Tag Archives | Security

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.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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

 

Read the rest

Continue Reading

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

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Motorola Aiming To Replace Smartphone Passwords With Electronic Tattoos

biostampsIf you’re concerned about the mark of the beast, this has to be worrying. Via the Telegraph:

Initially designed for medical purposes, Motorola hopes the ‘Biostamps’ could now be used for consumer authentication purposes.

The technology, which aims to remove the need to enter passwords and replace them simply with a phone being close to a user’s body, was one of the suggestions by Dennis Woodside, Motorola’s chief executive, at California’s D11 conference yesterday.

Nokia has previously experimented with integrating tattoos into mobile phones, and Motorola’s senior vice president of advance research, Regina Dugan, a former head of the US Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, demonstrated the silicon-based technology that uses bendable electronic circuits.

The tattoos have been developed by Massachusetts-based engineering firm MC10, and contain flexible electronic circuits that are attached to the wearer’s skin using a rubber stamp.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

875,000 People Are On America’s Terrorist Suspect List

terrorist suspect list

They’re all around us — the number of people being tracked as suspected terrorists will soon cross the one million mark, Reuters reports:

The number of names on a highly classified U.S. central database used to track suspected terrorists has jumped to 875,000 from 540,000 only five years ago, a U.S. official said. Among those was Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whose name was added in 2011.

Maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center, the highly classified database is not a “watchlist,” but a repository of information on people whom U.S. authorities see as known, suspected or potential terrorists from around the world.

The “Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment” is a master database which agencies use to build other catalogs of possible terrorists, like the “no-fly” list which prevents people on it from boarding airplanes.

Karen Greenberg, an expert in counter-terrorism policy at Fordham University, questioned whether the growth in the database’s size made it easier for officials to spot threats before they materialize.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

A Guide To Protecting Your Privacy Online With Browser Extensions

browser extensionsLifehacker has a rundown of recommendations for simple browser add-ons (such as Disconnect, Do Not Track Me, and the adorably-mascotted Ghostery) for keeping your online browsing and communications safe from tracking:

Anti-tracking and anti-cookie extensions have exploded recently. Disconnect (Firefox/Chrome/IE/Safari) is our pick because it continues to add useful features and improve its database, and its secure Wi-Fi and bandwidth optimization features aren’t available in other tools. It blocks third party tracking cookies and gives you control over all site scripts and elements from a simple-to-use toolbar menu. It also protects you from tracking by social networks like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, which use your browsing even off-site to collect data about you.

HTTPS Everywhere (Firefox/Chrome) is a must-have regardless of what other security tools you opt to use. Once installed, the extension will shunt your connection to SSL whenever possible, and will try to find secure versions of the sites you visit.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Researchers Successfully Use Subjects’ Brain Waves As Personal Identifiers

brain wavesIn coming years, allowing a machine to momentarily observe your mental activity may be the key to open your email account or front door. Via Dark Reading:

It sounds like something straight out of science fiction: brainwaves taking the place of passwords in the name of authentication. A new study by researchers from the U.C. Berkeley School of Information examined the brainwave signals of individuals performing specific actions to see whether they can be consistently matched to the right individual.

Participants were asked to imagine performing a repetitive motion from a sport of their choice, singing a song, watching a series of on-screen images and silently counting the objects, or choose their own thought and focus on it for 10 seconds.

To measure the subjects’ brainwaves, the team used the NeuroSky Mindset, a Bluetooth headset that records Electroencephalographic (EEG) activity. In the end, the team was able to match the brainwave signals with 99 percent accuracy.

Read the rest
Continue Reading