NSA: not OK.
I'm not a US person and as such you can eat a sack of
Senior National Security Agency (NSA) officials have told US news magazine program “60 Minutes” that a foreign nation tried to infect computers with a BIOS-based virus that would have enabled them to be remotely destroyed. NSA Director General Keith Alexander and Information Assurance Director Debora Plunkett both appeared on …
While the NSA *cough** claims to be listening to *cough** 30 "US Persons", in all likely hood there is a good chance you might be on that list. Can't recall but if memory serves you might have, at one time, in the distant past, mentions crApple in a post and that would automatically flag you as a person of interest. Seriously, you *MIGHT* have (choose one) said/thought/heard someone else say/been within a mile of someone whos used a Fleshlight on an iDevice, something negative about them. And we all know that anyone who might have done any of those things, by having certain views about an American company, that could be considered a threat to the USA.
Dont worry though, they only check the metadata so its all fine. *cough**
*is it dry in here or just me?
Don't worry, Trevor probably will be among the ones the NSA has very detailed data on. If he's really like the character he plays in his articles he probably made just about every mistake you can make to play into the hands of secret services. Even the ones which are easy to avoid.
You really need to consider your semantics. "Security" and "privacy" simultaneously? Seriously? The entire debacle is due to a quest for "security." Privacy of individuals is simply the first casualty of that quest. There are others:
I don't fear middle easterners with sand, sticks and more sand. I fear the very real abuses of power by the very fallible humans in positions of power in the countries I actually visit.
"Security" is protection from the overreach of the people in power over you. Privacy is part and parcel of that (but extends to the right to be free from interference and snooping by other proles and companies as well.)
"Terrorists" are just a boogyman. A rock from space could fall on me too. I'm far more likely to get killed by a drunk driver or the toxic (and radioactive) emissions from a dirty coal plant. If the price of freedom (and actual security) is that every now and again we fail to stop a lunatic that we probably wouldn't have been able to stop even in the panopticon...I'll take it.
If an individual is prepared to martyr themselves in order to strike at a target there's not a whole hell of a lot you can do to stop them. Our freedoms are not an acceptable price for the obsession of some with trying.
While I agree there is substantial reason for concern, and wish there were a reasonable way tthat the confident claims of terrorist attack prevention could be verified, it is true that most terror attacks in the recent past have been in Africa and the Middle East, not in Europe and the Americas. Moreover, those attacks were not made with sand and sticks but with machine guns and high explosives.
Whether the probability of some kind of terrorist attack is significant certainly is worth discussion, and so is whether the surveillance being done in the name of reducing it is cost effective. So also is the size of the risk associated with NSA (and CSEC, GCHQ, ASD, and GCSB, among others) surveillance activities. I think we agree on the first two, but probably not on the third.
A tyrannical regime certainly would engage in such data collection and probably more, but it is logically incorrect to conclude that the existence of these programs implies that the responsible government is a tyranny. In the US I see more reason for concern about moral panics such as the war on drugs and the abuse of normal prosecutorial authority exemplified by the Aaron Swartz, Jammie Thomas, and Amish Beard Cutter cases.
"Cost effective" is not a consideration. Our freedoms are not for sale at any price, certainly not as protection against boogymen. Regardless of how large their sticks.
And frankly, yes, I do view the US as a tyranny. As an example: 95% of her people support mandatory background checks on guns. That cannot make it through government. The same amount support restrictions on automatic firearms. *crickets*
The US government murders civilians without trial - their own, as well as civilians. It uses the IRS against political opponents, attacks the freedom of the press, suppresses dissent with violence and imprisons people in perpetuity without trial.
That you have patriotism wrapped up in that nation doesn't change the fact that their so-called "democracy" is a sham, the republic is broken and they are treating both their own citizens and their allies with contempt and outright hostility.
The people with sand and more sand aren't the ones we need to be worried about. The ones in charge of the US government are.
The US (and Canada) have police and military agencies with missions that include protecting residents against various internal and external threats. Their activities inevitably interfere with or limit the actions of those residents and others and cost a lot of money. Contrary to your assertion, it is perfectly reasonable to discuss the extent of those limits, the cost of operating those agencies, and whether they are effective in carrying out their assigned mission.
It is not clear how failure to have universal background checks on private citizen gun purchases or to restrict ownership of semiautomatic weapons is evidence of a tyrannical regime; the natural interpretation would seem to be quite the opposite. Ownership of automatic weapons has, in fact, been tightly controlled for a very long time in the US.
Targeted killing of civilians, citizens or not, is to be condemned, as is perpetual imprisonment without due process. It is not, however very common and to describe it as the norm for the US is a rather extreme overstatement.
"The people with sand and more sand" killed quite a few, almost all civilians, in New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, London, and Madrid between late 2001 and mid 2005. I don't offer that to justify anything but the proposition that they may be worth worrying about, just a bit.
No, those people with sand and more sand aren't worth worrying about. Yes, they killed some people> It was tragic. Futile attempts to prevent this from recurring are not an acceptable excuse for giving up our rights.
That our countries have organisations whose mission it is to conduct clandestine operations doesn't mean they should have those organisations or that if we must have said organisations that they should be given the kinds of panopticon powers that they have obtained.
That you are unable to comprehend how both regular abuses of power (everything from NSA operatives using their access to track lovers to the IRS targeting political opponents) and elected representatives not bowing to the overwhleming will of the people makes a democracy is pretty fucking sad. The people in charge aren't listening to those who elected them and many are abusing their privileges. This seems perfectly okay by you, business as normal, no need to question it or demand change.
Shut up and like it, eh?
It doesn't matter how many extrajudicial killings there have been. One is too much. One torture is too much. One abuse of power that occurs without consequence to those performing the abuse is too much.
You propose to not only allow those in power to keep their privileges, but to heap upon them more? For what? The 9/11 boogyman?
You have allowed yourself to buy into the propaganda. For reasons incomprehensible you actually seem to thing those in charge of the US are "the good guys." They aren't. They're people, no different form most of us. (Well, actually, statistically you'd find a far higher percentage of sociopaths in the halls of power, but let's set that to one side for a moment.)
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. They have too much power and they use for ill far too often. I do not want them having that power over me. Plain and simple.
I don't find it okay for them to have the power of dragnet surveillance at all. No discussion about "appropriate use" is possible because no appropriate use of dragnet surveillance is possible.
I have no issue with targeted surveillance, but that is a world away from the shit going on now.
""The people with sand and more sand" killed quite a few, almost all civilians, in New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, London, and Madrid between late 2001 and mid 2005. I don't offer that to justify anything but the proposition that they may be worth worrying about, just a bit."
Just to puncture the balloon of your self-satisfied faith in 'why things are done', why don't you do a minimum of 'research' and look at one of the many aerial photographs of the WTC being built. Please note the HUGE core columns that were designed to stop the building collapsing after five or six simultaneous airliner strikes.
Yet both the WTC's and Building 7 (not hit by a plane) fell straight down in 10 seconds at free-fall speed, as though those massive supports did not exist, into their own footprints, the path of most resistance. Nothing larger than a phone cover was found, so where did the heavy stuff, the security safes, kitchen equipment, data-centre racks and high-speed lift winches actually go? Look at the height of the rubble pile compared to the amount of steel, concrete, wood and glass that was in the towers before.
19 men, armed with box-cutters, who could not fly Cessna's managed to evade the USAF and hit fairly narrow targets at a faster speed than the civil versions of those planes were designed to fly at. Before 911 the AVERAGE time it took for the military interception of an airliner that had turned off its transponder was 10 minutes. There was no 'confusion' between the FAA and the military as they sit in the same rooms and look at the same screens.
"The people with sand and more sand" killed the people in the towers? REALLY?
Just do some simple, basic research yourselves, and you'll start noticing that the official explanations about the various parts of 911 (WTC, Pentagon and Shanksville) don't just start adding up, they start completely unravelling.
Read "Where did the Towers go" by Dr Judy Wood. It's expensive but you can get your local library to order it for you.
Think about the consequences of 911 for everyone in the world. War is very good for business, especially those who manufacture military and security equipment. War and attacks give governments great excuses to take liberties.
""Terrorists" are just a boogyman. A rock from space could fall on me too. I'm far more likely to get killed by a drunk driver or the toxic (and radioactive) emissions from a dirty coal plant. If the price of freedom (and actual security) is that every now and again we fail to stop a lunatic that we probably wouldn't have been able to stop even in the panopticon...I'll take it."
And in the UK lee Rigby wasmurdered by 2 crazies who were known to the "Panopticon."
So in reality no security and no peace.
The comment was directed at me, personally. Where have I been plotting to kill people? I was told that I, personally, should be on one of those lists for non-conformance. Why?
You're the pro NSA scaremonger. Explain to me why I deserve to be monitored, tracked, and have my rights removed?
“Less than 60 people globally who are considered U.S. Persons"
Once you're one of them, you're no longer considered a US Person, simple.
The US has admitted killing - under Obama, not the moronic Bush Jr - four US citizens via drone strikes. At least two of those were extra-judicial killings, more usually known as murders. And while it may not have happened yet, the US Justice Department believes the US President has the legal authority to order a targeted strike against an American citizen located within the United States.
And while it may not have happened yet, the US Justice Department believes the US President has the legal authority to order a targeted strike against an American citizen located within the United States.
I don't think they care about whether he has the legal authority or not. I think they're just confident that Americans will never take up their guns to do anything about it if he did, so they feel free to advise him he can do whatever the hell he likes, cause no one can/is going to stop him.
"I think they're just confident that Americans will never take up their guns to do anything about it if he did..."
Let's consider that one for a bit.
So, Americans pick up their guns in outrage over a terrorist being assassinated.
And somehow manage to prevail against B52 bombers, AC130 gunships, AH64 gunships, AH1 gunships, 105mm and 155mm howitzers, 120mm and 81mm mortars, smart bombs, dumb bombs, cluster bombs, nuclear warheads, guided missiles, smart munitions, drones, satellite surveillance, rockets, then we move toward infantry mopping up the mess.
Or more accurately, collecting the body parts and laying them into a mass grave, along with their dinky little AR15's and AK47's.
So much for Mr "I have my guns to fight government tyranny".
If you honestly believe - or worse, would encourage - that your military would turn B52 bombers, AC130 gunships, AH64 gunships, AH1 gunships, 105mm and 155mm howitzers, 120mm and 81mm mortars on their own civilian population and choose to do nothing about it then you're a fucking sociopath.
"The US has admitted killing - under Obama, not the moronic Bush Jr - four US citizens via drone strikes."
And the US and UK both did the same, via dumb bombs, assassins or snipers during WWII.
Work with the enemy, you are an enemy in wartime.
Apparently, many, many people forget that the US *is still* at war.
In the past 235 calendar years the US has been at peace for only 21 of them. Who cares if the US is at war? That doesn't remove from them the requirement to act with honour. After all, they're always at war. If being at war removes the requirement for them to behave we need to, as a planet, cut them the fuck off. Blockade, isolate, cease trading with, you name it.
They can't be allowed to act with impunity just because they can't seem to learn to leave others alone.
"If being at war removes the requirement for them to behave we need to, as a planet, cut them the fuck off. Blockade, isolate, cease trading with, you name it"
You should start by getting your fellow Canucks to stop coming into the US to buy a full shopping cart of milk, 50+ gallons of fuel per trip, etc.
"In the past 235 calendar years the US has been at peace for only 21 of them."
If you look closely, you will see that the US tried very hard to stay out of WWI and WWII and only started poking it's nose into everyone's business after it was the lone superpower and found it had the power to prevent WWIII.
I'm not quite sure why you hate America so much when the Canadian government plays the good cop to the USA's bad cop. The two countries may seem opposite of one another but they are on the same team.
You're delusional. Canada is subjugated by the US. The US isn't "on our team" in any way. Were we on the same team as the US they would treat us as equals, not serfs. They do not.
Fro the record, I lobby my government strongly to distance ourselves from the US, politically, economically and militarily. I don't view the US as remotely trustworthy and I sure as hell don't view them as a Canadian ally.
Even if our government is complicit in selling the rights and freedoms of Canadians off to the US for a pat on the head, there's a fair amount of cultural difference between the two nations; far more than I am going ot get into here. Suffice ti to say that I would cheerfully accept a much lower standard of living if it meant that my country would cut ties with the USA.
After all, unlike you, I'm fully capable of understanding that the only "team" the US is on is the one where the very elite of the elite in the US win and everyone else loses. Though i can understand how you could be blind to it if you're raised amongst enough nationalism and propaganda.
You have heard of the Five Eyes, which is one of I can only assume projects where the two governments work together? You do know that the US/Canada border is the longest undefended border in the world? You do not get that type of trust unless you are working very closely with one another.
The US and Canadian governments are in a scratch my back and I'll scratch yours relationship. You might hear about how the US is keeping you down while, in the room in the back, they are in fact sharing who knows what and passing money back and forth. Openly, some politicians might bad mouth the US/Canada but the people with the real power are shaking hands and having drinks with their US/Canadian counterparts.
After all, unlike you, I'm fully capable of understanding that the only "team" EVERY GOVERNMENT is on is the one where the very elite of the elite in <INSERT COUNTRY> win and everyone else loses. Though i can understand how you could be blind to it if you're raised amongst enough nationalism and propaganda.
You mean the militarized border partrolled by drones? It hasn't been "the world's longest undefended border" for some years now. Also, In case you hadn't noticed, Canadians have to present passports and go through all manner of security theater today that we didn't have to 20 years ago. Things have changed, buddy.
I do understand entirely how the conservative assholes currently in charge of our nation have sold us down the river, but that doesn't make America our friend. It just means America has co-opted out leadership. America is very much the enemy of the Canadian people. Just ask anyone who has had their livelihood destroyed by the US refusing to abide by NAFTA while simultaneously using any minor Canadian oversight of that same treaty as a an excuse for extortionate economic protectionism.
Participation in things like "five eyes" is not exactly with the consent of the Canadian people. It is largely against the will of the people but often done to ensure our survival. Not from the threat of the Muslim boogyman...but from that of America.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. (Try reading it slowly, maybe they'll help your comprehension.)
America is not Canada's friend. It is our master. The slave is never friends with one who would purport to own them.
The US/Canada border is not militarized. Do you see military bases, watchtowers, fences, guard dogs, etc along the border? No. What you see is a toll booth looking crossing where you have to present a passport, say why you are coming into the US, and maybe get your car searched if the border guard feels like being an ass. I guess to you that is a highly militarized border.
As for drones, I have not seen, read about, or heard of any drones patrolling the border so sources are needed. I can only assume law enforcement are using them for patrolling for drug smugglers since the US public would go nuts if a loaded drone was flying around above their heads. <joke>Besides, I'm sure the Girl Scouts could defend the border from Canadians, and make a few bucks selling cookies while they're at it so I doubt the US needs drones </joke>
"I've said it before, and I'll say it again. (Try reading it slowly, maybe they'll help your comprehension."
I think you meant "it'll help your comprehension"...
You mean like these drones?
I never said it was a highly militarized border, only that it was a militarized border. It is not one of trust. It is one where drones track you and men with guns prevent you from driving (or flying) across as you choose. It as once the world's longest undefended border. In my youth. Now it's not. Simple as.
And yes, to me, that's militarized. Maybe it's not to you, but you've had so much kool-aid who the fuck knows how you interpret things? "Other borders are more militarized this this doesn't count" would be my guess. It seems to be the kind of logic you've been employing this far.
As for "they'll help your reading comprehension", no I don't mean "it'll". I was referring to the voices in your head. Do they come in via transmitter? CONFORM. CONSUME. OBEY. Seems about right.
Maybe if you have to put up with being hauled into the room with the overly bright lights and the condescending people with loaded guns every time you cross the border you'd see things differently. Maybe not.
"If you look closely, you will see that the US tried very hard to stay out of WWI and WWII and only started poking it's nose into everyone's business after it was the lone superpower and found it had the power to prevent WWIII."
That can only be true if you ignore stuff like supplying arms to the UK & donating huge sums of cash to the Nazi party.
"A true patriot ignores everything except that which makes the current power elite look good."
Depends on how you define patriotism. Some folks think that patriotism requires unquestioning obedience to the government of the day, although I think most people think of it as "doing right" by the country (and it's citizens). Personally I'm not sure Patriotism serves much of a purpose beyond waging war, I would rather people focussed on treating the people around them well.
I was going to say "treat others as you would like to be treated" - but there are some seriously twisted people out there. For example from the way the British Cabinet decided the fate of the Iraqis I am guessing that they would like to be lied to, be ignored, have all their assets stolen (including family heirlooms), locked up without charge and beaten to death with an option of being shot or blown up at random.
Personally I believe every word they say on this one.
The US are only spying on a minimal amount of US citizens. However, their sock puppets in the UK are probably doing the dirty work for them.
Plausible deniability innit, reciprocity in management speak.
When the Brits say they are only spying on 2 men, 1 woman and a cat that lives in a mosque we can assume that our American friends are dealing with all the rest of you / us.
T'would be nice to know how many Brits, Aussies, Canucks and Kiwis the Yanks are spying on.
"The US are only spying on a minimal amount of US citizens. However, their sock puppets in the UK are probably doing the dirty work for them."
The probability of that being true approaches unity.
"T'would be nice to know how many Brits, Aussies, Canucks and Kiwis the Yanks are spying on."
Join the military, get a clearance and you can find out.
Of course, then you shan't be permitted to tell anyone.
You spy for me, I spy for you.
That way, Agency A and Agency B can say quite categorically and truthfully that they are not intercepting the communications of their own citizens. If Agency A happens to have intercepted communications of the citizens of the country of Agency B and happens to hand it over to Agency B as part of their cooperation agreement, does the original interception come under the jurisdiction of country B? And visa-versa.
There's no longer 2 certainties in Life.
Death, taxes and being spied upon.
"Why hasn't Obama stopped any of this like he promised he would?"
That is a multiple choice question, probably with more than one correct answer. Anyone who has watched "Yes Minister" knows that elected officials: presidents, prime ministers, etc., come and go, and so do their appointees: heads of the NSA, CIA, FBI, etc. So, regardless of "promises" made by politicians, there are always permanent employees in the background who simply carry on carrying on. So, perhaps he made a "politician's promise," possibly, he made a promise he thought he could keep, possibly .....
Apparently civics are no longer taught in any detail in US schools, or most citizens here would know precisely how limited, constitutionally, presidential authority is. Primarily he signs or vetoes congressional bills - never really uses the veto nearly enough, and he can start a war (but not declare one), which can paint congress into a corner where they either follow along or trigger a political crisis. He can also declare a state of emergency which can suspend many constitutional rights within a "limited" purview related to the putative "emergency" a limited but renewable period and make an end run around congressional authority without having them actually declare war.
"Why hasn't Obama stopped any of this like he promised he would?"
Because, like many other ill informed promises he made, he learned the classified version, aka reality of the war and what is incessantly being attempted.
Sorry, but as much as I hate the program, it does work to stop things being blown up.
Note the lack of massive outrage in the US Congress. Note the sparse few comments about holding hearings. Note the sparse few hearings conducted.
Congress has oversight on such programs. Congress has a SCIF in both houses. Committee members have clearance and full access to the data from those programs.
The reason is really simple and relatively innocuous. The programs work, they stop attacks against US citizens and especially US citizens on US soil.
The same is true in the UK and Commonwealth nations.
What is the capability, courtesy of both the war in Afghanistan and the surveillance of Al Qaeda to attack a western target today?
Diaper bomb, shoe bomb, printer bomb. None of which functioned, the latter being intercepted.
Compared to before, with a dozen embassies bombed, the WTC bombed, then aircraft rammed into it.
So, take your choice for reality. Either Al Qaeda all went off and retired or their operational capabilities are significantly eroded and are undermined by multiple methods, this being one of them.
I know as a fact that it is the latter.
BillG, for the same reason JohnE Hoover was able to stay in power for 40 years.
They have the pictures.
And this isn't necessarily of Obama himself doing anything all that bad. They have pictures on everyone and everybody, close to him and politically connected. And the "pictures" nowadays aren't just photos, it's stuff t they're hoovering up from phone calls and emails.
"You want a budget of *how much* to track 60 people?"
Actually, what they told 60 minutes was that they were only tracking 60 US citizens. They never mentioned how many foreign nationals were on their monitor list. I think the most interesting thing that was stated was that in effect there should be no surprise that they listened to foreign heads of state when those very same states do the very same thing "to us." The only important difference would be that the NSA "saved" money by hiring outside contractors who were - ah - unreliable.
"You want a budget of *how much* to track 60 people?"
Actually, it was 60 of what the NSA *considers* US people.
That means that pretty much 7 billion are also tracked.
Remember, the NSA is not permitted to act in a law enforcement capacity within the US, nor can it monitor communications of US citizens without a warrant. Everyone else is open under US law and the NSA charter.
What was amusing was the bit about "60 minutes seems to want to play along", as if CBS, Fox or NBC would stray from the GOP party line of everything military is good, godlike and must receive the lions share of federal funding.
While the educational system, elderly, disabled, children and needy get to suck the hind tit.
The reports that I saw were unclear about whether the targets in these cases were "US Persons". Those targets, however were smuggling illegal drugs into the country, not out or within. Accordingly it is possible or even likely that the intercepts were proper and the attempt at secrecy was aimed at protecting intelligence sources and methods.
"That means that pretty much 7 billion are also tracked."
NSA has in the neighborhood of 35,000 employees. It is not credible that each of them (managers to secretaries and machine repairpersons) tracks an average of 200,000 people in any sense that even remotely approaches meaningful. Not by at least two orders of magnitude.
Feeding my metadata into the machine so that I can be mistakenly Jean Charles de Menezesed based on some trial-less "guilt by association" cranked out by an algorithm is being fucking tracked.
Too tinfoil hat for you? Too bad. The burden of proof is on your government now, not those who just want to be left alone.
Or will I be targeted for tax audits because of my political group? Have my e-mails raided because I'm a journalist? Be thrown in gitmo because I work with whistleblowers?
Computer says no. Your life, thus, goes bye-bye. And you're okay with this?!?
I don't think I said anything to suggest I approve of it, or think it is warranted or effective. Neither have I seen much evidence that the bad things mentioned are common. Tax audits because of a political group? Not much to do with the NSA, much more to do with the FBI and municipal police departments. Email raided because a journalist/working with whistleblowers? Certainly that's possible, but again has little to do with the NSA and a lot to do with prosecutors and the FBI or local authorities.
I cannot say whether your metadata or mine would correlate with a target and raise suspicion, and that is a serious problem that can be addressed either by not doing the analysis at all or by ensuring that such things as entry into "no fly" databases rely on much more careful investigation than sometimes seems to be the case. I could be satisfied with either, keeping in mind that the alternative in which service providers are required to retain metadata for access by law enforcement agencies may not represent much of an increase in our security over what we have at present.
You don't seem to get it. Any situation in which our metadata is being collected in a dragnet fashion is unacceptable. It doesn't matter if it's the FBI, GCHQ, the NSA, the RCMP or the fucking IRS. If you want to investigate a person then you get a fucking warrant for that person and that's that.
You do not trawl through data looking for "suspicious patterns" and use that as justification to trawl through the data! You do not keep a lifetime's worth of metadata (or even a year's worth!) and go back in time to peer through someone's life and find every minor mistake they ever made based on some broken suspicion that a cranky neighbor had that might be leaving our more than the maximum number of bags of garbage.
You keep talking as though it is okay for us to give up our rights. That it is inevitable and that it is an acceptable and natural consequence of...what, exactly? Protection from the boogyman?
Whether the breach today is the FBI or tomorrow the IRS it makes no nevermind. Human beings in positions of power over other human beings abuse that power. It doesn't matter which agency they belong to. The more power you give them to peer into our lives the more harm they will do. The totality of human history is a fucking testament to this fact!
Noone can be trusted with the kind of power represented by unfettered access to our metadata, let alone the communications data in full. Noone.
Any use of technological assets to collect information about an individual must be narrowly targeted, only records relevant to the narrow warrant collected and retained and the entire process carefully reviewed by independent civil rights organisations. (Rotated out so as to prevent regulatory capture.)
The NSA has already been seen to give information to the DEA and then tell them to lie about the source. How long before their databases are used to raid journalists, a practice already underway? You argue that agencies are isolated and that evidence of malfeasance in one isn't evidence that it will occur in another.
I say that the totality of human history says that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and given that the US government in general has thrown out the presumption of innocence as regards proles I think the NSA - and any other TLA - need to prove their innocence. After all, we don't have the means to investigate their guilt. It's all hush-hush tip-top super secret stuff that proles aren't allowed to see.
No TLA cna be trusted with our privacy. No amount of bureaucracy can make dragnets okay. Nothing can justify dragnets. is that clear enough? Or are there more predictable bits of apologist newsspeak you'd like to trot out?
"NSA has in the neighborhood of 35,000 employees. It is not credible that each of them (managers to secretaries and machine repairpersons) tracks an average of 200,000 people in any sense that even remotely approaches meaningful. Not by at least two orders of magnitude."
Yet Amazon, Facebook and Google all manage to do plenty of meaningful tracking.
>You want a budget of *how much* to track 60 people?
If they are only tracking 60 people, why the heck can they not follow procedures that have existed for 50+ years and get a warrant/judicial order?
If they need it right away, fine. Start listening, file the paperwork and let a judge decide after the fact.
Don't tell me you can't manage 60 intercepts with proper judicial oversight.
Btw, we're all in the same boat. The new Canadian CSIS HQ building is hundreds of millions over budget. And had to move due to increasing power requirements - presumably not caused by limited snooping to a few dozen citizens.
Just like here in the UK they like to feed the public a few snippets and tell them in very vague terms how much they have done to prevent disaster.
For instance, did you know that the security services have prevented hundreds if not thousands of terrorist attacks in the last couple of years and this is only down to the fact that they can spy on everyone and retain all the data they want.
Of course, as we are only 'little people' we could never hope to verify the truth in these claims. If they say this is true it must be.
"the security services have prevented hundreds if not thousands of terrorist attacks in the last couple of years and this is only down to the fact that they can spy on everyone and retain all the data they want."
That's nothing. I have a rock here that keeps away tigers!
Neither am I, although I have to admit that even if it were MI5 saying this I would not believe them either. As far as I am concerned I would not accept that fisherman's tale from the Almighty Himself without independent evidence let alone any country's intelligence service. What they are saying is that we are (excuse me, it's very hard to type and cry with laughter at one and the same time) just going to have to trust them (Oh God my sides are splitting).
Ah, your usual eloquence and insight.
The enemy is not the NSA. The enemy is you, and everyone else who thinks that the progress of civilization is measured in the amount of benefits that government delivers, because of the ever-expanding role of government intervention in the life of society and the lives of its citizens required to deliver those benefits.
"The enemy is you, and everyone else who thinks that the progress of civilization is measured in the amount of benefits that government delivers, because of the ever-expanding role of government intervention in the life of society and the lives of its citizens required to deliver those benefits."
Erm, is not being under surveillance an ever expanding role of government intervention?
But then, you strike me as a tea party type.
Also known as the type that never met a Constitutional amendment that they did not despise and disparage.
"The enemy is you, and everyone else who thinks that the progress of civilization is measured in the amount of benefits that government delivers,"
Did this make sense in your head before you typed it? Did you think that complaining about the NSA is about wanting MORE government intervention? Do you think that government intervention is only good when it does harm? Or are you a hopeless idealist who thinks that a state of having no government would be anything other than hell on earth? Basically, WTF are you talking about?
Good way to annoy the NSA and GCHQ, evil fucks that they are:
Refuse to hire ex-NSA/GCHQ people into private industry. Let the grunts know that working for the NSA/GCHQ is a one-way street. You are forever after tainted and no one will ever trust you again.
That should stick a spike into their University recruiting pipeline. Those government pensions not looking so guaranteed now eh ?
Refuse to hire ex-NSA/GCHQ people into private industry. Let the grunts know that working for the NSA/GCHQ is a one-way street. You are forever after tainted and no one will ever trust you again.
Even a massive boycott along these lines - which will never happen, but let's entertain the possibility for a moment - would not be much of a deterrent to desperate job-seekers offered relatively high-paying, relatively interesting work in the "intelligence" industry. The long-term risks pale in comparison to the short-term benefits.
I'm not intimately familiar with the situation in the UK, but here in the US recent grads have a tough time of it, even in ostensibly high-demand fields, and they're facing crippling student debt, inflating food and energy prices, a still-tumultuous housing market, etc. You offer them jobs and they'll take 'em.
But the simple fact of the matter is that you'd never get enough employers to sign on to such a program. What's in it for them? Listed corporations wouldn't be able to uphold it anyway, if it were at all effective - their boards would find a CEO who didn't artificially limit the labor market.
MEH. All those TLAs, including NSA, are just CYA front-ends to hide the real masterminds.
There are hints and answers, though, scattered around seemingly innocent places. Just like this one, from haikuonline or some such:
Guess what I found out?
My CAT rules the universe!
That explains a LOT.
" ...developed BIOS malware “disguised as a request for a software update” that would have turned PCs into “a brick.”
Wow, this threat has been around since the first PC was ever put in the hands of your average joe. Bricking ones PC is a pretty trivial feat, all it takes is an urge to upgrade the BIOS, combined with downloading the wrong (or corrupted) image, and/or a lack of reading comprehension. It doesn't take a rogue state to wrap a 100k of garbage in a cmos flasher that looks legit. Also what good would it do to knock out a few thousand porn boxes anyway? The malware would be identified and flagged within a day.
Come on NSA, if you're going to feed us bullshit at least try! How about a story about how you stopped the evil-doers from causing a financial apocalypse? Or thwarted hackers killing the power grid? If stopping a half assed 4chanish inconvenience from going live is truly the best the NSA has to brag about, we're all fucked.
"I seem to recall, around win 98 era a virus called chernobyl which purported to flash and corrupt the bios.
It was a bit of a non event as i recall."
I recall the same "chernobyl" virus and had to replace a good number of boards as well as explain to the customers that it was not a warranty issue, but a virus that "bricked" their machines (only way to prove it was to scan their HDD on our test system & show them the results along with the details of the infection on various AV vendors sites). Gigabyte made a lot of money when that virus was going around with their dual-BIOS boards.
It's been around ever since some bean-counter demanded removal of the write-protect switch from a system's flash logic circuitry.
How it ought to be, is that to do a BIOS upgrade you'd start by taking the lid off the system and moving a jumper or switch to write-enable. Then update. Then set it back to write-protect. (Note: nothing to stop manufacturers shipping it write-enabled, if they know that their average customer is a moron. Intelligent customers would protect it on delivery -- or buy from a different manufacturer).
How much did removing one jumper save? One cent? Probably less. Bullet, meet foot.
I actually prefer the Gigabyte dual BIOS system. One ROM that never gets over-written and one CMOS that can be easily updated without opening the case. If the update gets borked for any reason (power failure in the middle of the update) you can still revert to the ROM and redo the upgrade.
But absent the dual BIOS, yes it ought to be a locked setting (dip or jumper doesn't matter to me).
Can you overwrite the BIOS remotely? All the systems I've used you can only update the BIOS when running the BIOS admin, ie *outside* the operating system and the network stack, and you can only update the BIOS from a physical media in your grubby mit by shoving it into the appropriate receptical.
I believe it's called "winflash" or something similar. I've seen a few computers with a windows-based BIOS updater. Has been a while but from what I recall it is a nice looking convenient little windows utility to update your bios.
And it would be just as scary if there was a Linux version, unless you have a sure way of reverting to an earlier version.
Such a tool could be used remotely.
For that matter, look at the issues with Samsung UEFI some months back. IIRC it was booting Ubuntu from USB stick OR something in MS Office that could trash the UEFI BIOS enough that the machine would be bricked (for the average home user anyway). Something like that could also be triggered remotely I expect.
"They didn't think of it first!"
Are you sure they didn't?
Agent Paranoid: "RED ALERT! Somebody's bug is overwriting our bug!"
Agent Waffle: "Can we still monitor the affected PCs?"
Agent Paranoid: "Nah, it's like trying to read a brick!"
Agent Waffle: "Alert the media; "Terrorists Bricking PCs!"
Parodying that "You're gonna need a bigger boat" line in the movie, Jaws, NSA need smarter folk ...... for those who know how to work in cyber to bypass and overwhelm everything physical and terrestrial, are that which they are dealing with and ineffectually doing vain battle against, to maintain in increasingly failed and siloed power vacuums, that which controls and commands them to abuse and misuse information and intelligent feeds for the mindless retention of status quo seeds/feeds/needs.
Use the mighty inherently worthless paper fiat dollar to buy in and direct new intelligence supply for onward control export to every other ignorant and arrogant jurisdiction/struggling executive administration. Quite obviously, does present supply not deliver peace and prosperity to all, and anything less will always create madness and mayhem and increasingly more targeted search and research and development for that and/or those who would be chief cause of novel future intelligence supply blockage.
And indeed, such is the same easy solution for any currency paper fiat supplier to engage with and secure XSSXXXX ProVision with NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT .... which be at least both Sensual and Sensitive Intellectual Property Supply Services to Order, and Tailor Made to Guarantee Successful CyberIntelAIgent Virtual Design which Astutely Anonymously Autonomously Disrupts, Degrades and Destroys Perverse Parasitic and Corrupt Collaborative Bodies/Conspiratorial Enterprises.
And doing its Ab Fab Fabless IT Thing with you too and Oft Alone, by virtue of your doubts and ignorance in what its HyperRadioProActive IT is doing for you already ...... via the Portal of Global Operating Devices and NINJA Apps....... Networks Internetworking Novel JOINT Applications in JOINT Operations Internetworking NEUKlearer Technologies ..... for SMARTR Advanced IntelAIgent Solutions Systems Communicating Quantum Leaps in Bits and Bytes of Information and Language for Universal Transcription/Earthly Sharing/Global Systems ReBooting.
Or is putting rabbits on moons and sending monkeys into space easier for you to accept as a more intelligent use of time and resources in this heavenly place? How most very odd. :-)
First telling the Judiciary Committee that "no data" was collected on US persons, which he later admitted was "incorrect" after Snowden's relevations.
Second was telling them that the spying had foiled 54 terror plots, but later admitted that only 13 of those were within the US, and only "one or two" were identified from collecting the phone records (who called who, when, from where, for how long, etc.)
There were probably others that I'm not aware of, or he hasn't be caught at yet.
So why does he think that ANYONE should believe what he was saying in the 60 Minutes interview?
The more so because "9/11" had nothing to do with "connecting dots", it had to do with FBI infighting (moles being shut down out of pure spite and bureaucratic put-downs at the right moment) and possibly shenanigans about covering up a long-running deal with a mobster hitman.
No technical system is going to help with that. Unless you get all the stupid out of the system and give everything to AIs.
It actually had a good bit to do with connecting the dots. Most specifically DoJ regs that prevented intelligence and law enforcement from sharing certain data. But admitting that would squarely blame the failed policies of a Democrat administration. And we can't have that.
Yes, corrective action didn't require the massive rewrite of laws and the creation of a new leviathan within the big leviathan. But then that wouldn't advance Statist purposes either.
1. Pearl Harbor was an attack on a military base not a civilian building. For better or worse we deem that members of the military have accepted the risk of dying for their country and treat their deaths differently from civilian deaths.
2. Four years after Pearl Harbor we had closure. The bastages that ordered it were mostly dead and the few that were left had surrendered. They were in no position to launch any further similar assaults ANYWHERE. That is not true of the current situation.
I'd also note that in the intervening four years we also had something the world hasn't seen since: total war. Most people regard that as a good thing. As for me, I'm willing to risk it. I think we're on the brink of another such conflict and the longer we wait the higher the chances that we move too late. But I'd wager a year's salary you disagree with me on that.
I'd also note that in the intervening four years we also had something the world hasn't seen since: total war
We've seen it many times, just not on the same scale. I wonder how much consolation it was to a Korean or Vietnamese, or is to a Syrian, that most of the rest of the world was / is not likewise at war.
Emotionally, I am with you guys, but really.
Google knows what I have looked for. Amazon knows what I bought (or wished for), eBay knows what junk I sold.
My mobile phone company (and Apple or Microsoft or Google) knows where I have been. Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin know who I know and what I have been up to.
My ISP is checking that I don't do copyright infringment and also that I am not looking at "inappropriate" stuff and the law recently decided that everything I say on the internet is publication - so I can be sued.
Oh yes, governments are looking in too. But government is bad and all those big corporations are nice cuddly creatures.
If Google get it wrong and make incorrect assumptions about my interests, I get served (even more) rubbish ads. If my phone company know where I've been then maybe they'll send me annoying junk marketing emails. Same with all commercial organisations, they're looking to make some money out of me. However if government spooks get it wrong and decide that I'm "of interest", or that I might know some who knows someone who went to school with someone who might be, then they could really fuck with my life. It's not the same at all.
You could choose not to use Google, Amazon or eBay. You could realise that Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are of dubious value at best and stop using them. You could get a Pay As You Go mobile and not register it.
Being spied on by the NSA, GCHQ and their buddies is not a choice.
It is not the same.
You could get a Pay As You Go mobile and not register it.
Just don't forget to leave it somewhere randomly away from you home and your work. You may not register it, but tracking it will tell the trackers who you are within a fair amount of certainty by watching the locations.
(Of course, that is if they're interested in your phone's movements enough to bother tracking it - I don't like that they can do it but doubt that they do it to everyone)
I am not sure if that is the biggest pile of crap or the most disingenuous statement made this week.
Crap: if we pretend that it does not already do so, does anyone think for a nanosecond that they would not prefer to have the whole data rather than just a bit of it? You know, just in case they needed to see what those suspicious communications contained.
Disingenuous: it doesn't deny that they are intercepting everything, or indeed admit that harvesting the metadata does involve what everyone else would call intercepting it. It just says that - because of the volume - they find it preferable to look at the metadata... first.
What they say here is basically true. The americans who've reacted with outrage at the NSA have little reason to do so, the NSA does not snoop on them.
What they don't say is that if you're not an american citizen, you're SOL, and that goes doubly if you're a citizen of a US-allied country such as Britain, in which the sum total capabilities of the country's own snooping and that of the US and other allies is combined to bypass any protections you think you have. Unlike US citizens you, as a brit, have zero right to privacy. None.
kids managed to destroy a large number of our display models (and their subsequent replacements) before staff got the memo about that bricking technique.
they weren't selling at all well compared to the ps4's anyway, but now even less have been sold because we're stuck with a pile of bricks.
I half-jest (this did actually happen) but backdoors that can brick systems are dumb, be they intentional or accidental somebody will find a way to abuse them and cause havoc.
"If we can find some way to do this without destroying their machines, we'd be interested in hearing about that. If that's the only way, then I'm all for destroying their machines. There's no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws."
...there was a time, long ago, when Hatch had a brain...
I've often wondered when it happened. When the politician used to think on his feet, that didn't need a supporting cast of thousands, to make up his/her mind. As if their faces were their brand and any ideas/noises that come out of them have been blended, folded, stapled, and wrung of any content that has any meaning that cannot be changed as needed to fit the situation now or in the future.
Or is it just me? IDK any more.
.. the NSA are even using popular entertainment shows to get their "good guy" message over. Check out episode 9 of the latest season of NCIS where NCIS recruit a NSA analyst who spends a large portion of the show telling people how they "don't bug people" and "have to get a court order, just like you guys" to listen in on people.Its so blatantly obvious that the producers have been told to run this story-line, its makes you want to vomit.
Except, one hopes that the NSA or someone is reverse-engineering the BIOSes being shipped, to keep the other side honest. Booby-trapping all BIOSes shipped is the sort of dirty trick that you could get away with only once (and pay a huge economic price afterwards). Unless you posit a multi-national conspiracy, if it had been happening we'd have heard about it by now.
Unless absolutely nobody is checking.
"The NSA prefers to look at metadata rather than intercept communications, as the former is felt to be the “least intrusive” way of snooping"
I admire the serenity of anyone under comprehensive surveillance (surveillance *is* collecting metadata) who derives consolation from it being "less intrusive" than eavesdropping.
Come on NSA, if you're going to feed us bullshit at least try! How about a story about how you stopped the evil-doers from causing a financial apocalypse? … Katie Saucey Posted Monday 16th December 2013 04:33 GMT
Oh, please, Katie S. Don’t be so ridiculous:-) You’re ‘avin’ a larf. Even NSA wouldn’t be stupid enough to try and feed anyone that bullshit story. Don’t you read and comprehend all the news comics and muddled major media mogul programs hosting all the false directs on the Great Collapse, relentlessly growing and ongoing?
Wake up, Smell the Java and Cocoa at ITs work, and I aint talking just coffee and chocolate here/there.
You want Sun and Stars to Shine, you gotta Command and Control Clouds, and with CHAOS and not Chaos in Madness and Mayhem, for Clouds Hosting Advanced Operating Systems are AIDefault Drivers for Global Operating Devices and Tempestuous Whether Systems alike.
I can't even get angry about this any more.
I rank all you anti NSA/GCHQ types with the nutjobs that rave against scientific projects in the BBC comment section. Its necessary. The world is a mean place. And yet in your mind you seem to populate these organizations with pantomime villains. As if they have an irresistible compulsion to hurt people and damage lives when their actual objectives are to do the complete opposite.
If anyone offers a counter argument you shore up your defence with the "That's what they want us to think defence".
Get over it. They are certainly not going to stop it because a bunch of outspoken neck-beards demand it. Especially if you are right about all of this. Which you are not.
"I rank all you anti NSA/GCHQ types with the nutjobs that rave against scientific projects in the BBC comment section. Its necessary."
No, it isn't necessary. It has cost sh*tloads of money that the US government doesn't have, it has sh*t all over the US constitution (for what little that is worth), and it has delivered precisely jack sh*t in terms of protecting anybody from anything.
You are entitled to conclude that your own privacy is worthless, and to give it away. But I don't believe that the "freedom" that we routinely fight wars over entitles numpties like you (and the NSA and their political poodles) to decide that everybody's privacy is unimportant. If you want the US equivalent of the Stasi, you're in luck, they are ready, tooled up and waiting to go.
Assuming you're a Yank, and taking your self expressed view that all this snopping, data harvesting, retention and mining is a good things, perhaps you'd like to have a 28th amendment to the constitution to formalise this: "Now wash your hands".
I'm from Essex, England.
Having done a lot of data mining myself, but in a commercial application I can tell you it is all very anonymous. Right up until the point you find what you are looking for. At which point you usually apply some logic and discretion if what you are looking at is sensitive.
I don't look at peoples buying habits and then immediately try to extort money out of them or blackmail them.
What makes you think that's how GCHQ operates? If you were working there as some sort of high up decision maker, would you allow a politician to come along and tell you to start snooping on someone to discredit them? I know I certainly wouldn't. I'd see that as a stain on my honour.
So again, why do you believe GCHQ are out there to shit all over human rights? They probably have prevented harm coming to you and those you know. What proof do you have of them bullying normal folk around?
"I don't look at peoples buying habits and then immediately try to extort money out of them or blackmail them."
Sure you don't, if only we could guarantee that was true of everyone else with access to that kind of data... Quite often otherwise "nice" people do bad things when they think they can get away with it, you can see this phenomenon every day on any stretch of road with a speed camera. The vast majority of drivers slow down to the speed limit when approaching a speed camera and then accelerate away afterwards.
" Its necessary. The world is a mean place. ... As if they have an irresistible compulsion to hurt people and damage lives when their actual objectives are to do the complete opposite. ...Get over it. They are certainly not going to stop it because a bunch of outspoken neck-beards demand it. Especially if you are right about all of this. Which you are not."
Prove just one of those statements sufficient to justify the changes in the world since a couple of buildings fell down in New York over a decade ago. You can't, because there isn't a big enough terrorist threat to affect more than the tiniest number of people in Britain, let alone the world.
The most likely explanation is that there were a lot of people who were seriously worried that their jobs/revenue/power were going to drop because there was no longer a big, bad enemy across the sea. It didn't exist, and so it was invented. That is a good definition of malice and a desire to damage lives.
By the way, you might be from Essex originally, but I suspect you work a bit further west - close to the Welsh border, perhaps?
Install a crappy bios and we'll lose days of productivity...?
Oh sorry, that's my current $PC...
Seriously though, this may be true. But with context free denials being plastered wall-to-wall, even if it was EXACTLY true, the answer would be a FOSS BIOS for as many machines as possible...
The UEFI implementation attempt looked like M$ trying to foist their OS on us, but perhaps it was a simpler way of getting a back door in the PC....
CIA and NSA were operating under DoJ rules that prohibited sharing the data. Democrat administration passed the rules to protect US citizens from intelligence agency spying.
Yes, it was overly broad. Yes smaller changes could have fixed it. But that doesn't change the fact that the same people screaming about intemperate spying now are the same ones crying about it then. In other words, the people who enabled the rules that got 3,000 American civilians killed during 9/11. And that's a real inconvenient truth. Here's another one: it's a brutal world out there, so you won't get by without some blood on your hands. The best you can do is try to make sure it's the right blood.
Just do everything they say, support them in everything they do and you shouldn't run into any problems so long as you just keep your head down, work and give everything to the government. Remember they are there to protect you and help you. They are only interested in your ability to serve them. Remember and OBEY!!! Is that so hard?
Here be an interesting thirteen pager, New Yorker read on spooky shenanigans ...... http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/12/16/131216fa_fact_lizza
And please be advised and be led to believe that the earlier mentioned chaoses and CHAOS here [Posted Monday 16th December 2013 11:39 GMT] bear no relationship at all to the dodgy and probably also DOD GI operations mentioned in this snippet from the above cited read ....
In the nineteen-seventies, a Senate committee chaired by Frank Church revealed widespread abuses at the N.S.A., the C.I.A., and other agencies, including active programs to spy on Americans. An N.S.A. program called Project SHAMROCK, which started shortly after the Second World War, had persuaded three major American telegraph companies to hand over most of their traffic. By the time the program was shut down, in 1975, the N.S.A. had collected information on some seventy-five thousand citizens. For many years, the information was shared with the C.I.A., which was running its own illegal domestic-intelligence program, Operation CHAOS.
...... for they be completely different.
* :-) But it does be something of an overwhelming advantage to be comfortably au fait with the supply of their needs and feeds. Oh yes, indeed it does.
Let's rewrite it the way it's supposed to be read:
1. A foreign country developed BIOS malware “disguised as a request for a software update” that would have turned PCs into “a brick.” Plunkett said “The NSA working with computer manufacturers was able to close this vulnerability”. 60 Minutes names China as the culprit
READS AS: NSA had their foreign counterparts put together a BIOS hack in order for the NSA to "help" the BIOS manufacturers fix the hole, whilst ensuring they had their own backdoor programmed into it
2. The NSA is listening to “Less than 60 people globally who are considered U.S. Persons,” according to Alexander
READS AS: The NSA is listening to 60 US persons globally who are considered US persons but 6,000,000 other people who may or may not be US persons.
3. The NSA prefers to look at metadata rather than intercept communications, as the former is felt to be the “least intrusive” way of snooping
READS AS: NSA prefers to LOOK at metadata but advanced computer algorithms look at petabytes of your content and attachments to weed out subjects of interest for future operations. Nothing to hide unless guilty - that is until a terror suspect dials a number incorrectly and connects to you - then you're in the frame as an associate and researched heavily!
4. Before 9/11 the USA lacked the capability to match metadata from multiple carriers that would allow understanding of conversations between two parties and it is felt the lack of such an ability helped the 9/11 plotters to evade detection
READS AS: Bush wanted powers to spy on anyone he wanted but Congress didn't like it. 9/11 happened because the authorities turned their backs to it in order for Bush to push through the necessary wiretap powers. <- one many conspiracy theories
@ Flyberius 16th December 2013 16:09 GMT
So again, why do you believe GCHQ are out there to shit all over human rights?
Flyberius for you not to go mad but maybe sink in some reality !
The fact being if NSA/GCHGQ were not out to shit all over human rights, then there would never have been these leakes to make us aware of how out of order they have been
If they were not out to shit all over human rights at least they would be held accountable by the laws of the country they were goverend by.
Oh wait they sit outside of the laws and can do what they want and then wait for it oh we stopped some chinese kid from nuking your bios. Great excuse and nice try and all that but lets start this internet thing al over again please
Why does this problem even exist?
1) Some ID-10-T Decided everyone should be able to pull a BIOS update while in Windows.
2) Some ID-10-T (Probably the same one) Decided we no longer needed the BIOS write protect jumper on our motherboards.
Face it boys and girls. If a person isn't smart enough to locate and move a jumper.. They probably shouldn't be attempting a BIOS update in the first place. LoL!
The NSA's link analysis identifies persons communicating with foreign entities and targets them for further investigation. In fact, in the world of security clearances, doing business with foreign entities can get you classified as a "non US Person" whether you are a US citizen or not.
So, how many of you have received the ubiquitous letter from that wealthy Nigerian ex-government minister wishing to transfer funds overseas? Communicating with foreign national? Check. Possible involvement in transfer of funds from/to overseas? Check.
You're on the list, buddy!
It wouldn't surprise me at all if a certain number of these 419 scams were NSA pretexts to justify further surveillance.
The term "United States person" is defined by statute. It is not governed by regulations pertaining to security clearances. Nor can one become a non United States person by sending or receiving emails from a foreign entity.
See 50 USC 1801(i). If you are a US citizen or an alien admitted for permanent residence, then you are a US person.
// begin rant - some of this is unfair
(1) "9/11 was sooo 12 years ago! It's no longer a good reason for anything."
I'm paraphrasing, but that's the gist of some of the comments.
Let me be clear: those comments are utterly moronic. The last time the US lost that many people on American soil in an attack was during the CIVIL WAR. You'd have to be a really special kind of stupid to think that a whole 12 years means that such an attack is no longer relevant. Even after a whole 12 years, the US thinks it's kind of important to have measures in place that help stop such terrorist attacks.
(2) "BIOS malware! So funny! Listen to the funny NSA man!"
I'd like to introduce you to a term called "asymmetric warfare." Are you a developing country that would like to assert your regional power... more assertively, shall we say, but find yourself restrained by the 800 ton gorilla across the big blue sea? Wouldn't it be nice to have leverage that didn't involve delivering missiles to that gorilla, with all its fancy defenses and a huge arsenal of missiles of its own? Is there anything that the gorilla really depends on, that is often vulnerable, that could be damaged in a way that's tough to trace back, that wouldn't invite a nuclear response? Hmmm...
When the US Department of Defense announced a couple of years ago that, going forward, certain types of cyber-attacks would be considered equivalent to attacks with conventional weapons and would invite a proportional response, what did you think they were talking about?
So, no, the NSA man isn't just being funny or scare-mongering. Sorry.
(3) "They're all devils conspiring with other devils to hurt us!"
This is a catchall category for the various forms of "NSA = Evil" comments. Snowden ripped off how many documents? 200,000? 1,000,000? How many others did he look at? How many examples of the NSA or GCHQ abusing their authority to harm innocent people has he come across? Zero. You want to start waxing philosophical about how all of this has the potential for abuse, someday, and we need good safety measures? Be my guest. In fact I even agree, we do need good safety measures. But if you want to start heaving giant gobs of BS in the form of assertions that these organizations are filled with Machiavellian villains who are already using their powers for evil, can't you throw those gobs somewhere else? Maybe a private screen in your home? Because frankly, it's embarrassing to have that kind of stuff on the Internet. Maybe not for you, but for humanity as a whole.
// end rant - yes, some of it is unfair, but a lot of it is accurate
'The NSA is listening to “Less than 60 people globally who are considered U.S. Persons,” according to Alexander'
Firstly, I'm more concerned about those outside the U. S. as it seems to be open season on all of us.
As for those "who are considered U. S. Persons," it all depends on their definition of the term. It could be to qualify you'd need to be living there for 10 generations.
we all know and have known for a long time our respective governments have been spying on us, even before we had an unhealthy fascination with shiny things that go beep and ping.
It is also ok for us in IT to snoop and watch our fellow workers "to ensure they are not doing anything bad" but it is not ok for our governments who are charged with our overall protection to do the same? Want privacy drop off the grid, it can be done, but then you have to ask, why are you being so secretive?
"Want privacy drop off the grid, it can be done, but then you have to ask, why are you being so secretive?"
It doesn't have to be anything secretive. It could be a justifiable fear of suffering the abuse of a comprehensive surveillance apparatus that has no public oversight, and has been shown to repeatedly operate beyond it's publically stated remit.
Besides, it seems to me that the Spooks are the ones doing the vast majority of the hiding, so presumably they are doing a lot of stuff that needs to be hidden from the public (by the very line of reason you appear to be championing) that means they should be subject to suspicion with actionable consequences.
Expanding the scope of surveillance through repeated acts of wilful infringement of privacy regulation isn't confined to the NSA, it seems to be something that nearly every organisation is guilty of at least once. Also abuse of data that has been collected seems to be something that happens within every organisation too. On the basis of those two observations it looks like it's a near certainty that everyone reading this message will get burned as a result of those unwelcome trends at least once... If we want to take this democracy thing seriously we really should be ensuring that it is possible for an individual to go 'off grid' data wise, it's the only way that a citizen can lawfully defend themselves from a malignant bureaucrat.
There is slowly progressing work via NIST (all you conspiracy theorists consider NIST to be a cats paw of NSA/NRO/GCHQ/whatever) on BIOS hardening against malware. Docs are online for those interested.
Sub rosa, not directly mentioned, is PLA modified BIOS vectoring through the supply chain to infect government plods via their fascination with low cost bidders. You know, are you SURE that 8GB flash chip only contains 8GB of data, or will that tad of dihydrogen oxide leaking in through that tiny porous spot on the bottom of the ceramic cause a bit flip to enable... the other 8GB BIOS. OK, I'll admit that scenario is far less complicated than the real invaders use (after all, just enabling at any old time might trip an alarm, so more layers of complexity are needed), but you get the point.
Sorry I have had time to rewrite this properly: @A little confused.. sirdigalot
Fine lets be honest and frank about the entire thing then let the PC worlds etc let us know this is what you spending your money in their shop will bring to your door !
Lets not live in a world where the secret service do this sort of thing without the powers that be voted in by the general public having full control over their secret service. What does the vote mean if a part of the system is above all of that ?
Lets be also clear you monitoring a fellow worker the word WORKER is far different to any of us sitting at home speaking privately to who ever.
No I am afraid quite a few of you on here have missed the real point which is in short to spread fear and use it as an excuse to monitor everyones activity to protect you from this threat. Straight out of the novel 1984.
I want to use an example to explain the stupidity of this entire situation.
There is a 100 bulls charging down the road you hear run run protect yourself, so you start running. Your running and running do you stop to ask what on earth caused these bulls to start charging down the road or do you keep on running.
So the question is
why do we have a threat ?
If any one has ever watched question time or any political program where this has come up, the answer has never been honest or clear. Without a threat there would be hardly any reason or justification for such levels of intrusion without real consent or understanding delivered at astronimical prices that with just a fraction of that budget you could save real lives and have a healthy happy population that would be rewarded for being part of this great part of the world AKA the west. But instead we have more and more cunning ways to trick us into paying fees to not really improve anything just pump more money into more fear for more protection.
Since this is the most important question we need to keep on asking and asking in order to hopefully one day have honesy because I believe only honesty can solve the current issues and future well being of humanity.
Ladies and gentleman we live in a world full of crisis you just need to switch on your TV to see how some part of the world are really suffering. But when looking closer you will find that poverty prevails on your own door step and is spreading. There are limited jobs. There is a major skills issue due to decades of poor education. The health, education and transport system are on their knees and there seems to be no money just more cuts. Meanwhile unlimited $$ for these guys saving us from bios death.
Back around the election and probably coming around another election near you soon was the word transparency. The only transparancey has been the leaks by two very brave and historic figures Edward Snowden and Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.
I hope one day they are both given a nobel peace prize
Our governors don't want us to have any secrets; not secrets that we can keep from them at least. Oh, and they want us to know that we cannot keep any secrets. They think that such conditions will induce us to remain lawfully sheep-like. NSA spends all its time and resources collecting data with a very wide net. It has collected telephone data on practically everyone on this planet and it is simply storing it in big data centers such as the one it has constructed in the Utah desert. What are they going to do with all of that stuff? Well, that depends doesn't it? What do they need to know in order to hold you or make you dance to their tune? Just about everyone has enough of a past to make all that data gathering potentially harmful. Our govenors have decided that they know best, and they do not want to hear anything from us. No lip. No voting that they cannot predict in advance. They want complete and final control of everything; right now; and don't you bother us about it. Just sit there quietly and die like a brave little man. That's a good chap!
This BIOS based attack has been around for over a decade. You cannot really fix it because the virus simply just erases your bios. The only way you could really fix it is if they totally change the way a computer bios is updated and require the physical chip to be replaced in order to perform the update. Consequently this would only be a fix for newly manufactured computers, 99% of the computers on the market (and yes this applies to apple products as well) would still be vulnerable to this attack, as their BIOS is designed to be updated via software on the computer.
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