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back to article MI5 boss: Snowden leaks of GCHQ methods HELPED TERRORISTS

MI5's newly appointed boss has suggested that his predecessor might have spoken too much about cyber-attacks rather than conventional terrorism in a speech attempting to justify controversial surveillance programs by GCHQ and the NSA. Andrew Parker, director general of the security service, made the remarks in a speech to the …

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FAIL

The problem is

"terrorist" like "criminal", is whatever people want it to mean.

And there's the rub.

And we have a long and glorious list of examples of powers being given to the state "for extreme instances" only to discover them being abused*. Take the councils who used RIPA to investigate that heinous crime of putting bins out on the wrong day.

*Why does a dog lick it's bollocks ? Because it can. Same logic with abusing powers.

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Re: The problem is

He has a point, when i was a lad we had bombs blowing up city centres regularly and no internet surveillance. Now t'internet is monitored so comprehensively we only have the occasional IRA killing.

I believe CCTV has reduced the incidence of viking raids by a similar amount

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Re: The problem is

Whoosh...

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Coat

Re: The problem is

"The Teddy Bear is the target" ... "Is Honey Monster a bear?" ...

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Re: The problem is

"The reason we don't have the IRA blowing up bombs is simple. We *negotiated* with them, and discovered that there was enough common ground to move forwards."

No, the leadership (as opposed ot the thugs at the bottom) were ensnared with the promise of power sharing, and sucked into the foul bureaucracy that passes for democracy. And as a result c**ts who previously spent their days plotting to murder civilians now spend their time arguing about the minutes of the last meeting, and feeling slighted if non-attendees or a meeting don't send apologies.

Let's not pretend this is about concensus. There is no common ground, but the outcome for those in Norn Iron who don't wish to murder or be murdered is a good one.

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Anonymous Coward

*BOLLOCKS &*!@@!!!*

That's my fear. Admin curiosity and the possibility of source code theft. Not every analyst employed by the NSA/GCHQ will be 100% honest. If like me, you have your own source code and don't want hundreds of NSA/GCHQ admins armed with USB mem sticks with access to it, but still need to work with GIT and in the cloud - check out Boxcryptor. Though the problem still remains it's difficult to know if any of these services are compromised.

This will take a few sentences to explain but I think is a good example of just how exposed we are even when being careful and just what an overhead this imposes on innocent people. Having considered the problems with government dragnets and feeling uncomfortable about the exposure of my businesses source code (read: Crown Jewels) to x number of unknown prying eyes. I recently updated my Passpack master password and all the key service passwords contained therein. Took bloody ages, is a bit fraught with the danger of getting something wrong and locking yourself out of a service (as can easily happen if you save a password on a device, the device fails to synch, but you then change the master password before the synch has completed). I then spent a couple of days getting used to my new memorised passwords feeling relatively safe (though who really can tell).

Anyway, I use an app launcher called Alfred, and very good it is too and can typing and launch stuff without having to look at the screen or keyboard. So I have a print out and want to access one of my accounts, I type 1Pa (that's sufficient to always get 1Password launched) and once it's launched I can immediately type in the master password.

Except when I look up, for some reason 1Password has (for whatever reason) failed to launch, and muscle memory has me typing my new master password in the address/search bar of my browser. Google, is parsing the text and giving me suggested searches.

So now the NSA/GCHQ my ISP, and probably even local neighbourhood private eye have access to my master password.

Worse, even if I change it quickly, it's no good because the GCHQ/NSA dragnet keep copies of everything on cloud services for some time, so can access old dropbox 1Password database (additionally and worse, dropbox keeps past file versions). So to remain secure I have to go through the whole damned process again changing all key passwords whilst all the time thinking "this is so much effort for something so low risk" but still I have to do it because the knowledge I have compromised myself will play on my mind.

It occurs to me, the amount of times this must happen (typing or starting to type a password into Google), must be huge and probably very few people would bother to remedy it by doing what I have done. It's so easy to do. NSA/GCHQ can easily parse for Google queries that look like passwords.

Google search suggestions are now (firmly) switched off (which means I lose the benefit of the top hit getting pre-loaded in the background - which is a nice performance gain). Just written this as (yet another) illustration of how difficult it is to stay secure and private in today's cloud based world. Despite the convenience I close to junking 1 password - it just introduces too much uncertainty and risk in the process. It's often said the only way to secure a computer is put it in a locked room with no connection to a network. This is yet another illustration of why.

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Re: The problem is

We also sorted out (or the NI administration did) a lot of the original grievances of the Civil Rights movement in NI such as getting rid of NI's lightweight apartheid system which prevented Catholics from having various public sector jobs, amongst other restrictions. This helped to reduce their grassroots support (the diplomatic version of Mao's 'draining the sea to kill the fish') and the PIRA* themselves killed off a lot of their own support by inventing proxy bombing.

*or whatever iteration of them it was

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Re: The problem is

Terrorists are criminals and we don't negotiate with criminals.

I have been crime-fighting for almost 20 years, my motto has always been the same: Stop Crime. I dance with a posse of fellow-minded badasses. It started off as an ordinary neighbourhood watch scheme in the 90s but a couple of us grew weary of the bureaucracy and splintered off to form our own organization. It wasn't long until the media turned against us, calling us "vigilantes", possibly at the behest of master criminals. Well shortly thereafter 9/11 happened and we were back in demand. I wouldn't call myself a hero, despite all the sacrifices I have made. Turns out it takes a lot more than being a hero to keep the streets of Swindon safe at night.

During the day we patrol the buses and take mobile phones off kids to stop them accessing the internet. We convert the phones into cash to fund more crimefighting. We all have bandanas and different skills. Mick has a brown belt at judo, Tony knows what cannabis smells like and I am have access to a people carrier at the weekend.

And yet despite our work the menace of crime looms tall under the shadow of the metropolis. The fight goes on.

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Re: The problem is

Dogs lick their balls because they can't make a fist. You can't lick your balls, so you can make a fist. It is one of the many tradeoffs Nature makes to keep the world balanced.

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Re: The problem is

Do you wear your underpants over your trousers?

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Re: The problem is

I would second that.

As long as UK government provides political assylum and protection for the mouthpieces and political leaders of "incidents" like Beslan I find it very difficult to believe in their definition of terrorism being the same as mine.

Same goes for Al Qaeda computer specialists from Libya being given assylum.

Same goes for support for a lot of "actors" from the conflicts in ex-Yugoslavia

Same goes for supporting Syrian jihaddist militias and so on.

Same goes... The list goes on... Dunno... We probably have different definitions of terrorist I guess...

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FAIL

Re: The problem is

Vikings my dear boy, Vikings. The correlation is clear and unambiguous

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Holmes

Re: The problem is

Oh NomNumNom, yo' is mah HEEE-RO!

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Re: Vikings my dear boy

0-1000AD: no CCTV, lot of vikings

1000-1999AD: invention of CCTV, reduction in viking raids

2000AD- : widespread CCTV, no viking raids

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Trollface

Re: The problem is

"Do you wear your underpants over your trousers?"

I thought he wore them on his head...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The problem is

There are no terrorists. There are murderers and attempted murderers, people who cause explosions and people who conspire to do these things. There are laws against all those things, and the police have always powers to investigate them.

The label "terrorist" just glorifies and somewhat legitimises what they do. It is also use by oppressive states to label dissidents and justify any crackdown against them.

The actual impact of "terrorism" on our daily lives is immeasurable noise in the bigger picture of man-made and natural disasters, road accidents, disease and so on. And yet apparently it justifies the creation of a police state. If we wreck our society in this way, can they not see that the "terrorists" have achieved their aim by default?

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Re: *BOLLOCKS &*!@@!!!*

Re: " the only way to secure a computer is put it in a locked room with no connection to a network"

We *used* to think that would secure a computer. These days you need to put bullets into the thing. A lot of bullets. Then you need to melt it down and distribute it in tiny droplets by plane.

Just kidding. You can't secure a computer.

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Re: The problem is

Every time I go through airport security, I think "the terrorists have won anyway".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The problem is

more to do with the fact there's been an IRA ceasefire in place for the past 15 years...

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Paris Hilton

Re: The problem is

I'm so confused, You want me to make a fist around my balls. oh gawd that hurts...

Hmm, Paris, what is this fisting you're speaking of ?

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"Far from being gratuitous harvesters of private information, in practice we focus our work very carefully and tightly against those who intend harm. The law requires it. All our internal controls, systems and authorisation levels are built accordingly and subject to independent inspection and oversight."

how do they know which bits are interesting unless they grab it all and then analyse it?

If all internal controls, systems and authorisation levels are built around focused searches then which ones are there to cover the drag nets ones they have been caught doing?

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First we shoot an innocent Brazilian student, then we hack their oil companies. Thank god somebody is protecting is from the imminent threat of Brazilian invasion

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The point of CCTV isn't to detect crime. It's to increase identification and conviction rates, thus providing a strong disincentive. People are less likely to commit crimes if they expect to be caught.

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"Thank god somebody is protecting is from the imminent threat of Brazilian invasion"

Too late for that. Every bird in London has a Brazilian, so that's about three and a half million.

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"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

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225

"I swear we never asked for any of this."

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Re: 225

I would help you if I only knew how, but these things are a mystery to me too :(

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Details please.

>> Parker sought to explain how individuals known to MI5 have gone on to plan, or in some cases execute terrorist plots

Name one. Go on, state When you learned they were plotting, What they were plotting, and How your evidence was what secured the country. You can avoid the exact specifics of the methods, but surely if these people were so bad, they were lawfully arrested for their crimes on our soil right?

Oh, the crimes are international. Or they were. So what did you actually do that was useful?

Provide the mass public with a single tangible bit of evidence that ANY of this mass information gathering has been of specific benefit to the country. It can't be that hard to pull out one case that won't harm your sources.

Or are we still talking about environmental activists, journalists, or friends and family of the above, all of whom have been stitched up by the various forces that don't like their behaviour. Or the bugging of political conferences so you can get an understanding of opposition views?

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Re: Details please.

Exactly, like this bit here:

"GCHQ intelligence has played a vital role in stopping many of the terrorist plots that MI5 and the police have tackled in the past decade. "

MANY of the PLOTS - I only seem to be aware of at most a couple, the water on planes nonsense being that one. How many have been stopped? What about those without GCHQ input?

We only ever seem to be trying to prevent the last terrorist attack, not the next.

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zb

Re: Details please.

OMG I just ticked the 'like' icon. Does that mean that they will be coming to get me?

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Re: Details please.

"MANY of the PLOTS - I only seem to be aware of at most a couple"

I wonder....

Secret surveillance

Secret courts

Secret trials

Secret prisons?

After all, everything the yanks have, our 'leaders' want.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Details please.

Shhhhhh! ----- Secret Squirrel.

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Big Brother

Re: Details please.

">> Parker sought to explain how individuals known to MI5 have gone on to plan, or in some cases execute terrorist plots

Name one. Go on" -- I'll name two : Tony Blair and George Bush Jr.

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xyz
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new man in job tries to put the willies up punters.

First rule of sales...if you can't convince the punter that he's gagging for your product, make him terrified of not having it. If you don't give me all your freedoms to protect, the bogeyman/criminal/ALIEN!/paedo/terrorist/dodgy bloke at no94/anyone with a hint of a tan.....

will KILL YOU ALL!!!!

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Facepalm

Why?

So Mr MI5 if you have no desire to look through the personal info of everyday bods, let me ask you one simple question. Why on earth do you need to collect it in the first bloody place?!

I'll be honest Johnny lad, if you really want to know what my Aunt and cousins think of my photography skills on Facebook, help yourself! However as a seriously pissed-off tax-payer I think there are too many old people going cold, too many homeless kipping on street corners and too many mothers and kids being kicked about by abusive fathers for you to go squandering my money on this all this info gathering and achieving absolutely bugger all from it!

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James Bamford told us almost everything Snowden has "exposed"

apart from some of the program names (like PRISM), can someone please provide an example of any functionality or practice revealed by Snowden which we could not have picked up from James Bamford's "trilogy" (Puzzle Palace - 1983 , Body of Secrets - 2002 and Shadow Factory - 2009)

I ask out of genuine interest, I was 2/3rds of the way through Shadow Factory when Snowden outed himself and, so far, nothing he revealed has come as a surprise.

That being so, why aren't the authoritarians up in arms about Bamford's revelations? He's been at it long enough. Do they kid themselves that the "evildoers" wouldn't discover such sources?

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Holmes

Re: James Bamford told us almost everything Snowden has "exposed"

It's always better when it comes straight from the Horse's Mouth in the form of PowerPoint presentations.

Bamford may have been on to all this stuff but he was always in the orbit of the Plausibly Deniable memory blackhole.

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SOME is Plausibly Deniable. But that's not the point...

SOME of his stuff is Plausibly Deniable but quite a lot is sourced "on the record".

But that's not the point. If the Parker (et al) complaint is based on revelations of tradecraft, they're either lying (about that) or ignorant - of the existence of Bamford's exposures; which we know is untrue because for many years it was actually illegal to sell Puzzle Palace in the UK. So they definitely know what he's putting in the public domain and it's always been a lot more detailed (and potentially useful to the evil ones) than anything we've seen in the Grauniad.

Of course, Bamford isn't in the best seller lists, so I suppose they could have been counting on the old reliable: "security through obscurity"

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Happy

Re: SOME is Plausibly Deniable. But that's not the point...

"Of course, Bamford isn't in the best seller lists, so I suppose they could have been counting on the old reliable: "security through obscurity""

But it will be now.

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Big Brother

I'm not convinced, I cannot think of a single terror plot that has been mentioned anywhere that was foiled by MI5. Weren't the Pants and Shoe bombers caught by airport security and members of the public? If MI5 have foiled so many terrorist plots in the past decade there should be some news items or something, but, no, nothing that I can see. Unless of course the MI5 boss is referring to their sterling surveillance and identification of the Terrorist Electrician, Charles De-Menezes.

Furthermore, if there have been terror plots foiled by MI5, where are the court cases that these suspected terrorists have been tried in ? Ah, I guess more secret courts, more secret proceedings and no-one finds out the fate of these individuals. I guess the UK must have it's own Guantanamo Bay somewhere else in the world where the terrorists are interrogated,tried and executed, in a similar vein to the extraordinary rendition of individuals, such as Binyam Mohamed.

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"I guess the UK must have it's own Guantanamo Bay somewhere else in the world where the terrorists are interrogated,tried and executed,"

My money's on Rhyl.

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I Vote Slough... what do you mean that's in the uk

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Big Brother

Every heard of Diego Garcia?

The UK threw the population off the island at gunpoint to make it a "base" which are belong to "us".

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@Miek

Ah, Miek, you have put your finger on the tragedy of spying. Your successes can never be told because to tell reveals your techniques, and aids the enemy. A spy's lot is not a happy one ...

</sarcasm>

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Re: @Miek

> A spy's lot is not a happy one ...

Actually I think that's probably correct. But that doesn't stop the cure being worse than the disease.

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"I guess the UK must have it's own Guantanamo Bay somewhere else in the world where the terrorists are interrogated,tried and executed,"

My money's on Rhyl Portmeirion.

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Happy

"

"I guess the UK must have it's own Guantanamo Bay somewhere else in the world where the terrorists are interrogated,tried and executed,"

My money's on Rhyl.

"

Didn't you suggest this for the Chiness/American Kepler meeting as well?

You've really got it in for Rhyl, haven't you?

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MI5 have never successfully managed to independently foil anything on their own:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/posts/BUGGER

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He doesn't get it...

Its not that they CAN intercept its that they don't need court orders to do so that I think most of us are against.. so little black boxes that store everything are bad...

We all know that our calls are logged and the location data of our mobiles is stored, BUT we also expect a judge to make a decision before releasing it..

To me THAT is the problem, the free access to the data, not the data being there..

and if you really want to intercept someones communication, you will find a way to do it...

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