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back to article Four ways the Guardian could have protected Snowden – by THE NSA

The Guardian's editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger fears journalists – and, by extension, everyone – will be reduced to using pen and paper to avoid prying American and British spooks online. And his reporters must fly around the world to hold face-to-face meetings with sources ("Not good for the environment, but increasingly the …

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None of this is relevant though if any link in the electronic chain can be presented with a court order or threatened by the security services to reveal data. we've already seen 2 businesses fall to this with one possibly facing obstruction charges.

You can't subpoena a face to face conversation (provided you avoid it being monitored / recorded in any way0 and that's the whole point of Rusbridger's stance and why this article is virtually pointless...

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Boffin

The trick is to have communications that bypass legislation such as RIPA completely since there is clearly no point in securing information when the very people you are securing it against can request the origin key from you under threat of fine or imprisonment. Thus you could make the link secure by using encrypted channels via direct satellite links with a Transponder Lease (not hard to do and certainly not a major expense for an organisation like the Grauniad).

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Still entirely susceptible

to rubber-hose cryptanalysis.

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Re: Still entirely susceptible

Yup...

http://xkcd.com/538/

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Re: Still entirely susceptible

Yes and no. If you're using a private key it's normally saved as a file somewhere, the actual contents are something you've likely never seen, and forget being able to remember them barring a particularly savant bout of autism. If you have some sort of deadman setup which nukes your sole copy of that key after a prescribed period, then no matter how hard they hit you and how much you want to, there's really nothing you CAN tell an adversary.

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Unhappy

Add Groklaw to the list of closings

PJ has stopped Groklaw because of all of this

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FAIL

It's almost as though you didn't even read the article.

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Facepalm

Re: fLaMePrOoF

"....You can't subpoena a face to face conversation...." You are missing the whole point - getting face-to-face with your source is the last thing you want to do as it is just about guaranteed exposure. Long before email arrived the security services were very, very good at physically following people, and they haven't forgotten those skills. Half the task for the security services is identifying the people involved, once they have the people identified they can move to legal means such as Section Seven interviews, demands for encryption keys, or less legal means such as extraordinary renditions. Happily, AQ made the mistake of thinking encrypted email was going to keep them safe, not realizing the primary concern of the security services was tracking who the AQ puppetmasters in Pakistan were talking to in the West rather than knowing what they were talking about. Once they had tracked the encrypted emails and identified the puppets receiving them they could follow them to other puppets or pick them up for decryption by weatherboarding as required. It is obvious from the Miranda affair that the authorities are tracking such parties as the Guardian journos and their friends and families. Rushbridger was incredibly naive not to have predicted it.

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Re: Still entirely susceptible

Easiest way just post the file to alt.binaries.boneless no encryption.

Once it exists it exists.

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Joke

Be careful Chris

This is close to material that is useful to a terrorist.

Actually not much of a joke is it :(

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Re: Be careful Chris

"Actually not much of a joke is it :("

Not when the HomeSec thinks it's justified to hold Miranda under anti-Terrorist laws.

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Re: Be careful Chris

Did you read the prominent bits of the article that explained that the NSA outlined a lot of this?

Lots of things help terrorists, like privacy and freedom. Maybe we should ban them, but then what would we have left to protect?

I imagine Miranda felt pretty terrorised by the police.

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Re: Be careful Chris

This is reminding me of the Kent Photographer who was held under terror laws for taking pictures of a fish and chip shop in Chatham.

They love their catch-all powers don't they.

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@HMB

"Did you read the prominent bits of the article that explained that the NSA outlined a lot of this?"

Did you not look at the prominent joke icon?

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Re: Be careful Chris

Lots of things help terrorists, like privacy and freedom. Maybe we should ban them
Isn't that precisely what the authorities are trying to do?

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Big Brother

Re: Be careful Chris

But the Kent photographer fell foul of a couple of thick plods who overstepped their intellect with use of powers they barely understood and were a disgrace to the uniform.

However the Miranda debacle was orchestrated from a senior level and would've been sanctioned at a political level (implicitly or explicitly). This use of the "ways and means act" is beyond your average plod, just like the powers used against protesters at the fracking site. At least PACE applies to the latter.

They were ready for the fallout (therefore a planned operation rather than opportunistic) as loud-mouths like Louise Mench was on Newsnight doing her Mr Angry impression quoting stuff that at that stage hadn't been in the public domain (though she also made it up as she went along too - Fox news style).

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Re: Be careful Chris

Did you read the prominent bits of the article that explained that the NSA outlined a lot of this?

Lots of things help terrorists, like privacy and freedom. Maybe we should ban them, but then what would we have left to protect?

On your second point, do you really want a government answer to that? I think their line would disappoint you greatly.

As for the NSA outlining a lot of it. It's not unusual for people to be prosecuted for compiling things which are otherwise publicly available. Aside from recent cases like Swartz, I recall a case of someone who put together a meticulously researched book on nuclear weapons which got them an FBI door knock and publication ban. They had only used public sources, mainly published by the government itself, but putting it all together plainly was apparently enough to make them one-a dem dam dirty terrarizers.

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Pish

The difference between nation states and terrorist organizations is merely historical time spans. Nation states are mostly confident that they have the upper hand and don't need to brandish the stick often, while terrorists have not yet attained that goal, though the Taliban had some hopes in that direction some years ago. Read history and learn from it. Look at the War of the Roses, the English Civil War and Restoration, the American Revolution, why the Cajuns live in Louisiana, French Revolution, American Civil War, the Indian Mutiny, or the Boer War just to name a very few. The difference is merely that the governments of Nation States have terrified their populations into playing nicely by the rules and to mainly keep their mouths shut if the rules appear to be one sided. We are trained (brainwashed from birth) to see those outside pale and think, "there but for the grace of my nation state go I."

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Re: Be careful Chris

Yeah - but maybe a valid train ticket is more useful to a terrorist so we should ban those first!

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Re: Pish

Go live in a bunker you paranoid git.

It may come as a surprise to you but in democracies governments are elected. People contribute to and develop societies to define and shape the laws we live under, the laws that governments govern. Those are the two most prominent differences between terrorist organisations and governments.

Your historical references are all examples of where governments have gone wrong, or were never established by the people. Sure, governments aren't perfect, we all know power corrupts, which is why it's an endless struggle. As Salman Rushdie once said, "freedom is not a tea party, freedom is a war".

If you have laws, someone has to brandish the stick, to borrow a phrase. Sounds like you'd rather live in a lawless state. I'll hang around here if that's okay.

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Re: Be careful Chris

That's what people who want to control you want you to think and say.

It's also useful to an ordinary person trying to live their life in a free way.

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Re: @HMB

@Brewster's Angle Grinder

Did you not look at the whole of the post?:

"Actually not much of a joke is it :("

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Re: Pish @ Michael C.

"It may come as a surprise to you but in democracies governments are elected. People contribute to and develop societies to define and shape the laws we live under, the laws that governments govern. Those are the two most prominent differences between terrorist organisations and governments."

And, as has been pointed out all over the place, the German government of the 1930s was elected.

"Your historical references are all examples of where governments have gone wrong, or were never established by the people."

And what are your criteria for a government that has "gone wrong"? From my point of view, we have one - it is using draconian powers that should only be used in the direst of emergencies to stifle free-speech and legitimate investigation by the press. It is removing freedom from the average individual every day, and has been caught actually having a level of information about the everyday activities of its citizens that a government should never have. It has turned (over a number of terms of parliament, but it is still "the government") the police into a para-military organisation above the laws it is fails to enact without prejudice.

If you are old enough, look back to, say, 1990, and consider whether you would have thought that this country could ever have become what we are living in, and that this discussion could ever have been seriously had by anyone other than those at the very extremes of society. I say it couldn't - the government has gone wrong, it has acted over-zealously in the face of a trivial threat, and we, the population are suffering for it. That, by any definition, is a government gone wrong.

So, what was your point again?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Be careful Chris

Well they could easily check for concealed weapons if they make us all walk around in clear plastic clothing. Would that be acceptable?

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Black Helicopters

All good points.

It's just that using procedures and products endorsed by the same people spying on you seems like a potential flaw. I know for an absolute fact that more government communications are sent via courier than people realize.

If the government doesn't trust or follow their own advice I'm not exactly convinced those without nearly unlimited resources should either...

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I like your thinking: an encrypted file, steganographically concealed on a thumb drive, concealed in another object that includes a tamper detection mechanism, sent by courier, while your partner acts as a decoy.

Let's face it, El Graun will no more reveal their tradecraft than the spooks.

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Joke

Steganography

Well DUH.

WTF do you think lolcatz is...

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Brewster's Angle Grinder

"sent by courier"

Seems the easiest way, innit?

C.

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Re: All good points

In point 2

>Buy new machines for cash from a shop

I'd go further and maybe pay a big issue seller or similar.

If you do buy your own machine go there on foot from quite a distance away and thinking about it the same applies for where you pick up the machine from anyone you get to buy it for you.

All in all it's probably better to buy a machine from a bloke in the pub and clean it.

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Why a thumb drive? Although i know they can be small, i have one on my keyring that is barely bigger than the USB prongs, a micro SD card would be better.

Given how tiny they are, you could very easily hide them. Eitehr about your person where even the most invasive body cavity search would be unlikely to reveal them, or even in your luggage. Unless everything you are carrying is going to be cut into 1cm square chunks it'd be hard to find a well hidden one.

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Joke

Re: All good points

Buy a computer?

The truly paranoid make their own silicon

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Linux

"Given how tiny they are" -- Given that they [MicroSD cards] are made from metal it would be extremely easy to find with one of their metal detector wands. If you hid it in your luggage it would be likely be located within 30 seconds and removed within a minute or two.

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>"Given how tiny they are" -- Given that they [MicroSD cards] are made from metal it would be extremely easy to find with one of their metal detector wands. If you hid it in your luggage it would be likely be located within 30 seconds and removed within a minute or two.

If you hid it in or near a metallic part of your luggage, how would they know? The wands are pretty general about where metal is and unless there are clear signs of tampering they're probably going to miss it?

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Anonymous Coward

" sent by courier, "

Guaranteed 100% confidential if you send it by Yodel as there's little chance anyone anywhere will ever see it intact again.

[Sorry, bad delivery day]

And for those that still think the Guardian is a lefty paper: you haven't looked in the last few years have you? For some unfathomable reason they're still supporting the Cleggerons, who are about as leftie as Genghis Khan.

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Aren't micro SD cards waterproof? You could see if they survive the digestive system...

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@Smallbrainfield and others

Google hollow spy coin

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Anonymous Coward

"El Graun will no more reveal their tradecraft than the spooks"

Until the journalist has a celebratory drink at a nearby watering hole, or another journalist goes through the contents of his bin. (and I mean a journalist in his office, not just another newspaper).

Trebles all round!

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Happy

Most electronics are waterproof if they don't have power running through them when/while immersed.

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Anonymous Coward

MicroSD contain so little metal it's close to undetectable. Mostly they are plastic and silicon. I carry few cards on me every time I cross the US and UK border, which is many times a year. No one ever asked me about them.

Anonymous because I wish to continue crossing these borders as before.

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Happy

Re: " sent by courier, "

You do realize that there's an entire industry of logistics and couriers out there beyond getting stuff from Amazon right?

If you're really special you can even get your stuff in a diplomatic pouch. Business documents travel that way all the time. I doubt Snowden related files could pull that off, but it would be hilarious if someone slipped them in!

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Wands

Are there to detect ferrous metals (knives, guns) and not a few milligrams of copper. They don't even go off on the rivets in a paire of Levis

The fun part if it's a coatdragging operation would be to encrypt an infinitely expandable zip or a few dozen goatse images.

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MIcroSD are made of plastic, silicon and less that 10 mm^2 of some coppery alloy.

Problem is that "They" have metal detectors, not magick wands like them what exists on TV - they will not find a MicroSD in my pocket or stocking unless they search by hand. "They" frequently miss my watch and my belt too - bigger lumps of metal.

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Black Helicopters

Not that daft

You have to wonder why the Brazilian was being used as a data mule

I very much doubt he was a data mule. A canary in a coal mine, maybe, but not a mule.

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Re: Not that daft

When you put it like that the Graun suddenly seems far more shrewd...

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Re: Not that daft

Absolutely. There's a lot being imagined or read into the case which may not be warranted. There is no evidence he had any secret or encrypted documents or that he handed over any password other than the login for his PC and PIN for his phone.

Advice on how to be a data mule is all well and good but has no application to someone who isn't and does not want to be.

In some discussion it's being suggested Miranda (Greenwald, the Guardian, and 'other co-conspirators') made a complete hash of things when in fact he was probably no more than any other person passing through who the authorities decided to intimidate because of 'guilt by association' and 'because they can'.

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Angel

Re: Not that daft

When you put it like that the Graun suddenly seems far more shrewd...

I'd like to think the spooks will use a data centre full of Crays to crack the solitary encrypted file on the laptop only to find it's contains nothing more than the goatse.cx image and an mp3 of someone blowing a raspberry.

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Re: Not that daft

There is no evidence he had any secret or encrypted documents or that he handed over any password other than the login for his PC and PIN for his phone.

Actually we do. The QC for the government said this in court today:

Material taken from the claimant includes material the unauthorised disclosure of which would endanger national security of the UK and put lives at risk.

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Re: Not that daft

"The QC for the government "

Said what he was paid to say.

It doesn't, in any sensible way, count as evidence.

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Re: Not that daft

"Material taken from the claimant includes material the unauthorised disclosure of which would endanger national security of the UK and put lives at risk."

Translation: The Yanks would nuke us.

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