Former CIA Director Thinks EU “Gets in the Way” of Security Services

Security is a big issue with companies and governments alike having issues raised when it comes to people’s data. With the UK soon to take part in a referendum, the EU is at the heart of debates about security, both digital and physical. It would seem that some think the EU doesn’t quite help security services.

Retired General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, seems to think that the EU wasn’t “a natural contributor to national security”. The EU proposed late last year a set of guidelines for its member countries to follow in cybersecurity, with specialist teams designed to help track and address issues, countries would be expected to share information and help each other learn about the new threat that can be found in the digital world.Digital

Digital security became a big topic when Edward Snowden revealed the extent that the US government (and other governments around the world, including the UK) monitored and tracked people’s information. Europe is currently debating how the new data sharing policy it has with the US should look like, a decision that will change how much information both Europe and America will be allowed to store, save and access.

Mr. De Backer of the Belgian Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe has stated that members of the EU need to forget the “old concept of sovereignty” and understand that sharing information and pooling resources could only be beneficial to security services, something that is all too true for global systems like the internet.

Alleged Teenage Hacker of CIA Director Arrested in UK

Following a reported hack of CIA Director John Brennan’s (pictured) AOL e-mail account last year – which, despite being a personal account, contained sensitive and confidential intelligence – a 16-year-old boy, suspected of carrying out the attack, was arrested in the UK on Tuesday (9th February).

The hacker, calling himself “cracka”, was responsible for illegally obtaining and releasing personal information related to 31,000 CIA and other government agents, and act he then boasted about on his (now suspended) Twitter account. When cracka spoke to Gawker’s Sam Biddle about the hack, he claimed to be a 13-year-old stoner.

The South East Regional Organized Crime Unit released the following statement to The Daily Dot:

“The South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) can confirm we have arrested a [16]-year-old boy on Tuesday (9/2) in the East Midlands on suspicion of conspiracy to commit Unauthorised access to computer material contrary to Section 1 Computer Misuse Act 1990, conspiracy to commit unauthorised access with intent to commit further offences contrary to Section 2 Computer Misuse Act 1990 and conspiracy to commit unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing operation of a computer contrary to Section 3 Computer Misuse Act 1990.”

While SEROCU declined to release any more information regarding the case, cracka’s accomplice, known as “Cubed”, revealed to The Daily Dot that cracka has been released on “unconditional bail.”

Image courtesy of New York Post.

Government Officials Blame Snowden Leaks for Paris Attacks

In the wake of the tragic and devastating attacks in Paris last week, many questioned why the authorities were unable to predict and stop the attacks. In fact, despite the wide-ranging and intrusive surveillance systems in place, the only whiff of intelligence was about a generalized threat against France. Now many officials are coming out across the spectrum and blaming Edward Snowden and his leaks for allowing the terrorists to go undetected.

Former director of the CIA James Woolsey has been among the most forceful, claiming Snowden “has blood on his hands” while current CIA director John Brennan blames the unauthorised disclosures as well. London Mayor Boris Johnson has also blamed Snowden for teaching the terrorists “how to avoid being caught”.

Encryption and methods of avoiding electronic detection, however, have not been new to the terrorist toolkit. Since before the 9/11 attacks and in the many that followed it, terrorists have used encryption and other methods of secure communication to co-ordinate. Those attacks all happened before Snowden even revealed the surveillance systems in place, revelations which only confirmed what many already believed the government was already doing. This is especially true of terrorists who knew they would be monitored and generally used methods to conceal themselves already, with Bin Laden famously using couriers only to communicate.

With the focus in recent days on backdoors, it would not be surprising to see pressure placed on Sony to allow monitoring of the PSN and PS4 given its use by the terrorists. Even if governments end up creating backdoors in many popular products, there will still be nothing to stop peer-to-peer encryption and other forms of encrypted communications from being used.

CIA Director Hacker Reportedly a 13-Year-Old Stoner

Yesterday, we brought you news that CIA Director John Brennan (pictured) was the victim of a hack, with the attackers gaining access to the AOL account he used to share confidential, work-related details. It has now emerged that the hackers taking credit for the attack are two 13-year-old, pro-Palestine stoner boys, who together form the “hacker group” CWA (Crackas With Attitude).

https://twitter.com/phphax/status/656276372910927872

In a series of instant messages with Gawker’s Sam Biddle, one of the hackers said “Me and phphax know each other irl, most of our school and grade are smokers and stoners, so i mean it just kind of describes us in away…I dont find it insulting in anyway. [sic]”. When asked about the hack, he added, “since only 13 i am pretty hype about it.”

The Twitter account that purportedly belongs to one of the hackers, @phphax, has been posting taunting tweets aimed at the CIA for the last couple of days.

https://twitter.com/phphax/status/656308417838108672

https://twitter.com/phphax/status/656497296742465536

https://twitter.com/phphax/status/656535912814399488

But he now claims that he himself was not responsible, saying only that “CWA as a whole” pulled off the attack:

https://twitter.com/phphax/status/656561514103611392

How true the claims that the hackers are 13-year-old, pot-smoking, High School kids are is anyone’s guess. I suppose, if the CWA member do “get raided”, we’ll find out for sure.

Image courtesy of New York Post.

CIA Director Has AOL Account Hacked by Teen

A teenage hacker has claimed to have compromised the AOL account of CIA Director John Brennan. If the news is to be believed, Brennan was stupidly using his AOL e-mail account to send classified and sensitive work-related documents, including a 47-page application for confidential security clearance, details of the government’s “harsh interrogation techniques”, and even the personal details of high-level intelligence officials.

A law enforcement source close to the matter told the New York Post that a full investigation is underway and that they hope to press charges against the hacker. “I think they’ll want to make an example out of him to deter people from doing this in the future,” the source said, describing the use of a personal e-mail address to send CIA documents as “just wild” and “crazy.”

“I can’t believe he did this to the head of the CIA,’’ added the source. “[The] problem with these older-generation guys is that they don’t know anything about cybersecurity, and as you can see, it can be problematic.”

The New York Post also spoke to the hacker, after he contacted them to brag, and the paper later verified that his Twitter account @phphax was genuine.

https://twitter.com/phphax/status/654090625739005952

https://twitter.com/phphax/status/656308417838108672

The CIA has issued the following statement: “We are aware of the reports that have surfaced on social media and have referred the matter to the appropriate authorities.”

Image courtesy of New York Post

Secret Apology Letter Reveals CIA Spied on US Senate

The CIA didn’t spy on the US Senate. It said as much, in a rather aggressive manner, while accusing the Senate of impropriety by even suggesting such a thing, throwing out the Inspector General’s report on a potential breach in the process. The CIA even staged an in-house investigation of itself, clearing itself of any wrongdoing. However, an unsent letter written by the CIA, apologising to the Senate for spying on them, has come to light thanks to a Freedom of Information request. The request, issued by serial FIOA abuser Jason Leopold, has made the embarrassing letter – which was never signed or sent, but was addressed from CIA Director John Brennan – was made available by accident, according to VICE News:

After VICE News received the documents, the CIA contacted us and said Brennan’s draft letter had been released by mistake. The agency asked that we refrain from posting it. 

We declined the CIA’s request.

Leopold is the scourge of US intelligence and law enforcement agencies, stoking their ire with his serial FIOA applications. The Office of Net Assessment, a Pentagon think-tank, even tried to bribe Leopold to get him to stop making FOIA requests. He, of course, refused.

And they would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for that pesky Leopold.

Thank you TechDirt and VICE for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

CIA Couldn’t Use NSA’s Surveillance Program as Analysts Didn’t Know it Existed

A 2009 CIA document – released courtesy of a victorious Freedom of Information lawsuit filed against the US Department of Justice and published by The New York Times – has revealed the US external intelligence service did not use the NSA’s controversial STELLAR WIND surveillance program, which allowed the government warrantless access to private data that it collected en masse, as CIA analysts were not even aware that it existed.

Dated June 2009, the document from the CIA Inspector General (IG), the intelligence service’s internal watchdog, though heavily redacted, claims that the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP, aka “The Program”) was so secretive that only top-level officials had access to it, leaving “CIA analysts and targeting officers” in the dark.

According to the CIA IG report, three “sets of data” were collected under PSP:

The first set included the content of individually targeted telephone and e-mail communications. The second set consisted of telephone dialing information—the date, time, and duration of calls; the telephone number of the caller; and the number receiving the call—collected in bulk [REDACTED]. The third data set consisted of e-mail transactional data [REDACTED] collected in bulk [REDACTED].

The reports goes on to outline exactly why the CIA did not use data from PSP – because most were unaware it was there, and the few who did had no training as to how to access and use it:

Several factors hindered the CIA in making full use of the capabilities of the PSP. Many CIA officers told us that too few CIA personnel at the working level were read into the PSP. [REDACTED] officials told us that CIA and targeting officers who were read in had too many competing priorities and too many other available information sources and analytic tools—many of which were more easily accessed and timely—to fully utilize the PSP. CIA officers also told us that the PSP would have been more fully utilized if and targeting officers had obtained a better understanding of the program’s capabilities. Many CIA officers noted that there was insufficient training and legal guidance concerning the program’s capabilities and the use of PSP-derived information. The factors that hindered the CIA in making full use of the PSP might have been mitigated if the CIA had designated an individual at an appropriate level of managerial authority, who possessed knowledge of both the PSP and CIA counterterrorism activities, to be responsible and accountable for overseeing CIA participation in the program.

The CIA did not implement procedures to assess the usefulness of the product of the PSP and did not routinely document whether particular PSP reporting had contributed to successful counterterrorism operations.

So, the CIA was reprieved from being sullied by reprehensibly unethical breaches of others privacy through sheer ignorance. That’s something, I suppose.

Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information.

Origin Users Complain of Account Breaches

Users of Origin, EA’s digital game distribution portal, have reported unauthorized access to their accounts, with activity including game purchases, game playing, and in-game currency farming.

A number of users have complained about the abnormal activity on reddit, some after receiving e-mails notifying them that attempts at purchasing games have failed, when no such purchase had been attempted. Others noticed new game achievements being added from games they had not recently played.

According to EA, it “found no indication at this point of a breach of our Origin account database. Privacy and security of user account information are of the utmost importance to us.”

Back in November, hacker group DerpTrolling posted a selection of Origin usernames and passwords, bragging that it had many more, for a selection of different sites. The hackers claimed to possess over 7 million usernames and passwords; 1.7 million Origin accounts, 3 million Facebook accounts, 620,000 Twitter accounts, and even 1.2 million accounts related to the CIA domain.

Source: Electronista

CIA Jumps Into Social Media Fun, Joins Twitter

Lookout social media, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is now active on Twitter.

CIA officials hope to use social media to engage directly with the public, sharing unclassified information and public service announcements.  Images and videos of CIA-related material, including artifacts in its secretive museum, will also be shared – a rare glimpse inside of the museum, which isn’t open to the public.

In the initial first two hours the CIA was on Twitter, its first tweet was retweeted more than 85,000 times.  There were 105,000 instant followers, and the U.S. intelligence agency now has more than 622,000 followers.  The spy agency recently joined Facebook and already has active Flickr and YouTube accounts.

“By expanding to these platforms, CIA will be able to more directly engage with the public and provide information on CIA’s mission, history, and other developments,” said John Brennan, CIA Director, in a press statement.

An impersonator had the @CIA handle, and the U.S. government agency had to file an impersonation complaint with Twitter, which is why it took longer to secure the Twitter handle.

Embracing social media can be a great communications tool, though the CIA Twitter account could become a popular target for hackers trying to compromise the account.  In addition, the CIA following – and retweeting – other government branches will give followers a glimpse into other government agencies and the messages they post.

Thank you Forbes for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Bluntpost.

Edward Snowden Reveals he was Trained as a Spy and Not an Analyst

After leaking information about NSA activities and other secret plots, Edward Snowden makes another statement to the press. This time around, he reveals his own past relations with the secret service and what he actually did when working for them.

Edward Snowden revealed that he was actually trained to be a spy and not as an analyst. In a press statement he mentions that he had worked undercover for the CIA and NSA in different places around the world while pretending to have an assigned job and even a fake identity. He also admits that the secret service denies these allegations while attempting to use a position is his career to ‘distract’ and hide his true work experience.

Snowden added that he had also worked as a lecturer at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy, where he states to have developed sources and methods for keeping information and people secure in the most hostile and dangerous environments around the world.

Having been charged with espionage and revoking his passport, Edward Snowden hasn’t been able to leave Russia, where he sought refuge. However, he continues to unveil how the US secret service support mass, warrantless surveillance while civil libertarians, technology companies and others oppose it, emphasising the lack of transparency.

Thank you CNN for providing us with this information

CISPA Back For Third Time

C.I.S.P.A. is back again? As I told you in April, it hasn’t quite made it out of the press room. DemandProgress.org shared this information with us today.

Apparently Congress leaders seem to want to keep Anti-Piracy, Censorship, and Internet Security on the top of their todo list. Though the people have told them that this is not something that they want, Congress seems to think otherwise. It is probably because Big Business keeps lining Congress members pockets trying to pass these ridiculous laws.

It has been rumored that California Senator Diane Feinstein and Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss, are working on a ‘Companion’ bill for CISPA, both leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Both Senators are strong supporters of NSA mass surveillance.

Apparently the senators did not get the memo that CISPA failed to win support from the US Senate earlier this year, though after the issues with Edward Snowden, CISPA may have a bit more leverage. Though I don’t know how private companies sharing information about their users to the United States Government could have stopped the massive leak of information about the Government using the law to spy people.

CYBERSECURITY, CYBERSECURITY, CYBERSECURITY!!!

Yeah, I don’t really think so, right now in the cyber world you want to be very careful about what you type on the internet, in blogs, even in chat messages on facebook, as I feel you never know who really is watching. A few months ago I found a really funny site, which can be found HERE that gives you a random sentence for you to email, tweet or otherwise share to the internet to screw with NSA. Where you might get a quote like this

In one possible future, terrorists exploited the weapons grade plutonium the Doc stashed in his DeLorean.

Though there has been little information released about the new bill, we will need to keep you updated. Hopefully the actual text will be publicly released soon.

The Snowden Leaks about NSA is spying on people it makes me worry about what I am posting on the internet. Am I going to get someone knocking at my door from some no-named agency of the United States Government because I said something that they felt was some sort of threat?

Our private data needs to be kept PRIVATE, if we post something on the internet and it is not accessible from the random public, that makes it PRIVATE!

Thank you DemandProgress.org for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of LifeHacker.com

Microsoft Collaborated Heavily With NSA And PRISM Says Report

A new report by the Guardian states that Microsoft worked heavily with the NSA in the PRISM program. These new documents show a few interesting things that might make you worry about the safety of your Microsoft data IF the allegations prove to be true. Apparently Microsoft helped the NSA circumvent encryption to allow it to intercept web chats from the Outlook.com portal. The NSA already had pre-encryption access to email on Outlook.com and Hotmail but struggled due to encryption. Microsoft allegedly worked with the FBI to to allow the NSA easier access to Microsoft’s SkyDrive service and all user files.

The report also explains how Microsoft worked with FBI’s data intercept unit to understand issues with Outlook.com’s new feature that allows users to create email aliases. Microsoft recently acquired Skype in July last year and apparently this has allowed them to triple the amount of Skype video calls collected via PRISM. Apparently data collected by the NSA is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA in a “team sport” kind of way.

Microsoft has already denied such allegations though it did state it does everything it has to when the U.S government makes requests:

“When we upgrade or update products we aren’t absolved from the need to comply with existing or future lawful demands” said Microsoft in a statement to the Guardian.

Image courtesy of the Guardian

CIA Hires Virtual Writers To Do Make Their Job Easier

According to a news article on FudZilla, The CIA has been spending big on a new range of software that can analyze a large set of data and write reports on it, something that could spell then end of the common journalist (joking…I hope).

At the CIA’s venture capital wing, In-Q-Tel, there has been a big investment in a company known as Narrative Science. Narrative Science is known for coding software that is capable of turning massive data sets into much easier to read documents, something they’ve proven before by turning baseball box scores into readable accounts of games.

Now they seem they’ve moved up in the world and most of Narrative Science’s clients are from the world of finance, marketing, research and more, something that has clearly pipped the interest of the CIA who themselves collect mountains of data and research that needs sifting and sorting constantly into reports.

Steve Bowsher, Managing Partner at IQT, said in a press release that he thinks that advanced analytic capabilities can be of great value to our customers in the Intelligence Community.

It’s interesting technology and it’s obviously effective if so many companies are beginning to use it, but surely it’s still not as effective as a human writer? Lets hope it doesn’t replace us all in the near future.

Image courtesy of moviecitynews.com