In the trove of documents provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is a treasure. It begins with a riddle: “What do the President of Pakistan, a cigar smuggler, an arms dealer, a counterterrorism target, and a combatting proliferation target have in common? They all used their everyday GSM phone during a flight.”
This riddle appeared in 2010 in SIDtoday, the internal newsletter of the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate, or SID, and it was classified “top secret.” It announced the emergence of a new field of espionage that had not yet been explored: the interception of data from phone calls made on board civil aircraft.Read more
GCHQ has admitted for the first time in court that it engages in computer hacking. The admission came after internet companies and privacy campaigners brought complaints about the agency’s “extremely intrusive” activities to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.
The case has been brought by seven internet service providers and Privacy International, a charity, against the Government Communications Headquarters and the Foreign Office for hacking in the UK and abroad. GCHQ had refused to confirm or deny whether it had Computer and Network Exploitation capabilities — the ability to carry out computer hacking.Read more
We’re now over-familiar with the concept of the reality show “journey”, where someone insists that they’ve become a better person through singing, dancing or playing the didgeridoo.
In Channel 4’s ambitious new series Hunted, the journey is rather more extreme, involving panicked scrambles over country stiles and ducking down secluded backstreets. The 14 volunteer contestants are literally on the run, pursued by a dedicated team of professional trackers and hackers burrowing deep into their private lives. The six-part series is being edited right up until transmission, but early footage looks both intriguing and chaotic.Read more
The British spying agency, found to have been conducting wholesale surveillance on UK citizens, has recommended that the public make their passwords less complex.
The agency gives a range of hints to those working in IT as well as normal consumers. Those include warning people to change their default passwords, to make sure that accounts can be locked out if they’re under attack and avoid storing passwords as plain text files that can be read by anyone. The agency also warns against the problems of password overload. That is what happens when people create too many complex and unmemorable passwords.Read more
British and American intelligence agencies have spied on anti-virus companies and probed their software for weaknesses, as the snoops sought to enhance their offensive surveillance techniques.
This was predictable given previous revelations around the extensive hacking capabilities at GCHQ and the NSA, but for reasons not outlined in the leaks or by the agencies themselves, notable US and UK anti-virus providers were seemingly left untouched, despite being used across the world. Older versions of F-Secure also used the Kaspersky signature database, which contained lists of blacklisted malware.Read more
Campaigners have filed a legal claim with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal that could end bulk data interception by UK intelligence agencies. UK charity Privacy International has filed the claim, arguing that GCHQ should end the bulk collection of data, which recently became illegal in the US with the passing of last week’s Freedom Act.
The organisation claims that it has made the first UK legal challenge to bulk data collection, and notes that the equivalent NSA power has now been curtailed before the debate this side of the pond has even begun. It has criticised the fact that GCHQ is operating with “no proper legal regime in place.Read more
Last month Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria.
You’ve probably heard a lot about online mass surveillance, but maybe you’re wondering how exactly intelligence agencies are monitoring you. Helpfully, they like to give their surveillance programmes silly codenames, so we can explain what’s going on. Here’s our top 10 NSA and GCHQ surveillance programmes, brought to you by Amnesty International and Privacy International.Read more
Top secret documents previously provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have revealed that the US and Britain broke into the network of the world’s largest SIM card maker to compromise global communications.
According to the documents, founded by Snowden collaborator Glenn Greenwald, the US National Security Agency and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, stole the encryption keys used to secure voice calls and texts from Gemalto, the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world. Gemalto makes two billion SIM cards every day. They are used by many wireless network providers around the world.Read more
The USA is engaging in “offensive cyber warfare,” spokesman for whistleblower organization WikiLeaks told, following the unmasking of a sophisticated hacking ring that has infected thousands of computers in over 30 countries.
Moscow-based security firm Kaspersky Labs revealed a trove of evidence showing that sophisticated surveillance systems had been embedded in thousands of computers belonging to officials, scientists, businessmen and journalists in states such as Russia, Iran and China starting from 2001, by what it called the Equation Group. The NSA hasn’t admitted sponsoring the Equation Group.Read more
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled that regulations covering access by Britain’s GCHQ to emails and phone records intercepted by the US National Security Agency breached human rights law.
Advocacy groups said the decision raised questions about the legality of intelligence-sharing operations between the UK and the USA. The ruling appears to suggest that aspects of the operations were illegal for at least seven years – between 2007, when the PRISM intercept programme was introduced, and 2014. The critical judgment marks the first time since the IPT was established that it has upheld a complaint relating to any of the UK’s intelligence agencies.Read more