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  1. Today, one of the top priority dimensions of raising capabilities of cyberoperations is the creation of special hardware and software appliances and information technologies to carry out intelligence-gathering and offensive operations. It involves active development of so-called information weapons, a category that encompasses the whole range of means of attacking the adversary’s information resources. This type of attack mainly affects computer and telecommunications systems, including software, databases, computing and data processing, and also communications networks. Of particular importance is the establishment of dedicated offensive technologies that can be applied covertly against command and control infrastructure in order to disrupt the orderly functioning of their key components, and to seize control over them. Intellligence-gather cyber tools are intended to collect information about adversary, including structure, functioning, and vulnerabilities of its command systems. To achieve that, automated workstations will have malware inserted in order to establish a distributed, remotely controlled, intelligence gathering network. It may include thousands of computers in government and military facilities in various countries. The definition of malware includes external or internal programming code possessing various destructive functions, such as: destroying or changing software, destroying or corrupting data after a certain condition is met (“logic bombs”); exceeding the user’s authority in order to copy confidential information or to make such copying possible (“trojan horses”); corrupting protection systems or making it possible to bypass them; intercepting user login credentials through phishing or keystroke logging; intercepting data flowing within a distributed systems (monitors, sniffers); concealing one’s presence; self-replication, associating with other software and/or embedding own fragments into other operating or external memory not originally targeted by the malware; destroying or corrupting software code in operating memory; corruption, blocking, or supplanting data created by applications and entered into data links or external memory. Overall, there are three main types of destructive functions that may be performed by malware: Preserving or collection of fragments of data created by user, applications, uploading and downloading data, in external memory (local or remote) in the net or a stand-alone computer, including passwords, keys, and other access credentials, confidential documents in electronic form, or simply general corruption of fragments of sensitive data; Changing application algorithms (deliberate action against external or operating memory), in order to change the basic logic of their functioning; imposing a specific work regime or changing data being recorded by data produced by malware. Overall, the use of malware assumes the existence of an internal distribution mechanism to spread it to global or local networks, including the internet, to carry out specific tasks. These may include: penetrating remote computers to completely or partially seize control; launching own copies of malware on the infected computer; possible further penetration of all available networks. Such malware is mainly distributed as files attached to emails and electronic messages, and also through specially placed hyperlinks. This type of attack is distinguished by its scale and high speed of infection. Internet sites engaged in spreading malware increase by a factor of two every year. These sites attract attention of internet users by posting current informational content: news, analysis, overview of information technologies, and also commercial and entertainment articles. More than 20% of sites are specifically intended for malware distribution. Other means of using malware include: distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks by generating intense traffic from false requests, which makes it impossible for actual users to gain access to the network or servers; dissemination of malware through USB memory devices, the most efficient means of doing so; embedding and activating code inserts. At the same time, many NATO countries have established military units for cyber-operations, and also pursue the development of scientific and technical infrastructure to develop special information technologies for offensive use, including self-multiplying and self-distributing malware, and developing doctrines for their use. Moreover, there is the so-called file-less (packet) malware distributed as net packets and penetrating computers through OS vulnerabilities or security holes in applications. In order to embed malware remotely, one can use social engineering or weaknesses in organizational network administration, such as unprotected local disks. The most widespread means of embedding malware is the Internet. Offensive malware targets both individual computers and networks. It accomplishes penetration using known and newly discovered weaknesses of both software and hardware developed by the potential adversary, but also in devices and programs developed by the world’s leading IT firms, most of which are based in the US. Other means of embedding malware are: agents, remote technical means including peripheral appliances of the system being attacked, combined attacks, etc. Malware developers focus on the ability to maintain stealthy presence amidst the target’s software and remain there even after an upgrade or software renewal. Main means of covert embedding of malware include: Pretending to be ordinary software. This approach assumes embedding malware using the process of installing a new application. It may be embedded in graphic or text editors, system utilities, screensaver, etc. Its existence is not concealed after installation; Pretending to be a module for expanding the computing environment. It’s a frequent variation on the previous one, and uses access to the ability to expand environments. For example, for Microsoft Windows OS such modules may include DLL modules and drivers, potentially containing malware; Malware replacing one of several application modules of the attacked environment. This method consists of choosing one or several modules for replacement with malware-infected modules in order to carry out the intended tasks. Such malware should externally be able to carry out the normal functions of the software thus targeted; Direct association. This method consists of associating malware with executable files of one or several legal programs in the system. This is the simplest method for single-task, single-user systems; Indirect association. It consists of associating malware with the code of a software module loaded into operating memory. In this instance the executable file remains unchanged, which makes malware detection harder. It’s also necessary to ensure the installable part of the virus already is present in the system. The most potentially useful means of embedding malware, not including through global networks, in order to gain covert access to enemy networks are: IRATEMONK allows embedding of malware in order to conduct surveillance on desktop and portable computers through recording onto the hard-drive BIOS, giving it the ability to implement its code by replacing the MBR. It works on various types of hard drives, including Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, and Samsung. It supports FAT, NTFS, EXT3, and UFS file systems, but systems with RAID are not. After embedding, IRATEMONK launches its payload every time the target computer is turned on. SWAP allows embedding malware for espionage by using motherboard BIOS and HPA domain of the hard drive by running the OC launch code. This program allows remote access to various operating systems (Windows, FreeBSD, Linux, Solans) with various file systems (FAT32, NTFS, EXT2, EXT3, UFS 1.0). Two utilities are used for installation: ARKSTREAM (it spoofs the BIOS) and TWISTEDKILT (it writes SWAP protocol and the malware payload to the HPA area of hard drive, and is used mainly against cell phones). COTTONMOUTH is a USB device insert providing a wireless bridge to the target network and also for loading exploits to the target system. It may open a covert channel to send commands and data. Built-in radio transmitter allows it to collaborate with other COTTONMOUTH. It’s based on TRINITY component base, with HOWLERMONKEY used as the transmitter. There’s also a version called MOCCASIN, which is inserted into a USB keyboard’s commutation matrix. FIREWALK is an insert used to passively collect Gigabit Ethernet traffic, and to embed malware into Ethernet packets. It can create a VPN tunnel between the targeted network and the center. It’s possible to establish wireless communications with other HOWLERMONKEY-compatible devices. This insert is similar in execution to COTTONMOUTH. It uses TRINITY component base, and HOWLERMONKEY as transmitter. NIGHTSTAND is a mobile system for active attacks on Wi-Fi nets, with the target being Windows machines when direct access is not possible. The system is based on a notebook-type portable computer running Linux and equipped with radio communications. External amplifiers and antennas give it range of up to 13km. DEITYBOUNCE delivers programming access to Dell PowerEdge servers with the help of motherboard BIOS and the use of the SMM regime to obtain the ability to launch itself before the system is launched. After set-up, it will run every time the system is switched on. FEEDTROUGH is equipment for installing two types of malware, BANANAGLEE and ZESTYLEAK, used to overcome network firewalls. This method is used when the firewall is launch. Malware’s installation is performed if operating system is present in the database, otherwise it is installed normally. FEEDTROUGH remains in place when the firewall operating system is updated. CTX4000 is a portable continuous emitter. It is used to obtain data from inserts installed on targeted systems. NIGHTWATCH is a PC-based system, used to process signals from the targeted monitor. Signals may be obtained using data collection systems (inserts in fiberoptic cables) or from a general purpose receiver. HOWLERMONKEY is a short- and medium-range radio transmitter. It is a special radio module for other inserts. It is used to collect data from inserts and enabling remote access to it. Moreover, there are other methods of embedding malware, through transceivers installed in USB cables or devices, through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GSM devices and cables attached to the targeted computer. One of the promising methods of remote malware placement is the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). USAF specialists have developed the WASP (Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform) UAV on the basis of the FMQ-117B aerial target. It’s main mission are reconnaissance cyberoperations. Thanks to its onboard equipment, it may break into detected Wi-Fi networks, intercept cell phone conversations. WASP equipment includes HD-resolution camera, 11 antennas for various radio communications, GPS receiver, and onboard computer running Linux. Its memory contains a malware arsenal to break into wireless networks and a dictionary with 340 thousand words for “brute force” attacks. Obtained data and intercepted conversations are recorded in the onboard computer memory (solid-state hard drive with 500 GB memory) and may also be sent using internet channels to a special server using 3G and 4G networks, or the compromised Wi-Fi hot-spots. The UAV’s GPS allows it to operate autonomously along an assigned route, but it needs operator’s involvement for take-off and landing. Each system costs about $6 thousand, not including the cost of the UAV. Similar efforts are underway by US Army Cyber Command in order to interfere with automated command points at tactical and operational levels. The Sun Eagle tactical reconnaissance UAV is being used to test equipment for remote malware insertion into Wi-Fi and LTE wireless networks. Overall, United States and NATO are developing various methods and means for remote malware insertion. They include various physical data processing and transmission, and also different environments for proliferation. Countering such types of cyber weapons is a difficult and complex task, demanding considerable research efforts and financial expenditures.
  2. Simjacker theoretically affects most phones. In a few cases,your SIM card may pose more of a security risk than your phone's software. AdaptiveMobile Security researchers say they've discovered a new vulnerability, nicknamed Simjacker, that's being used to surveil people's devices by an unnamed surveillance company. The technique sends SMS messages containing instructions for an old [email protected] Browser app supported on some carriers' SIM cards. Where [email protected] was originally intended to launch browsers, play sounds or otherwise trigger common actions on phones, Simjacker uses it to obtain location info and IMEI numbers that are later sent to an "accomplice device" (again using SMS) that records the data. Crucially, the approach is silent. While it does use SMS, you won't get notifications. An intruder can obtain frequent updates without giving away their activity. The exploit is also device-agnostic, and has been used against iPhones, numerous brands of Android phones and some SIM-equipped Internet of Things devices. And it's not just a theoretical exercise. The surveillance company has reportedly been using Simjacker in 30-plus countries (mainly in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and eastern Europe) for a minimum of two years. While most targets were 'only' checked a few times per day over long stretches of time, a handful of people were targeted hundreds of times over the space of a week -- 250 in the case of the most prominent target. It's not believed to be a mass surveillance campaign, but AdaptiveMobile also hasn't said whether this was being used for tracking criminals or more nefarious purposes, like spying on political dissidents. The company is mounting a "highly sophisticated" operation, AdaptiveMobile said. It should be possible for networks to thwart these attacks. Simjacker is sending code rather than everyday text, so it should be feasible to block the code. It may be difficult to coordinate that response, though, when the affected countries have a total population of a billion. And while you're not likely to be targeted by this particular organization, there's nothing precluding a similarly capable attacker from launching a wider campaign. It may be a long while before you can assume your SIM isn't a potential weakness. Source
  3. The U.S. military is using balloons to monitor activity across six states in the Midwest. The 25 solar-powered balloons are reportedly being used to monitor portions of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. The military filed a Special Temporary Authorization for the balloons with the FCC this week, according to the Guardian. The purpose of the balloons according to that filing is to “conduct high altitude MESH networking tests over South Dakota to provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats.” The filing was made “Sierra Nevada Corporation” which is an aerospace and defense company. The balloons are being launched from South Dakota, according to the Guardian. The balloons are capable of tracking multiple individuals or vehicles during the day or night. They’re also already recording, so should an event happen in an area being surveilled by the balloons, they’ll be able to essentially rewind the tape and see what occurred as well as where any potential suspects might have traveled. Tests with the balloons reportedly began in July and will continue through September. Presumably, if they’re successful they might continue after that September stop date or be deployed elsewhere. The balloons travel at height of up to 65,000 feet and can adjust their location if need be to get a better view of a particular person or area or to deal with weather conditions. The fact that we’re all being watched shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, although the fact that the surveillance is coming from giant un-manned solar-powered balloons is certainly a bit different. The U.S. government also isn’t the biggest offender when it comes to invading privacy. For instance, last year we wrote about new video surveillance systems in India that are using AI to detect crimes in process as well as predict a crime before it happens. The notion of predicting crime before it happens is particularly troublesome in that it is identifying individuals and in a way accusing them of criminal behavior even though at the time they haven’t done anything. We’ve reached out to the military for a comment on why this tech is being used specifically in the Midwest and will update this story if and when we hear back. Source
  4. It’s probably a bad idea to buy used connected devices because it can be difficult to determine who could still be connected to that device. A Wirecutter report has revealed that people who sold their Nest cameras could access images from the camera taken after a factory reset was done on the device. Wirecutter found that someone on the Facebook Wink Users Group posted about being able to see the current feed of a Nest camera he had sold. The person had connected the device to his Wink hub of smart-home tech when he owned the device. But even after he did a reset on the device and sold it, the feed was still coming into his account. The Wirecutter staff tested the issue out. They reported that they used a Nest camera that had been synced to a Wink hub. They removed the Nest camera from a Nest account, which counts as a “factory reset” on that device, according to Nest. After that, they could not see the stream. Then they created a new Nest account through a different mobile device, and were able to watch a new stream through the new account, showing the device had a new connection. But when they checked the Wink app, which Wirecutter had connected to the device originally, the staff could also see a stream of still images from the camera that should have been disconnected from that Wink hub through the factory reset. On Wednesday, Google told Business Insider it was investigating the issue. Now Google claims the matter has been resolved. “We were recently made aware of an issue affecting some Nest cameras connected to third-party partner services via Works with Nest,” a Google spokesperson told Gizmodo. “We’ve since rolled out a fix for this issue that will update automatically, so if you own a Nest camera, there’s no need to take any action.” Google did not answer Gizmodo’s question about how many Nest customers could have been affected by this issue. Source
  5. Secure comms biz says it simply follows the law – plus, there's always Tor Updated ProtonMail, a provider of encrypted email, has denied claims that it voluntarily provides real-time surveillance to authorities. Earlier this month, Martin Steiger, a lawyer based in Zurich, Switzerland, attended a presentation in which public prosecutor Stephan Walder, who heads the Cybercrime Competence Center in Zurich, mentioned the company. In a live-tweeted account of the event, subsequently written up on German and recently translated into English, Steiger said he learned that ProtonMail "voluntarily offers assistance for real-time surveillance." But Walder, the source of the revelation, subsequently contacted Steiger to clarify that he had been misquoted and had only described ProtonMail as a potential provider of assistance. Steiger maintains that he accurately reported what he heard and points to ProtonMail's own Transparency Report, which describes enabling IP logging in April in a case of clear criminal misconduct under Swiss law. The key word here is "voluntary." ProtonMail says that it is obligated to assist authorities, like every other company in Switzerland and elsewhere. "All Swiss service providers are obligated by law to assist law enforcement in criminal cases, and the law requires us to enable IP logging in criminal cases," the company said via Twitter. In an email to The Register, a company spokesperson dismissed Steiger's claims. "ProtonMail does not voluntarily offer assistance," the company spokesperson said. "We only do so when ordered by a Swiss court or prosecutor, as we are obligated to follow the law in all criminal cases. Furthermore, end-to-end encryption means we cannot be forced by a court to provide message contents." Steiger's skepticism about ProtonMail security appears to follow from marketing non sequiturs – "ProtonMail is hosted in a former military command center deep inside the Swiss alps" – that fall short of testable technical guarantees. He is argument focuses on the fact that message metadata can be as revealing as message contents, and there's some truth to that. It's extraordinarily difficult to communicate securely and anonymously over the internet, particularly if law enforcement authorities have access to relevant service providers. But that problem is not specific to ProtonMail. The Register asked Steiger to comment but he didn't immediately respond. Updated to add Protonmail, clearly concerned that its privacy-focused customers might be freaking out a little, has explained its position in a blog post. PS: ProtonMail has a Tor-based .onion service if you don't want your real public IP address tracked. Source
  6. Australia is set to give its police and intelligence agencies the power to access encrypted messages on platforms such as WhatsApp, becoming the latest country to face down privacy concerns in the name of public safety. Under the proposed powers, technology companies could be forced to help decrypt communications on popular messaging apps, or even build new functionality to help police access data. Amid protests from companies such as Facebook Inc and Google, the government and main opposition struck a deal on Dec 4 that should see the legislation passed by parliament this week. Under the proposed powers, technology companies could be forced to help decrypt communications on popular messaging apps, or even build new functionality to help police access data. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the legislation is needed to help foil terrorist attacks and organised crime. Critics say it is flawed and could undermine security across the Internet, jeopardising activities from online voting to market trading and data storage. The legislation thrusts Australia to the heart of a global tug of war between tech companies and governments over privacy and security. In 2016, the US Justice Department clashed with Apple Inc when the company refused to unlock an iPhone connected to a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. The UK government, meanwhile, has been deeply critical of WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption after the messaging service was used by a terrorist shortly before he killed five people in London in March 2017. The Australian government’s cybersecurity adviser Alastair MacGibbon said Dec 5 that authorities had been able to intercept telephone communications lawfully for almost 40 years, and needed new powers to keep pace with modern technology. Law enforcers have been “going blind or going deaf” because of encryption, he said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “What this law does is help codify a conversation between police and telecommunication companies, that has to be reasonable, has to be proportionate, and has to be technically feasible,” he said. The Digital Industry Group, an industry association whose members include Facebook and Google, has campaigned against the bill in a loose alliance with Amnesty International and the Human Rights Law Centre. Lobby group Digital Rights Watch said “some extremely dangerous elements” of the legislation had been addressed by the agreement between the government and the opposition Labour party. The legislation, for instance, will be subject to a review by a parliamentary committee for 12 months. And any so-called “technical capability notice” that would force tech companies to create new functionality would require stricter oversight. “But the fundamental fact remains that the powers being sought by law enforcement are ill-informed, badly drafted and a gross overreach,” Digital Rights Watch said in a statement. “This bill is still deeply flawed, and has the likely impact of weakening Australia’s overall cybersecurity, lowering confidence in e-commerce, reducing standards of safety for data storage and reducing civil right protections.” – Bloomberg Source
  7. Analysis Chinese government agents sneaked spy chips into Super Micro servers used by Amazon, Apple, the US government, and about 30 other organizations, giving Beijing's snoops access to highly sensitive data, according to a bombshell Bloomberg report today. The story, which has been a year in the making and covers events it says happened three years ago, had a huge impact on the markets: the company at the center of the story, San Jose-based Super Micro, saw its share price drop by nearly 50 per cent; likewise Apple's share price dropped by just under two per cent, and Amazon's dropped by more than two per cent. But the article has been strongly denied by the three main companies involved: Apple, Amazon, and Super Micro. Each has issued strong and seemingly unambiguous statements denying the existence and discovery of such chips or any investigation by the US intelligence services into the surveillance implants. These statements will have gone through layers of lawyers to make sure they do not open these publicly traded corporations to lawsuits and securities fraud claims down the line. Similarly, Bloomberg employs veteran reporters and layers of editors, who check and refine stories, and has a zero tolerance for inaccuracies. So which is true: did the Chinese government succeed in infiltrating the hardware supply chain and install spy chips in highly sensitive US systems; or did Bloomberg's journalists go too far in their assertions? We'll dig in. The report First up, the key details of the exclusive. According to the report, tiny microchips that were made to look like signal conditioning couplers were added to Super Micro data center server motherboards manufactured by sub-contractors based in China. Those spy chips were not on the original board designs, and were secretly added after factory bosses were pressured or bribed into altering the blueprints, it is claimed. The surveillance chips, we're told, contained enough memory and processing power to effectively backdoor the host systems so that outside agents could, say, meddle with the servers and exfiltrate information. The Bloomberg article is not particularly technical, so a lot of us are having to guesstimate how the hack worked. From what we can tell, the spy chip was designed to look like an innocuous component on the motherboard with a few connector pins – just enough for power and a serial interface, perhaps. One version was sandwiched between the fiberglass layers of the PCB, it is claimed. The spy chip could have been placed electrically between the baseboard management controller (BMC) and its SPI flash or serial EEPROM storage containing the BMC's firmware. Thus, when the BMC fetched and executed its code from this memory, the spy chip would intercept the signals and modify the bitstream to inject malicious code into the BMC processor, allowing its masters to control the BMC. The BMC is a crucial component on a server motherboard. It allows administrators to remotely monitor and repair machines, typically over a network, without having to find the box in a data center, physically pull it out of the rack, fix it, and re-rack it. The BMC and its firmware can be told to power-cycle the server, reinstall or modify the host operating system, mount additional storage containing malicious code and data, access a virtual keyboard and terminal connected to the computer, and so on. If you can reach the BMC and its software, you have total control over the box. With the BMC compromised, it is possible the alleged spies modified the controller's firmware and/or the host operating system and software to allow attackers to connect in or allow data to flow out. We've been covering BMC security issues for a while. Here is Bloomberg's layman explanation for how that snoop-chip worked: the component "manipulated the core operating instructions that tell the server what to do as data move across a motherboard… this happened at a crucial moment, as small bits of the operating system were being stored in the board’s temporary memory en route to the server’s central processor, the CPU. The implant was placed on the board in a way that allowed it to effectively edit this information queue, injecting its own code or altering the order of the instructions the CPU was meant to follow." There are a few things to bear in mind: one is that it should be possible to detect weird network traffic coming from the compromised machine, and another is that modifying BMC firmware on the fly to compromise the host system is non-trivial but also not impossible. Various methods are described, here. "It is technically plausible," said infosec expert and US military veteran Jake Williams in a hastily organized web conference on Thursday morning. "If I wanted to do this, this is how I'd do it." The BMC would be a "great place to put it," said Williams, because the controller has access to the server's main memory, allowing it to inject backdoor code into the host operating system kernel. From there, it could pull down second-stage spyware and execute it, assuming this doesn't set off any firewall rules. A third thing to consider is this: if true, a lot of effort went into this surveillance operation. It's not the sort of thing that would be added to any Super Micro server shipping to any old company – it would be highly targeted to minimize its discovery. If you've bought Super Micro kit, it's very unlikely it has a spy chip in it, we reckon, if the report is correct. Other than Apple and Amazon, the other 30 or so organizations that used allegedly compromised Super Micro boxes included a major bank and government contractors. A fourth thing is this: why go to the bother of smuggling another chip on the board, when a chip already due to be placed in the circuitry could be tampered with during manufacture, using bribes and pressure? Why not switch the SPI flash chip with a backdoored one – one that looks identical to a legit one? Perhaps the disguised signal coupler was the best way to go. And a fifth thing: the chip allegedly fits on a pencil tip. That it can intercept and rewrite data on the fly from SPI flash or a serial EEPROM is not impossible. However, it has to contain enough data to replace the fetched BMC firmware code, that then alters the running operating system or otherwise implements a viable backdoor. Either the chip pictured in Bloomberg's article is incorrect and just an illustration, and the actual device is larger, or there is state-of-the-art custom semiconductor fabrication involved here. One final point: you would expect corporations like Apple and Amazon to have in place systems that detect not only unexpected network traffic, but also unexpected operating system states. It should be possible that alterations to the kernel and the stack of software above it should set off alarms during or after boot. Bloomberg claims the chip was first noticed in 2015 in a third-party security audit of Super Micro servers that was carried out when it was doing due diligence into a company called Elemental Technologies that it was thinking of acquiring. Elemental used Super Micro's servers to do super-fast video processing. Big problem Amazon reported what it found to the authorities and, according to Bloomberg, that "sent a shudder" through the intelligence community because similar motherboards were in use "in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA’s drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships." Around the same time, Apple also found the tiny chips, according to the report, "after detecting odd network activity and firmware problems." Apple contacted the FBI and gave the agency access to the actual hardware. US intelligence agencies then tracked the hardware components backwards through the supply chain, and used their various spying programs to sift through intercepted communications, eventually ending up with a focus on four sub-contracting factories in China. According to Bloomberg, the US intelligence agencies were then able to uncover how the seeding process worked: "Plant managers were approached by people who claimed to represent Super Micro or who held positions suggesting a connection to the government. The middlemen would request changes to the motherboards’ original designs, initially offering bribes in conjunction with their unusual requests. If that didn’t work, they threatened factory managers with inspections that could shut down their plants. Once arrangements were in place, the middlemen would organize delivery of the chips to the factories." This explanation seemingly passes the sniff test: it fits what we know of US intelligence agencies investigative approaches, their spy programs, and how the Chinese government works when interacting with private businesses. The report then provides various forms of circumstantial evidence that adds weight to the idea that this all happened by pointing to subsequent actions of both Apple and Amazon. Apple ditched Super Micro entirely as a supplier, over the course of just a few weeks, despite planning to put in a massive order for thousands of motherboards. And Amazon sold off its Beijing data center to its local partner, Beijing Sinnet, for $300m. Source
  8. The mobile-payment app is an effective tool for aspiring detectives and would-be psychologists Nicole found out the guy she was dating was already in a committed relationship. Abby learned that her ex had most likely hooked up with someone new, and Ben discovered that a long-ago casual fling had apparently developed a drug habit. The sleuthing tool that cracked these relationship mysteries was not a private investigator, but the peer-to-peer payment app Venmo. The mobile payment service, which processed more than $35 billion in payments last year, is a no-fuss solution for splitting the dinner bill after a night out with friends. But Venmo users have found it’s also an extremely effective tool for keeping tabs on friends, partners and exes, researching crushes, and in some cases, uncovering infidelity. Some even say Venmo is a better method for watching people than more explicitly public social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Some users seem to forget that their transactions are public by default, and their payment activity provides an unfiltered paper trail of what’s really happening in their lives. “What you’re seeing on Instagram or Facebook is what they want you to see,” said Abby Faber, a 19-year-old freshman at Indiana University. “They’re edited pictures that they put up. But with Venmo, it’s very normal casual interactions. It’s what they were doing and spending money on.” In her case, she checked up on her ex-boyfriend and saw he was spending money on pizza and the popular video game Fortnite—and making regular payments to one girl, who Faber guessed is his new hook-up. She also did some fact-finding on a new crush and saw that she may have competition: he had recently donated to another girl’s charity event. “Not that I care,” she said. “It’s just interesting to see.” Venmo has had a social component since it launched in 2009. Users see a feed of both their own friends’ payments and total strangers’ activity every time they open the app, and it’s easy to look up users. Exact amounts aren’t listed, but you can see who’s paying who and which words or emoji they use to describe the payment. That’s bad news for people who use Venmo to pay their drug dealer and then actually write “drugs” in the payment’s description field, but great for amateur detectives. One Chicago woman told MarketWatch she used to do “minor celebrity stalking” of “Saturday Night Live” cast members and former Disney Channel child actors on the app. Privacy options have changed Venmo’s public-by-default social component caught the eye of the Federal Trade Commission in 2017, and the agency accused Venmo of “misleading” users about the fact that they needed to change two separate privacy settings to make their transactions completely private. Venmo reached a settlement with the FTC, and a company spokesman noted that users now have three options for controlling who can see their payments. “Payments are very personal at heart,” said spokesman Pablo Rodriguez. “Just like with anything that’s social, you have to decide how much you want to share. ‘Fellas, it ain’t safe out there!’ When it comes to matters of the heart, Venmo users see the app’s social feed as either an asset or a negative, depending on their relationship goals. “Thank you, Venmo, for publicly showing them receipts,” tweeted a grateful woman after the app’s payment history confirmed her suspicions about an ex-boyfriend. “Of all the social media platforms to find out your ex was shady about his last relationship,” she wrote. “Venmo came through like Twitter & IG never did.” Meanwhile, another user warned would-be cheaters—“Fellas, it ain’t safe out there!”—after his coworker busted her cheating boyfriend with the app. ‘Guys really suck’ Nicole Vavro, a 20-year-old college student in Cincinnati, says she’s glad she learned a tough but valuable lesson after some Venmo detective work. Vavro had been dating a guy for about six months, but couldn’t shake a weird feeling about him. His Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were all private—which, in retrospect, should have set off alarm bells, she says now. So Vavro turned to his Venmo feed for insight. She noticed regular payments to one girl, often accompanied by “flirty” descriptions. Vavro looked up the girl’s Facebook page and bingo: She was in a committed relationship with the guy Vavro was dating. Vavro confronted him, and he admitted that he hadn’t been honest about his relationship status and begged Vavro not to tell the other woman. “It taught me so much,” Vavro said. “Guys really suck.” ‘I sat in bed and scrolled’ Ben Ryan, a 28-year-old Jersey Shore resident, came across an old fling on Venmo and couldn’t resist checking to see what he had been up to. “I saw his name come up and I was, like, ‘Oh, this is going to be good,’” Ryan told MarketWatch. “I couldn’t believe I was actually doing this. I was going back to 2016. I sat in bed and scrolled.” His takeaway: He was a little bit jealous to see some of his friends hanging out with his one-time hook-up. But he decided it was a good thing their relationship didn’t last, because there were a lot of snowflake emojis in his payment history. Users often use the image when they’re buying drugs. Why Venmo doesn’t feel like other social media What is it about seeing money change hands on Venmo that feels different than viewing someone’s vacation photos on Instagram? In relationships, money can be fraught, sometimes signifying power, trust, and control, says New York City psychotherapist Matt Lundquist of Tribeca Therapy. It works both ways, too. He’s seen clients use Venmo as a tool to hurt each other. A client going through a breakup recently told Lundquist, “She paid on Venmo because she wanted me to know she was hanging out with those people.” When a couple is splitting up, spending money in certain ways can be a declaration of independence, Lundquist said. Exes can use Venmo to say: ‘You always thought it was dumb I spent money on these things, now here I am, doing it.” And sometimes a payment transaction can feel like an infidelity, even if it isn’t. “Two people are going out, they’re starting to get serious, and they might feel sexually committed, then it gets found out through Venmo that one person in the relationship bought dinner for someone else, and that feels like cheating,” Lundquist said. There’s a cryptic tease to Venmo There’s also something tantalizingly cryptic about Venmo. No dollar amounts are listed, and users can use whatever words or images they want to describe each transaction, so there’s an element of mystery. Why did your college friend pay one of your mutual pals “just for being you”? Who knows? It’s transparency with a twist of the unknown. For some, it’s just enough to feel connected to friends a half a world away. Aaron Rayburn loves Venmo for keeping up with friends in the U.S. while he’s living in Indonesia. “I recently moved overseas and, therefore, don’t know what my core group of friends are doing on a weekly basis,” Rayburn said. “Seeing their small financial interactions actually gives me a window of who is hanging with who, and it warms my heart. It’s a way to check in, with zero interaction.” Source
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  13. 15 February 2014 Last updated at 19:22 German Chancellor Angela Merkel is proposing building up a European communications network to help improve data protection. It would avoid emails and other data automatically passing through the United States. In her weekly podcast, she said she would raise the issue on Wednesday with French President Francois Hollande. Revelations of mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) have prompted huge concern in Europe. Disclosures by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden suggested even the mobile phones of US allies, such as Mrs Merkel, had been monitored by American spies. Classified NSA documents revealed that large amounts of personal data are collected from the internet by US and British surveillance. Mrs Merkel criticised the fact that Facebook and Google can be based in countries with low levels of data protection while carrying out business in nations that offer more rigorous safeguards. "Above all, we'll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn't have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic," she said. "Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe." Sensitive There was no doubt that Europe had to do more in the realm of data protection, she said. A French official was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying that the government in Paris planned to take up the German initiative. Personal privacy is a sensitive issue in Germany where extensive surveillance was carried out under the Nazis and in communist East Germany. A foreign policy spokesman for Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats, Philipp Missfelder, recently said revelations about US spying had helped bring relations with Washington down to their worst level since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Germany has been trying to persuade Washington to agree to a "no-spy" agreement but without success. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26210053
  14. By NICOLE PERLROTH February 11, 2014, 9:13 pm So much for mass protest. A consortium of Internet and privacy activists had long promoted Feb. 11 as the day the Internet would collectively stand up and shout down surveillance by the National Security Agency. The group called Tuesday, “The Day We Fight Back,” and encouraged websites to join an online campaign modeled after protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect I.P. Act two years ago, when sites like Reddit and Wikipedia and companies like Google and Facebook helped successfully topple antipiracy legislation. Instead, the protest on Tuesday barely registered. Wikipedia did not participate. Reddit — which went offline for 12 hours during the protests two years ago — added an inconspicuous banner to its homepage. Sites like Tumblr, Mozilla and DuckDuckGo, which were listed as organizers, did nothing to their homepages. The most vocal protesters were the usual suspects: activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and Greenpeace. The eight major technology companies — Google, Microsoft, Facebook, AOL, Apple, Twitter, Yahoo and LinkedIn — that joined forces in December in a public campaign to “reform government surveillance” only participated Tuesday insofar as having a joint website flash the protest banner. A promotional video from the organizers of “The Day We Fight Back.” The difference may be explained by the fact that two years ago, the Internet powerhouses were trying to halt new legislation. On Tuesday, people were being asked to reverse a secret, multi-billion dollar surveillance effort by five countries that has been in place for nearly a decade. And unlike 2012, when the goal was simply to block the passage of new bills, the goal of the protests on Tuesday were more muddled. This time around, participants were urged to flash a banner on their sites that urged visitors to call their congressional representative in support of the U.S.A. Freedom Act — a bill sponsored by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, and Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, which seeks to reform the N.S.A.’s metadata database. They were also asked to oppose the FISA Improvements Act, a bill proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein that would help legalize the N.S.A.’s metadata collection program. All was not lost. By late Tuesday, some 70,000 calls had been placed to legislators and roughly 150,000 people had sent their representatives an email. But on privacy forums and Reddit, significant discussions failed to materialize. “Online petitions,” one Reddit user wrote of the protest. “The very least you can do, without doing nothing.” http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/the-day-the-internet-didnt-fight-back/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0Nsane was among the 6000 website? Only Nsane Management Team would have the answer :)
  15. By Andrew Zajac and Phil Milford Feb 13, 2014 6:23 AM GMT President Barack Obama was sued by Senator Rand Paul over U.S. electronic surveillance he claims is illegal, adding to challenges that may land post-Sept. 11 government data collection in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Kentucky Republican announced today that he had filed his complaint in Washington federal court. Paul was joined as co-plaintiff by FreedomWorks Inc., a Tea Party-backed group. The filing couldnt be immediately confirmed in court records. The government is collecting phone data about U.S. citizens without any belief by defendants at the time of collection or retention or searches that any of the information is connected with international terrorism or an international terrorist organization, in violation of the U.S. Constitutions Fourth Amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches, according to a draft copy of Pauls suit provided by his office. Consumers willingness to provide companies with information about themselves to get phone service does not reflect a willingness or expectation that they are surrendering the privacy of the information, Paul said in his complaint. The suit challenges the National Security Agencys bulk collection of phone records of millions of Americans, a program disclosed last year by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, referred a request for comment on the suit to the Justice Department. The council, a White House group, consists of administration advisers, mostly from the Cabinet and the military. Found Legal We believe the program as it exists is lawful, Hayden said by e-mail, addressing the data collection generally. It has been found to be lawful by multiple courts. And it receives oversight from all three branches of government. We remain confident that the Section 215 telephone metadata program is legal, as at least 15 judges have previously found, Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment on the specific litigation. He repeated Obamas position that the program is lawful and has been upheld by courts. A federal judge in New York ruled Dec. 27 that the program is legal. The ruling came less than two weeks after a federal court in Washington said it may be illegal. The two judges came to opposite conclusions about a landmark 1979 ruling on telephone data in the pre-Internet age. A divided U.S. privacy-policy board last month concluded the NSA program is illegal and should be stopped. Minimal Usefulness The five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created by Congress under post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism laws, said in a 238-page report that the program to collect and store the records has provided only minimal help in thwarting terrorist attacks. The NSA receives phone records from U.S. telecommunications companies and stores them in a database that can be queried to determine who is in contact with suspected terrorist organizations. The surveillance was authorized by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks,. It has been defended as critically important to national security, according to records declassified this month by National Intelligence Director James Clapper. In the two court rulings, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III in Manhattan granted a government motion to dismiss a suit filed by groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union. D.C. Decision In Washington, Judge Richard Leon barred collection of metadata from the Verizon Wireless accounts of the two plaintiffs. Leon suspended the injunction for a government appeal. The ACLU appealed Pauleys ruling to the federal Court of Appeals in New York. If appeals courts uphold their respective lower courts, creating a split, the Supreme Court is more likely to take the case. The information at issue in all three cases involves metadata, which includes the numbers used to make and receive calls and their duration. It doesnt include information about the content of the communications or the names, addresses or financial information of parties, according to government filings in the Washington case. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-12/obama-sued-by-rand-paul-over-surveillance-as-challenges-grow-1-.html
  16. By John Callaham 8 hours ago Over 5,000 websites have now signed up to join in a previously announced online protest against mass spying operations such as the ones that have been conducted by the National Security Agency. The effort is called "The Day We Fight Back" and will begin on Tuesday, February 11th. DuckDuckGo, Imgur and the Yahoo-owned Tumblr are among the major sites that have joined this effort, working with previously announced sites like Mozilla and Reddit and groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union. All of these companies will post banners on their pages Tuesday, urging people to call or email their members of the U.S. Congress and ask them to support laws that curtail online surveillance by government agencies. This new protest is being made in the spirit of the ones that were launched in January 2012, when many websites, including Wikipedia, went "dark" for one day. The effort was designed to convince U.S. lawmakers to not pass the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) into law. The web site blackouts were successful and both SOPA and PIPA died without coming to a vote in the U.S. Congress. Tuesday's protest against mass online spying won't have quite the same effect as the ones held over two years ago. One of the reasons is that some sites that joined in the SOPA blackout, like Wikipedia and Google, are apparently sitting out in this new effort. However, new leaks about how groups like the NSA conduct their operations continue to come out in the open and the debate over their use of phone, data and other records will continue for a long time to come. http://www.neowin.net/news/over-5000-websites-signed-up-for-the-day-we-fight-back-protest-against-mass-spying
  17. January 31, 2014 05:41 Edited time: January 31, 2014 06:21 Documents released by US whistleblower Edward Snowden show the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) used airport Wi-Fi to track passengers from around the world. Travelers passing through a major Canadian airport were potentially caught up in a vast electronic surveillance net, which allowed the nation’s electronic spy agency to track the wireless devices of thousands of airline passengers - even for days after they had departed the terminal, a document obtained by CBC News revealed. The document shows the spy agency was then able to track travelers for a week or more as the unwitting passengers, together with their wireless devices, visited other Wi-Fi "hot spots" in locations across Canada - and even across the border at American airports. The CBS report said any place that offered Wi-Fi internet access, including "airports, hotels, coffee shops and restaurants, libraries, ground transportation hubs" was vulnerable to the surveillance operation. After reviewing details of the leaked information, one of Canada's leading authorities on internet security says the secret operation was almost certainly illegal. "I can't see any circumstance in which this would not be unlawful, under current Canadian law, under our Charter, under CSEC's mandates," Ronald Deibert told CBC News: The CSES is specifically tasked with gathering foreign intelligence by intercepting overseas phone and internet traffic, and is forbidden by law from collecting information on Canadians - or foreigners in Canada - without a court warrant. As CSEC Chief John Forster recently stated: "I can tell you that we do not target Canadians at home or abroad in our foreign intelligence activities, nor do we target anyone in Canada. "In fact, it's prohibited by law. Protecting the privacy of Canadians is our most important principle." However analysts who have had access to the document say that airline passengers in a Canadian airport were clearly on the territory of Canada. CSEC spokesperson Lauri Sullivan told the Star, an online Canadian news outlet, that the “classified document in question is a technical presentation between specialists exploring mathematical models built on everyday scenarios to identify and locate foreign terrorist threats.” Disclosure of the program puts those techniques at risk, she said. Teaming up with NSA Early assessment of the leaked information indicates the passenger tracking operation was a trial run of a powerful new software program CSEC was developing with help from its American partner, the National Security Agency. The technology was to be shared with the so-called “Five Eyes” surveillance bloc composed of Canada, the United States, Britain, New Zealand and Australia. In the document, CSEC described the new spy technology as "game-changing," saying it could be used for powerful surveillance on "any target that makes occasional forays into other cities/regions." Sources told CBC News the “technologies tested on Canadians in 2012 have since become fully operational.” CSEC claims "no Canadian or foreign travellers' movements were 'tracked,'" although CBC News questioned in its report why the comment "put the word "tracked" in quotation marks." http://rt.com/news/canada-snowden-spying-nsa-airport-442 Not only US, UK, Canada but also most likely all other Anglo-American (AU, Ireland, NZ) Spy agencies involved in this shame, too :) Time will show.
  18. By Matthew Cole First published February 8th 2014, 1:14 am ritish spies have developed “dirty tricks” for use against nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into “honey traps.” Documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and exclusively obtained by NBC News describe techniques developed by a secret British spy unit called the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG) as part of a growing mission to go on offense and attack adversaries ranging from Iran to the hacktivists of Anonymous. According to the documents, which come from presentations prepped in 2010 and 2012 for NSA cyber spy conferences, the agency’s goal was to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them, planting misinformation and shutting down their communications. Both PowerPoint presentations describe “Effects” campaigns that are broadly divided into two categories: cyber attacks and propaganda operations. The propaganda campaigns use deception, mass messaging and “pushing stories” via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. JTRIG also uses “false flag” operations, in which British agents carry out online actions that are designed to look like they were performed by one of Britain’s adversaries. In connection with this report, NBC is publishing documents that Edward Snowden took from the NSA before fleeing the U.S., which can be viewed by clicking here and here. The documents are being published with minimal redactions. The spy unit’s cyber attack methods include the same “denial of service” or DDOS tactic used by computer hackers to shut down government and corporate websites. Other documents taken from the NSA by Snowden and previously published by NBC News show that JTRIG, which is part of the NSA’s British counterpart, the cyber spy agency known as GCHQ, used a DDOS attack to shut down Internet chat rooms used by members of the hacktivist group known as Anonymous. Read the first NBC report on JTRIG and the Snowden documents. Read an earlier exclusive NBC report on the Snowden documents. Civil libertarians said that in using a DDOS attack against hackers the British government also infringed free speech by individuals not involved in any illegal hacking, and may have blocked other websites with no connection to Anonymous. While GCHQ defends the legality of its actions, critics question whether the agency is too aggressive and its mission too broad. Eric King, a lawyer who teaches IT law at the London School of Economics and is head of research at Privacy International, a British civil liberties advocacy group, said it was “remarkable” that the British government thought it had the right to hack computers, since none of the U.K.’s intelligence agencies has a “clear lawful authority” to launch their own attacks. “GCHQ has no clear authority to send a virus or conduct cyber attacks,” said King. “Hacking is one of the most invasive methods of surveillance.” King said British cyber spies had gone on offense with “no legal safeguards” and without any public debate, even though the British government has criticized other nations, like Russia, for allegedly engaging in cyber warfare. But intelligence officials defended the British government’s actions as appropriate responses to illegal acts. One intelligence official also said that the newest set of Snowden documents published by NBC News that describe “Effects” campaigns show that British cyber spies were “slightly ahead” of U.S. spies in going on offense against adversaries, whether those adversaries are hackers or nation states. The documents also show that a one-time signals surveillance agency, GCHQ, is now conducting the kinds of active espionage operations that were once exclusively the realm of the better-known British spy agencies MI5 and MI6. Intelligence officials defended the British government’s actions as appropriate responses to illegal acts. According to notes on the 2012 documents, a computer virus called Ambassadors Reception was “used in a variety of different areas” and was “very effective.” When sent to adversaries, says the presentation, the virus will “encrypt itself, delete all emails, encrypt all files, make [the] screen shake” and block the computer user from logging on. But the British cyber spies’ operations do not always remain entirely online. Spies have long used sexual “honey traps” to snare, blackmail and influence targets. Most often, a male target is led to believe he has an opportunity for a romantic relationship or a sexual liaison with a woman, only to find that the woman is actually an intelligence operative. The Israeli government, for example, used a “honey trap” to lure nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu from London to Rome. He expected an assignation with a woman, but instead was kidnapped by Israel agents and taken back to Israel to stand trial for leaking nuclear secrets to the media. The version of a “honey trap” described by British cyber spies in the 2012 PowerPoint presentation sounds like a version of Internet dating, but includes physical encounters. The version of a “honey trap” described by British cyber spies in the 2012 PowerPoint presentation sounds like a version of Internet dating, but includes physical encounters. The target is lured “to go somewhere on the Internet, or a physical location” to be met by “a friendly face.” The goal, according to the presentation, is to discredit the target. A “honey trap,” says the presentation, is “very successful when it works.” But the documents do not give a specific example of when the British government might have employed a honey trap. An operation described in the 2010 presentation also involves in-person surveillance. “Royal Concierge” exploits hotel reservations to track the whereabouts of foreign diplomats and send out “daily alerts to analysts working on governmental hard targets.” The British government uses the program to try to steer its quarry to “SIGINT friendly” hotels, according to the presentation, where the targets can be monitored electronically – or in person by British operatives. A slide from the documents taken from the NSA by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC News. The existence of the Royal Concierge program was first reported by the German magazine Der Spiegel in 2013, which said that Snowden documents showed that British spies had monitored bookings of at least 350 upscale hotels around the world for more than three years “to target, search and analyze reservations to detect diplomats and government officials.” According to the documents obtained by NBC News, the intelligence agency uses the information to spy on human targets through “close access technical operations,” which can include listening in on telephone calls and tapping hotel computers as well as sending intelligence officers to observe the targets in person at the hotels. The documents ask, “Can we influence hotel choice? Can we cancel their visits?” The 2010 presentation also describes another potential operation that would utilize a technique called “credential harvesting” to select journalists who could be used to spread information. According to intelligence sources, spies considered using electronic snooping to identify non-British journalists who would then be manipulated to feed information to the target of a covert campaign. Apparently, the journalist’s job would provide access to the targeted individual, perhaps for an interview. The documents do not specify whether the journalists would be aware or unaware that they were being used to funnel information. The executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon, said that the revelation about “credential harvesting” should serve as a “wake up call” to journalists that intelligence agencies can monitor their communications. Simon also said that governments put all journalists at risk when they use even one for an intelligence operation. “All journalists generally are then vulnerable to the charge that they work at the behest of an intelligence agency,” said Simon. The journalist operation was never put into action, according to sources, but other techniques described in the documents, like the Ambassadors Reception computer virus and the jamming of phones and computers, have definitely been used to attack adversaries. In Afghanistan, according to the 2012 presentation, the British used a blizzard of text messages, phone calls and faxes to “significantly disrupt” Taliban communications, with texts and calls programmed to arrive every minute. In a set of operations that intelligence sources say were designed to stop weapons transactions and nuclear proliferation, JTRIG used negative information to attack private companies, sour business relationships and ruin deals. The British cyber spies also used blog posts and information spread via blogs in an operation against Iran. Other effective methods of cyber attack listed in the documents include changing photos on social media sites and emailing and texting colleagues and neighbors unsavory information. The documents do not give examples of when these techniques were used, but intelligence sources say that some of the methods described have been used by British intelligence to help British police agencies catch suspected criminals. The documents from 2010 note that “Effects” operations, GCHQ’s offensive push against Britain’s enemies, had become a “major part” of the spy agency’s business. The presentation from 2012 illustrates that two years later GCHQ had continued to shift its workload from defending U.K. cyber networks to going on offense -- targeting specific people or governments. The British government’s intelligence apparatus, which also includes MI5 and MI6, had a role in the 2010 Stuxnet computer virus attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to sources at two intelligence agencies. GCHQ would not comment on the newly published documents or on JTRIG’s “Effects” operations. It would neither confirm nor deny any element of this report, which is the agency’s standard policy. In a statement, a GCHQ spokesperson emphasized that the agency operated within the law. “All of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework,” said the statement, “which ensure that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All of our operational processes rigorously support this position.” Journalist Glenn Greenwald was formerly a columnist at Salon and the Guardian. In late 2012 he was contacted by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who later provided him with thousands of sensitive documents, and he was the first to report on Snowden’s documents in June 2013 while on the staff of the Guardian. Greenwald has since reported on the documents with multiple media outlets around the world, and has won several journalism awards for his NSA reporting both in the U.S. and abroad. He is now helping launch, and will write for, a new, non-profit media outlet known as First Look Media that will “encourage, support and empower … independent, adversarial journalists.” First published February 8th 2014, 1:14 am Matthew Cole . . Matthew Cole is an investigative producer for NBC News focusing on national security matters. He joined NBC News in 2013 after three years as an investigative producer for ABC News. He has reported from... Expand Bio http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/snowden-docs-british-spies-used-sex-dirty-tricks-n23091
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  20. February 04, 2014 22:42 The US National Security Agency likely collects intelligence on congressional lawmakers and members of their staff, a Justice Department official admitted at a committee hearing on Tuesday. Deputy Attorney General James Cole of the US Department of Justice testified during a House Judiciary Committee hearing which was examining proposals to reform the NSA surveillance policies that have been revealed in an ongoing series of disclosures since June. Among the most damning revelations leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was the realization that the NSA indiscriminately forces companies to provide phone records belonging to millions of Americans. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA.) pressed Cole Tuesday on whether the NSA dragnet includes the number codes that pertain to congressional offices. “Mr. Cole, do you collect 202-225 and four digits afterwards?” Issa asked, as quoted by the National Journal. “We probably do, Mr. Congressman,” Cole replied. “But we’re not allowed to look at any of those, however, unless we have reasonable, articulable suspicion that those numbers are related to a known terrorist threat.” This admission is not the first time members of Congress were given a clue that their activities might be being monitored. Earlier this month, Senator Bernie Sanders - an Independent who represents Vermont - sent a letter to the intelligence agency asking whether democratically elected legislators are being spied upon. Sanders included in his definition of spying “gathering metadata on calls made from official or person phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business.” The agency replied to Sanders the next day with a somewhat cryptic response. “NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons. Such privacy protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons,” the NSA stated. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) used the same hearing to suggest that Glenn Greenwald - one of the few journalists who have published details on the Snowden leak - should be prosecuted. Rogers broached the issue multiple times, claiming that Greenwald is selling classified US intelligence secrets to news organizations. “For personal gain, he’s now selling his access to information, that’s how they’re terming it…A thief selling stolen material is a thief,” Rogers said after an exchange with FBI director James Comey. Greenwald has publicly asserted that he is in possession of a trove of documents leaked by Snowden, with stories based on those documents consistently appearing in international publications over the past six months. “If I’m a newspaper reporter for fill-in-the-blank and I sell stolen material is that legal because I’m a newspaper reporter?” Rogers asked. “If you’re a newspaper reporter and you’re hawking stolen jewelry, it’s still a crime,” Comey said reluctantly. He added that the issue of a journalist selling access to information was “a harder question” because of “First Amendment implications.” The hearing comes just one day after a group of Silicon Valley heavyweights revealed the scope of national security requests they received from the government. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tumblr have provided figures from 2012 and 2013 showing that tens of thousands of customer accounts were targeted over a six-month period. http://rt.com/usa/nsa-probably-congress-greenwald-arrest-651
  21. By Steven Musil February 4, 2014 10:30 PM PST Unit of the U.K.'s communications intelligence agency used the cyberattack method against hacktivist groups, according to documents supplied to NBC news by Edward Snowden. A British spy unit turned a cyber attack method favored by Anonymous against it and other hacktivist groups, according to an NBC report based on documents removed from the NSA by Edward Snowden. A division of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the U.K.'s communications intelligence agency, used distributed-denial-of-service attacks to disrupt communications among members of Anonymous, according to the documents. DDoS is the same cyberattack technique used by the hacktivist group to mount online attacks targeting financial institutions, trade groups, and government entities after PayPal and banks refused to process payments for WikiLeaks. Dubbed Rolling Thunder by the GCHQ unit, known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, or JTRIG, the attack succeeded in reducing the number of users in Anonymous cat rooms by 80 percent, according to the documents. The NBC report, which was co-authored by Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who published the first NSA stories based on documents obtained by Snowden, indicates that this is the first time the existence of the JTRIG has been revealed. The unit's infiltration of IRC chat rooms helped identify hackers who had stolen confidential information from Web sites and sent one person to prison for the theft of data from PayPal, according to the documents. The attack on PayPal was part of "Operation Payback," an anti-copyright campaign that began after the 2010 shutdown of The Pirate Bay, a Swedish torrent-tracking site. In retaliation, the group allegedly launched DDoS attacks against the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the U.S. Copyright Office. The campaign was later extended to Bank of America and credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard for their refusal to process WikiLeaks payments. According to the documents, among the techniques employed by TRIG in response were attacks on computer networks, disruption, "Active Covert Internet Operations," and "Covert Technical Operations." The documents, from a PowerPoint presentation prepared for a 2012 NSA conference called SIGDEV, detail how agents engaged hactivists by posing as fellow hackers, resulting in one instance in the conviction of a British hacker named Edward Pearson for the theft of 8 million identities from PayPal accounts. The documents list Anonymous, LulzSec, and the Syrian Cyber Army as hactivist groups that use DDoS attacks against government agencies and corporations. GCHQ did not immediately respond to a CNET request for comment but told NBC News that the agency operated within the boundaries of British law. "All of GCHQ's work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensure that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee," the agency's statement said. "All of our operational processes rigorously support this position." http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57618376-38/british-spy-unit-reportedly-hit-anonymous-with-ddos-attacks
  22. By STEPHEN BRAUN and MICHAEL LIEDTKE Feb. 3, 2014 5:59 PM EST WASHINGTON (AP) — Freed by a recent legal deal with government lawyers, major technology firms released new data Monday on how often they are ordered to turn over customer information for secret national security investigations — figures that show that the government collected data on thousands of Americans. The details disclosed by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr provided expanded details from 2012 and 2013 showing how often the government has sought information on the firms' customers in counter-terrorism and other intelligence-related probes. The companies provided limited information in the past about government requests for data, but a new agreement reached last week with the Obama administration allowed a broadened, though still circumscribed, set of figures to be made public. Seeking to reassure customers and business partners alarmed by revelations about the government's massive collection of Internet and computer data, the firms stressed details indicating that only small numbers of their customers were targeted by authorities. Still, even those small numbers showed that thousands of Americans were affected by the government requests approved by judges of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The data releases by the five major tech firms offered a mix of dispassionate graphics, reassurances and protests, seeking to alleviate customer concerns about government spying while pressuring national security officials about the companies' constitutional concerns. The shifting tone in the releases showed the precarious course that major tech firms have had to navigate in recent months, caught between their public commitments to Internet freedom and their enforced roles as data providers to U.S. spy agencies. In a company blog post, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith scolded the U.S. and allied governments for failing to renounce the reported mass interception of Internet data carried by communications cables. Top lawyers and executives for major tech firms had previously raised alarms about media reports describing that hacking by U.S. and UK spy agencies and cited them during conversations with U.S. officials during President Barack Obama's internal review of planned changes to the government's spying operations. "Despite the president's reform efforts and our ability to publish more information, there has not yet been any public commitment by either the U.S. or other governments to renounce the attempted hacking of Internet companies," Smith said in a Microsoft blog release. Smith added that Microsoft planned to press the government "for more on this point, in collaboration with others across our industry." The figures released Monday came just a week after major tech firms announced a legal agreement with the Justice Department that provided for a limited, but broadened ability to tell the public about government information requests. But lawyers and executive for the companies openly vented their discomfort with the government's continuing insistence that they could only provide broad ranges instead of the actual numbers of government requests. The companies said they would press for narrower data ranges that would offer more details. "We will also continue to advocate for still narrower disclosure ranges, which will provide a more accurate picture of the number of national security-related requests," said Erika Rottenberg, LinkedIn's general counsel. A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the companies' releases and comments. The spokesman pointed to a late January statement by DNI James Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder that said the agreement would allow the firms to "disclose more information than ever before to their customers." Liedtke reported from San Francisco. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/internet-firms-release-data-nsa-spy-requests
  23. By Jay Syrmopoulos 2 days ago This past Sunday evening former NSA contractor Edward Snowden sat down for an interview with German television network ARD. The interview has been intentionally blocked from the US public, with virtually no major broadcast news outlets covering this story. In addition, the video has been taken down almost immediately every time its posted on YouTube. In contrast, this was treated as a major political event in both print and broadcast media, in Germany, and across much of the world. In the interview, Mr. Snowden lays out a succinct case as to how these domestic surveillance programs undermines and erodes human rights and democratic freedom. He states that his breaking point was seeing Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress denying the existence of a domestic spying programs while under questioning in March of last year. Mr. Snowden goes on to state that, The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name, and that which the government is doing against the public. It seems clear that the virtual blackout of this insightful interview is yet another deliberate attempt to obfuscate the truth from the view of the American public. The media has continually attempted to shill the official government lies about mass domestic surveillance programs, justifying them as necessary to fight the War on Terror, while attempting to painting Mr. Snowden as a traitor. In regards to accusations that he is a traitor or a foreign agent, he states, If I am traitor, who did I betray? I gave all my information to the American public, to American journalists who are reporting on American issues. If they see that as treason, I think people really need to consider who they think theyre working for. The public is supposed to be their boss, not their enemy. Beyond that as far as my personal safety, Ill never be fully safe until these systems have changed. The attempt to bury this interview by the government/corporate symbiosis has extremely dark implications. Additionally, the fact that government officials have openly talked about assassinating Mr. Snowden cannot be taken lightly, and Mr. Snowden obviously takes these threats to his life very seriously. Sadly, the reality of the US government assassinating an American citizen is not beyond the realm of possibility in the age we live in. http://benswann.com/media-blacks-out-new-snowden-interview-the-government-doesnt-want-you-to-see/#ixzz2s0BPBRUm Edit: The video on this source is, unlike youtube videos, not uploadable however same original video can be watched here with English transcripts
  24. Luke Harding Saturday 1 February 2014 He was politically conservative, a gun owner, a geek – and the man behind the biggest intelligence leak in history. In this exclusive extract from his new book, Luke Harding looks at Edward Snowden's journey from patriot to America's most wanted In late December 2001, someone calling themselves TheTrueHOOHA had a question. He was an 18-year-old American male with impressive IT skills and a sharp intelligence. His real identity was unknown. Everyone who posted on Ars Technica, a popular technology website, did so anonymously. TheTrueHOOHA wanted to set up his own web server. It was a Saturday morning, a little after 11am. He posted: "It's my first time. Be gentle. Here's my dilemma: I want to be my own host. What do I need?" Soon, regular users were piling in with helpful suggestions. TheTrueHOOHA replied: "Ah, the vast treasury of geek knowledge that is Ars." He would become a prolific contributor; over the next eight years, he authored nearly 800 comments. He described himself variously as "unemployed", a failed soldier, a "systems editor", and someone who had US State Department security clearance. His home was on the east coast of America in the state of Maryland, near Washington DC. But by his mid-20s he was already an international man of mystery. He popped up in Europe – in Geneva, London, Ireland, Italy and Bosnia. He travelled to India. Despite having no degree, he knew an astonishing amount about computers. His politics appeared staunchly Republican. He believed strongly in personal liberty, defending, for example, Australians who farmed cannabis plants. At times he could be rather obnoxious. He called one fellow-Arsian, for example, a "cock"; others who disagreed with his sink-or-swim views on social security were "fucking retards". His chat logs cover a colourful array of themes: gaming, girls, sex, Japan, the stock market, his disastrous stint in the US army, his negative impressions of multiracial Britain (he was shocked by the number of "Muslims" in east London and wrote, "I thought I had gotten off of the plane in the wrong country… it was terrifying"), the joys of gun ownership ("I have a Walther P22. It's my only gun but I love it to death," he wrote in 2006). In their own way, the logs form a Bildungsroman. Then, in 2009, the entries fizzle away. In February 2010, TheTrueHOOHA mentions a thing that troubles him: pervasive government surveillance. "Society really seems to have developed an unquestioning obedience towards spooky types… Did we get to where we are today via a slippery slope that was entirely within our control to stop? Or was it a relatively instantaneous sea change that sneaked in undetected because of pervasive government secrecy?" TheTrueHOOHA's last post is on 21 May 2012. After that, he disappears, a lost electronic signature amid the vastness of cyberspace. He was, we now know, Edward Snowden. Edward Joseph Snowden was born on 21 June 1983. His father Lonnie and mother Elizabeth – known as Wendy – were high-school sweethearts who married at 18. Lon was an officer in the US coastguard; Snowden spent his early years in Elizabeth City, on North Carolina's coast. He has an older sister, Jessica. When Snowden was small – a boy with thick blond hair and a toothy smile – he and his family moved to Maryland, within DC's commuter belt. As his father recalls, Snowden's education went wrong when he got ill, probably with glandular fever. He missed "four or five months" of class in his mid-teens. Another factor hurt his studies: his parents were drifting apart. He failed to finish high school. In 1999, aged 16, Snowden enrolled at Anne Arundel community college, where he took computer courses. In the aftermath of his parents' divorce, Snowden lived with a roommate, and then with his mother, in Ellicott City, just west of Baltimore. He grew up under the giant shadow of one government agency in particular. From his mother's front door, it takes 15 minutes to drive there. Half-hidden by trees is a big, green, cube-shaped building. An entrance sign off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway reads: "NSA next right. Employees only." The Puzzle Palace employs 40,000 people. It is the largest hirer of mathematicians in the US. For Snowden, the likelihood of joining was slim. In his early 20s, his focus was on computers. To him, the internet was "the most important invention in all human history". He chatted online to people "with all sorts of views I would never have encountered on my own". He wasn't only a nerd: he kept fit, practised kung fu and, according to one entry on Ars, "dated Asian girls". The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq prompted Snowden to think seriously about a career in the military. "I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression," he has said. The younger Snowden was into computers, kung fu – and even tried his hand at amateur modelling. Photograph: © TheTrueHOOHA The military offered what seemed, on the face of it, an attractive scheme, whereby recruits with no prior experience could try out to become elite soldiers. In May 2004, Snowden took the plunge and enlisted, reporting to Fort Benning in Georgia. It was a disaster. He was in good physical shape but an improbable soldier, shortsighted and with unusually narrow feet. During infantry training, he broke both his legs. After more than a month's uncertainty, the army finally discharged him. Back in Maryland, he got a job as a "security specialist" at the University for Maryland's Centre for Advanced Study of Language. It was 2005. (He appears to have begun as a security guard, but then moved back into IT.) Snowden was working at a covert NSA facility on the university's campus. Thanks perhaps to his brief military history, he had broken into the world of US intelligence, albeit on a low rung. The centre worked closely with the US intelligence community, providing advanced language training. In mid-2006, Snowden landed a job in IT at the CIA. He was rapidly learning that his exceptional IT skills opened all kinds of interesting government doors. "First off, the degree thing is crap, at least domestically. If you 'really' have 10 years of solid, provable IT experience… you CAN get a very well-paying IT job," he wrote online in July 2006. In 2007, the CIA sent Snowden to Geneva on his first foreign tour. Switzerland was an awakening and an adventure. He was 24. His job was to maintain security for the CIA's computer network and look after computer security for US diplomats. He was a telecommunications information systems officer. He also had to maintain the heating and air-con. In Geneva, Snowden was exposed to an eclectic range of views. On one occasion, he gave an Estonian singer called Mel Kaldalu a lift to Munich. They had met at a Free Tibet event in Geneva; they didn't know each other brilliantly well, but well enough for Snowden to offer him a lift. They chatted for hours on the empty autobahn. Snowden argued that the US should act as a world policeman. Kaldalu disagreed. "Ed's an intelligent guy," he says. "Maybe even a little bit stubborn. He's outspoken. He likes to discuss things. Self-sustainable. He has his own opinions." The Estonian singer and the CIA technician talked about the difficulty pro-Tibet activists had in getting Chinese visas. Snowden was sceptical about the Beijing Olympics. Kaldalu said the Israeli occupation of Palestine was morally questionable. Snowden said he understood this, but viewed US support for Israel as the "least worst" option. Kaldalu suggested a "deconstructive" approach. The pair also discussed how rapid digital changes might affect democracy and the way people governed themselves. At the time, the figure who most closely embodied Snowden's rightwing views was Ron Paul, the most famous exponent of US libertarianism. Snowden supported Paul's 2008 bid for the US presidency. He was also impressed with the Republican candidate John McCain. He wasn't an Obama supporter as such, but he didn't object to him, either. Once Obama became president, Snowden came to dislike him intensely. He criticised the White House's attempts to ban assault weapons. He was unimpressed by affirmative action. Another topic made him even angrier. The Snowden of 2009 inveighed against government officials who leaked classified information to newspapers – the worst crime conceivable, in Snowden's apoplectic view. In January of that year, the New York Times published a report on a secret Israeli plan to attack Iran. The Times said its story was based on 15 months' worth of interviews with current and former US officials, European and Israeli officials, other experts and international nuclear inspectors. TheTrueHOOHA's response, published by Ars Technica, is revealing. In a long conversation with another user, he wrote the following messages: "WTF NYTIMES. Are they TRYING to start a war?" "They're reporting classified shit" "moreover, who the fuck are the anonymous sources telling them this? those people should be shot in the balls" "that shit is classified for a reason" "it's not because 'oh we hope our citizens don't find out' its because 'this shit won't work if iran knows what we're doing'" Snowden's anti-leaking invective seems stunningly at odds with his own later behaviour, but he would trace the beginning of his own disillusionment with government spying to this time. "Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world. I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good," he later said. In February 2009, Snowden resigned from the CIA. Now he was to work as a contractor at an NSA facility on a US military base in Japan. The opportunities for contractors had boomed as the burgeoning US security state outsourced intelligence tasks to private companies. Snowden was on the payroll of Dell, the computer firm. The early lacunae in his CV were by this stage pretty much irrelevant. He had top-secret clearance and outstanding computer skills. He had felt passionately about Japan from his early teens and had spent a year and a half studying Japanese. He sometimes used the Japanese pronunciation of his name – "E-do-waa-do" – and wrote in 2001: "I've always dreamed of being able to 'make it' in Japan. I'd love a cushy .gov job over there." Japan marked a turning point, the period when Snowden became more than a disillusioned technician: "I watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in." Between 2009 and 2012, he says he found out just how all-consuming the NSA's surveillance activities are: "They are intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them." He also realised that the mechanisms built into the US system and designed to keep the NSA in check had failed. "You can't wait around for someone else to act. I had been looking for leaders, but I realised that leadership is about being the first to act." He left Japan for Hawaii in 2012, a whistleblower-in-waiting. Snowden's new job was at the NSA's regional cryptological centre (the Central Security Service) on the main island of Oahu, near Honolulu. He was still a Dell contractor, working at one of the 13 NSA hubs devoted to spying on foreign interests, particularly the Chinese. He arrived with an audacious plan to make contact anonymously with journalists interested in civil liberties and to leak them stolen top-secret documents. His aim was not to spill state secrets wholesale. Rather, he wanted to turn over a selection of material to reporters and let them exercise their own editorial judgment. According to an NSA staffer who worked with him in Hawaii and who later talked to Forbes magazine, Snowden was a principled and ultra-competent if somewhat eccentric colleague. He wore a hoodie featuring a parody NSA logo. Instead of a key in an eagle's claws, it had a pair of eavesdropping headphones, covering the bird's ears. He kept a copy of the constitution on his desk and wandered the halls carrying a Rubik's cube. He left small gifts on colleagues' desks. He almost lost his job sticking up for one co-worker who was being disciplined. In Hawaii, by early 2013, Snowden's sense of outrage was still growing. But his plan to leak appeared to have stalled. He faced too many obstacles. He took a new job with the private contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, yielding him access to a fresh trove of information. According to the NSA staffer who spoke to Forbes, Snowden turned down an offer to join the agency's tailored access operations, a group of elite hackers. On 30 March, in the evening, Snowden flew to the US mainland to attend training sessions at Booz Allen Hamilton's office near Fort Meade. His new salary was $122,000 (£74,000) a year, plus a housing allowance. On 4 April, he had dinner with his father. Lon Snowden says he found his son preoccupied and nursing a burden. "We hugged as we always do. He said: 'I love you, Dad.' I said: 'I love you, Ed.'" "My position with Booz Allen Hamilton granted me access to lists of machines all over the world [that] the NSA hacked," Snowden told the South China Morning Post, adding that this was exactly why he'd accepted it. He was one of around 1,000 NSA "sysadmins" allowed to look at many parts of this system. (Other users with top-secret clearance weren't allowed to see all classified files.) He could open a file without leaving an electronic trace. He was, in the words of one intelligence source, a "ghost user", able to haunt the agency's hallowed places. He may also have used his administrator status to persuade others to entrust their login details to him. Although we don't know exactly how he harvested the material, it appears Snowden downloaded NSA documents on to thumbnail drives. Thumb drives are forbidden to most staff, but a sysadmin could argue that he or she was repairing a corrupted user profile and needed a backup. Sitting back in Hawaii, Snowden could remotely reach into the NSA's servers. Most staff had already gone home for the night when he logged on, six time zones away. After four weeks in his new job, Snowden told his bosses at Booz that he was unwell. He wanted some time off and requested unpaid leave. When they checked back with him, he told them he had epilepsy (a condition that affects his mother). And then, on 20 May, he vanished. In December 2012, a reader pinged an email to Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, one of the more prominent US political commentators of his generation, based in Brazil. The email didn't stand out; he gets dozens of similar ones every day. The sender didn't identify himself. He (or it could have been a she) wrote: "I have some stuff you might be interested in." "He was very vague," Greenwald recalls. This mystery correspondent asked Greenwald to install PGP encryption software on his laptop. Once up and running, it guarantees privacy (the initials stand for Pretty Good Privacy) for an online chat. Greenwald had no objections. But there were two problems. "I'm basically technically illiterate," he admits. Greenwald also had a lingering sense that the kind of person who insisted on encryption might turn out to be slightly crazy. A month after first trying Greenwald and failing to get a response, Snowden tried a different route. At the end of January 2013, he sent an email to Greenwald's friend and collaborator Laura Poitras, a documentary film-maker. She was another leading critic of the US security state – and one of its more prominent victims. For six years, between 2006 and 2012, agents from the Department of Homeland Security detained Poitras each time she entered the US. They would interrogate her, confiscate laptops and mobile phones, and demand to know whom she had met. They would seize her camera and notebooks. Nothing incriminating was ever discovered. Poitras became an expert in encryption. She decided to edit her next film, her third in a trilogy about US security, from outside America, and moved temporarily to Berlin. Snowden's email to Poitras read: "I am a senior member of the intelligence community. This won't be a waste of your time." (The claim was something of an exaggeration: he was a relatively junior infrastructure analyst.) Snowden asked for her encryption key. She gave it. "I felt pretty intrigued pretty quickly," Poitras says. "At that point, my thought was either it's legit or it's entrapment." The tone of the emails was serious, though there were moments of humour. At one point Snowden advised Poitras to put her mobile in the freezer. "He's an amazing writer. His emails were good. Everything I got read like a thriller," she recalls. Then Snowden delivered a bombshell. He said he had got hold of Presidential Policy Directive 20, a top-secret 18-page document issued in October 2012. It said that the agency was tapping fibre optic cables, intercepting telephone landing points and bugging on a global scale. And he could prove all of it. "I almost fainted," Poitras says. The source made it clear he wanted Greenwald on board. Poitras moved ultra-cautiously. It was a fair assumption that the US embassy in Berlin had her under some form of surveillance. It would have to be a personal meeting. In late March, she returned to the US and met Greenwald in the lobby of his hotel, the Marriott in Yonkers. They agreed that they needed to get hold of the national security documents: without them, it would be difficult to rattle the doors on these issues. Poitras had assumed that Snowden would seek to remain anonymous, but he told her: "I hope you will paint a target on my back and tell the world I did this on my own." By late spring 2013, the possibility of a meeting was in the air. Snowden intended to leak one actual document. The file would reveal collaboration between the NSA and giant internet corporations under a secret program called Prism. Poitras flew again to New York for what she imagined would be her meeting with a senior intelligence bureaucrat. The source then sent her an encrypted file. In it was the Prism PowerPoint, and a second document that came as a total surprise: "Your destination is Hong Kong." The next day, he told her his name for the first time. Poitras knew that if she searched Snowden's name on Google, this would immediately alert the NSA. Attached was a map, a set of protocols for how they would meet, and a message: "This is who I am. This is what they will say about me. This is the information I have." In mid-April, Greenwald received a FedEx parcel containing two thumb drives with a security kit allowing him to install a basic encrypted chat program. Snowden now contacted Greenwald himself. "I have been working with a friend of yours… We need to talk, urgently." The whistleblower finally had a direct, secure connection to the elusive writer. Snowden wrote: "Can you come to Hong Kong?" The demand struck Greenwald as bizarre. His instinct was to do nothing. He contacted Snowden via chat. "I would like some more substantial idea why I'm going and why this is worthwhile for me?" Over the next two hours, Snowden explained to Greenwald how to boot up the Tails system, one of the securest forms of communication. Snowden then wrote, with what can only be called understatement, "I'm going to send you a few documents." Snowden's welcome package was around 20 documents from the NSA's inner sanctuaries, most stamped Top Secret. At a glance, it suggested the NSA had misled Congress about the nature of its domestic spying activities, and quite possibly lied. "It was unbelievable," Greenwald says. "It was enough to make me hyperventilate." Two days later, on 31 May, Greenwald sat in the office of Janine Gibson, the Guardian US's editor in New York. He said a trip to Hong Kong would enable the Guardian to find out about the mysterious source. Stuart Millar, the deputy editor of Guardian US, joined the discussion. Both executives agreed that the only way to establish the source's credentials was to meet him in person. Greenwald would take the 16-hour flight to Hong Kong the next day. Independently, Poitras was coming along, too. But Gibson ordered a third member on to the team, the Guardian's veteran Washington correspondent Ewen MacAskill. The 61-year-old Scot and political reporter was experienced and professional. He was calm. Everybody liked him. Except Poitras. She was exceedingly upset. As she saw it, an extra person might freak out the source, who was already on edge. "She was insistent that this would not happen," Greenwald says. "She completely flipped out." He tried to mediate, without success. However, at JFK airport, the ill-matched trio boarded a Cathay Pacific flight. Poitras sat at the back of the plane. She was funding her own trip. Greenwald and MacAskill, their bills picked up by the Guardian, were farther up in Premium Economy. As flight CX831 took off, there was a feeling of liberation. Up in the air, there is no internet – or at least there wasn't in June 2013. Once the seatbelt signs were off, Poitras brought a present they were both eager to open: a USB stick. Snowden had securely delivered her a second cache of secret NSA documents. This latest data set was far bigger than the initial "welcome pack". It contained 3,000-4,000 items. For the rest of the journey, Greenwald read the latest cache, mesmerised. Sleep was impossible: "I didn't take my eyes off the screen for a second. The adrenaline was so extreme." From time to time Poitras would come up from her seat in the rear and grin at Greenwald. "We would just cackle and giggle like schoolchildren. We were screaming and hugging and dancing with each other up and down," he says. Their celebrations woke up some of their neighbours; they didn't care. The first rendezvous was in Kowloon's Mira hotel, a chic, modern edifice in the heart of the tourist district. Poitras and Greenwald were to meet Snowden in a quiet part of the hotel, next to a large plastic alligator. They would swap pre-agreed phrases. Snowden would carry a Rubik's cube. Everything Greenwald knew about Snowden pointed in one direction: that he was a grizzled veteran of the intelligence community. "I thought he must be a pretty senior bureaucrat," Greenwald says. Probably 60-odd, wearing a blue blazer with shiny gold buttons, receding grey hair, sensible black shoes, spectacles, a club tie. Perhaps he was the CIA's station chief in Hong Kong. The pair reached the alligator ahead of schedule. They sat down. They waited. Nothing happened. The source didn't show. Strange. If the initial meeting failed, the plan was to return later the same morning. Greenwald and Poitras came back. They waited for a second time. And then they saw him – a pale, spindle-limbed, nervous, preposterously young man. He was dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans. In his right hand was a scrambled Rubik's cube. Had there been a mistake? The young man – if indeed he were the source – had sent encrypted instructions as to how the initial verification would proceed: Greenwald: What time does the restaurant open? The source: At noon. But don't go there, the food sucks… Greenwald – nervous – said his lines, struggling to keep a straight face. Snowden then said simply, "Follow me." The three walked silently to the elevator. They rode to the first floor and followed the cube-man to room 1014. Optimistically, Greenwald speculated that he was the son of the source, or his personal assistant. If not, then the encounter was a waste of time, a hoax. Over the course of the day, however, Snowden told his story. He had access to tens of thousands of documents taken from NSA and GCHQ's internal servers. Most were stamped Top Secret. Some were marked Top Secret Strap 1 – the British higher tier of super-classification for intercept material – or even Strap 2, which was almost as secret as you could get. No one – apart from a restricted circle of security officials – had ever seen documents of this kind before. What he was carrying, Snowden indicated, was the biggest intelligence leak in history. Greenwald bombarded him with questions. His credibility was on the line. So was that of his editors at the Guardian. Yet if Snowden were genuine, at any moment a CIA Swat team could burst into the room, confiscate his laptops and drag him away. As he gave his answers, they began to feel certain Snowden was no fake. And his reasons for becoming a whistleblower were cogent, too. The NSA could bug "anyone", from the president downwards, he said. In theory, the spy agency was supposed to collect only "signals intelligence" on foreign targets. In practice this was a joke, Snowden told Greenwald: it was already hoovering up metadata from millions of Americans. Phone records, email headers, subject lines, seized without acknowledgment or consent. From this you could construct a complete electronic narrative of an individual's life: their friends, lovers, joys, sorrows. The NSA had secretly attached intercepts to the undersea fibre optic cables that ringed the world. This allowed them to read much of the globe's communications. Secret courts were compelling telecoms providers to hand over data. What's more, pretty much all of Silicon Valley was involved with the NSA, Snowden said – Google, Microsoft, Facebook, even Steve Jobs's Apple. The NSA claimed it had "direct access" to the tech giants' servers. It had even put secret back doors into online encryption software – used to make secure bank payments – weakening the system for everybody. The spy agencies had hijacked the internet. Snowden told Greenwald he didn't want to live in a world "where everything that I say, everything that I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of love or friendship is recorded". Snowden agreed to meet MacAskill the next morning. The encounter went smoothly until the reporter produced his iPhone. He asked Snowden if he minded if he taped their interview, and perhaps took some photos? Snowden flung up his arms in alarm, as if prodded by an electric stick. "I might as well have invited the NSA into his bedroom," MacAskill says. The young technician explained that the spy agency was capable of turning a mobile phone into a microphone and tracking device; bringing it into the room was an elementary mistake. MacAskill dumped the phone. Snowden's own precautions were remarkable. He piled pillows up against the door to stop anyone eavesdropping from outside in the corridor. When putting passwords into computers, he placed a big red hood over his head and laptop, so the passwords couldn't be picked up by hidden cameras. On the three occasions he left his room, Snowden put a glass of water behind the door next to a bit of tissue paper. The paper had a soy sauce mark with a distinctive pattern. If anyone entered the room, the water would fall on the paper and it would change the pattern. MacAskill asked Snowden, almost as an afterthought, whether there was a UK role in this mass data collection. It didn't seem likely to him. MacAskill knew that GCHQ had a longstanding intelligence-sharing relationship with the US, but he was taken aback by Snowden's vehement response. "GCHQ is worse than the NSA," Snowden said. "It's even more intrusive." The following day, Wednesday 5 June, Snowden was still in place at the Mira hotel. That was the good news. The bad news was that the NSA and the police had been to see his girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, back at their home in Hawaii. Snowden's absence from work had been noted, an automatic procedure when NSA staff do not turn up. Snowden agonised: "My family does not know what is happening. My primary fear is that they will come after my family, my friends, my partner." He admitted, "That keeps me up at night." But the CIA hadn't found him yet. This was one of the more baffling aspects of the Snowden affair: why did the US authorities not close in on him earlier? Once they had spotted his absence, they might have pulled flight records showing he had fled to Hong Kong. There he was comparatively easy to trace. He had checked into the $330-a-night Mira hotel under his own name. He was even paying the bill with his personal credit card. That evening, Greenwald rapidly drafted a story about Verizon, revealing how the NSA was secretly collecting all the records from this major US telecoms company. Greenwald would work on his laptop, then pass it to MacAskill. MacAskill would type on his computer and hand Greenwald his articles on a memory stick; the sticks flowed back and forth. Nothing went on email. In New York, Gibson drew up a careful plan for the first story. It had three basic components: seek legal advice; work out a strategy for approaching the White House; get draft copy from the reporters in Hong Kong. She wrote a tentative schedule on a whiteboard. (It was later titled The Legend Of The Phoenix, a line from 2013's big summer hit, Daft Punk's Get Lucky.) Events were moving at speed. MacAskill had tapped out a four-word text from Hong Kong: "The Guinness is good." This code phrase meant he was now convinced Snowden was genuine. Gibson decided to give the NSA a four-hour window to comment, so the agency had an opportunity to disavow the story. By British standards, the deadline was fair: long enough to make a few calls, agree a line. But for Washington, where journalist-administration relations sometimes resemble a country club, this was nothing short of outrageous. In London, the Guardian's editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, headed for the airport for the next available New York flight. The White House sent in its top guns for a conference call with the Guardian. The team included FBI deputy director Sean M Joyce, a Boston native with an action-man resumé – investigator against Colombian narcotics, counter-terrorism officer, legal attaché in Prague. Also patched in was Chris Inglis, the NSA's deputy director. He was a man who interacted with journalists so rarely, he was considered by many to be a mythical entity. Then there was Robert S Litt, the general counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Litt was clever, likable, voluble, dramatic, lawyerly and prone to rhetorical flourishes. On the Guardian side were Gibson and Millar, sitting in Gibson's small office, with its cheap sofa and unimpressive view of Broadway. By fielding heavyweights, the White House had perhaps reckoned it could flatter, and if necessary bully, the Guardian into delaying publication. Gibson explained that the editor-in-chief – in the air halfway across the Atlantic – was unavailable. She said: "I'm the final decision-maker." After 20 minutes, the White House was frustrated. The conversation was going in circles. Finally, one of the team could take no more. Losing his temper, he shouted, "You don't need to publish this! No serious news organisation would publish this!" Gibson replied, "With the greatest respect, we will take the decisions about what we publish." Over in Hong Kong, Snowden and Greenwald were restless. Greenwald signalled that he was ready and willing to self-publish or take the scoop elsewhere if the Guardian hesitated. Time was running out. Snowden could be uncovered at any minute. Just after 7pm, Guardian US went ahead and ran the story. That evening, diggers arrived and tore up the sidewalk immediately in front of the Guardian's US office, a mysterious activity for a Wednesday night. With smooth efficiency, they replaced it. More diggers arrived outside Gibson's home in Brooklyn. Soon, every member of the Snowden team was able to recount similar unusual moments: "taxi drivers" who didn't know the way or the fare; "window cleaners" who lingered next to the editor's office. "Very quickly, we had to get better at spycraft," Gibson says. Snowden now declared his intention to go public. Poitras recorded Greenwald interviewing him. She made a 12-minute film and got the video through to New York. In the Guardian US office, the record of Snowden actually speaking was cathartic. "We were completely blown away," Millar says. "We thought he was cool and plausible." When the moment arrived, with the video ready to go live, the atmosphere in the newsroom was deeply emotional. Five people, including Rusbridger, were in the office. The video went up about 3pm local time on Sunday 9 June. "It was like a bomb going off," Rusbridger says. "There is a silent few seconds after a bomb explodes when nothing happens." The TV monitors were put on different channels; for almost an hour they carried prerecorded Sunday news. Then at 4pm the story erupted. Each network carried Snowden's image. It was 3am in Hong Kong when the video was posted online. It was the most-viewed story in the Guardian's history. Snowden had just become the most hunted man on the planet. The chase was already on. Greenwald, in one of his many TV interviews, had been captioned by CNN as "Glenn Greenwald, Hong Kong" – a pretty big clue. The local Chinese media and international journalists now studied every frame of the video for clues. One enterprising hack used Twitter to identify the Mira from its lamps. And then Snowden vanished. • © Luke Harding 2014 This is an edited extract from The Snowden Files: The Inside Story Of The World's Most Wanted Man, by Luke Harding http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/01/edward-snowden-intelligence-leak-nsa-contractor-extract
  25. 26.01.2014 45 mins ago Fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has claimed that US government officials "want to kill me" in an exclusive interview which German television says it conducted in Moscow. German NDR television issued a further snippet ahead of a broadcast late Sunday in Europe of an exclusive interview with Snowden in which the intelligence whistleblower claims that US officials wanted him killed. "These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket, and then watch as I die in the shower," he told NDR interviewer Hubert Seipel, who said the interview took place last Thursday. Snowden, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia in August, referred in the interview to a report by US website BuzzFeed of explicit threats against him from unnamed Pentagon and National Security Agency (NSA) officials. The former NSA contractor is wanted by US authorities on treason charges for disclosing details of a vast intelligence operation that monitored millions of phone calls and emails across the world. The interview was aired on German ARD television, of which NDR is a member, with a German-language voice-over late on Sunday, European time. In the ARD talkshow Günter Jauch run prior to the interview's ARD broadcast, former US ambassador to Berlin John Kornblum was asked where Snowden would be in 10 years time. Kornblum said he expected Snowden would return to the United States under a deal. "I believe there will be an arrangment," Kornblum said. Industrial espionage too? In an earlier snippet released online late on Saturday by the public broadcaster NDR, Snowden claimed that the NSA was involved in industrial espionage and did not limit its espionage to issues of US national security. "If there is information at [German electronics and engineering giant] Siemens that they think would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security, of the United States, they will go after that information and they'll take it," Snowden said. NDR's interviewer Seipel, in a pre-broadcast interview in German also published online by NDR, said Snowden's sole "life insurance" was that he had entrusted journalists of the New York Times, Washington Post and Britain's Guardian with the material. At regular intervals, Seipel said, these media outlets triggered a series of "small thematic bombs." 'Very carefully' selected documents "The NSA is still trying to guess, how much material it involves. At the start there was talk of 200,000, then of 600,000 and now there are around 1.7 million documents," Seipel said. Snowden had "very carefully" selected documents that rather than focusing on individual persons, focused on the structure of the US secret services and alleged "violations," Seipel said. "He has shown what happens within this apparatus, also in connection with other services." "The accusation that he has endangered the lives of thousands of soldiers or secret service employees is in my view feeble-minded," Seipel said, adding that Snowden had a "very strong" sense of justice. "That [President Barack] Obama said he was not a patriot is for him, I think, quite difficult enough." Interview arranged via 'safeguards' The interviewer said Snowden was "very precise in what he says, but naturally was also very cautious" to avoid breaching the terms of his asylum in Russia. Seipel said the NDR team conducted the exclusive interview using three cameras and a microphone after organizing the meeting using encrypted phone calls and several other "safeguard measures." On Thursday, in a question-and-answer session on the "Free Snowden" website, the fugitive ruled out returning to the United States, where he said there was no chance of a free trial. http://www.dw.de/wanted-dead-by-us-officials-snowden-tells-german-tv/a-17388431 Also see: Snowden New Interview: U.S. Spy On Foreign Companies http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVW1laVQygc DW restricts "the interview" to German audience only. Youtube not publishing Uploaded "Snowden exklusiv -- Das Interview [ARD - 26.01.2014] - YouTube" This video has been removed because it is too long. Sorry about that. http: //www. youtube. com/watch?v=bLIq2tfWyvc However, Watch "Snowden Exklusiv (NDR, 26.01.14)" http://vimeo.com/85106649 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3bU8M3FgfE Original German Transcript http://www.presseportal.de/mobil/story.htx?nr=2648795 English Transcript Through Google Translator " Snowden exclusive" : the text of the interview of NDR author Hubert Seipel 26.01.2014 | 23:26 clock , NDR / The First ( ots) - NDR author Hubert Seipel has led the world's first television interview with Edward Snowden after his flight from Hong Kong. Here is the text of the 30 - minute version of the interview that the first "exclusive Snowden - the interview " under the title on Sunday night , 26 January has been shown at 23.05 clock . Free quotes when mentioning " Source: NDR" . Hubert Seipel (hereinafter abbreviated to HS) : Mr. Snowden , you have slept well the last few nights ? I 've read that you have asked for police protection. Are there any threats? Edward Snowden (hereinafter abbreviated as ES): There are significant threats , but I sleep very well. There was an article in an online portal called " buzzfeed " , were interviewed in the Pentagon officials and NSA National Security Agency . It has assured them anonymity so that they can say what they want, and who told the reporter that they want to kill me . These people - and there are government officials - have said they would chase me just like a bullet in the head or poison me when I come back from the supermarket, and watch me die then under the shower . HS : But luckily you are still alive . ES: Right, I 'm still alive and I do not have sleepless nights because I did what I thought was necessary. It was the right thing, and I will not be afraid . HS: The biggest fear that I have , as far as my revelations , you said , is that nothing changes . But meanwhile, there is a lively discussion about the position of the NSA , not only in America but also in Germany and in Brazil, and President Obama was forced to publicly justify what the NSA has since made ​​quite legally . ES: As a first reaction to the revelations , the government has set up as a kind of corral to the National Security Agency . Rather than get behind the public and to protect their rights , the politicians have brought to the security apparatus and its laws. That was an interesting way , but only the first reaction , since concessions have been made . The President has just said: "We have met the right level , there was no abuse," then he and his officials have admitted that it has effectively given abuse. There have been countless violations of the National Security Agency and other relevant bodies and authorities each year. HS : Is the talk of Obama the beginning of a serious regulation? ES: From the President's speech was clear that he wants to make minor changes in order to preserve authorities , we do not need . The President has formed a committee of officials belonging to his personal friends of members of the National Security and former members of the CIA - to conserve both from people who have every reason with these programs. But even they have found that these programs are worthless , that they have never prevented a terrorist attack in the U.S. and that they have at best a bit of benefit for other things. The Section 215 program, which is a huge data collection program - and that is mass surveillance program - has just found out that a wire transfer in the amount of $ 85,000 was discovered and stopped by a taxi driver in California. Specialists say that we do not need this type of review that we do not make these programs safely. Your maintenance is extremely expensive , and they are worthless . Experts say that you can change it. The National Security Agency is subject solely to the President . He can finish their action at any time or initiate a change. HS: President Obama has admitted that the NSA collects billions of data and stores . ES: Every time you call , write an email , transfer something , go with a mobile phone bus or dragging anywhere a card through a reader , you leave a trace , and the government has decided that it is a good idea , the everything to gain with these programs. Everything , even if you have never been suspected of a crime. Usually, the state goes to a judge who told him that someone is suspected of having committed a particular crime , there is an arrest warrant , and only then they use the official authority for the investigation. Today, the government is their authority and an already , before any investigation begins . HS : You have triggered this debate. The name of Edward Snowden now stands for the whistleblower in the Internet age . Until last summer, you have worked for the NSA and in that time you have secretly thousands of confidential documents from the NSA collected all over the world. What was the defining moment - or was it a longer period - why did you do it ? ES : I would say , a crucial point was when I saw how the director of National Intelligence , James Clapper , has lied under oath before Congress . There is no salvation for a secret service , who believes he can lie to the public and lawmakers who trust him and regulate his actions. When I saw that, it meant to me that I can not go back. There was no doubt . In addition, there was the creeping realization that no one would do differently. The public had a right to know of these programs. The public had a right to know what the government is doing in their name , and what the government is doing to the public. But neither the one nor the other , we were allowed to discuss . We were forbidden even to speak with our elected representatives about it or discuss these programs , and that is dangerous . The only test that we had came from a secret court , the Court Fizer , which is a kind of vicarious agent . If this includes when you go to work every day and sits down at his desk , one is aware of his power. That you could even listen to the President of the United States or a federal judge , and if you proceed with caution , no one will know because the only way how the NSA uncovers abuse, self- displays are . HS: For that matter, we speak not only of the NSA. There is a multilateral agreement for cooperation between the intelligence agencies. This alliance is known as the Five Eyes. Which intelligence agencies and countries belong to this alliance , and what is the goal? ES: The Five Eyes alliance is a kind of artifact from the period after the Second World War in which the English-speaking countries were the major powers , which came together to cooperate and share the cost of the infrastructure of the intelligence services. So we have the GCHQ in England , we have the NSA in the United States , and we have Canada C -Sec , we have the Australian Signals Intelligence Directorate and we have the New Zealand DSD Defence Signals Directorate The result has been for decades a kind of supra-national intelligence organization , the does not comply with the laws of their own countries. HS: In many countries , as well as in America, it is organizations like the NSA legally not allowed to spy on the citizens in their own country , the British officially allowed to spy on everyone , just not the British, but the NSA could spy on the British and vice versa so that they can exchange data . And so they follow the law officially . ES: If you ask the governments immediately thereafter , they will deny it and refer to the Agreement between the members of the Five Eyes , in which is that it does not spy on the citizens of the other country , but there are some sticking points . One is that the collection of data in them does not count as espionage. The GCHQ gathers an incredible amount of data a British citizen , just like the National Security Agency collects a tremendous amount of data on U.S. citizens. They claim that they monitor any targeted person within this data. You are not looking for U.S. or British citizens. In addition, the agreement , which says that the British are not U.S. citizens and the United States monitor any British citizen , is not legally binding. The actual contract document has separately then that the agreement is not legally binding . This Agreement may at any time be circumvented or broken. So if the NSA wants to spy on a British citizen , she can spy on him , and the data even left the British government , which shall not spy on its own citizens . Thus there is a kind of trade dynamics , but this is not open, it is more of a nudge and a wink . In addition, the monitoring and the abuse does not happen only when people look at the data , it is done by people collect the data at all. HS : How close is the cooperation of the German secret service BND with the NSA and the Five Eyes ? ES: I would describe as closely . In a written interview I did it first so expressed that the German and American intelligence go to bed together . I say this because they not only share information , but also share tools and infrastructure. They work against common targets , and therein lies a great danger. One of the major programs , serving in the National Security Agency to abuse , is the "X Key Score" . It is a technique with which you can search through all the data that is stored around the world every day of the NSA. HS: What would you do in their place with this instrument? ES: You could read every e -mail around the world . From each , of which one has the e- mail address, you can watch the traffic on any website , on any computer , any laptop that does one locate , you can follow from place to place all over the world . It is a one stop shop , over which one gets to all the information the NSA. Moreover, one can use X key score to track individuals. Let's say I 've ever seen and you found interesting , what you do , or you have access to something that interests me , let's say you work in a large German companies , and I want to get access to this network. I can your user name to find out on a website on a form somewhere , I can find out your real name , I can pursue relationships with your friends , and I can make something that is called a fingerprint , that is a network activity that is unique to you . That is, no matter where you go in the world , no matter where you try to get your online presence, to hide your identity , the NSA to find you. And everyone who is entitled to use this instrument or by the NSA shares its software can do the same. Germany is a country that has access to X Key score. HS : That sounds pretty scary . The question is : Returns the data BND German citizens to the NSA ? ES: Whether the BND does it directly or consciously - at least the NSA receives German data. Whether they are delivered , about that I may speak only when it was reported in the Shun about it because it was classified as secret , and it is dear to me if journalists decide what is in the public interest and what should be published. However, it is no secret that every country in the world has the data of its citizens in the NSA . Millions and millions and millions of data connections from the daily life of the Germans, if they use their phone , send SMS messages , visit web pages , buy things online - all this ends up at NSA . And since it seems likely that the BND is aware in some way. Whether he really actively provides information to , I can not tell . HS: The BND argues that something be done only by chance and that our filter does not work . ES : Right. They discuss two things. They say that they collect and filter data . That is, if the NSA a secret server installed in a German telecommunications provider or a German router hacking and traffic redirects in such a way that they can browse it , it is said: " When I realize that a German speaks with another German , I listen to " , but how will you know? You could say "well, these people speak the German language , this IP address appears to lead by a German company to another German company" , but that is not correct. And who would not drop all the traffic , because they are so get at people who are interested , the active use in Germany German lines of communication . If they say they do not spy on Germans intentionally , then so do not think that they do not collect German data , they do not mean that no records are made ​​or stolen. A promise , in which one crosses fingers behind his back , it can not rely on. HS: What about other European countries such as Norway and Sweden? We have a lot of underwater cables that run through the Baltic Sea . ES: This is a kind of extension of the same idea. If the NSA does not collect information on German citizens in Germany , it does it then , as soon as she leaves the German borders ? The answer is " yes". The NSA can intercept any communication that runs over the Internet , at various points . Maybe they see that in Germany , perhaps in Sweden , perhaps in Norway or Finland , perhaps in England , and perhaps in the United States. At every single place that runs through a German communication , it is intercepted and stored. HS: Let's talk about our southern neighbors , Italy , France and Spain? ES: It's the same deal worldwide . HS: NSA Spying at Siemens , Mercedes and other successful companies to use their advantage in technology and business for their own benefit ? ES : I again do not want to prejudge the journalists , but what I can say is : There is no doubt that the United States operate industrial espionage. If there is information at Siemens , from which they think that they are for the national interests of advantage, but not for the national security of the United States , they will chase and the information they get. HS: There is an old proverb that says " If anything is possible, it is done ." Does the NSA , which is technically possible? ES: The theme of the president has addressed last year . Then he said , just because we can do something - and there was a question that had been tapped the phone of Angela Merkel - just because we can do something does not mean we should do it too, and that is exactly what happened. The technical possibilities that lie in low safety standards of Internet protocols and mobile communication networks, were of intelligence used to create systems that see everything. HS: Nothing has the German government more angry than the fact that the NSA has apparently tapped over the last ten years, the home phone to German Chancellor Merkel. Suddenly the invisible monitoring combined with a known face and not with this opaque , shady terrorist background. Now Obama has promised to snoop no longer with Mrs. Merkel, which raises the question "Does the NSA intercepted already previous governments , including former Chancellor and when : when and how long they did it " ? ES: This is a particularly difficult question for me because there is information that necessarily have to be in the public interest in my opinion . However, as I already said , I would rather that journalists look at the material and decide whether the value of this information to the public is more important than the damage that the publication for the reputation of the members of the government means having issued this surveillance. What I can say is that we know that was monitored Angela Merkel of the National Security Agency . The question is , how logical it is to assume that it is the only member of the government , which was monitored. How likely is it that it is the only known German face, to which the National Security Agency has taken care of ? I would say it is not very likely that someone who cares about intentions of the German government only monitors Merkel and not their advisers , no other known members of the government , no minister or even members of municipal governments. HS: How do you get a young man from Elizabeth City , North Carolina at the age of 30 years, such a position in such a sensitive area ? ES: That's a very difficult question. Basically, I would say that the dangers of privatization of public tasks be identified. I used to work as a government employee for the Central Intelligence Agency , but I worked a lot more frequently than contractor in a private setting . This means that private , for-profit companies take over sovereign functions such as espionage , reconnaissance, infiltration of foreign systems. And anyone who can convince the private sector firms that he has the necessary qualifications , is set . Supervision is minimal and there is hardly tested . HS: Were you one of those classic computer kids , which has been sitting with bloodshot eyes the whole night in front of a computer, 12 or 15 years old and her father knocked on the door and said: "Do finally out of the light! " If you purchased your knowledge this way? ES: I definitely had - let's say - a deeply informal education, as far as my computer and electronics training. This has always been fascinating to me . Well, the description that the parents sent me to bed , it is already true . HS: If you look at the few public data of their lives , you discover that you are obviously in May 2004 wanted to join the special forces , to fight in Iraq. What has driven then ? Special forces , that is violently struggling and probably also kill . Have you ever been in Iraq? ES : Yes. What is interesting in terms of the special forces , but the fact that they really are not responsible for the direct contact for direct fights. Rather, they are intended to act forces reinforcing. They are used behind enemy lines . This is a special unit . It aims to help the local population to resist , and support the U.S. Armed Forces. I then thought for a fundamentally decent affair. In retrospect, the arguments for the use in Iraq were insufficiently justified with the result that all parties emerged from the damaged thing. HS: What happened after your adventure continues ? Did you stay there ? ES: No, I broke the legs in training and was discharged. HS: In other words, so it was a short adventure ... ES: ... Yes , a short one. HS : 2007 They were stationed for the CIA in Geneva, Switzerland . Why did you go to the CIA ? ES : I do not think I can say that. HS : Then we forget the question. But why the CIA ? ES : I think that I thus wanted to continue as effectively as possible to serve the public good. It is also in my other activities for the state in which I wanted to use my technical skills in the most difficult places I could find . And that's what gave me the CIA. HS: If you look at the so look what you've done: Special Forces CIA , NSA . This is not necessarily the way for a human or whistleblowers. What happened? ES: I think it shows , no matter how hard we strive to secure the state and is loyal to him , no matter how strongly you believe in the government's arguments , as it has been with me during the Iraq war of the case - you can learn and detect a difference between a reasonable for a state action and an actual wrongdoing. And I think I realized that a red line had been crossed. HS: Are you working at a private company called Booze Alan Hamilton for the NSA . The company is one of the big players in the business. What is the advantage to hire private companies to carry out a central task for the sovereign state? ES: The practice of allocating security authorities of the United States is a complicated matter . It is determined by various interests. Firstly, the number of direct employees of the State should be limited , on the other hand require the lobbyists of wealthy companies such as financial Booze Alan Hamilton took its toll . This creates a situation influence the policies of government in the private companies. And whose interests are very different from the interests of the general public . The consequences could be observed in Booze Alan Hamilton, where individuals can access millions of official acts. You can always leave the company. No reliability, no control. The government did not even know that the were gone. HS: In the end they ended up here in Russia. And the intelligence community suspects you that you have made a deal here . Asylum against secret information . ES: The head of the working group that examined my case , said in December that there is no evidence that I could get from outside help or even been instructed from the outside. I also made ​​a deal to carry out my mission. I worked alone . This is indeed the case . I worked alone , I needed help from anyone , I have no foreign governments any connections and I'm not a spy for Russia, China or any other country. If it is true that I am a traitor , who am I supposed to have betrayed ? I have everything that I know the American public , the American journalist given . If this is to be considered as treason , men should really ask who they work for . The public is , after all, their boss , not their enemy . HS: After your revelations , no European country was willing to take you . Where you have applied for asylum ? ES: The exact list I have not in mind because there were so many , but in any case France, Germany and the UK. Several European countries , all of which , unfortunately, felt it important to support the United States the political interests and do the right thing . HS : A response to the NSA spying is that countries such as Germany to do about thoughts to establish their own national networks to Internet companies are forced to keep data in their own country . ES: It will not stop them to continue their work , the NSA . Let's put it this way : The NSA goes where the data is . If she manages to gather news from the telecommunications networks of China, it probably will succeed her, get at Facebook messages in Germany . Ultimately , the solution is to put everything not in a walled garden . It is much better to back up data on an international level , as if everyone is trying the data back and one that tries to . The transfer of data is not the solution . The solution is to save the data. HS: President Obama are the messages this revelation at the moment seems relatively unimportant . He seems - along with the NSA - to be much more interested to take the bearer of this news. Obama has repeatedly asked the Russian president to make your delivery. Putin has rejected it looks like , as you will spend the rest of your life here in Russia. Is there a solution for this problem? ES : I think that it is becoming increasingly clear that these revelations have done no harm , but rather serve the public good . It will be difficult to continue a campaign against someone whom the public the opinion prevails that he is working for the public good . HS: In the New York Times had an editorial called for in the grace for you recently . The headline : "Edward Snowden whistleblower " and I quote : "The public was informed about how the agency exceeds the limits of its powers and abused. " And then it says : "President Obama should instruct his employees to set the slander Mr. Snowden's an end and to give him an incentive to come home ." Did you get a call? ES : I have yet to get a call from the White House and I do not sit on the phone and wait . Nevertheless, I would welcome the opportunity to talk about how we can bring this matter to a mutually satisfactory way to the end . I believe that there are cases in which what is legal is not necessarily right. There are enough examples in history in America and Germany , where the country's government acted within the law and still did wrong. HS: President Obama is obviously not quite convinced , he said , that you have committed three offenses. He said : " If you , Edward Snowden , stand by what you have done , you should come back to America and to answer with the help of a lawyer before the court ." Is this the solution? ES: What he did not say is that these are offenses for which I can not be heard before a court . I can not defend myself before a public court or convince the jury the fact that I had acted in their interests. The Espionage Act dates from 1918. Its goal was never to pursue journalistic sources , ie people that make the newspapers get information of general public interest . Rather, it was directed against people who sell the documents to foreign governments , blow up bridges, sabotage communication , and not against people who act in the public interest. It is significant that the President says that I am to answer before a court , even if he knows that such a process would only be a show trial . The conversation has arisen in the context of NDR documentation that will show the first in the spring. Information also available at www.NDR.de / snowden Press contact: NDR / The First Press and Information Iris Bents Phone: 040/4156 - 2304 Fax: 040/4156 - 2199 i.bents @ ndr.de http://www.ndr.de
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