Feeds

back to article NSA, GCHQ, accused of hacking Belgian smartcard crypto guru

Professor Jean-Jacques Quisquater, a Belgian cryptographer whose work is said to have informed card payment systems worldwide, has reportedly become the victim of a spear-phishing attack by the NSA and/or GCHQ. Belgium's De Standaaard reports that Professor Quisquater clicked on a fake LinkedIn invitation that infected his …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

I thought my marching days were over

..... Not since the Thatcher years have the old legs started twitching against social injustice. Not that there isn't any, just I've been leaving to the younger generation.

If they start doing bad things to Mr Snowden, I do believe I would get the old walking boots on again. Would there be other grey haired geeks out on the streets, I wonder.

In my book we owe Snowden a great debt, and not just for filling quiet news days.

34
2
P_0

Re: I thought my marching days were over

Would there be other grey haired geeks out on the streets, I wonder.

Doubt it. The world doesn't care any more. Only the Reg and the Guardian still think this is news. 99% of people don't even really understand what the NSA's technology is capable of. In the UK, there has been barely a murmer (outside the proffessional naggers at the Guardian) about this. When I talk to non-tech friends they barely care that the NSA/GCHQ may or may not be spying on their emails. A lazy, illogical approach, maybe. But that seems to be the case.

I guess, at the end of the day, the British public trust their spies. At least a lot more than the Americans trust theirs.

9
11
Bronze badge

Re: I thought my marching days were over

And yet you and I both took time to comment on the story, Obama takes time out of his day to comment on it, the CBC, NY Times and NY Post to articles on it.

People care, just not enough. They don't realize how serious this is.

12
0
P_0

Re: I thought my marching days were over

And yet you and I both took time to comment on the story, Obama takes time out of his day to comment on it, the CBC, NY Times and NY Post to articles on it.

Come on. The stories are slowly sliding off the front page. Once they're off the front page they might as well not print them. With each new "revelation" we become more and more accustomed, or desensitized if you like, to these headlines.

Obviously my post is getting hammered with downvotes, since this is the Reg. But what are they actually downvoting? I didn't say anything incorrect. Downvote me when you go on your protest marches.

People care, just not enough.

Not enough for you.

They don't realize how serious this is.

How serious is this? When did spy agencies ever respect anybody's privacy?

6
2
Bronze badge

Re: I thought my marching days were over

You are probably both right.

99% don't give a toss unless something directly affects their lives or the paper or twitter feeds they choose to read are telling them they should do so. We are mostly an insular and selfish lot.

But that 1% who do care are quite a large number.

Of course it's still a battle against 'whatever we do; nothing will change' resignation which has most of us fatalistically accepting however it is. Whether that's the price of milk and bread, government spying, or slaughter and ill-advised ventures in foreign lands.

Still, things do and can change over time. Many of the disinterested 99% can be moved towards dissent and even action. There's always a straw which breaks the camel's back.

9
0
P_0

Re: I thought my marching days were over

Still, things do and can change over time. Many of the disinterested 99% can be moved towards dissent and even action. There's always a straw which breaks the camel's back.

What action? And just out of interest, what change do you want to happen?

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: I thought my marching days were over

the sheeple won't care until 007 tells them to care..

0
3
Anonymous Coward

Re: I thought my marching days were over

I gave you an upvote. That should do it, all will be well now.

0
1
Silver badge
WTF?

Re: I thought my marching days were over

" And yet you and I both took time to comment on the story, Obama takes time out of his day to comment on it, the CBC, NY Times and NY Post to articles on it."

P_0 said that there is hardly a murmur in the UK, and the UK press apart from the Guardian and El Reg are largely ignoring it, so I'm not quite sure how you can disagree with that by mentioning postings on the Reg, the US President, and US media!!

Also why all the downvotes? Commentards on El Reg don't usually unfairly downvote legitimate comments based on facts unless they are perceived as anti-Linux!

2
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: I thought my marching days were over

Most people dont care. So long as X Factor and Eastenders is on the TV now one gives one! Its a shame really that more people are not concerned.

1
0
P_0

Re: I thought my marching days were over

Most people dont care. So long as X Factor and Eastenders is on the TV now one gives one! Its a shame really that more people are not concerned.

I don't think you are being fair to people here. There is only so much caring and worrying a person can do in a day, and they have a lot of things to worry about, ie. paychecks, loans, pensions, economic problems, wars in foreign countries, family issues, immigration (...here we go), local politics etc. Where on the long list of people's issues is this supposed to sit?

You might say it should be top of the list, but for many people there are far more important matters, and I don't mean Justin Bieber's haircut, or the X Factor.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: I thought my marching days were over

"I guess, at the end of the day, the British public trust their spies. At least a lot more than the Americans trust theirs."

Not really but British spies have always spied on the British populace so we assume its being done anyway. Unlike the USA we don't have a written constitution - the British equivalent has always been more facile so the "great & the good" could change whatever they liked.

tl;dr just been going on longer here is all...

3
0
Bronze badge

Re: I thought my marching days were over

They don't realize cannot comprehend how serious this is.

FTFY!

2
1
Bronze badge

Re: I thought my marching days were over

"unless they are perceived as anti-Linux!"

Try mentioning Sony, Apple and/or the US justice system in a positive light and see how many downvotes you garer!

While the freetards are legion here, they are IMHO vastly outnumbered by the anti-anycompanythatisuccessfulandintendstomakemoney crowd

1
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: I thought my marching days were over

"Try mentioning Sony, Apple and/or the US justice system in a positive light and see how many downvotes you garer!

While the freetards are legion here, they are IMHO vastly outnumbered by the anti-anycompanythatisuccessfulandintendstomakemoney crowd"

Fair point, and I actually agree with you!

0
0
Gold badge
Gimp

Of course he does represent a danger....

A danger to the ability of such organizations to slurp your data whenever and wherever they want to.

Which to the eyes of the average data fetishist makes him a bigger danger to letting them exercise their compulsive behavior than any actual terrorist.

4
1

High Heels

The Professor has a fetish for wearing high heels around the house; they just need the video footage from his monitor mounted webcam. Then he tells them the crypto stuff! :D

Wonder how one might set up a honeypot, where NSA/GCHQ are the targets? I think it'd take a while to set up, and doable. Hmm...

2
0
Coat

Re: High Heels

Idea! let us host p**n on our workstations and let the mega crawler slurp this data.

Now, we can claim that NSA were busy in seeing p**n instead of saving the citizens.

1
0
Holmes

First the Headlines

Spy agencies are spying on people!

and in other news, Scientists have discovered that bears do indeed shit in the woods.

And now the weather...

1
17
Bronze badge

In other news Benedict Arnold hailed as a true patriot and idol

Spy agencies spying on the people they're supposed to be protecting.

In other news Benedict Arnold hailed as a true patriot and idol of US spy agencies.

6
0

Re: In other news Benedict Arnold hailed as a true patriot and idol

To be fair, it's foreign spies doing the spying here. I don't imagine they're supposed to be protecting Belgians except maybe down to whatever agreements there are to share information between these countries. This seems to be more diplomatically embarrassing than illegal, much like the bugging of Chancellor Merkel's phone.

1
3
Bronze badge

Is it the position of the Reg is that German PM Angela Merkel was up to something nefarious?

"As the story points out, the attack could be the first known instance of a spookhaus action against an individual not under investigation for something nefarious."

"spookhaus action against an individual not under investigation for something nefarious."

They're investigating all of us, just generally not doing anything with the info they gather.

So what is your definition of nefarious?

8
0
(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Is it the position of the Reg is that German PM Angela Merkel was up to something nefarious?

"Is it the position of the Reg is that German PM Angela Merkel was up to something nefarious?"

No.

C.

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge

What do words mean?

"Quisquater's clearly not a 'civilian' , ..."

He's a professor, specialising in some branch of mathematics. He doesn't work for any governement or army (I assume), so how is he not a civilian? Are you saying that because the nature of his work is so important to the security of the internet, then he is a 'viable target' for the security services?

19
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: What do words mean?

from my friend who's worked with JJQ - the eminent prof has spent a lot of time recently on the knotty crypto problems of the Quipu.

I think this means that the NSA/DIA/GCHQ/ICG have Khipukamayuq in the sight of their targeted access operations and that no civilisation is safe from them! (including historic Andea-crypto data from around the 3rd millennium BC upto around the 17th century)

Yes, some tightly-knit twisted fibres are still used today, but perhaps NSA/DIA/GCHQ/ICG were aiming for the 1990's X.500 ISO Development Environment secrets instead?

2
1
Anonymous Coward

It is a valid adversary - it is Eu which is "not us"

According to UK current prime minister, he is a legitimate target.

He is "Eu". That is not something his party presently wants to be a part of. From there to officially considering it an adversary is only one step. That is a step that is very easy to make with a bit of nudging from the friends with benefits across the pond.

It is not like this step has been made for the first time either. Belgacom anyone?

In any case, the mash has the best summary of the current situation

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/international/rest-of-europe-wants-referendum-on-britain-2014011482542

At this rate we are not far off from there.

6
1
P_0

Re: It is a valid adversary - it is Eu which is "not us"

According to UK current prime minister, he is a legitimate target.

He is "Eu". That is not something his party presently wants to be a part of. From there to officially considering it an adversary is only one step. That is a step that is very easy to make with a bit of nudging from the friends with benefits across the pond.

It is not like this step has been made for the first time either. Belgacom anyone?

Why exactly isn't he a legititmate target for spying? He obviously know his work crosses into the realm of national security for a lot of countries. I expect any country with a well-funded spy agency would want to "watch him closely". The only issue here is the USA/UK seem to have been caught.

2
4

Re: It is a valid adversary - it is Eu which is "not us"

> At this rate we are not far off from there.

Actually it is already scarily close to reality. I have heard words to the effect of that campaign slogan myself. Britain is -and in my opinion correctly- often seen as solely obstructing the EU.

1
1
Anonymous Coward

Parity....

The people who have hacked into his computers take great offense if anybody hacks into their computers. He has every right to be outraged...unless hacking into their computers is legitimate spying...in which case it's all OK. Right?

5
1
Bronze badge

This is a big problem for LinkedIn too

Apparently it is possible to create bogus identities. LinkedIn must now insist on people identifying themselves properly, like with public key encryption (yes, I know this is a form of more consistent lying).

And if you are telling that you work for a company, that company must sign for that too.

It is still possible to create bogus identities and even bogus companies, if people are determined enough. But the days of accepting complete strangers, however interesting they could be, are now surely over.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a big problem for LinkedIn too

"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" - 1993 cartoon.

This has been a problem since the start of the Internet as we know it. It will remain the case until the Internet as we know it is no more.

1
1
Gold badge
Facepalm

Re: This is a big problem for LinkedIn too

I don't follow how this solves anything. Imagine that NSA hacks a real person. The NSA then use that person's account to post a link to their chosen honeypot. How does the real person having a public key change anything?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

>"Quisquater's clearly not a 'civilian'"

What the hell? He absolutely is. You are conceding to the NSA/GCHQ's twisted double-think by even saying this. As journalists, you shouldn't let them define the terms of the debate for you.

9
1
Silver badge
WTF?

Surprising.....

Surprising that a world renowned crypto expert could fall for a phishing attack....

3
0
Bronze badge
Pint

Re: Surprising.....

i would agree, but then most of the mathematicians I know capable of contributing to encryption research, are not necessarily computer-bound. Pencil and paper still play a part..

P.

1
0

Re: Surprising.....

I wonder what OS, browser, etc he was using.

Is this the classic windows spear phish attack or are we talking about some linux 0 day?

I wish they'd publish some details. The devil is always in the details.

0
0
Bronze badge

008 all the spies

NSA bastards

NSA bastards

And GCHQ 8 the spies.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Damn!

Uh oh, he's a 2nd degree contact of me on linkedin.

Should I be worried?

0
0
Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Re: Damn!

Yes. Hide.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

And as David Cameron, Tony Blair et al. say...

We are above the law. The ends justifies the means.

:(

1
1
Gold badge
Unhappy

Re: And as David Cameron, Tony Blair et al. say...

"We are above the law. The ends justifies the means."

The usual line from the sock puppet Home/Foreign Secretary is "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

0
0

I'd have liked more detail.

Like what the "fake linkedin-link" actually looked like.

0
0
Bronze badge

Late of Moscow?

What is all this about "one E. Snowden, late of Moscow". I thought he was still alive and living in or near there.

Mind you, his temporary asylum runs out sometime this summer. Where does he go then? When nobody actually wants him.

0
0

A bit of history

Before royal mail, working mens (drinking) clubs talked politics. They send letters to each other with traveling salesmen. These clubs were inportant in the formation of two out of the three English major political parties. As it was delivered by hand, it was awkward to intercept. But the British government figured correctly that folks are basically lazy. Given a service at an affordable price, people will give their mail to the governement rather than wait for someone going the right way. The first Royal Mail building was for openning mail not primarly delivering mail.

Source :- the history in the red Post Office Handbook issued by the Post Office to counter staff in the late 1970's.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.