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back to article US wiretap plan will leave door open for spooks and hackers

A top-drawer American cryptography boffin has expressed grave doubts about Bush administration plans to let spooks build wiretapping capabilities into the US comms infrastructure. Writing in the Washington Post, Susan Landau, distinguished engineer at Sun Labs, described the capabilities sought by the National Security Agency ( …

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"Thought to be outside the USA"??

And perhaps this information would be provided by the same people that "thought" that WMD were in Iraq next to all that lovely oil?

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A change that US citizens are spied upon by US agencys

Considering that UK comms has been spied upon regularly by US agencys (and thre sesults relayed back to the UK goverment)

Additionally that traffic between US & UK offices have been intercepted and this information passed to US companys to win bids.

All I can say is welcome to what the rest of us have to put up with !

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Anonymous Coward

This is not a real problem...

there are already built in wiretrapping capabilities in every bigger switch, be it the phone network or part of the internet. It's called law enforcement interface and it's a standard component often used for debugging. The system was installed so lawful wiretrapping can be used and since nobody uses aligator clips for writetrapping these days, they are actually remote interfaces for the digital switches.

A common wiretrap system has a two layer protection. Physical in the form of dedicated ports, so if the wiretrap network runs parallel to the internet, it can stay hidden and the plain old password and/or certificate based authentication also used by telco engineers to block out phreakers. You have to physically hack the wiretrap network by gaining physical access to it and then hack the software protection that protects it from unauthorized insider access. Sometimes it's just plain easier to break the weaker telco password and mirror some of the traffic to a remote part of the world or inject fake packets into the network by using the same route backwards. This can be done with or without a wiretrap network.

ps: Nothing stops a state from installing automated wiretrap and data alnalyst systems into every switch, in fact the chinese government requires this (called the great firewall of china). Now the usa will use it too, like many east european nations.

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Anonymous Coward

Freedom is not "Risk Free"

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

-- Benjamin Franklin, 1759

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Encryption

If it's worth the NSA's time to look at it, it's worth my time to encrypt it. At present,I don't think they have the capacity to break it.

Now if only someone will produce a VOIP product (computer to computer) with stream encryption. Something like what the NSA and CIA uses at present.

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Silver badge

Money for Nothing delivers Dire Straits?

The Truth never needs Encryption only its Hiding at a Right Dodgy Behest. If you're encrypting something it is not good enough to share. So why waste time and effort hiding it .... for to share it secretly? Another Scam Sham Industry which just Invents ITself to Feed the Systems/Feed Off the System?

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Title

This has no use, any terrorist with a brain would not pick up a phone and speak to his accomplish, they would just meet in mc donalds and write little messages passed over the table on napkins....

Secret message in the personal columns of newspapers, requesting certain songs to be played on the radio, (how about 'a message to you rudy' by the specials lol)

so many ways can be used to synchronise an attack and so many ways to plan in secret all this tapping in the name of security is just a cover for spying on the population as a whole.

what really upset me was when bush came to the UK and the damn UK phone network suddenly went down for 90 minutes, no doubt just a coincidence, as a 'over night' taxi driver without radio I was most at risk if I had an accident etc

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Title

''Now if only someone will produce a VOIP product (computer to computer) with stream encryption. Something like what the NSA and CIA uses at present.''

Then they would probably be charged with something, it could get classed as a weapon etc ?

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VoIP Encryption

Phil Zimmermann is working on it. Look for

http://zfoneproject.com/

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@ Dillon Pyron

You'll need two computers, Dillon, but you can have stream-encrypted VOIP right now. The remote end is going to need an extra computer two.

The spare PC at each end is configured as a VPN endpoint, and to accept packets only from the other endpoint; then crank up the encryption level as high as you like (within the CPU and RAM constraints) and away you go.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Title

"This has no use, any terrorist with a brain would not pick up a phone and speak to his accomplish, they would just meet in mc donalds and write little messages passed over the table on napkins...."

Or PaSs cryptIc mssagEs through Comment boards.

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@ Morely Dotes

Horsepower not withstanding could you use a virtual machine on either end to do what you suggest?

Obviously I'm no expert so I'm curious as to why it wouldn't work ...

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You worry too much

After all this comes from the same Administrations that thinks it'll be a neat idea to pump Iraq's oil straight into Israel to avoid complications. No really, they thought of it this week - probably as a way of calming things down a bit.

You have to admire the front of someone that is willing to suggest saying "fuck you" to the entire Arab community.

I believe it's along the same idea as using American soldiers as terrorist targets in Iraq. In other words terrorists will be having so much fun killing Americans over there, they don't particularly need to do it anywhere else. The only problem was no one bothered to tell the troops they were re-assigned as target practice for extremists.

It all fits in the general Iraq plan of driving around until someone kills you.

It's tough on the Iraqis, turning their country into a cesspool of violence, but everyone else is good.

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Skype?

''Now if only someone will produce a VOIP product (computer to computer) with stream encryption. Something like what the NSA and CIA uses at present.''

How about Skype... and someday Skype over TOR.... but by the time someone does that it'll be illegal to even fart.

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Anonymous Coward

@Title

>Or PaSs cryptIc mssagEs through Comment boards

DaMn rumbled ...

amAnfrommercury

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@leslie

Oh great ... THANK YOU for the instructions. The whole eavesdropping plan is no good now that you have taught the terrorists how to get around it. Either you're WITH us or AGAINST us! Or with THEM, or something like that ...

It's a good thing you posted that little tutorial today ... because it will be illegal to post anything like that by December ... or at least by the time GWB leaves office. Thank your lucky stars the tapping scheme can't read comments.

Now ... where did I put those napkins ... ?

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re encryption

Unfortunately there is a major flaw with all forms of encryption, mainly that all it takes to break is time. you probably won't ever be able to listen in on an encrypted VOIP call in realtime but you can record it and decrypt it later.

I remember some details from part of an Information Systems course i did, quite a while ago, which detailed different types of encryption and the average time they took to crack. i think 128k (ie what most browsers use for your credit card details) took a couple of months on a home pc, a week or so on a corporate system and about 5 mins on a govenment code breaking system. And this was before home pc's broke the 1gb limit (in fact i think they had yet to push 500mhz), I can only imagine with todays systems that they can't be far off the corporate systems of the time if not surpassing them.

certainly the lessons learnt from the wpa wireless encryption shows that most modern pc's can crack it withing minutes

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Spy games

I'm with Dillon Pyron: "If it's worth the NSA's time to look at it, it's worth my time to encrypt it." My communications are simply not the government's business.

Leslie figured out the bottom line when she says, that this has no use. Atleast not the advertised one. Terrorists are not nearly as stupid as the voting public and will just learn to use other methods like writing backwards or talking like a teenager - lol. My personal favourite is writing with vinegar on hard boiled eggs, but if they found out, they'd take vinegar off the shelves. There is no end to high tech or low tech spy games and they are simply barking up the wrong tree. It's obvious that this is just a ruse by spooks and politicians to spy on the public, empower themselves, and create work for the NSA. Are we heading into another MacArthur era? Will I soon get arrested for possesion of a hard boiled egg? Sometimes I'm glad that I'm old enough that I probably won't see where this is all going. I've seen this trend before and it didn't end well.

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SMARTer String Entanglement for Continuity of Spin.

This is a Right Royal Cheeky Thread ..... very Rumanian/RomaneSQL

"Horsepower not withstanding could you use a virtual machine on either end to do what you suggest?

Obviously I'm no expert so I'm curious as to why it wouldn't work ... " .. Who says it wouldn't work? Virtually you can do Anything and almost Everything.... but there are Limits in All Sectors to be BetaTested for Ongoing Approvals and Appraisal. Permissions. Or you'd get every Tom, Dick and Harry just doing their thing and not knowing how to Control IT with Order and just distributing Chaos.

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"Land of the Free"

Everytime someone in a movie utters the words in my title, I scoff, laugh or mutter, "Yeah, right!"

Strangely enough, never heard anyone mention it outside of a movie - but then, Hollyweird is just one vast propaganda machine entirely staffed by Party-Faithful directors, producers and script writers who churn out screeds of "Greatest Nation on Earth", "Land of the Free", "The Whole World is Jealous of Us" crap despite all evidence to the contrary.

Jealous of the USA? I honestly pity its citizens. And articles like this one illustrate why.

Land of the Free? Wot a RIOT! Yorta be on stage, a routine like that!

The dust of the Twin Towers hadn't settled and the Bush Admin was saying "would You,The People, be willing to accept the loss of certain Constitutional Rights in order to prevent this happening again?"

And when the "temporary" post-Sept-11 licence to spy on the public runs out, a new law gets passed to allow them to continue to spy on the public. Oh, quelle surprise!

They rave about how great it is they have a Constitution and yet that document is completely ignored by The Powers That Be over and over again.

Honesty, they might as well burn it - it's been dead so long that cremation is the only respectful and honest thing to do.

As has been pointed out, the real terrorists are hardly likely to use any infrastructure that can be easily monitored so all this law does is enable the insanely huge number of spooks the USA has to spy on their *own citizens*.

And wouldn't it be handy to have everyone's dirty little secrets on tap if the need ever arose to apply pressure? "We know you've been evading taxes for years, only reason you're not in jail is because you might prove useful, now we need you so do what we want or it's off to federal prison..."

"Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?" yeah, right. Even if you aren't dodging taxes or organising a tryst with your secretary, who knows what might be deemed "subversive behaviour" by future administrations. Bear in mind that under McCarthy's regime, homosexuality was deemed to be a security risk. For all we know, some loony spook or future President might take it into his/her head to decide that all stamp collectors pose a significant security threat.

I see it as the duty of every honest and Constitution-loving US citizen to foul up the spooks' plans by randomly interjecting the words "bomb" and "jihad" into every telephone conversation they have - even if they're just ordering a pizza.

The more I read about the goings-on in the so-called "Land of the Free", the more I think that the average US citizen is probably becoming jealous of other countries like China (where at least the government is up-front and HONEST about being a dictatorship that grants no rights or liberties to its citizens)

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Bronze badge

viop wire tap

Now if only someone will produce a VOIP product (computer to computer) with stream encryption. Something like what the NSA and CIA uses at present.

I work for a VIOP company. ANY thing that inspects /filter packets on our system will cause jitter/lag/dropped calls so I'm no sure how they could tap a one our phone calls if it is made between two of our customers, well atleast do it and not cause call quality issues. Granted I'm just a lowly tech

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@ Ole Juul

Rest assured that when you place a phone order for eggs and vinegar, it will be logged and your dossier will be sent up to Floor 13 or wherever.

Same for all you buggers ordering lemons - we know what you're up to! What's the bet you have an electric iron or a hot plate in your possession as well. Thought so...

And as we all know, motorcyclists are worse subversives than those "UnAmerican" homosexuals back in McCarthy's time so anyone mentioning anything to do with motorcycles over the phone can be logged as well - that'll teach ya to go out and have fun on the weekends while I'm stuck in a grey room listening in on bored housewives, you free-spirited bastards!

Now we have the entire population tapped, what shall we do to catch those bloody terrorists that keep refusing to discuss their plans in plain English over our tapped telephone lines? They're outsmarting us at every turn.

Future phone call.

"Hey, mate, I screwed my secretary last night, don't tell my wife, eh?"

"Don't worry, your secret is just between you, me, 14 spooks and the 27 l33t |-|4X0rs that have intercepted the intercept..."

Maybe it's time to replace "Just between you, me and the walls..." with "Just between you, me, the spooks and the hackers..."

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