Here’s a recent LifeHacker article that may be well received: a manual on how to turn off the “read receipt” feature in some of the most popular apps, including What’s App. And yes, that’s another one up for privacy.
I saw this Sky News clip earlier this week and thought I should share it. The 2 opposing views illustrate how these arguments could go on forever. But which side are you on?
Above from Sky News: The Campaign Director of the Don’t Spy On Us campaign, Mike Harris and the Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, Professor Anthony Glees discuss whether the UK needs more anti-terror laws.
Fancy rolling up your sleeves and doing something about the (continued) intrusions of your privacy and communications? Now here’s your chance.
The US Senate was just 2 votes shy last Tuesday on the USA Freedom Act, a surveillance reform bill which would have otherwise put a (legal) stop to the National Security Agency’ clandestine domestic surveillance programs and metadata collection as revealed by the Snowden revelations.
Here is a list of the senators and their respective votes:
And here’s a list of those 42 senators that voted NAYs – ie. they support more NSA surveillance – along with their social media handles so you can send them a personal Twitter message. Reckon they wouldn’t mind at all since they don’t value privacy, or respect your privacy to be precise. Besides it’s only their contact coordinates disclosed. Tell them how you feel about losing more than your contact coordinates, ie. your metadata and privacy. And share it with your friends, they may have something to tell those senators. So why are you waiting?
And here’s one to highlight:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he will appeal, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, after a Swedish appeals court upheld last Thursday an arrest warrant issued 4 years ago – for accusations of sexual assault and rape allegations that Assange said are false and politically motivated.
Meanwhile, Ecuador has voiced its continued support and guaranteed him political asylum for “as long as necessary”. So it looks like poor Assange will continue to live in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he has stayed for more than 2 years to avoid extradition to Sweden, which he feared would then hand him over to the United States where a death penalty possibly awaits if he is convicted of uploading troves of US government secrets through WikiLeaks.
A media friend once revealed how a stranger called him to offer some leaks, tried to force him to disclose his sources (which he declined) when they met and eventually coerced him to cooperate or “bear the consequences”.
He sought my advice after running away from the stranger – that he assumed to be a Chinese spy – as he reckoned all his communication channels have been snooped. It was a fear he lives to this day.
I suppose he is not as “lucky” as these British journalists (see story below), who filed a lawsuit against the London’s Metropolitan Police and Britain’s Home Office after they discovered evidence of how the British police have spent years stalking and detailing their movements.
UK Police Spied on Reporters for Years, Docs Show
LONDON — Nov 21, 2014, 12:28 PM ET
By RAPHAEL SATTER Associated Press
Freelance video journalist Jason Parkinson returned home from vacation this year to find a brown paper envelope in his mailbox. He opened it to find nine years of his life laid out in shocking detail.
Twelve pages of police intelligence logs noted which protests he
covered, who he spoke to and what he wore all the way down to the color of his boots. It was, he said, proof of something he’d long suspected: The police were watching him.
“Finally,” he thought as he leafed through documents over a strong black coffee, “we’ve got them.”
Parkinson’s documents, obtained through a public records request, are the basis of a lawsuit being filed by the National Union of Journalists against London’s Metropolitan Police and Britain’s Home Office. The lawsuit, announced late Thursday, along with recent revelations about the seizure of reporters’ phone records, is pulling back the curtain on how British police have spent years tracking the movements of the country’s news media.
“This is another extremely worrying example of the police monitoring journalists who are undertaking their proper duties,” said Paul Lashmar, who heads the journalism department at Britain’s Brunel University.
The Metropolitan Police and the Home Office both declined to comment.
Parkinson, three photographers, an investigative journalist and a newspaper reporter are filing the lawsuit after obtaining their surveillance records. Parkinson, a 44-year-old freelancer who has covered hundreds of protests some of them for The Associated Press said he and his colleagues had long suspected that the police were monitoring them.
“Police officers we’d never even met before knew our names and seemed to know a hell of a lot about us,” he said.
Several journalists told AP the records police kept on them were sometimes startling, sometimes funny and occasionally wrong.
One intelligence report showed that police spotted Parkinson cycling near his then-home in northwest London and carried detailed information about him and his partner at the time.
Jules Mattsson, a 21-year-old journalist with the Times of London, says another record carried a mention of a family member’s medical history, something he says made him so upset he called the police to demand an explanation.
“No one could possibly defend this,” he said.
Jess Hurd, a 41-year-old freelance photographer and Parkinson’s partner, said she was worried the intelligence logs were being shared internationally.
“I go to a lot of countries on assignment,” she said. “Where are these database logs being shared? Who with, for what purpose?”
The revelations add to public disclosures about British police secretly seizing journalists’ telephone records in leak investigations. Several senior officers have recently acknowledged using anti-terrorism powers to uncover journalists’ sources by combing through the records.
Some police argue they’re hunting for corrupt officers, a particularly salient issue in the wake of Britain’s phone hacking scandal, which exposed how British tabloid journalists routinely paid officers in exchange for scoops.
It isn’t yet clear how often the practice takes place, but the admission drew concern in Parliament and outrage from media groups.
Lashmar, a member of the National Union of Journalists who is not involved in the lawsuit, said the specter of terrorism was pushing police to be bolder and bolder about how closely they watch the nation’s press.
“Police seem to have got the message that journalists are now fair game and you can surveil and watch them,” he said.
It’s a fitting scene from the classic movie Gone with the Wind with the famous closing quote “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”.
The US Senate vote on the USA Freedom Act Tuesday night to rein in the NSA spying power came shy of just 2 votes of the 60 needed to take up the legislation, which would have otherwise stopped the controversial phone record metadata collection by the NSA
Any hope will now hinge on June next year as the legal grounds for the NSA phone snooping, as revealed by the Snowden revelations, under the Patriot Act will then expire – which means the NSA would require then new legislation to justify their access to these mass data.
A new software called Phantom Terrains, developed by London-based science writer Frank Swain, can now help the deaf listen to the sounds of wi-fi signals.
The software would utilize the wi-fi sensors of an iPhone to pick up, analyze and transform the invisible data around us – in the form of wi-fi networks and radio waves – into audible sound which are then sent wirelessly to a customized Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid – see video below.
But it turned out that we can also see wi-fi signals – see pictures above and below.
In a project called “A creative exploration of wireless spectres”, artist Luis Hernan used a “Kirilian device” to capture the images of invisible wireless networks that levitate around us at all times every day – the resulting eerie and ghost-like images are no surprise because Kirilian photography is often associated with paranormal activity.
AfriLeaks, a brand new anonymous whistleblowing platform, will be launched end November but unlike the renowned and established WikiLeaks, this African cousin will not be releasing secret information directly to the public.
“[AfriLeaks will] provide a secure tool for connectivity between the whistleblowers and the media who then investigate the substance and character of the leak,” according to Khadija Sharife of the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) – the organization that will host the platform – in a Deutsche Welle report earlier this week
According to Deustche Welle, unlike WikiLeaks’ aim to publish and disclose information, “AfriLeaks will be there to provide leads for stories to media and research organizations. The new platform will allow whistleblowers to choose the media or research organization to which they want to send the information”.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may be smiling. According to a biography (above), Assange described “going to Africa and testing my ground” in the early days of WikiLeaks where one of the very first story his whistleblowing platform broke was on Kenya – which was then fed to The Guardian who ran “The Looting of Kenya” as a front-page story. The article was subsequently picked up by the Kenyan media.
“From our point of view, the leak supported the idea that oppressed media organizations could suddenly be freed when a story that mattered to them – and which they couldn’t reveal on their own – was given legitimacy and the oxygen of international exposure first,” according to the book.
“We kept at it, kept publishing stuff that the African papers were too frightened to publish…”
Did you say you love conspiracy theories?
You’re in luck. Here’s one on Snowden from AMTV – Alternative Media Television.
Are you concerned that someone might be spying on you using drones, Google Glass or hidden cameras and microphones – and streaming the recording online? Fancy owning a gadget that can detect and disconnect these intrusive surveillance devices?
A new German product called Cyborg Unplug, now available for online order (at 52 Euros), is designed to block wireless surveillance where you are most vulnerable – in public spaces where the devices can be easily prying, and streaming online, without your knowledge.
“It sniffs the air for wireless signatures from devices you don’t want around, sending an alert to your phone when detected. Should the target device connect to a network you’ve chosen to defend, Cyborg Unplug will immediately disconnect them, stopping them from streaming video, audio and data to the Internet.”
But do note that whilst this Cyborg Unplug can disconnect the spying devices, it cannot prevent them from saving the video and audio recording locally. It’s only half the problem solved…
And equipments like the Cyborg Unplug are considered illegal in some countries, including the US.
Are you in trouble – still without any Christmas holiday plan? If that’s the case, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.
Have you ever (even secretly) fancy a holiday with absolute peace, ie. where no one can reach or find you AT ALL? Or is that even remotely possible? Seriously, in this post-Snowden era?
Now, there’s actually a place where you’ll find no modern conveniences at all – no cell phones, no wi-fi and not even digital cameras? And it’s in the US: Pocahontas County in West Virginia.
Now where are my tents and books…??
Business travels carry a huge price tag in security risks. Hence a common (but unspoken) practice amongst sleuths is particularly noteworthy: Avoid the biggest hotels in the biggest cities.
This is relevant because a Kaspersky Lab report (below) released earlier this week found a sophisticated industrial espionage campaign aimed at business executives using in-house wireless connections in luxury hotels across Asia, with thousands of victims since 2009 who otherwise believed they were using private and secure networks.
However, the risk with using hotel internet (both LAN and wireless) connections is nothing new.
The FBI has warned 2 years ago about malware being spread across hotel wi-fi systems.
And in the scandal involving former CIA director David Petraeus and his mistress Paula Broadwell (picture below) back in 2012, the way the FBI managed to trace emails sent by Broadwell from her hotel rooms also underscored the problems associated with using supposedly secure hotel internet connections – despite her attempt to shield her identity by using anonymous email accounts, the FBI were able to find out where the emails were sent from (ie. which cities, which wi-fi locations and which hotels) which eventually led to her name.
Previously on Shhh-cretly, several columns also highlighted the perilous voyage business travelers faced, especially in Asia and the risks go well beyond hotel internet connections. Some fellow sleuths are well aware of how some government would send their agents to break into hotel rooms when the house guests were out for the day. For example, a Shhh-cretly post 2 years ago revealed how the FBI had video footage, covertly taken in a hotel room somewhere in China, showing how Chinese agents broke in and swept through the belongings and laptop of an American businessman.
It also helps to know that the locks found on between 4 and 5 million hotel room doors worldwide can easily be opened by a simple hacking device.
And one is still not necessarily safe inside a hotel room, even if the door is locked and blocked. Spy gadgets may have been planted inside the room to snoop on the unwary house guests. And some rooms even have “spying walls“.
With these knowledge, some sleuths have gone to great lengths to protect themselves – such as planting a covert camera in the room, weighing a data-less laptop, with and without the battery, and the power plug before and after leaving the hotel room as well as hiding a SD card (which store all your data transferred from your laptop prior to a business trip, thus the data-less laptop) under the tongue, etc.
According to the Kaspersky report, “a key mystery remains how attackers appear to know the precise travel itinerary of each victim”.
Well, recall the Snowden revelations have also revealed that the British intelligence agency GCHQ had a secretive “Royal Concierge” program that broke into the global hotel booking system of some 350 luxury hotels for about 3 years, specifically to trace and wiretap the suites of traveling diplomats.
Now, has the world reached a state of paranoia?
Execs in Asian luxury hotels fall prey to cyber-espionage -study
By Eric Auchard
FRANKFURT Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:04am EST
Nov 10 (Reuters) – Security researchers have uncovered a sophisticated industrial espionage campaign that targets business executives in luxury hotels across Asia once they sign on to computers using in-room wireless connections they consider private and secure.
The attacks, which go well beyond typical cybercriminal operations, have claimed thousands of victims dating back to 2009 and continue to do so, Kaspersky Lab, the world’s largest private security firm, shows in a report published on Monday.
Executives from the auto, outsourced manufacturing, cosmetic and chemical industries have been hit, the security firm said. Others targeted include military services and contractors.
In 2012, the FBI issued a general warning to U.S. government officials, businessmen and academics, advising them to use caution when updating computer software via hotel Internet connections when travelling abroad (1.usa.gov/1xAP4YI).
Kaspersky’s report goes further in detailing the scale, methods and precise targeting of these attacks on top business travelers. (bit.ly/1xcU0Gs)
The movements of executives appear to be tracked as they travel, allowing attackers to pounce once a victim logs on to a hotel Wi-Fi network. Hackers cover their tracks by deleting these tools off hotel networks afterward.
“These attackers are going after a very specific set of individuals who should be very aware of the value of their information and be taking strong measures to protect it,” said Kurt Baumgartner, principal security researcher for Kaspersky, the world’s largest privately held cybersecurity firm.
Unsuspecting executives who submit their room number and surname while logging on to their hotel room’s wireless network are tricked into downloading an update to legitimate software such as Adobe Flash, Google Toolbar or Microsoft Messenger, Kaspersky said. Because attacks happen at sign-on, encrypted communications set up later offer no defence against attack.
The same elite spying crew has used advanced keystroke-logging software and encryption-breaking at multiple hotel chains across Asia, it said.
Kaspersky declined to name the executives involved or the luxury destinations targeted but said it had informed the hotels as well as law enforcement officials in affected locations.
Ninety percent of the victims came from five countries — Japan, Taiwan, China, Russia and South Korea. Business travelers to Asia from Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland and the United States have also been duped, Baumgartner said.
The Kaspersky report said a key mystery remains how attackers appear to know the precise travel itinerary of each victim, which points to a larger compromise of hotel business networks that researchers say they are continuing to probe. (Reporting By Eric Auchard; Editing by Clara Ferreira Marques)
More than 50 well known musicians, actors and Nobel laureates (full list below) have shown their support for Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers like WikiLeaks and they are encouraging the public, through their social media outlets, to donate to the Courage Foundation which oversees the official legal defense fund for Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers, as well as fights for whistleblower protections worldwide.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reported that actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (best remembered for his roles in “Lincoln,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Inception” – photo above) has been confirmed to play Snowden in a movie to be directed by Oliver Stone, who has won best director Oscars for “Platoon” and “Born on the Fourth of July”. Stone is also noted for his political films like “JFK”, “Nixon” and “Looking for Fidel”.
According to a press release Monday, the list of signatories in support of Snowden includes:
John Perry Barlow
Eduardo L. Cadava
P J Harvey
Alex Taek-Gwang Lee
Maria Dolores Galán López
W. J. T. Mitchell
Pier Aldo Rovatti
The FBI announced last week that law enforcement agencies including the bureau, the Department of Homeland Security and Europol have arrested 26-year old San Francisco resident Blake Benthall (below) who was allegedly the operator and administrator – under the handle “Defcon” – of the online drugs marketplace Silk Road 2.0, just a year after the original Silk Road’s alleged mastermind, Russ Ulbricht, was also arrested in San Francisco.
According to related court documents, Benthall was charged last Friday with narcotics trafficking, as well as conspiracy charges related to money laundering, computer hacking, and trafficking in fraudulent identification documents – which Benthall reportedly “admitted to everything”.
“The website [Silk Road 2.0] has operated on the “Tor” network, a special network of computers on the Internet, distributed around the world, designed to conceal the true IP addresses of the computers on the network and thereby the identities of the network’s users,” according to the FBI.
The globally coordinated effort involving 17 nations dubbed Operation Onymous – obviously as opposed to the “anonymous” Tor network – has reportedly led to 17 arrests and a seizure of more than 400 “hidden services” and darknet domains, $1 million in bitcoins, $250,000 in cash plus a variety of drugs, gold and silver.
It later emerged there were actually just over 27 sites seized – including Silk Road 2.0 – instead of more than 400 as initially reported: the FBI spokesperson David Berman later clarified the 400 URLs amounted only to a dozen or so sites.
However, several pertinent questions surfaced:
- Is the world really a safer place after the FBI shut down a major “darknet” marketplace? What makes the authorities rule out the emergence of a more secure, bigger and effective Silk Road 3.0? (The FBI said in its press release that “Those looking to follow in the footsteps of alleged cyber-criminals should understand that we will return as many times as necessary to shut down noxious online criminal bazaars. We don’t get tired.”)
- How much of taxpayers’ monies were spent to make these 17 arrests in 17 nations with this global operation?
The authorities hate smartphone encryption and it shows. And they’re in concerted efforts to wage a war against it.
In echoing the recent messages from FBI director James Comey and GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan, former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker told the Web Summit audience in Dublin earlier this week that the moves by Google and Apple and others to encrypt user data was more hostile to western intelligence gathering than to surveillance by China or Russia.
In a conversation with Guardian special projects editor James Ball, Baker used Blackberry as an example:
Encrypting user data had been a bad business model for Blackberry, which has had to dramatically downsize its business and refocus on business customers. “Blackberry pioneered the same business model that Google and Apple are doing now – that has not ended well for Blackberry,” said Baker.
He claimed that by encrypting user data Blackberry had limited its business in countries that demand oversight of communication data, such as India and the UAE and got a bad reception in China and Russia. “They restricted their own ability to sell. We have a tendency to think that once the cyberwar is won in the US that that is the end of it – but that is the easiest war to swim.”
Baker said the market for absolute encryption was very small, and that few companies wanted all their employees’ data to be completely protected. “There’s a very comfortable techno-libertarian culture where you think you’re doing the right thing,” said Baker.
“But I’ve worked with these companies and as soon as they get a law enforcement request no matter how liberal or enlightened they think they are, sooner to later they find some crime that is so loathsome they will do anything to find that person and identify them so they can be punished.
This latest anti-encryption blabbing drew quick defense from Blackberry COO Marty Beard, who found Baker’s remarks “don’t make any sense”.
“Security is a topic that’s increasing in importance,” Beard told the audience at FedScoop’s FedTalks event Thursday. “It’s the reason that all G7 countries and the G20 work with BlackBerry.
“We just see it growing in importance. The increasing cybersecurity threats are exploding, security across all [technology] layers is critical.”
Do not be surprised to find yourself and your treasured private space broadcast round the clock and around the world if whoever installed the security surveillance systems at your home, office or the public areas simply left the default login and password unchanged.
The still images captured (with high-speed broadband) below are just some samples for illustration – the compromised CCTV cameras were conveniently categorized by countries and cities plus the details and exact coordinates like:
- ZIP code
- Time zone
- Manufacturer (of the camera)
- Default login
- Default password
According to the web site:
Here you can see thousands of such cameras located in a cafes, shops, malls, industrial objects and bedrooms of all countries of the world. To browse cameras just select the country or camera type.
This site has been designed in order to show the importance of the security settings. To remove your public camera from this site and make it private the only thing you need to do is to change your camera password.
Previously on Shhh-cretly, we reported how the FBI could legally impersonate someone’s identity to create a phony Facebook account in that person’s name without that person’s knowledge in order to reach out to suspected criminals – and separately the NSA also disguised itself as Facebook servers in order to gain access to the computers of intelligence targets.
Well the buck doesn’t stop there. It turned out that the FBI, in the spirits of catching suspects, was also involved in planting fake news stories: The editor of The Seattle Times found out only last week that the FBI made a mock-up of the publication’s website in 2007 in order to spread spyware onto the computer of a suspect.
The FBI is reportedly defending its right to rely on such tactics to prevent “possible act of violence” – and let’s not forget FBI director James Comey is not impressed with Apple and Google phones being “too secure” and he’s been busy making his rounds pressurizing the Congress to force Apple and Google to do away with their new default smartphone encryption so that the bureau can access those devices, in the namesake of law enforcement of course.
Or do you think the bureau has gone well overboard and beyond its restraints?
The BBC plans to publish a regularly updated list of articles removed from the search engine Google following the controversial “right to be forgotten rule”.
Google has so far received some 153,000 requests which have involved about half a million different link and 40 percent of these links have been removed. However, according to associate professor David Glance, director of the Center for Software Practice at the University of Western Australia:
“… there is a great deal of concern about the sorts of things that are being removed. So, for example, information about former company directors have been removed. So various people are now asking for that type of information to be restored because it’s part of the public record and important information when you are considering the effectiveness or the background of a company or the directors.”
Check out this excellent piece from Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept on how Edward Snowden first contacted Laura Poitras and smuggled his truckloads of NSA secret documents to her with Micah Lee as the middleman.
Photo (above) credit: Micah Lee & Wired
More personnel problems at the National Security Agency…
Another conflict of interest matter has led the agency’s top spy Teresa Shea to leave her position as director of signals intelligence (SIGINT), which the NSA said last week was a “routine” transition “planned well before recent news articles”.
Shea as the SIGINT head was behind some of the most controversial mass surveillance programs disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The shakeup followed a recent BuzzFeed report (below) on the financial interests of Shea and her husband James Shea. The latter was a contractor with a SIGINT “contracting and consulting” company – Telic Networks – registered to the couple’s home. He is also the vice president of another SIGINT contractor – DRS Signals Solutions – that “appears to do business with the NSA”. The sleuth Shea herself had also incorporated an “office and electronics” business at her home.
These headlines came hot on the heels of recent reports on former NSA director Keith Alexander, who had business dealings with potential conflicts of interest during and after his NSA reign in March. Furthermore, a recent Reuters report found Alexander also hired another top NSA official, chief technology officer Patrick Dowd, to work at his new cyber-security company when Dowd was still on NSA payroll.
Find out more from the following Buzzfeed report:
Exclusive: Shakeup At NSA After BuzzFeed News Reports On Potential Conflict Of Interest
Top National Security Agency official Teresa Shea is leaving her position after BuzzFeed News reported on her and her husband’s financial interests. The move comes as the NSA faces more questions about the business dealings of its former director Keith Alexander, and potential ethics conflicts. This post has been updated to include a response from the NSA.
posted on Oct. 24, 2014, at 12:28 p.m.
WASHINGTON — One of the nation’s top spies is leaving her position at the National Security Agency (NSA), a spokesman confirmed Friday, amid growing disclosures of possible conflicts of interest at the secretive agency.
The shakeup comes just a month after BuzzFeed News began reporting on the financial interests of the official, Teresa Shea, and her husband.
Shea was the director of signals intelligence, or SIGINT, which involves intercepting and decoding electronic communications via phones, email, chat, Skype, and radio. It’s widely considered the most important mission of the NSA, and includes some of the most controversial programs disclosed by former contractor Edward Snowden, including the mass domestic surveillance program.
The NSA provided a statement Friday that said Teresa Shea’s “transition” from the SIGINT director job was routine and “planned well before recent news articles.” The agency indicated she would remain employed, but did not provide specifics.
The Sheas did not respond to a message left at their home telephone number.
In September, BuzzFeed News reported that a SIGINT “contracting and consulting” company was registered at Shea’s house, even while she was the SIGINT director at NSA. The resident agent of the company, Telic Networks, was listed as James Shea, her husband.
Mr. Shea is also the vice president of a major SIGINT contractor that appears to do business with the NSA. The company, DRS Signals Solutions, is a subsidiary of DRS Technologies, which itself is a subsidiary of Italian-owned Finmeccanica SPA.
Last week BuzzFeed News also reported Shea herself had incorporated an “office and electronics” business at her house, and that the company owned a six-seat airplane and a condominium in the resort town of Hilton Head, South Carolina.
Over the past month, Teresa and James Shea haven’t returned phone calls, and the NSA has declined to comment about any specifics, beyond explaining how the agency tries to address conflict of interest issues in general, and to say that “the agency takes Federal ethics laws quite seriously.”
In April, Adm. Michael Rogers took over as director of the NSA, and it was expected he might shuffle staff. One intelligence source said Shea’s departure from her job appeared to be due in part to the “optics” of a top NSA official coming under scrutiny by the press for her and her husband’s business dealings. The other said the press disclosures may have nothing to do with her leaving.
In a statement Friday, NSA spokesman Michael Halbig said that “NSA considers regular rotations of senior leaders as a catalyst for achieving diverse, fresh perspectives on the nation’s critical national security challenges.”
He added that “We value her leadership as a senior leader and look forward to her continued contribution to the mission to help defend the nation.”
Since she would no longer be director of SIGINT, presumably potential conflicts stemming from her husband’s role as a SIGINT contractor, with a SIGINT company at their home, would be alleviated.
Shea, as SIGINT director, presided over most of the NSA operations disclosed by Snowden. The most controversial of those is the mass domestic surveillance program, under which the agency collects data on virtually every phone call Americans make, domestically or overseas, from a cell phone or a landline. But other operations included disclosures that calls by the leaders of foreign allies were intercepted, and that a vast amount of electronic communications were collected from American internet companies such as Google and Yahoo.
Last week, the NSA came under increasing pressure because of the business dealings of former director Keith Alexander, who left the agency in March.
Reuters disclosed that Alexander hired another top NSA official to work at his company, even while the scientist continued to work at the NSA. Reuters said the NSA had begun a review of the unusual agreement, under which NSA Chief Technology Officer Patrick Dowd was to work 20 hours a week at Alexander’s company, Ironnet Cybersecurity, while still working for the U.S. government.
This week, after the controversy erupted, the company said Dowd would no longer work there.
The US Federal Trade Commission announced last week the appointment of Ashkan Soltani as the FTC’s chief technologist starting November, where he would advise on technology and policy issues for the same agency where he had previously served as a technical expert and staff technologist.
But what made his appointment stands out was other aspects of his resume. Soltani is a renowned and outspoken security researcher and has served as a technical expert for several state attorney general. Most notably, he was recently involved in investigative journalism, as a media consultant at the Washington Post helping Barton Gellman and other reporters on the technical and security aspects of the Snowden documents – and sharing their 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service – plus other spells at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
His latest appointment has upset NSA top guns, drawing criticisms from former NSA director Michael Hayden (and CIA director from 2006 to 2009):
“I’m not trying to demonize this fella, but he’s been working through criminally exposed documents and making decisions about making those documents public.”
and former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker:
“I don’t think anyone who justified or exploited Snowden’s breach of confidentiality obligations should be trusted to serve in government.”
In the same report on these reactions, there’s an interesting reader’s comment:
“Hayden and Baker seem to think they took a different oath: to protect the American people from “terrorists” at all costs. And maybe to profit from investing in surveillance companies“? See my earlier posts on Keith Alexander’s business ventures during and after his NSA tenure.
Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted his photo Wednesday during a China “road trip” where he visited Foxconn and also met Chinese vice premier Ma Kai in Beijing to discuss recent targeted attacks on iCloud originating from the country – The activist group GreatFire.org has reportedly alleged Chinese government involvement.
Meanwhile, Apple has published a guide on how one can verify the authenticity of the iCloud website in Safari, Chrome and Firefox.