Feeds

Getting documents all too easy for Snowden

NSA seems to have had rubbish security behind the firewall

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Yet more evidence has emerged that the NSA, which has made much of its apparently god-like power to stroll into anybody's network, read anybody's data, and find any target it wants, is a neophyte when it comes to its own information security.

If a report published in the New York Times is correct, all Edward Snowden did to create his library of thousands of classified documents was run wget in recursive mode, and let it grab whatever documents were visible from his machine.

Incredibly, in spite of network security advice that's existed since the 1990s about using firewalls for internal segmentation (rather than merely as perimeter protection), visibility from Snowden – at the time an employee of an external contractor – was enough that something like “wget -O -r” (he could alternatively used curl) delivered to his machine the vast cache of files now being drip-fed to the media.

Quoting a “senior intelligence official” the NYT says “'We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a machine and downloading this much material in sequence,' the official said. The process, he added, was 'quite automated.'”

“Intelligence officials told a House hearing last week that he accessed roughly 1.7 million files,” the NYT notes.

Even better: it's already known that then-PFC Bradley Manning had also used wget to collect documents.

Snowden also seems to have demonstrated that the NSA's protection against social engineering is also rudimentary, since he was able to explain his actions on such excuses as his role as a network administrator required him to move lots of data around.

Snowden himself remarked, through his lawyers, that “It’s ironic that officials are giving classified information to journalists in an effort to discredit me for giving classified information to journalists. The difference is that I did so to inform the public about the government’s actions, and they’re doing so to misinform the public about mine.” ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.