Apple Designing Servers In-House to Prevent Snooping

With the amount of sensitive information stored on their servers, cloud providers take security very seriously. However, many cloud services actually use third-party servers like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure to run their platform. Even for those with their own servers, the hardware is made by and supplied by third-parties. In light of security concerns, Apple is taking it to the next level and designing their own servers.

Right now, Apple uses Amazon, Microsoft and Google servers to help run iCloud in addition to their own hardware. While it might seem prudent to do everything in-house to keep things secure, Apple wants their servers to be designed themselves. As we know from Edward Snowden’s revelations, the NSA, and probably other spy agencies are prone to intercepting hardware mid-shipment and tampering with the hardware.  Cisco for instance, has been one own past target and with Apple’s legal fight against the FBI, they may have been moved up the list.

By designing their own hardware, Apple will be able to make sure that everything is where it is supposed to be and no hardware has been added to it. With the massive scale of iCloud, Apple will be able to easily have whole manufacturing runs dedicated to them. Still, with their massive user base, running that many servers will be will a challenge for Apple. Nonetheless, Apple may soon get the total hardware control truly needed for true security.

NSA and GCHQ Worked Together to Hack Juniper Firewalls

Spies from the UK intelligence services worked with the US National Security Agency to hack firewalls developed by top internet security firm Juniper Networks, according to documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. GCHQ, wanting to crack Juniper’s encryption, specifically sought help from the NSA for that task, Russia Today reports. A series of secret documents, dating back to 2011, show that the pair were complicit in targeting Juniper – an industry leader in firewall technology in certain parts of the world – to compromise its systems.

The first document, entitled “Assessment of Intelligence Opportunity – Juniper”, outlines how GCHQ and NSA targeted Juniper in order to maintain its mass surveillance programs without being impeded.

“The threat comes from Juniper’s investment and emphasis on being a security leader,” the document reads. “If the SIGINT community falls behind, it might take years to regain a Juniper firewall or router access capability if Juniper continues to rapidly increase their security.”

The documents also shed light on why Juniper specifically was chosen as GCHQ’s prey: its firewalls are popular in countries Pakistan, Yemen, and China, all of which are of great interest to US and UK intelligence.

Snowden himself commented on the story, tweeting that the story had seemingly been suppressed by US news outlets.

HTTP/2 Opens New Connections With the Word ‘PRISM’

Since whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the US National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program, the word Prism has taken on a sinister meaning. The NSA’s PRISM program collected the internet communications of its citizens via nine major internet companies, including Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Yahoo. Now, John Graham-Cumming, a British coder and tech writer, has discovered a curious quirk within HTTP/2 connections: the opening protocol contains the word PRISM.

This is how HTTP/2 connection protocols begins, when unravelled from a 24-octet sequence:

PRI * HTTP/2.0\r\n\r\nSM\r\n\r\n

Otherwise written as:

PRI * HTTP2.0

SM

The verb PRI was, until 8th July, 2013, FOO. What happened during the Summer of 2013 to motivate such a change? Edward Snowden’s NSA leak. Coincidence?

While conspiracy theorists could have a field day with the revelation, it seems to be little more than a sly Easter egg included by the cheeky programmers.

Danish developer Poul-Henning Kamp wrote at the time about his concerns for HTTP/2 in the wake of the PRISM revelations. “I think PRISM is ample evidence that [adding more encryption to HTTP/2 to fight back against the NSA] will have the 100% certain result is that all encryption will be circumvented, with bogus CA certs all the way up to PRISM and designed-in backdoors, and the net result is less or even no privacy for anybody everywhere,” Kamp wrote to his colleagues in the HTTP Working Group.

The inclusion of the word PRISM in the HTTP/2 protocol is like a knowing middle finger to the NSA, and a reminder to us that not every internet entity is colluding with intelligence agencies.

Image courtesy of Soft.net

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.

Edward Snowden Explains Why he Supports Ad-Blockers

Edward Snowden, the whistleblower-turned-press freedom advocate exiled in Russia after leaking NSA documents that demonstrated the terrifying scope of its mass surveillance program, has publicly endorsed ad-blocking software and has encouraged every internet user to employ it.

Speaking to The Intercept’s Micah Lee, Snowden, responding to the question “Do you think people should use adblock software?”, said, “We’ve seen internet providers like Comcast, AT&T, or whoever it is, insert their own ads into your plaintext http connections. … As long as service providers are serving ads with active content that require the use of Javascript to display, that have some kind of active content like Flash embedded in it, anything that can be a vector for attack in your web browser — you should be actively trying to block these.”

“Because if the service provider is not working to protect the sanctity of the relationship between reader and publisher,” he added. “you have not just a right but a duty to take every effort to protect yourself in response.”

While there are ethical arguments against the use of ad-blockers – mainly that users of ad-blocking software are depriving site owners of revenue – it makes sense, purely from a security perspective, for Snowden to recommend ad-blocking for all: anything that could potentially provide a backdoor into your computer is a threat, much like the recent worrying revelation that advertisers are tracking users over multiple devices via inaudible sounds.

Image courtesy of The Guardian.

WhatsApp’s Promise of True Encryption Proven False

Last year, the Facebook-owned messaging app Whatsapp, in a move applauded by privacy advocates, announced that it would be introducing end-to-end encryption to protect user data from being intercepted in transit, viewable only by sender and receiver. While, strictly speaking, WhatsApp did as it promised – using a system designed by Open Whisper Systems, creator of the Edward Snowden-endorsed messaging app Signal – it turns out that a fatal flaw in the encryption method has left a security hole that can be exploited, researchers from Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic have discovered [PDF].

The Brno University researchers were able to reverse-engineer WhatsApp’s security protocol, which could give them access to supposedly encrypted messages sent via the app. How did it manage this if end-to-end encryption is really being implemented? While WhatsApp is using what is known as Public Key Encryption, it is using the same public key for every person, meaning that anyone who can decipher the key can access messages sent by any user, and that WhatsApp itself can access sent messages, something it claimed its end-to-end encryption would prevent.

An oversight like using the same public key for every user appears too specific to be accidental. Was WhatsApp presenting the illusion of end-to-end encryption to hide a secret backdoor from its customers? It’s a move that would certainly have the approval of the UK Government.

European Parliament Votes to Protect Edward Snowden

After the mess the European Union made of its net neutrality laws, it’s heartening to see them doing something positive. Earlier today (29th October), the European Parliament voted in favour of protecting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden from prosecution and extradition to the US, as well as dropping any charges against him within EU member states. The resolution was voted in by 285 votes to 281, and grants protection to Snowden as a “human rights defender”.

Rumours of the vote hit Twitter shortly before the official announcement, with Snowden himself commenting:

After the European Parliament released the news via its website, Snowden appeared shocked and delighted:

The European Parliament declared:

“Too little has been done to safeguard citizens’ fundamental rights following revelations of electronic mass surveillance, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. They urge the EU Commission to ensure that all data transfers to the US are subject to an “effective level of protection” and ask EU member states to grant protection to Edward Snowden, as a “human rights defender”. Parliament also raises concerns about surveillance laws in several EU countries.”

How this affects Snowden’s asylum in Russia is yet to be determined. It would be interesting to know how the European Parliament would vote for a similar resolution in regards to Julian Assange, currently exiled in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy.

Image courtesy of The Guardian.

Snowden Leak Reveals How Microsoft Helped the NSA Bypass Encryption

Privacy, spying, hacking, monitoring, tracking, just some of the words that people around the world have become frighteningly familiar with over the last few years. Edward Snowden uncovered many details of how our governments treat our data and he’s showing no sign of slowing down. His latest revelation reveals how Microsoft worked closely with the US Government, namely the NSA, to bypass encryption mechanisms that are intended to protect the privacy and data of the millions of users of Microsoft software such as Windows.

According to his article in The Guardian, NSA memos show that Microsoft helped the find a way to decrypt messages sent over various platforms, including Outlook, Hotmail and Skype, effectively handing them a backdoor into the data we entrusted them with.

While it’s no secret (anymore) that big tech companies were under pressure from various agencies to provide them with data on users, both with and without a warrant or similar legal document to back up their demands. However, the new leaks suggest Microsoft actively went out of their way to assist federal investigators, such as helping to circumvent encrypted chat messages via Outlook.com, prior to the product being launched to the public!

How Microsoft will react from this, especially given the privacy concerns of many in regards to Windows 10, remains to be seen.

Thank you RT for providing us with this information.

We Have Edward Snowden to Thank for The X-Files Revival

We’re but four months away from the much-hyped The X-Files revival, which reunites David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as the iconic Mulder and Scully to investigate the paranormal and government conspiracies, but it seems we might have a real-world scandal to thank for inspiring the show’s return. The X-Files creator Chris Carter admits that the show’s new episodes owe a great debt to the revelations related to the mass surveillance program conducted by the NSA, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“It’s a perfect time to come back with The X-Files considering global politics,” Carter said during the premiere screening of the first new X-Files episode at the MIPCOM TV trade fair in Cannes this week, which earned rave reviews. “We’re trying to be honest with the changes dealing with digital technology: the capability of spying. Clearly we’re being spied on in the US – or at least spying on you – and there seems to be no shame in it.”

Despite the show being off the air for over 13 years, with just a single film in the interim – 2008’s The X-Files: I want to Believe – Carter says that he’s still been writing the show in his head all that time. “Every day I look at the newspaper and I see a possible X-Files episode,” he said. “I did it for a long time and you never quite lose the eye for what would be good X-Files storytelling.”

The six-episode The X-Files miniseries airs on FOX on 26th January, 2016.

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

Wikipedia Founder Says There’s “No Excuse” Not to Use Encryption

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, a major proponent of both freedom and privacy online, as evidenced by him filing a lawsuit against the NSA following the reveal of its mass surveillance program by whistleblower Edward Snowden, has declared that there is “no excuse” for not using internet encryption, whether that is providers arguing that it is cost-prohibitive, or UK Prime Minister David Cameron moaning that it makes spying on people harder.

During his keynote speech at the 2015 IP Expo Europe IT conference, Wales said, “There’s really no excuse to have any major web property that’s not secure.”

“There is a massive trend on the internet towards SSL—secure connections,” citing figures from Sandvine that show nearly 30% of internet traffic was encrypted as of April 2015, which is expected to jump to 65% by 2016. “My expectation is that this is going to narrow; over the next couple of years, [unencrypted traffic] is going to end up being a five or six percent slice,” he said, adding, “All major traffic is going to be encrypted very, very soon.”

“It is not feasible in any sense of the word for the UK to ban end-to-end encryption,” Wales added, in a swipe against David Cameron. “Not only is it not feasible, it’s a completely moronic stupid thing to do.”

Thank you Vice for providing us with this information.

Edward Snowden Twitter Notifications Resulted in 47GB of E-mails

NSA whistleblower and US exile Edward Snowden recently joined Twitter – his first act as a new member was to establish himself as the greatest troll of the 21st Century – and within three days he has already accrued a whopping 1.26 million followers, and a very warm welcome from the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson, WikiLeaks, and Anonymous. His first message – “Can you hear me now?” – was, at the time of writing, retweeted 119,761 times and favourited 114,661 times.

Impressive work, and Snowden was sure to have been basking in his instant Twitter popularity… had he not neglected to stop e-mail notifications.

For every follow, favourite, and retweet, Snowden received an e-mail – and the guy even accepts direct messages from everyone, so imagine how many people have tried to contact him privately –  likely close to 2 million’s worth, filling up his inbox to the tune of 47GB.

Snowden, a former CIA employee and National Security Agency contractor has been exiled to Russia since 2013, when he leaked classified information revealing the scope of the NSA’s mass surveillance program. He is now director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit organisation which aims to protect the rights of journalists.

White House Responds to Edward Snowdon Petition

Do you remember when 167,000 people signed a petition calling for Edward Snowdon to be pardoned? Not even Pepperidge Farms recalls this considering this was two years ago. The US government is known for hanging many decisions out, but I will give them credit for finally responding to this petition.

Once a petition reaches 100,000 signatures via the government’s official platform, under their rules they are duty bound to respond to it, which they have, eventually. So will Edward Snowdon receive a pardon? No, no he won’t according to Homeland Security advisor Lisa Monaco who accuses Snowdon of “running away from the consequences of his actions.”

A shortened redacted version of this statement is below, at least I have summarised the point unlike many US documents which have one word visible.

“Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it.

If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he’s running away from the consequences of his actions”.

 This is the cliché catch 22 situation, if Edward Snowdon had of spoken out and challenged the status quo, this would have been quickly and silently shot down. One has to remember when scandals are broken; they are not publicized by establishment officials but journalists and external investigators, how do you challenge behaviour in-house?

I do feel that Edward Snowdon has placed a target with which to discredit via his asylum in Russia. It’s a bit of an irony to live in a country for speaking out against violations of democracy, when said new residence has the uncanny habit of hunting down perceived dissenters. I also don’t believe Snowdon will receive a fair trial at all in the US, one thing to consider concerning this aspect is this, during the somewhat recent trial of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the jury was made up of individuals which favoured the death penalty. Lawyers had the ability and are allowed to dismiss any juror who is opposed to the death penalty, thus in a roundabout way influencing the nature of the sentence.

The above example is just that, an example to show how the word “fair” could be slightly deviated for a desired outcome.

Thank you whitehouse petitions for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of freigeistblog

 

Pirate Party Leading Opinion Polls in Iceland

Iceland has historically been an anomaly within the Nordic region, leaning politically more to the right than its neighbours Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden – countries that favour social democratic governments – but after being decimated by the global recession in 2008, the island’s citizens started to shift left. In 2009, Iceland elected the world’s first openly gay Head of State, but Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir’s Social Democratic Party was ousted in the follow-up election by a coalition of the conservative Progressive and Independence parties in 2013.

The country’s recent swing back to the right seems temporary, however, with the current coalition haemorrhaging support. Instead of the tide turning the way of the Social Democratic party, though, there has been a massive surge towards the Pirate Party.

Iceland’s Pirate Party currently has the support of around 35% of voters, according to the latest Gallup poll, putting the Pirates ahead of both coalition parties combined, which collectively has around 33% support (11% for the Progressive Party and 21% for the Independence party).

The Pirate Party was born out of the Pirate movement – the same ethos that birthed infamous torrent site The Pirate Bay – that emerged around a decade ago in Europe. It is marked by its strong left-wing stance on maintaining civil liberties and human rights, while opposing oppressive copyright laws, state surveillance, and capitalist influence over governments. If voted into power, The Pirate Party supports granting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum and citizenship.

Does the Pirate Party have a chance of taking power in Iceland? It’s too early to say. The next Icelandic election isn’t until April 2017, and a lot can change in two years, but this staggering and unexpected swing towards the Pirate Party could point towards a more progressive future for the habitually conservative country.

Thank you Daily Kos for providing us with this information.

US Tech Companies Set to Lose $35 Billion Due to NSA Surveillance

A number of US companies are set to lose an estimated $35 billion collectively due to revelations regarding NSA surveillance, as uncovered by Edward Snowden two years ago, according to a report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). Companies that colluded with the NSA, revealing confidential user data to the US intelligence services, are expected to be shunned, especially by international users, with severe repercussions for their business.

“Foreign customers are shunning U.S. companies,” the report says, with some foreign governments also working to block American tech businesses from their countries.

Though the ITIF is a think tank founded by members of Congress, it is a non-partisan organisation that aims to look at the tech world impartially. The ITIF estimates that the fallout from the NSA’s PRISM program being leaked by Snowden will cost US firms between $21.5 and $35 billion – but “will likely far exceed $35 billion,” according to the report – with cloud computing companies, such as Dropbox, the worst affected.

The report, however, includes the following five suggestions for US companies to reverse the trend and win back customer confidence:

  1. Increase transparency surrounding U.S. surveillance activities, both at home and abroad.
  2. Strengthen information security by opposing any government efforts to introduce backdoors in software or weaken encryption.
  3. Strengthen U.S. mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs).
  4. Work to establish international legal standards for government access to data.
  5. Complete trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that ban digital protectionism and pressure nations that seek to erect protectionist barriers to abandon those efforts.

The reports concludes, “When historians write about this period in U.S. history, it could very well be that one of the themes will be how the United States lost its global technology leadership to other nations,” the report’s authors, Daniel Castro and Alan McQuinn, write. “And clearly one of the factors they would point to is the long-standing privileging of U.S. national-security interests over U.S. industrial and commercial interests when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.”

Thank you The Daily Dot for providing us with this information.

Edward Snowden Praises Apple’s “Pioneering” Work in Privacy

Despite being the most popular computing company in the world, it’s rare that anyone has a good word to say about Apple, so it’s refreshing to hear Edward Snowden, the man who leaked how the NSA was spying on the world, praise the company for its work on user privacy, especially considering Apple were explicitly mentioned in documents leaked by Snowden in June 2013 as one of many companies that allowed US intelligence services backdoors into user accounts.

In an editorial Snowden wrote for The New York Times, entitled “The World Says No to Surveillance”, he compliments Apple for changing tack and protecting its users’ privacy.

Snowden wrote:

Beyond the frontiers of law, progress has come even more quickly. Technologists have worked tirelessly to re-engineer the security of the devices that surround us, along with the language of the Internet itself. Secret flaws in critical infrastructure that had been exploited by governments to facilitate mass surveillance have been detected and corrected. Basic technical safeguards such as encryption—once considered esoteric and unnecessary—are now enabled by default in the products of pioneering companies like Apple, ensuring that even if your phone is stolen, your private life remains private. Such structural technological changes can ensure access to basic privacies beyond borders, insulating ordinary citizens from the arbitrary passage of anti-privacy laws, such as those now descending upon Russia.

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has been very vocal on the subject of user privacy since taking over the role from the late Steve Jobs, saying during a speech recently that “weakening encryption, or taking it away, harms good people that are using it for the right reasons.”

Thank you The Mac Observer for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of The Guardian.

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Proclaims Edward Snowden “a Hero”

Steve Wozniak, who co-founder Apple with Steve Jobs, has celebrated NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, calling him a “total hero” who “gave up his own life […] to help the rest of us.” In an interview with ITP.net, Wozniak celebrated Snowden and his work – not for the first time – praising him for following “his own heart”.

In the interview, when asked if he considered Snowden to be a hero or villain, Wozniak replied:

“Total hero to me; total hero. Not necessarily [for] what he exposed, but the fact that he internally came from his own heart, his own belief in the United States Constitution, what democracy and freedom was about. And now a federal judge has said that NSA data collection was unconstitutional.”

Woz then applauded Snowden for his sacrifices:

“So he’s a hero to me, because he gave up his own life to do it. And he was a young person, to give up his life. But he did it for reasons of trying to help the rest of us and not just mess up a company he didn’t like.”

He later spoke about the perils of maintaining privacy when using computers, considering the limited operating systems available and the security holes these large systems create:

“It’s almost impossible [to protect yourself] because today’s operating systems generally get so huge that they can only come from a few sources, like Microsoft, Google and Apple, and those operating systems have so many millions of lines of code in them, built by tens of thousands of engineers over time, that it’s so difficult to go back and detect anything in it that’s spying on you. It’s like having a house with 50,000 doors and windows and you have no idea where there might be a tiny little camera.”

Thank you Fortune and ITP.net for providing us with this information.

Snowden Warns That Australian Data Retention Laws Are Dangerous

Edward Snowden has branded the new data retention law recently introduced by the Australian government as “dangerous”, and points to the ineffectiveness of mass surveillance, saying that it didn’t stop the Sydney siege, the Boston marathon bombings, or the Charlie Hebdo magazine attack in Paris.

Snowden, the man who revealed the extent of the mass surveillance program run by the US National Security Agency (NSA) by leaking confidential information back in 2013, was speaking to a Melbourne audience at the Progress 2015 conference via video chat from Moscow.

“Australia’s role in mass surveillance around the world is similar to the UK and the Tempora program,” Snowden said. “They’ll collect everyone’s communications, it’s called pre-criminal investigation, which means they are watching everyone all the time. They can search through that information not just in Australia but also share with overseas governments such as the US and UK. And it happens without oversight.”

Australia started collecting and storing citizen’s telecommunications metadata in March this year, a move designed to combat terrorism, according to the government. Telecoms companies are required to store the data for up to two years. Snowden calls this collection process, which does not discriminate between law-abiding citizens and criminals, a fruitless invasion of privacy that does nothing to prevent terrorist atrocities.

“These were people who have a long record and the reason these attacks happened isn’t because we didn’t have enough surveillance, it’s that we had too much,” he said. “We didn’t prioritise because we’d wasted too many resources watching people who didn’t present a threat,” said Snowden.

With the empty counter-terrorism defence reeled out by politicians again, how much longer can politicians get away with perpetuating that untruth to justify violating human rights?

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

Federal Court Rules NSA Mass Surveillance Illegal

In a huge victory for freedom, privacy, and human rights, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that bulk collection of telephone metadata undertaken by the National Security Agency (NSA) is illegal under federal law.

The scope of the NSA’s draconian mass surveillance was first revealed by former defense contractor Edward Snowden back in June 2013. Ever since leaking confidential information, Snowden has been in exile in Russia for fear of legal action should he return to the US.

Though many were keen to charge the NSA for actions that were unconstitutional, the Court of Appeals approached the bulk data collection from a much simpler angle: the actions of the NSA were found, remarkably, to be beyond the scope of section 215 of the Patriot Act – the legislation designed to legitimise and legalise such privacy violations – as passed by the US Congress after 11th September, 2001.

The case against the NSA was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, and was taken to the Court of Appeals after initially being dismissed by a lower court in 2013. That dismissal has now been overturned, opening the NSA up to a full legal challenge for the methods it used to collect private data from citizens, both in the US and abroad.

Thank you Wired for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Hack Puts Edward Snowden in the White House

It seems that Edward Snowden may have finally usurped President Obama and taken his place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A cheeky ‘hacker’ has added the business Edwards Snow Den – purportedly a snowboarding shop – to the grounds of the White House on Google Maps.

Edward Snowden has become notorious since leaking confidential NSA documents, gained through his defense contract employer, that revealed mass surveillance of citizens at home and abroad on a criminal scale, back in 2013. Since leaking the documents, Snowden has been in hiding in Russia – a country he was forced to reside in when his passport was cancelled en route to Cuba – ever since on political asylum for fear of prosecution.

The amusing gag was achieved by getting Edwards Snow Den listed as a verified business and then, once given the thumbs-up by Google, the business changed its address to place it within the White House. Although Edwards Snow Den has had its verified business status revoked by Google, its Google+ page is still active, but Google seem to be actively trying to remove the prank.

Marketing Land, who first spotted the anomaly, had confirmation from Google that the listing had been taken down, but it still appears on a Google Maps search. How long it will remain, however, is unknown, so if you want to see it live, head over there now.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

University of Toronto Creates Online Database of Leaked Snowden Documents

The University of Toronto, in partnership with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), has created an online searchable database of every document leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that has been subsequently been published in the media. The Snowden Digital Surveillance Archive aims to “provide a tool that would facilitate citizen, researcher and journalist access to these important documents.”

Edward Snowden, a former NSA data analyst, leaked documents related to massive and pervasive illegal global surveillance programs run by the US National Security Agency (NSA) in conjunction with UK intelligence service GCHQ.

The CJFE is an organisation that “monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad.” The creation of the Snowden Archive is part of its remit to promote “free media as essential to a fair and open society” and the “free expression rights of all people”.

“We are extremely proud to launch the Snowden Archive as a tool for Canadians, and the world, to better understand the scope and scale of mass surveillance programs,” said CJFE Executive Director Tom Henheffer in a press release. “We believe this tool is just the start of many important stories to come, and hope this will help the public engage in conversation about government surveillance practices.”

The archive allows users to search by the following criteria:

  • Agency that created the document in question;
  • Journalist and media outlet that first broke the story from the document;
  • Full text of the document;
  • Keywords, surveillance program names and more.

Source: Canadian Newswire

Snowden Documentary Citizenfour Now Streaming Online for Free

Citizenfour, the Academy Award-winning documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, has been made available for online streaming, free of charge. The film is being hosted by Thought Maybe, a website that aims to tackle “issues surrounding modern society, industrial civilisation, globalised dominant culture.”

The documentary was directed by Laura Poitras, a filmmaker placed on a US government watchlist after her 2006 film My Country, My Country, for which she became involved with possible Sunni insurgent Riyadh al-Adhadh. The name Citizenfour was the pseudonym used by Snowden when he first contacted Poitras with sensitive information regarding Prism, the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass internet surveillance program.

Source: Gizmodo

Silk Road Reloaded Moves to Obscure I2P Network Over Tor

Silk Road Reloaded, the latest version of the infamous darknet black market, has eschewed the Tor network for the little-known but more secure I2P network

Silk Road, its clones, and its successors alike have opted for Tor as their network of choice, but concerns over the level of anonymity the network provides, magnified by Edward Snowden’s revelations concerning the NSA’s PRISM spying program, have persuaded this latest iteration of Silk Road to move to I2P.

Silk Road Reloaded, unlike its originator, accepts cryptocurrencies Litecoin, Darkcoin, Anoncoin, and Dogecoin, as well as the traditional Bitcoin. Transactions made in currencies other than Bitcoin will be converted to Bitcoin through the site’s proprietary wallet.

The new service is said to be rather barren at present, but is expected to attract more activity over the coming months.

Edward Snowden Speaks Out on Cyber Warfare

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that cyber warfare could hurt the USA more than any other country in the world. In an interview with PBS, recorded back in June as part of the NOVA Next program but recently released as an unedited transcript and highlights video, Snowden claims that the US relies on computers more than any other nation, and that fact should worry the White House.

In an excerpt from the interview, Snowden said:

“Defending ourselves from internet-based attacks, internet-originated attacks, is much, much more important than our ability to launch attacks against similar targets in foreign countries, because when it comes to the internet, when it comes to our technical economy, we have more to lose than any other nation on Earth.”

But, according to Snowden, the NSA is actually making America’s cyber security weaker by uncovering and exploiting weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the same systems that the organisation uses itself.

“Every time we walk on to the field of battle and the field of battle is the internet, it doesn’t matter if we shoot our opponents a hundred times and hit every time. As long as they’ve hit us once, we’ve lost, because we’re so much more reliant on those systems.

Because of that, we need to be focusing more on creating a more secure, more reliable, more robust, and more trusted internet, not one that’s weaker, not one that relies on this systemic model of exploiting every vulnerability, every threat out there.”

Source: RT

Leaked NSA Documents Suggest Skype Traffic Surveillance

Leaked documents from the US National Security Agency (NSA), provided by Edward Snowden and published on Sunday by German newspaper Der Spiegel, show that the NSA has full access to traffic over Skype. That includes voice calls, video calls, instant messaging, and file sharing from specific persons of interest, and was granted by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant as part of the PRISM program.

A document from 2012, unambiguously titled “User’s Guide for PRISM Skype Collection”, details how to use the NSA’s NUCLEON system to task the capture of voice communications, and how PINWHALE is used to collect data from text chat and shared files.

Voice traffic capture began in February 2011 – the same year Microsoft bought Skype – for both “Skype in” and “Skype out” calls pertaining to specific users. In July of the same year the NSA gained access to peer-to-peer Skype communications, with Microsoft, under warrant, providing the keys it needed to decrypt the data.

Source: Ars Technica

British Intelligence Complains that it Can’t Track Criminals Now Because of Snowden

The confidential intelligence leaked by Edward Snowden has impaired the ability of UK intelligence hub GCHQ to monitor and track criminal communications, according to a British newspaper. Unnamed intelligence officers told The Daily Telegraph that the Snowden revelations have not only taught criminals how to avoid being monitored, but that communication suppliers have become more reticent about handing over sensitive information.

ISP and telecom companies are “refusing to hand over evidence on the likes of drug smugglers or fraudsters” because they do not pose a “direct threat to life”, according to Daily Telegraph security editor Tom Whitehead.

An unnamed security official told the newspaper, “Snowden has been very damaging to our work. We have specific evidence of where key targets have changed their communication behaviour as a direct result of what they have read.”

The source continued, “They have moved to more secure forms of communication and we have been unable to assist the NCA (National Crime Agency). It takes longer to help law enforcement and because we only focus on the most serious, the top end networks, then the impact they have in the mean time is multiplied.”

“We have techniques that need to be protected,” the source said. “The choice is not to pursue a network and we have decided not to press ahead where there is a possibility of being detected.”

But some independent security experts remain sceptical about the claim:

Source: The Register

Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Play Edward Snowden

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been announced as the actor to take on the role of Edward Snowden in an upcoming film.

The actor will play the role of the NSA whistleblower who revealed the US government’s extensive phone and internet surveillance activities last year. The movie’s screenplay was adapted from two books: “The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man” by Luke Harding and “Time of the Octopus” by Anatoly Kucherena.

The film will be written by two time Oscar winner Oliver Stone, known for “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” and “Savages”. Production will begin in January. The film is amongst an increasing number of tech-themed movies, such as Alan Sorkin’s “The Social Network” from 2010 and the upcoming film about Steve Jobs from the same writer.

Source: The Guardian