Tag Archives | Security

How to Protect Ourselves on Social Networks and from Data Collection Systems of Governments and Corporations

via chycho

I. What’s Going On

Online, we are both a product for corporations and a person of interest to governments (2, 3).

Corporations are taking advantage of these times by changing their privacy policies so that they can track us, use us, and sell us whatever their algorithms decide that we need or want based on data they have acquired about our movements, contacts, desires, fantasies, or kinks. Governments on the other hand are using our data to make sure that we will never acquire enough power to change any policies that we deem to be a threat to our happiness, livelihood, or survival. In essence, we are at war with these organizations and we should act as such:

“…this is truly unprecedented in history. And what we’re seeing is secrecy and surveillance are completely subverting security and liberty, not just in the United States, but for many, many citizens around the world.”

This corporate misconduct and government surveillance is threatening the internet (2, 3), the original purpose of which was to create an “open architecture networking” system where “a globally interconnected set of computers” would allow “everyone” to “quickly access data and programs from any site”.

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The Police And Fingerprint-Based Security

fingerprintThe Chaos Computer Club on why authorities are in love with biometrically unlockable devices:

“It is plain stupid to use something that you can’t change and that you leave everywhere every day as a security token”, said Frank Rieger, spokesperson of the CCC. “The public should no longer be fooled by the biometrics industry with false security claims. Biometrics is fundamentally a technology designed for oppression and control, not for securing everyday device access.” Fingerprint biometrics in passports has been introduced in many countries despite the fact that no security gain can be shown.

iPhone users should avoid protecting sensitive data with their precious biometric fingerprint not only because it can be easily faked, as demonstrated by the CCC team. You can easily be forced to unlock your phone against your will when being arrested. Forcing you to give up your passcode is much harder under most jurisdictions than just casually swiping your phone over your handcuffed hands.

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Bruce Schneier On The Solution To Surveillance

PRISMVia the MIT Technology Review, the security expert on staying free from the NSA:

My five tips suck. They are not things the average person can use. One of them is to use PGP [a data-encryption program]. But my mother can’t use PGP. Maybe some people who read your publication will use my tips, but most people won’t.

Basically, the average user is screwed. You can’t say “Don’t use Google”—that’s a useless piece of advice. Or “Don’t use Facebook,” because then you don’t talk to your friends, you don’t get invited to parties, you don’t get laid. It’s like libertarians saying “Don’t use credit cards”; it just doesn’t work in the real world.

The Internet has become essential to our lives, and it has been subverted into a gigantic surveillance platform. The solutions have to be political. The best advice for the average person is to agitate for political change.

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NYPD Hits The Streets Telling People They Need To Download iOS 7

In what smacks of surreal law-enforcement-corporate synergy, a number of media outlets and many on Twitter have reported being stopped on the streets of New York by cops urging them to update their Apple smartphones’ operating systems. Via Digital Trends:

Cops in the city have been distributing fliers outside subway stations and Apple stores urging owners of the iPhone and iPad to upgrade to the recently released iOS 7 operating system, which comes with a new security feature called Activation Lock designed to make life a little more difficult for thieves.

The release of iOS 7 coincides with the launch of two new phones from Apple – the 5S and 5C.

One of the fliers begins “Attention Apple Users!!!!!” – yes, the message was deemed serious enough to warrant five exclamation marks – “As of Wednesday the new iOS 7 feature brings added security to your Apple devices.”


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Glenn Greenwald’s Boyfriend Detained And Interrogated For 9 Hours Under Terrorism Act

Glenn Greenwald and his partner David Miranda

Via the Guardian, Greenwald writes that the UK authorities targeted his partner as punishment for Greenwald’s journalism:

At 6:30 am this morning my time, I received a telephone call from someone who identified himself as a “security official at Heathrow airport.” He told me that my partner, David Miranda, had been “detained” at the London airport “under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000.”

David had spent the last week in Berlin. A Brazilian citizen, he was returning to our home in Rio de Janeiro this morning on British Airways, flying first to London and then on to Rio.

According to a document published by the UK government about Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, “fewer than 3 people in every 10,000 are examined as they pass through UK borders”. Moreover, “most examinations, over 97%, last under an hour.” An appendix to that document states that only .06% of all people detained are kept for more than 6 hours.

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NSA To Fire 90% Of Its System Administrators To Prevent Future Snowdens

system administrators

Human beings deemed a security risk. Business Insider reports:

The National Security Agency, hit by disclosures of classified data by former contractor Edward Snowden, said Thursday it intends to eliminate about 90 percent of its system administrators to reduce the number of people with access to secret information.

Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, the U.S. spy agency charged with monitoring foreign electronic communications, told a cybersecurity conference in New York City that automating much of the work would improve security.

Before the change, “what we’ve done is we’ve put people in the loop of transferring data, securing networks and doing things that machines are probably better at doing,” Alexander said.

Using technology to automate much of the work now done by employees and contractors would make the NSA’s networks “more defensible and more secure,” he said.

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USB Thumb Drives Are Greatest Security Threat

USB flash drivesYou’d think that IT professionals would know better, but no, if they find a thumb drive lying in a parking lot, they’ll plug it into their network reports Paul Hyman for CIO Insight:

Savvy CIOs have policies in place to protect their networks against infected USB flash drives. That’s because most IT professionals know the amount of damage that can be caused by plugging in such a device.

For instance, Stuxnet, one of the world’s most sophisticated cyberweapons, is said to have gained access to its target system through a USB drive that someone found.

Yet having policies—and making sure they are followed—can be two very different things.

In a recent study of 300 IT professionals—many of whom are security experts—conducted at the RSA Conference 2013, 78% admitted to having plugged in a USB flash drive that they’d found lying around. To make matters worse, much of the data discovered on those drives included viruses, rootkits and bot executables.

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Russia’s Kremlin Security Agency Buys Typewriters In Response To NSA News

typewritersTime for a return to analog? Via the BBC:

Russia’s agency responsible for the Kremlin security is buying typewriters – a move reportedly prompted by recent leaks by WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden. A 486,540-rouble order for electric typewriters has been placed by the FSO agency on the state procurement website.

The FSO has not commented on why it needs the old-fashioned devices. But an agency source told Russia’s Izvestiya newspaper the aim was to prevent leaks from computer hardware.

“After scandals with the distribution of secret documents by WikiLeaks, the exposes by Edward Snowden, reports about Dmitry Medvedev being bugged during his visit to the G20 London summit (in 2009), it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper documents,” the source said.

The source added that typewriters were already being used at Russia’s defence and emergencies ministries for drafts and secret notes, and some reports had been prepared for President Vladimir Putin by typewriter.

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Vice’s NSA Spam Generator

Wishing the government would pay you some extra attention? Vice’s Motherboard has a handy device for generating tweets, messages, and status updates packed to the brim with NSA-alert-raising keywords, overwhelming surveillance with false positives. They’ve dubbed this terrorism spam generator Hello, NSA:

The government is listening to your internets. Generate a sentence with some of the keywords they’re looking for. Tweet or share and you could earn a new follower in Washington.

NSA spam generator


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Here’s Your Chance To Apply For NSA Whistle-Blower Edward Snowden’s Old Job

Want to be a cog in the military-industrial surveillance apparatus? Via Buzzfeed, defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton is apparently taking resumes to replace certain individuals who didn’t perform as desired:

Edward Snowden, the man who leaked top secret information about government surveillance, is currently in hiding in Hong Kong after revealing himself. His old employer has a listing posted for a job similar to the one Snowden held.

Defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden’s former employer, has a job opening for an information security engineer in Honolulu, Hawaii. A Booz Allen spokesman would not confirm that the job posting was to fill Snowden’s job. The job requirements include “top secret clearance.”

booz allen hamilton

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