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An anonymous reader sends this report from the Associated Press:
"Dissenters within the National Security Agency, led by a senior agency executive, warned in 2009 that the program to secretly collect American phone records wasn't providing enough intelligence to justify the backlash it would cause if revealed, current and former intelligence officials say.
The NSA took the concerns seriously, and many senior officials shared them. But after an internal debate that has not been previously reported, NSA leaders, White House officials and key lawmakers opted to continue the collection and storage of American calling records, a domestic surveillance program without parallel in the agency's recent history.
108 comments | 2 days ago
New submitter Gordon_Shure_DOT_com writes Human rights charity Amnesty International has released Detekt, a tool that finds and removes known government spyware programs. Describing the free software as the first of its kind, Amnesty commissioned the tool from prominent German computer security researcher and open source advocate Claudio Guarnieri, aka 'nex'. While acknowledging that the only sure way to prevent government surveillance of huge dragnets of individuals is legislation, Marek Marczynski of Amnesty nevertheless called the tool (downloadable here) a useful countermeasure versus spooks. According to the app's instructions, it operates similarly to popular malware or virus removal suites, though systems must be disconnected from the Internet prior to it scanning.
94 comments | 2 days ago
L-One-L-One (173461) writes In a surprise move, nine months after being bought by Facebook, WhatsApp has begun rolling out end-to-end encryption for its users. With true end-to-end encryption data becomes unaccessible to admins of WhatsApp or law enforcement authorities. This new feature first proposed on Android only has been developed in cooperation with Open Whisper Systems, based on TextSecure. With hundreds of million users, WhatsApp becomes by far the largest secure messaging application. FBI Director James Comey might not be pleased. Do you have a current favorite for encrypted online chat?
93 comments | 3 days ago
mrspoonsi writes: New York City announced today it has picked the companies that will deliver the technology behind its deployment of free, gigabit Wi-Fi to pay phone stations throughout the city. The LinkNYC stations will also include charging outlets, touchscreen displays that interface with city services, and free U.S. calling. It will be funded through advertising. Construction will begin in 2015, and officials expect up to 10,000 stations to be installed before it's done.
106 comments | 5 days ago
An anonymous reader writes "Californian comm-tech company Aoptix is testing new laser+radio hybrid communications technology with three major U.S. internet carriers. The equipment required can be bolted onto existing infrastructure, such as cell-tower masts, and can communicate a 2gbps stream over 6.5 miles. The system was developed over 10 years at a cost of $100 million in conjunction with the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the military implementation of it is called Aoptix Enhanced Air Ground Lasercom System (EAGLS). The laser component of the technology uses a deformable mirror to correct for atmospheric distortion over the mast-hop, in real-time. The laser part of the system is backed-up by a redundant radio transmitter. The radio component has low attenuation in rainy conditions with large refracting raindrops, while the laser is more vulnerable to dense fog. The system, which features auto-stabilization to compensate for cell-tower movement and is being proposed as an alternative to the tremendous cost p/m of laying fiber cable, is being tested in Mexico and Nigeria in addition to the three ISP trials.
150 comments | about a week ago
An anonymous reader writes I run the IT department for a medium-sized online retailer, and we own a set of marketing toll-free numbers that route to our VoIP system for sales. Yesterday we began receiving dozens and now hundreds of calls from non-customers claiming that we're calling out from our system and offering them $1 million in prizes and asking for their checking account details (a classic phishing scheme). After verifying that our own system wasn't compromised, we realized that someone was spoofing the Caller ID of our company on a local phone number, and then they were forwarding call-backs to their number to one of our 1-800 numbers. We contacted the registered provider of the scammer's phone number, Level3, but they haven't been able to resolve the issue yet and have left the number active (apparently one of their sub-carriers owns it). At this point, the malicious party is auto-dialing half of the phone book in the DC metro area and it's causing harm to our business reputation. Disabling our inbound 800 number isn't really possible due to the legitimate marketing traffic. Do you have any suggestions?
141 comments | about a week ago
Ars Technica reports that Microsoft has begun giving some users a taste of a new version of Skype, with a big difference compared to previous ones: the new one (tested by users on an invitation basis) is browser based. Rather than using the existing WebRTC standard, though (eschewed as too complex), Microsoft has developed a separate spec called ORTC (Object RTC), which is designed to offer similar capabilities but without mandating this same call setup system. Both Microsoft and Google are contributing to this spec, as are representatives from companies with video conferencing, telephony, and related products. ORTC isn't currently blessed as a W3C project, though the ORTC group has proposed integrating ORTC into WebRTC to create WebRTC 1.1 and including parts of ORTC into WebRTC 1.0. For now at least, video or audio chat therefore requires a plug-in, and requires Internet Explorer 10, or recent Firefox or Chrome browsers, and a current Safari on Mac OS X. Also at TechCrunch, among others, which notes that text chat (though as mentioned, not video or audio) will work with the new Skype under ChromeOS, too.
54 comments | about a week ago
blottsie writes with this news from The Daily Dot: "The Federal Communications Commission's seemingly suspicious timing in delaying its net neutrality decision has absolutely nothing to do with recent politics, according to an FCC official. Instead, it's a matter of some people in the agency insisting they be more prepared before going to court to defend their eventual plan. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of Verizon, which challenged the FCC's 2010 Open Internet rules, striking down the agency's net neutrality protections. The court found that the FCC did not use the proper legal structure to establish its regulatory authority over broadband service—something that many legal experts say would not be the case if the FCC invokes Title II. The FCC's move to delay the net neutrality decision, which followed President Obama's support of Title II reclassification, was just a coincidence, according to the FCC official:" Before the president weighed in, several of our staff felt like the record was a little thin in areas, and the last thing you want when you go to court for the third time is for a court to say the record was too thin, or you didn't give adequate notice. We are going to be so careful this time that we have crossed every T and dotted every I. Some of the staff felt we're not quite there yet."
60 comments | about a week ago
An anonymous reader writes A former researcher at Columbia University's Network Security Lab has conducted research since 2008 indicating that traffic flow software included in network routers, notably Cisco's 'Netflow' package, can be exploited to deanonymize 81.4% of Tor clients. Professor Sambuddho Chakravarty, currently researching Network Anonymity and Privacy at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, uses a technique which injects a repeating traffic pattern into the TCP connection associated with an exit node, and then compares subsequent aberrations in network timing with the traffic flow records generated by Netflow (or equivalent packages from other router manufacturers) to individuate the 'victim' client. In laboratory conditions the success rate of this traffic analysis attack is 100%, with network noise and variations reducing efficiency to 81% in a live Tor environment. Chakravarty says: 'it is not even essential to be a global adversary to launch such traffic analysis attacks. A powerful, yet non- global adversary could use traffic analysis methods  to determine the various relays participating in a Tor circuit and directly monitor the traffic entering the entry node of the victim connection.'
136 comments | about two weeks ago
stephendavion writes "Sony is planning to launch PlayStation Vue, a TV service for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles providing on demand programs and live content. The company will roll out the service to selected customers in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and is expected to feature content from CBS, Fox, NBC Universal, Discovery Communications and 75 other channels. The service is expected to allow users to save their programs for up to 28 days."
130 comments | about two weeks ago
Tyketto writes The US Department of Justice has been using fake communications towers installed in airplanes to acquire cellular phone data for tracking down criminals, reports The Wall Street Journal. Using fix-wing Cessnas outfitted with DRT boxes produced by Boeing, the devices mimic cellular towers, fooling cellphones into reporting "unique registration information" to track down "individuals under investigation." The program, used by the U.S. Marshals Service, has been in use since 2007 and deployed around at least five major metropolitan areas, with a flying range that can cover most of the US population. As cellphones are designed to connect to the strongest cell tower signal available, the devices identify themselves as the strongest signal, allowing for the gathering of information on thousands of phones during a single flight. Not even having encryption on one's phone, like found in Apple's iPhone 6, prevents this interception. While the Justice Department would not confirm or deny the existence of such a program, Verizon denies any involvement in this program, and DRT (a subsidiary of Boeing), AT&T, and Sprint have all declined to comment.
201 comments | about two weeks ago
szczys writes SatNOGS has won the 2014 Hackaday Prize. The team of developers designed a satellite ground station which can be built with available tools, commodity parts, and modest skills. Data from each station can be shared via a networked protocol to benefit a much wider swath of humanity than one station could otherwise accomplish.
21 comments | about two weeks ago
wiredmikey writes Researchers have hacked several popular smartphones during the Mobile Pwn2Own 2014 competition that took place alongside the PacSec Applied Security Conference in Tokyo this week. The competition, organized by HP's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) targeted the Amazon Fire Phone, iPhone 5s, iPad Mini, BlackBerry Z30, Google Nexus 5 and Nexus 7, Nokia Lumia 1520, and Samsung Galaxy S5. Using various attacks, some Mobile Pwn2Own 2014 Pwnage included: Apple's iPhone 5s (hacked via the Safari Web browser, achieving a full sandbox escape); Samsung's Galaxy S5 (hacked multiple times using near-field communications attacks); Amazon's Fire Phone (Web browser exploited); Windows Phone (partial hacks using a browser attack), andthe Nexus 5 (a Wi-Fi attack, which failed to elevate privileges). All the exploits were disclosed privately to the affected companies. HP promised to reveal details in the upcoming weeks.
52 comments | about two weeks ago
Presto Vivace points out this troubling new report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Recently, Verizon was caught tampering with its customer's web requests to inject a tracking super-cookie. Another network-tampering threat to user safety has come to light from other providers: email encryption downgrade attacks. In recent months, researchers have reported ISPs in the U.S. and Thailand intercepting their customers' data to strip a security flag — called STARTTLS — from email traffic. The STARTTLS flag is an essential security and privacy protection used by an email server to request encryption when talking to another server or client.
By stripping out this flag, these ISPs prevent the email servers from successfully encrypting their conversation, and by default the servers will proceed to send email unencrypted. Some firewalls, including Cisco's PIX/ASA firewall do this in order to monitor for spam originating from within their network and prevent it from being sent. Unfortunately, this causes collateral damage: the sending server will proceed to transmit plaintext email over the public Internet, where it is subject to eavesdropping and interception.
245 comments | about two weeks ago
blottsie writes: The Federal Communications Commission will abandon its earlier promise to make a decision on new net neutrality rules this year. Instead, FCC Press Secretary Kim Hart said, "there will not be a vote on open internet rules on the December meeting agenda. That would mean rules would now be finalized in 2015." The FCC's confirmation of the delay came just as President Barack Obama launched a campaign to persuade the agency to reclassify broadband Internet service as a public utility. Opensource.com is also running an interview with a legal advisor at the FCC. He says, "There will be a burden on providers. The question is, 'Is that burden justified?' And I think our answer is 'Yes.'"
127 comments | about two weeks ago
Presto Vivace sends this excerpt from an article at the Kernel, titled 'With Gamergate, it's not enough to ignore the trolls.'
Gendered bigotry against women is widely considered to be "in bounds" by Internet commenters (whether they openly acknowledge it or not), and subsequently a demographic that comprises half of the total human population has to worry about receiving rape threats, death threats, and the harassment of angry mobs simply for expressing their opinions. This needs to stop, and while it's impossible to prevent all forms of harassment from occurring online, we can start by creating a culture that shames individuals who cross the bounds of decency.
We can start by stating the obvious: It is never appropriate to use slurs, metaphors, graphic negative imagery, or any other kind of language that plays on someone's gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion. Not only is such language inappropriate regardless of one's passion on a given subject, but any valid arguments that existed independently of such rhetoric should have been initially presented without it. Once a poster crosses this line, they should lose all credibility.
Similarly, it is never acceptable to dox, harass, post nude pictures, or in any other way violate someone's privacy due to disagreement with their opinions. While most people would probably agree with this in theory, far too many are willing to access and distribute this humiliating (and often illegal) content. Instead of simply viewing stories of doxing, slut-shaming, and other forms of online intimidation as an unfortunate by-product of the digital age, we should boycott all sites that publish these materials.
827 comments | about two weeks ago
tlhIngan writes When moving from an iPhone to something else, if you were an avid user of iMessage, you may find your messages missing, especially from iOS-using friends. Indeed, it has been such a problem that there are even lawsuits about it. While Apple has maintained that users can always switch off iMessage, that only works if you still have your iOS device. Unless one also has other iOS devices or a Mac, they may not even realize their friends have been sending messages that are queued up on Apple's services via iMessage. Well, that problem has been resolved with Apple creating a deregistration utility to remove your phone number from the iMessage servers so friends will no longer send you texts via iMessage that you can no longer receive. It's a two-step process involving proof of number ownership (via regular SMS) before deregistration takes place.
136 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes: According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Elon Musk is looking at a new project: smaller, cheaper satellites that can provide internet access for people all across the world. "Mr. Musk is working with Greg Wyler, a satellite-industry veteran and former Google Inc. executive, these people said. Mr. Wyler founded WorldVu Satellites Ltd., which controls a large block of radio spectrum. In talks with industry executives, Messrs. Musk and Wyler have discussed launching around 700 satellites, each weighing less than 250 pounds, the people said. That is about half the size of the smallest communications satellites now in commercial use. The satellite constellation would be 10 times the size of the largest current fleet, managed by Iridium Communications Inc. ... The smallest communications satellites now weigh under 500 pounds and cost several million dollars each. WorldVu hopes to bring the cost of manufacturing smaller models under $1 million, according to two people familiar with its plans."
74 comments | about two weeks ago
Advocatus Diaboli writes British spies have been granted the authority to secretly eavesdrop on legally privileged attorney-client communications, according to newly released documents. On Thursday, a series of previously classified policies confirmed for the first time that the U.K.'s top surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters has advised its employees: "You may in principle target the communications of lawyers." The country's other major security and intelligence agencies—MI5 and MI6—have adopted similar policies, the documents show. The guidelines also appear to permit surveillance of journalists and others deemed to work in "sensitive professions."
184 comments | about two weeks ago
Zanadou writes Australians are well used to paying what's called an "Australian Tax": high(er) prices for international products and services simply because they are are being accessed from an Australian IP address and/or being delivered to an Australian mail address. But Australia Post, Australia's national mail service, might have a solution: last week they opened a new warehouse/delivery depot in Oregon, U.S., allowing Australians to use a U.S.-based delivery address for mail items, which can then forwarded onwards to Australia.
However, this service, called "Shopmate", comes at a cost.
142 comments | about two weeks ago