the NSA can continue bulk data collection in the region. More →
There’s no question that Apple’s ongoing legal dispute with the FBI has brought a myriad of complex legal, security, and policy issues to the forefront. But if we put those serious issues aside for just a moment, one of the more interesting aspects of the case, I think, is that the FBI even needed Apple’s help in the first place.
Especially given how pervasive and advanced the NSA’s surveillance and hacking techniques were even just a few years ago, many people, including myself, were of the opinion that government agencies, from the FBI to the CIA, likely had the technical expertise to effectively hack into any device and monitor anyone, anywhere.
In case you haven’t been following the news, the encryption wars are back and a huge Apple vs. FBI clash is the latest major conflict. The FBI wants access to the iPhone that belonged to one of the shooters in the San Bernardino massacre, and Apple is refusing to offer it.
But long before this week’s big battle, there was a debate over the role that encryption played in the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last November. The NSA now says that the Paris attacks “would not have happened,” without encryption.
So does that mean the NSA can listen to everything except encrypted chats and communications?
The level, reach, and breadth of NSA surveillance activities, which were originally brought to the surface by Edward Snowden, undoubtedly opened the eyes of many. As a result, the public over the past three years has learned an awful lot about the NSA’s capabilities and some of the more clever approaches they incorporate when conducting surveillance.
Discussions about the U.S. government’s need for breaking encryption have intensified following the mid-November attacks in Paris. Law enforcement agencies including the FBI and politicians have challenged tech leaders from Silicon Valley to find ways to include backdoors in encrypted products. That way, surveillance operations targeting potential terror suspects might have a better chance of successfully intercepting relevant communication.
Tech leaders, meanwhile, have stood firm against crippling encryption with backdoors, with Apple and Tim Cook at the forefront of this argument. That doesn’t mean tech companies unwilling to help intelligence agencies address terrorist threats – but they’ll just do it differently for the time being.
Given the various recent terrorist attacks, it’s no wonder that hackers, cybersecurity, encryption and surveillance are all major topics of this year’s presidential campaign. Encryption was on the table during the sixth Republican debate on Thursday night, with Jeb Bush proposing a solution for guarding the American people that seems to be taken out of a George Orwell novel. More →
No one will ever accuse the National Security Agency of being champions of privacy. But General Michael Hayden, a former Director of the NSA, does see some value in preserving secure end-to-end encryption on the web without giving government agencies their own “backdoors” they can use to break it in the name of intelligence gathering. Per CNN, Hayden told a cybersecurity conference in Florida this week that breaking encryption would not make Americans safer even if encrypted communications do pose new challenges for intelligence and law enforcement agencies. More →
Though Edward Snowden’s first revelations regarding NSA surveillance surfaced more than two years ago, government surveillance remains a hot-button and controversial topic because we’re still learning about the full extent of spy agencies’ tracking and eavesdropping capabilities.
The latest news surrounding NSA, and in a broader sense – governmental surveillance, comes from a fascinating new report from The Intercept which details and catalogs an extensive list of devices the military and U.S. government agencies use to listen in on cell phone conversations, jam a phone, and even track individual user locations. Some devices, a few of which are small enough to be carried in a backpack or even on someone’s person, can track a target’s location even when they’re not making a call.
The catalog itself, which was provided to The Intercept by a source within the intelligence community, lists out dozens of devices used to keep tabs on targets. While some devices are purportedly for military-only use, others are reportedly already being used by local police forces across various parts of the country.
Are you looking for ways to protect your privacy while browsing the web? Are you trying to learn how to use Tor, the browser that anonymizes your Internet traffic? Are you interested in ditching Windows for something that’s more privacy-friendly? The good news is that there are ways to do that. The bad news is that this sort of online behavior apparently triggers NSA spying, especially if you’re a foreigner. More →
The NSA and other Western spy agencies came under intense scrutiny following the massive Snowden leaks that revealed their tremendous powers when it comes to collecting increasing amounts of personal data. And while the U.S. government had to take steps to try to limit the NSA’s reach following these revelations, it turns out that the intelligence agency can bypass existing laws and still collect plenty of data – such as email – even though it’s not supposed to be legal
The horrendous November 13th attacks on Paris are exactly what intelligence agencies have told us all along: Something bad will happen because they can’t conduct massive surveillance operations in light of the Snowden revelations, and because more products and online services offer end-to-end encryption that can’t be tapped into.
The NSA and all its international partners might be right about encryption, but at the same time, they’re doing a poor job of selling it to the public. It’s all a huge PR mess. More →
Some Edward Snowden leaks have revealed that the NSA and other intelligence agencies can break encryption barriers for mass surveillance purposes. It has been theorized that a flaw in encryption used by many Internet services lets the spy agency decrypt HTTPS, SSH, and VPN traffic, and a new paper seems to prove that.
Indeed, a massive effort comparable to the attempts of breaking the German Enigma coding machine during the World War II seems to have given the NSA the tools required to break trillions of secure connections. More →