In a pickle once again, the US National Security Agency – NSA – has apparently hacked into communications links used by the planets largest techs, Google and Yahoo. According to documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden the tech-behemoths security was breached in transit between data-centres.
It seems the more this pot gets stirred, the more sludge surfaces, weak restrictions on the NSA’s overseas activities are apparently used to exploit major US companies’ data to a much greater extent than previously thought, The Washington Post reported. It however remains unclear how the NSA accessed the links.
Like other major tech-behemoths, Yahoo and Google constantly send data over shared and exclusive international fibre-optic telecommunication lines. The newly disclosed NSA program, operated with the UK’s spy agency GCHQ – Government Communications Headquarters – jointly amassing 181 MILLION individual records, in just one 30-day splurge, according to the Post.
The head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, said: “To my knowledge, this never happened.” Wink Wink Nudge Nudge ::::
Google ‘Troubled’ by Allegations
A Yahoo spokeswoman said: “We have strict controls in place to protect the security of our data centres, and we have not given access to our data centres to the NSA or to any other government agency.”
While Google said: “We’re troubled by allegations of the government intercepting traffic between our data centres, and we are not aware of this activity.”
The report was published as a European lawmakers were in Washington to seek ways to rebuild trust after the scale and scope of US surveillance of its allies was exposed.
Among them was a German intelligence delegation which travelled to the US capital after revelations the NSA tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
But NSA chief Mr Alexander made no apology for the NSA’s activities and reiterated his denial that the secretive agency was scooping up millions of phone records from French and other European citizens.
US intelligence chiefs have said these reports are based on a misinterpretation of an NSA slide leaked to the media by fugitive former intelligence technician Mr Snowden.
Rather than siphoning off the records of tens of millions of calls in Europe, as the slide seems to suggest, they argue the data was in many cases gathered and shared by European agencies.
Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament’s committee on foreign affairs, told reporters Mr Alexander had shown the envoys evidence that much of the data from France, Spain and Germany, referenced in the latest leaked slide, had indeed been European intelligence shared with the NSA.
“This was given to the US by the French, Spanish or German authorities not spying on Germany, France or Spain, but on what was known in Afghanistan or Yemen,” Mr Brok said.
But Mr Brok also noted the NSA boss had confirmed that the NSA and other US intelligence services also “work unilaterally” in Europe, without the knowledge of their local partners.
NSA spied on Vatican?
The United States has denied an Italian media report that its spies carried out electronic eavesdropping against the Vatican. Italian magazine Panorama says the NSA monitored Vatican phone calls, possibly including when former Pope Benedict’s successor was under discussion.
However, the Holy See said it had no knowledge of any such activity.
Panorama said that among 46 million phone calls followed by the NSA in Italy from December 10, 2012, to January 8, 2013, were conversations in and out of the Vatican.
In a press release Panorama said the “NSA had tapped the pope”, but cited no source for its information.
NSA Denies the Report
“The National Security Agency does not target the Vatican. Assertions that NSA has targeted the Vatican, published in Italy’s Panorama magazine, are not true,” she said in a statement
Asked to comment on the report, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: “We are not aware of anything on this issue and in any case we have no concerns about it.”
Media reports based on revelations from Edward Snowden, the fugitive former US intelligence operative granted asylum in Russia, have said the NSA had spied on French citizens over the same period in December in January. Last week, the German government appeared to confirm that chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone had also been monitored by American spies.
The issue has also caused Washington problems with Brazil and China.
Panorama said the recorded Vatican phone calls were catalogued by the NSA in four categories – leadership intentions, threats to the financial system, foreign policy objectives and human rights.
Pope Benedict resigned on February 28 this year and his successor, Pope Francis, was elected on March 13.
“It is feared” that calls were listened to up until the start of the conclave that elected Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, Panorama said.
The magazine said there was also a suspicion that the Rome residence where some cardinals lived before the conclave, including the future pope, was monitored.
Google Chairman Outraged
Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said widespread U.S. government spying on its data centers would be outrageous and potentially illegal if true, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“It’s really outrageous that the NSA was looking between the Google data centers, if that’s true,” Schmidt said in an interview. “The steps that the organization was willing to do without good judgment to pursue its mission and potentially violate people’s privacy, it’s not OK.”
Schmidt told the newspaper in Hong Kong that Google had registered complaints with the NSA, President Barack Obama and Congress members.
Responding to the report, the NSA said the suggestion that it relied on a presidential order on foreign intelligence- gathering to skirt domestic restrictions imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and other laws “is not true.”
“I can tell you factually we do not have access to Google servers, Yahoo servers,” NSA Director General Keith Alexander said at a conference last week. “We go through a court order.”
When contacted by the WSJ, the NSA referred to its previous statements that press articles about the NSA’s collection had misstated facts and mischaracterized the NSA’s activities.
Schmidt said in the interview that the NSA allegedly collected the phone records of 320 million people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be at risk.
“It’s just bad public policy…and perhaps illegal,” he told the paper.
The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee approved legislation on Thursday that would tighten controls on the government’s sweeping electronic eavesdropping programs but allow them to continue.
RELATED! Data Mining
The Guardian’s revelations that our privacy is no longer our own has caused huge public outcry, the tinfoil-hat brigade is in a furore, normal folk have become concerned at what governments are peering at, and most importantly the nefarious are sat back gobsmacked. PRISM, if your at all shocked that such government devices exist, your naive; if your angry, then your possibly delusional.
RANT WARNING! Our freedom, our ability to stroll the streets or fly the airways, is almost entirely reliant on a – very real – war on terrorism. As news flashes across our television sets – Syria – and our soldiers return from the fronts of war – Afghanistan – we perhaps need to pause and consider what price that freedom has cost. If we aren’t thankful that we weren’t one of the 3 thousand troops who gave their lives in the name of democracy in Afghanistan then perhaps we’ve become disconnected.
Exagerated outcries like, “Even if your not doing anything wrong, your being watched.” aren’t helpful
The graphic images of war and death beamed to us by television networks isn’t an example of what we face, it’s what we face. And what privacies have we given up – in order that our streets don’t look like a Boston Bombing – someone reading our emails, a government employee checking over our social media posts or an analyst trawling though our text messages, again, what have you lost? Certainly not your life – unlike the 3000 lives lost on September 11 2001, you can surely be thankful that you weren’t one of the 20,0000 patriots who were wounded in the line of duty, defending our freedom to like on Facebook and plus on Google.
No, it seems that the cost of surveillance on the general population is naught! Unless of course you have something to hide, or wear a tinfoil-hat. While I don’t disagree that The Guardian has done a splendid job revealing PRISM, and presenting the world with another anti-espionage proponent – Edward Snowden – what have they truly given us, a safer community, more freedom? This author thinks not. Truth and lies, are very personal, we tend to take a lack of trust – or being lied to – as an infringement on our own integrity. Being deceived isn’t what this is about, it’s much much bigger than our individual integrity, it’s about our safety as a society :: Read the full article »»»»
RELATED! Snowden’s Secure Email Provider Shut Down
“I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people, or walk away from nearly 10 years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit,” Lavabit owner Ladar Levison wrote in a letter posted on the Texas-based company’s website.
Lavabit was founded in 2004 by Texas-based programmers, allegedly prompted by privacy concerns about Gmail, Google’s free, widely-used web-based email service, and their use of the content of users’ email to generate advertisements and marketing data.
Lavabit offered significant privacy protection for their users’ email, including asymmetric encryption. The strength of the cryptographic methods used was of a level that is difficult for even intelligence agencies to crack.
Notorious hacker and founder of Ghacks called the secure email service “probably the most secure, private email service right now”. In July 2013, Lavabit had about 350,000 users, it offered free and paid accounts with levels of storage ranging from 128 megabytes to 8 gigabytes :: Read the full article »»»»
RELATED! USA Has “Villain Spy’ Egg Allover it’s Facebook
The second largest economy on the planet – and arguably the most powerful – China, has launched a venomous attack on the United States, labelling it an “espionage villain” after former US spy Edward Snowden raised new allegations on the far-reaching US cyber-surveillance program, PRISM.
Snowden’s latest allegations have the US spy-program directed squarely at Chinese targets.
The US is seeking to extradite the 30-year-old technician from Hong Kong, where he is holed up after leaking details of secret US intelligence programs to international media outlets.
Snowden’s leaks revealed that the National Security Agency – NSA – has access to vast amounts of internet data such as emails, chat rooms and video under a government program known as PRISM. The South China Morning Post says documents and statements by Snowden show PRISM also hacked major Chinese telecom companies to access text messages and targeted China’s top Tsinghua University.
US privacy proponentss have blasted Prism as unconstitutional government surveillance, they’ve called for a review of the program. The US Centre for Constitutional Rights says it believes PRISM to be the broadest surveillance order issued in American history. The Bashing China has received over the past decade on civil liberty, internet censorship and human rights now looks like COMPLETE hypocrisy. The scale of PRISM is daunting, it’s flow-on affect for US allies is likely to haunt us for the foreseeable future, ironically.
In an absolutely ironic twist, Snowden’s revelations come just weeks after US president Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held meeting on the subject of China/US relations where the US president took the Chinese leader to task on hacking charges :: Read the full article »»»»
RELATED! [chronic] Catchup, the full story…
Catch-up! June 7 20113: The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald and Ewan MacAskill reported that PRISM was the source for more than 2,000 intelligence reports each month. More than 24,000 reports were issued in 2012. A total of 77,000 intelligence reports have cited PRISM since the program began six years ago.
US intelligence agencies are accessing the servers of nine internet giants as part of a secret data mining program, according to reports from the US and Britain. The Washington Post reported that the National Security Agency NSA and FBI had direct access to servers which allowed them to track an individual’s web presence via audio, video, photographs, emails and connection logs.
Seems ALL of Silicon Valley’s behemoths are involved in the program, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Apple, PalTalk, AOL, Skype and YouTube, amusingly they’ve ALL denied any participation in the program. Presently, Twitter seems to be the ONLY techbehemoth NOT taking part in PRISM?
The USA’s top spy James R. Clapper said the stories contained “numerous inaccuracies,” but he did not offer any details. And he said the law that allowed US government agencies to collect communications from internet companies only permitted the targeting of “non-US persons” outside the United States.
Check the [chronic] post, it’s kind of longish, historical almost :: Read the full article »»»»
Reuters: US Tells UN it won’t spy on world body…
The United Nations said on Wednesday that the United States has pledged not to spy on the world body’s communications after a report that the National Security Agency had gained access to the U.N. video conferencing system :: Read the full Reuters’ article »»»»
source: washingtonpost source: sociallyengineered source: panorama source: reuters source: afp source: wsj
image source: afp