Articles about nsa

Snowden's anti-snoop tool

NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden and hardware guru Andrew “Bunnie” Huang have designed a gizmo that wraps around your iPhone 6 and alerts you when the mobe unexpectedly leaks your location. Basically, if you put your smartphone into airplane mode – ie: maintain radio silence – to avoid being tracked, the gadget will kick off if …
Shaun Nichols, 21 Jul 2016
China will see you on the dark side of the moon

Maxthon web browser blabs about your PC all the way back to Beijing

A web browser developed by Chinese company Maxthon has allegedly been collecting telemetry about its users. Polish security consultancy Exatel warns [PDF] that Maxthon is phoning home information such as the computer's operating system and version number, the screen resolution, the CPU type and speed, the amount of memory …
John Leyden, 19 Jul 2016
A bottle of burned naphtalene

Oz boffins cook quantum computing out of mothballs

A Sydney University researcher has burned naphthalene to create a material that can hold quantum qubit information at room temperatures. While the world has both quantum storage and quantum gates, albeit at small scales, even performing a simple Boolean AND operation on qubits is best undertaken as close as you can get to 0 …

McCain: Come to my encryption hearing. Tim Cook: No, I'm good. McCain: I hate you, I hate you, I hate you

US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has thrown a hissy fit over the refusal of Apple CEO Tim Cook to attend a Senate hearing on encryption. Opening the Committee on Armed Services' hearing on cybersecurity this morning, McCain went out of his way to note that Cook has declined the senator's invitation to give testimony alongside …
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Jul 2016
Dudley Do-Right Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Follow US please, say spies

Snarky Canuck spies have joined Twitter telling the world 'now it's your turn to follow us'. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service joined the flighty social media rabble better snoop engage with locals, agency director Michel Coulombe says. "Speaking publicly on the nature of our work isn’t always easy, but we want CSIS …
Darren Pauli, 14 Jul 2016
Man in helmet looks uncertain, holds up shield. Photo by Shutterstock

European Commission straps on Privacy Shield

The European Commission has this morning adopted the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement, which will enter into force as soon as all member states are notified of the adequacy decision (PDF). Privacy Shield, which has been adopted after months of negotiations, is an agreement between the EU and the US which ostensibly ensures that …

Don't doubt it, Privacy Shield is going to be challenged in court

Analysis The European Union's attempts to make data transfers to the United States compliant with privacy laws are an opaque exercise, so much is obvious, but will they work? It's clear that it is necessary to retain the Transatlantic data trade – in economic terms, but also as a means of preventing the Balkanization of the internet. …

Pokemon Go oh no no no, we're not reading your email, says gamemaker

Final update This was a developing story: read through to the updates for the full scoop. Smash-hit mobile game Pokemon Go's catchphrase is "you gotta catch 'em all" – gotta catch all your Google accounts, it seems. As spotted today by IT architect Adam Reeve, the ultra-popular monster-catching vitamin-D-injecting exercise-encouraging …
Shaun Nichols, 11 Jul 2016
stack of newspapers with a pair of ethernet cables next to them

EU votes for Privacy Shield

The EU-US Privacy Shield agreement has been agreed by representatives of the EU's Member States. Privacy Shield was constructed as a replacement for the Safe Harbor agreement which covered the transfer of EU citizens' data to the US. Safe Harbor collapsed following legal action spurred by the Snowden revelations, which …
Man shouting the news from a rolled up newspaper

US constitution vs PRISM

An appeals court in the US will hear whether a criminal defendant had his constitutional rights violated by the NSA's PRISM programme later today. Mohamed Mohamud, a naturalised Somali-American, was convicted in 2013 of taking part in the 2010 Portland car bomb plot. His lawyers have argued Mohamud was entrapped as he would …
High-tech startup-rich neighbourhood Herzliya Pituach, Israel. Pic by InnaFelker, editorial use only via Shutterstock

Israeli tech firms make their exits, stage rich

Israeli hi-tech companies rang the tills with exits adding up to $3.3bn in the first half of 2016. A total of 45 hi-tech firms completed exit deals that averaged $74m, according to a study by IVC Research Center and law firm Meitar Liquornik. Increased difficulties in raising capital, particularly in the United States and …
John Leyden, 06 Jul 2016

Encryption, wiretaps and the Feds: THE TRUTH

Figures published this month suggest fewer Americans are using encryption to secure their communications – but if you look into the detail, the opposite is probably closer to reality. The latest Wiretap Report from the US courts system – which counts up the number of requests from investigators to spy on people's chatter in …
Shaun Nichols, 30 Jun 2016

FBI's iPhone paid-for hack should be barred, say ex-govt officials

The FBI's purchase of a hack to get into the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone should not have been allowed. That's according to a new paper from two former US government cybersecurity officials, Ari Schwartz and Rob Knake. In their paper [PDF] they dig into the current vulnerability equities process (VEP), disclosed in 2014, …
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Jun 2016
Sign outside the National Security Agency HQ

US plans intervention in EU vs Facebook case caused by NSA snooping

The US government has asked the Irish High Court to hear its information in the case between a privacy activist and Facebook. Austrian activist and lawyer, Max Schrems, brought his complaint against the social network after the revelations of the NSA's PRISM surveillance program, which he, alongside Digital Rights Ireland, …

Post-Safe Harbor: Adobe fined for shipping personal info to the US 'without any legal basis'

A German regulator has fined three companies for failing to change the way they share people's personal information following the invalidation of the Safe Harbor agreement last year. The Hamburg Data Commissioner fined Adobe €8,000 ($9,084), Pepsi subsidiary Punica €9,000 ($10,220) and Unilever €11,000 ($12,491) because they …
Kieren McCarthy, 07 Jun 2016
Parabolic mic

On her microphone's secret service: How spies, anyone can grab crypto keys from the air

Discerning secret crypto keys in computers and gadgets by spying on how they function isn't new, although the techniques used are often considered impractical. A new paper demonstrates this surveillance can be pretty easy – well, easier than you might imagine – to pull off, even over the air from a few metres away. We all …
Iain Thomson, 04 Jun 2016

'UnaPhone' promises Android privacy by binning Google Play

A custom Android phone is being pitched to security and privacy pundits promising to deliver by goring Google services, preventing app installation, and deploying end-to-end encryption. The US$540(£374, A$745) UnaPhone sports a custom Android Marshmallow operating system that has been stripped of "invasive" Google services to …
Darren Pauli, 03 Jun 2016

Is a $14,000 phone really the price of privacy?

A US$14,000 (£9,706, or A$19,352) Android phone has been launched pitching 'military-grade encryption' at privacy-conscious executives. Little information can be found on the Solarin handset's specific security chops other than it will use "chip-to-chip 256-bit AES encryption" for phone calls. That technology is built by …
Darren Pauli, 02 Jun 2016
The inflatable approaches a swell-lashed Rockall in 2003

Top EU data cop slams Safe Harbor replacement as inadequate

The EU's independent data protection supervisor has said that the proposed US-EU data sharing agreement, Privacy Shield, "is not robust enough to withstand future legal scrutiny" and has refused to endorse it. "Significant improvements are needed should the European Commission wish to adopt an adequacy decision, to respect the …

Don't panic, says Blue Coat, we're not using CA cert to snoop on you

Blue Coat has denied it's up to any shenanigans – after the security biz was seemingly given the power to issue crypto certificates that could be used to spy on people. A kerfuffle kicked off this week when it looked as though Blue Coat had been made an intermediate certificate authority, backed by root certificate authority …
Iain Thomson, 27 May 2016
Max Schrems

Irish data cops kick Max Schrems' latest Facebook complaint up to EU Court

The Irish Data Protection Commissioner has referred Max Schrems' original complaint to the EU Court of Justice to determine if Facebook's transfers of personal data from the EU to the US is legal. Transatlantic data sharing has come under tight scrutiny following the collapse of the Safe Harbor agreement after a Court of …
Privacy image

Committees: Wait! Don't strap on the Privacy Shield yet

The revelations by rogue NSA sysadmin Edward Snowden in 2013 caused indignant EU politicians to open a dialogue with the US government to update the data transfer regime to safeguard personal data. The Privacy Shield is the culmination of those discussions. The US's hands-off approach has always differed from the EU's …
Frank Jennings, 24 May 2016

Google security man reveals Allo will encrypt chats - sometimes.

Security industry types and leaker Edward Snowden have rubbished new Google instant messenger app Allo after its lead product engineer revealed it would not run end-to-end encryption by default. The text-based messaging service launched at Google's I/O 2016 gabfest last week is linked to phone numbers and sports Chrome's porn …
Darren Pauli, 24 May 2016

Apple: Another bug fix. Er, thanks, GCHQ

GCHQ’s CESG (Communications-Electronics Security Group) assurance arm was behind the report of an OS X bug to Apple that the consumer electronics giant patched last week. The UK’s signals intelligence is perhaps better known in security circles for finding and exploiting software vulnerabilities in order to spy on foreign …
John Leyden, 23 May 2016
Edward Snowden and Julian Morrow at Think. Image Darren Pauli / The Register

Snowden: NBN leaker raids a 'misuse' of Australian Federal Police

National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden has opined that last week's National Broadband Network (NBN) raids in Australia last week are a misuse of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) power. Snowden appeared via satellite link in the Australian city of Melbourne last night, live from Russia where he resides under …
Darren Pauli, 23 May 2016
Royal coat of arms on a court building. Pic: Elliott Brown

I spy a secret High Court: We're no 'star chamber', it says in 4-year report

The only court where you may appeal our spies' illegal activities in the UK has finally published a report covering its activities from 2011-2015, defending itself against accusations that it is a “star chamber” which “always meets in secret and never rules in favour of complainants”. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), …
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Spied upon by GCHQ? You'll need proof before a court will hear you...

The UK's only judicial body for hearing complaints against the intelligence services has ruled claimants must show why their communications are "potentially at risk" of being collected by the government's mass-surveillance activities. On Monday the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) handed down its judgment which threatened …
Slices of madeira cake

NSA newsletters published

An archive of internal newsletters from US spying agency, the National Security Agency (NSA), have been published online. The copies of SIDtoday - produced by the NSA's Signals Intelligence Directorate and placed on the organization's intranet - date back to 2003 and were part of the huge trove of documents supplied to …
Kieren McCarthy, 16 May 2016
GCHQ is following you on Twitter, Faceboo, email...

GCHQ's Twitter move: Wants to be 'accessible', people to 'understand'

GCHQ has belatedly joined Twitter. The UK government spy agency’s first message to the global micro-blogging platform on Monday morning was the brief “Hello, world”, something that GCHQ probably hopes will resonate with computer programmers worldwide.1 Simple and in keeping with the banal first entries of many Twitter users …
John Leyden, 16 May 2016
Furnace by https://www.flickr.com/photos/changeable_fate/ cc 2l0 attribution generic https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Hackers tear shreds off Verizon's data breach report top 10 bug list

Information security boffins have pilloried Verizon's latest data breach report, suggesting its list of top security vulnerabilities do not represent reality. The 2016 Data Breach Investigations report [PDF] is Verizon's ninth in the series drawing on a wider pool of data including some 100,000 security incidents and 2260 data …
Darren Pauli, 12 May 2016

Congress calls for change to NSA spying law

The legal justification for the NSA to tap the internet's backbone was put on the table Tuesday in a hearing of the Senate's Judiciary Committee, with some senators vowing to add privacy protections to the law as expert witnesses noted the FBI was likely reading the love letters of US citizens rather than tracking down …
Kieren McCarthy, 10 May 2016

How to evade the NSA: OpSec guide for journalists also used by terrorists

Privacy guides meant for journalists are being re-purposed by terrorist groups, Trend Micro researchers say. The guides are designed to help hacks avoid surveillance by nation-states and well-resourced adversaries focusing on encryption, operational security, recommended and untrusted platforms. It is one finding of dozens …
Darren Pauli, 04 May 2016

All US spy requests OK'd

Every single request by US g-men to carry out electronic surveillance in 2015 was approved by America's secret intelligence court. The US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is supposed to oversee and scrutinize spying operations, received 1,457 requests from the NSA and FBI to tap people's communications – and …
Team Register, 02 May 2016

Vid: Snowden flick trailer

The trailer for Snowden – Oliver Stone's movie about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – has been put on YouTube for everyone to take a look. And it looks ridiculous. The action flick seems to be aimed at people with an attention span short enough to find a Fast and Furious episode a marathon, and nowhere near long enough to …
Chris Williams, 27 Apr 2016
A Handful of Giant Weta by Mike Locke

US government tells Apple it has security problems that Apple fixed last year

Two years after the White House decided disclosure was better than bug-hoarding, the FBI has handed over its first notification to Apple. News of the bug report was given to Reuters, which says notifications describing the iPhone and Mac problems landed in Cupertino on April 14. The White House policy was articulated at the …

FBI boss: We paid at least $1.2m to crack the San Bernardino iPhone

Vid FBI director James Comey today suggested the Feds paid security experts over a million dollars to crack a San Bernardino killer's iPhone. While speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in the UK, Comey was asked how much his agents paid hackers to break into Syed Farook's iPhone 5C. "More than I will make in the remainder of this …
Chris Williams, 21 Apr 2016
CEO Rob Beardon - Image via hortonworks

Hortonworks CEO tells El Reg: 'Clearly there's a lot of work to do'

Interview Hortonworks CEO, Rob Bearden, told The Register that “clearly there's a lot of work to do” as the business attempts to stop burning cash by the end of 2016. In an interview in The Marker hotel in Dublin, just across the River Liffey from where Hortonworks was hosting its EMEA Hadoop Summit, Bearden reaffirmed that the Santa …

Ex-NSA security expert develops generic Mac ransomware blocker

An Apple security expert has developed a free-of-charge standalone ransomware defense tool for OS X. Patrick Wardle, a former NSA staffer who now heads up research at crowdsourced security intelligence firm Synack, has built RansomWhere?, a generic ransomware detector. The utility works by suspending untrusted processes that …
John Leyden, 20 Apr 2016

US government sued by activists looking for backdoor smoking gun

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is suing the US government to reveal just how it compels tech companies to help agents spy on people. The activist group has hit the Department of Justice (DoJ) with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in the US Northern California District Court requesting details on whether …
Shaun Nichols, 20 Apr 2016

FBI's PRISM slurping is 'unconstitutional' – and America's secret spy court is OK with that

Hopes that reform to the US government's mass surveillance infrastructure would yield real results have been dealt a blow after the opinion of a public advocate to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) was rejected. Amy Jeffress was asked to give her opinion on the FBI searching in the vast PRISM database for …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Apr 2016

Tweak Privacy Shield rules to make people happy? Nah – US govt

The US government has poured cold water on the idea of making changes to the new Privacy Shield agreement that will cover transfers of people's private data between the US and Europe, potentially putting the entire agreement at risk. Under secretary of commerce for international trade, Stefan Selig, told Reuters that the US …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Apr 2016

Daft Punk: Snowden goes electronica

It is a seemingly unlikely career change, bored Moscovite Edward Snowden has agreed to provide vocals for a track on Jean Michel Jarre's forthcoming album. "I've always appreciated electronic music. The melodies that I remember with most fondness are actually from video games where they generate 8-bit music, and those kinds of …
Iain Thomson, 15 Apr 2016
 Putting text-reading robots to work. Arthur_Caranta, CC BY-SA

Snowden sings again

NSA refusenik Edward Snowden has teamed up with French electronica old-timer Jean Michel Jarre to collaborate on a song titled "Exit", a six-minute track that would not have been out of place in the '90s. It is available to download on Spotify and Apple Music - but not on Tidal, it seems. You have been warned. Putting text- …
Paul Kunert, 15 Apr 2016
protest

US anti-encryption law is so 'braindead' it will outlaw file compression

The proposed bill put forward by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to force US companies to build backdoors into their encryption systems has quickly run into trouble. Less than 24 hours after the draft Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016 was released, more than 43,000 signatures have been added to …
Iain Thomson, 14 Apr 2016

El Reg forces NSA to act

Just one day after we complained that the US intelligence agencies' new transparency council hasn’t even named its members, the NSA has responded. Clearly cowed by our searing exposition, the American spy agency has appointed Rebecca Richards, its director of civil liberties and privacy, to the council and also given her the …
Kieren McCarthy, 12 Apr 2016
Illustration of a man with a beard reading a tablet

Juniper kills weak crypto

ScreenOS has been cleansed of weak crypto components found last year. The December 2015 discovery of “unauthorised code” in the software, the operating system for the firewalls it acquired when it bought Netscreen, left the company red-faced and scrambling to work out what happened. Along the way, Juniper kicked off a code …
stack of newspapers

Signal Desktop beta opens

Crypto-comms app Signal has opened its Desktop beta for public access. Today's release follows enormous interest in the queued beta last December, which saw tens of thousands of supporters sign up. Endorsed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the end-to-end crypto messaging app now supports a single user identifier across …
James Comey

FBI Director defends iPhone 5C unlock tool that's obviously going to leak into wrong hands

FBI Director James Comey says the tool his agents bought and used to unlock the San Bernardino killer's iPhone will only work on a "narrow slice" of phones. On Wednesday, Comey gave a lecture at Ohio's Kenyon College's Center for the Study of American Democracy in which he said the exploit only works on iOS 9 iPhone 5Cs. Apple …
Iain Thomson, 07 Apr 2016
reddit wanted poster by Russia's telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor

Reddit's warrant canary shuffles off this mortal coil

It appears that Reddit has been the recipient of a National Security Letter, after the warrant canary it has published in its annual transparency reports has disappeared. A warrant canary is a technique whereby companies can get around the restrictions involved with National Security Letters, which typically bar the recipient …
Iain Thomson, 31 Mar 2016

Senator Wyden recalls SOPA fight in bid to defeat encryption-weakening efforts

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has put out a call to arms to digital rights activists, asking them to join in a SOPA-style effort to defeat upcoming efforts to weaken encryption. In a wide-ranging speech that covered J Edgar Hoover, Miranda Rights, the Founding Fathers and the Amazon Echo, the Oregon Senator warned that despite the …
Kieren McCarthy, 30 Mar 2016