BRITISH SPIES ARE OPERATING AN EAVEDROPPING OPERATION THAT DWARFS THE USA SPY SAGA

BRITAIN HAS A SPY NETWORK WHICH OUTSTRIPS THE USA OPERATION

Security contractor Edward Snowden

London: British spies are running an online eavesdropping operation so vast that internal documents say it even outstrips the United States’ international internet surveillance effort, The Guardian newspaper says.

The paper cited UK intelligence memos leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden to claim that UK spies were tapping into the world’s network of fibre optic cables to deliver the “biggest internet access” of any member of the Five Eyes – the name given to the espionage alliance composed of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

That access could in theory expose a huge chunk of the world’s everyday communications – including the content of people’s emails, calls, and more – to scrutiny from British spies and their US allies. How much data the British are copying off the fibre optic network isn’t clear, but it’s likely to be enormous.

The Guardian said the information flowing across more than 200 cables was being monitored by more than 500 analysts from the NSA and its UK counterpart, GCHQ.

“This is a massive amount of data!” The Guardian quoted a leaked slide as boasting.

The newspaper, whose revelations about America and Britain’s globe-spanning surveillance programs have reignited an international debate over the ethics of espionage, said GCHQ was using probes to capture and copy data as it crisscrossed the Atlantic between western Europe and North America.

It said that, by last year, GCHQ was in some way handling 600 million telecommunications every day – although it did not go into any further detail and it was not clear whether that meant that GCHQ could systematically record or even track all the electronic movement at once.

GCHQ declined to comment on Friday, although in an emailed statement it repeated past assurances about the legality of its actions.

“Our work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary, and proportionate,” the statement said.

Fibre optic cables – thin strands of glass bundled together and strung out underground or across the oceans – play a critical role in keeping the world connected. A 2010 estimate suggested that such cables are responsible for 95 per cent of the world’s international voice and data traffic, and The Guard-ian said Britain’s geographic position on Europe’s western fringe gave it natural access to many of the trans-Atlantic cables as they emerged from the sea.

The Guardian said GCHQ’s probes did more than just monitor the data live; British eavesdroppers can store content for three days and metadata – information about who was talking to whom, for how long, from where, and through what medium – for 30 days.

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SECURITY EXPERT SAYS HE CAN HACK INTO HIGH END SURVEILLANCE CAMERA SYSTEMS REMOTELY TO ACCESS DATA

ACCESSING INFO BY HACKING INTO CCTV SYSTEMS

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A US security expert says he has identified ways to remotely attack high-end surveillance cameras used by industrial plants, prisons, banks and the military, something that could potentially allow hackers to spy on facilities or gain access to sensitive computer networks.

Craig Heffner, a former software developer with the National Security Agency (NSA) who now works for a private security firm, said he discovered the previously unreported bugs in digital video surveillance equipment from firms including Cisco, D-Link and TRENDnet.

They could use it as a pivot point, an initial foothold, to get into the network and start attacking internal systems. 

Craig Heffner, security expert

“It’s a significant threat,” he said. “Somebody could potentially access a camera and view it. Or they could also use it as a pivot point, an initial foothold, to get into the network and start attacking internal systems.”

He plans to demonstrate techniques for exploiting these bugs at the Black Hat hacking conference, which starts on July 31 in Las Vegas.

Heffner, who now works as a vulnerability researcher with Tactical Network Solutions in Columbia, Maryland, said he has discovered hundreds of thousands of surveillance cameras that can be accessed via the public internet.

In 2011, the $7 million security camera system at Parliament House in Canberra was found to have ”critical” security deficienciesthat left the building vulnerable to attack, according to a whistleblower’s report.

Heffner said he has figured out a real-life version of the familiar “Hollywood-style” attack that has become a fixture in action films. He can freeze a picture on a surveillance camera to help thieves break into facilities without detection.

He has not discussed his research with the camera makers, he said, and does not plan to do so ahead of his presentation at the hacking conference.

Cisco, D-Link and TRENDnet said they would take any appropriate action that might be needed to secure their equipment after the Black Hat presentation.

Heffner’s presentation is one of more than 100 talks at the annual gathering, which is expected to attract 6500 security professionals who will learn about the growing threat hackers pose to businesses, consumers and national security.

Other talks will explore threats to Microsoft Windows and Apple systems, mobile phone networks, medical devices and systems that control industrial plants.

All research presented at the conference is vetted by a review board of 22 security experts.

Reuters

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Henry Sapiecha
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CIA EMPLOYEES RATS ON USA GOVERNMENT & IS IN HONG KONG HIDEAWAY

EDWARD SNOWDON CIA TURNCOAT HIDING IN HONG KONG

Hong Kong Surveillance

HONG KONG (AP) — The former CIA employee who suddenly burst into headlines around the globe by revealing himself as the source of top-secret leaks about U.S. surveillance programs has just as quickly gone to ground again.

Two days after he checked out of a Hong Kong hotel where he told the Guardian newspaper that he had “no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” Edward Snowden was nowhere to be found Wednesday, despite being the central figure in the biggest news story in the world.

Snowden, in his Sunday interview with the newspaper, had said he wanted to avoid the media spotlight, noting he didn’t want “the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the U.S. government is doing.”

With little new information to report on Snowden or his whereabouts, Hong Kong’s notoriously boisterous newspapers, and others around the world, fixated on his American girlfriend, a dancer who posted partially nude photographs on herself online before she also apparently disappeared.

“Spy on the run: girlfriend ill at ease,” read one Apple Daily headline above a picture of the 28-year-old Lindsay Mills in a provocative pose taken from her blog, which has since gone offline.

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Mills is not believed to be traveling with Snowden, who is thought to still be in Hong Kong.

Apple Daily quoted unidentified sources with the Hong Kong immigration department as saying they had no record of Snowden leaving the territory. A spokesman for the department, speaking on routine condition of anonymity, said it could not confirm the paper’s information because it did not comment on individual cases.

Reporter Ewen MacAskill of Britain’s the Guardian newspaper, who interviewed Snowden for exclusive stories about his revelations, wrote late Tuesday that “it is thought” Snowden was now in a private home in Hong Kong, but offered no details.

Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who also interviewed Snowden in Hong Kong, has given a series of interviews about the case, but refused to reveal any information about Snowden’s location or his future plans.

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Despite the uncertainty, Hong Kong supporters of the 29-year-old American have organized a protest march featuring local human rights activists and prominent pro-democracy politicians to pass in front of the U.S. Consulate on Saturday afternoon.

“We call on Hong Kong to respect international legal standards and procedures relating to the protection of Snowden; we condemn the U.S. government for violating our rights and privacy; and we call on the U.S. not to prosecute Snowden,” the organizers said in a news release.

Snowden arrived in Hong Kong from his home in Hawaii on May 20, just after taking leave from his National Security Agency contracting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, which has since fired him.

Questions remain about why Snowden chose to go public in Hong Kong, a Chinese autonomous region that maintains a Western-style legal system and freedom of speech, although he said he considered the territory to be relatively free and open. Hong Kong has an extradition agreement with the United States, but there are exceptions in cases of political persecution or where there are concerns over cruel or humiliating treatment.

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U.S. authorities have yet to bring charges against Snowden or file an extradition request with Hong Kong. Legal experts say quirks in the Hong Kong legal system could allow Snowden to draw that process out for months or years through appeals.

Snowden might also block extradition altogether by claiming he would be subject to the same harsh treatment as WikiLeaks source Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was held alone for nine months in a windowless cell 23 hours a day, sometimes with no clothing, drawing complaints from human rights groups and the United Nations’ chief torture investigator.

Snowden could still attempt to leave Hong Kong for another destination, possibly including nearby jurisdictions or countries that do not have extradition treaties with the United States, such as China. Snowden himself has given no indication he is prepared to cooperate with any foreign intelligence service, including China’s.

Outside of Asia, Snowden might also consider seeking asylum in countries like Iceland and Russia. According to the Kommersant Daily newspaper, Moscow has said it might provide asylum.

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Henry Sapiecha

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GOOGLE REQUESTS NATIONAL SECURITY & INTERNET DRAGNET TO BE REDETERMINED

REDETERMINING GUIDELINES FOR INTERNET SECURITY SURVEILLANCE

GOOGLE COLOURED LOGO image www.socialselect.net

Google is asking the Obama administration for permission to disclose more details about the U.S. government’s demands for email and other personal information transmitted online in an effort to distance itself from an Internet dragnet.

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In a show of unity, Google rivals Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc. also supported the attempt to pressure the U.S. Justice Department to loosen the legal muzzle that limits disclosures about government surveillance authorized by courts to protect national security.

Google made its plea in a Tuesday letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller. Google is trying to debunk media reports that the company has created a way for the National Security Agency to gain access to large amounts of its users’ online communications as part of a secret program code-named “PRISM.”

The reports surfaced last week after a government contractor leaked confidential documents revealing the NSA has been tapping into the computers of Google Inc. and many other Internet services to retrieve information about foreigners living outside the U.S. The other companies linked to PRISM are: Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo Inc., Apple Inc., AOL Inc., Paltalk, Google’s YouTube and Microsoft’s Skype.

All the companies and services have denied giving the U.S. government unfettered access to user data. The companies say they only turn over user data under legally binding orders, and try to regularly resist orders considered to be too broad.

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Minimizing the appearance of their involvement in PRISM is important to the technology companies. The companies don’t want Web surfers to become paranoid about sharing personal information on their services or, worse yet, avoiding their websites altogether. Attracting big audiences helps the companies sell more advertising. Those ads command higher prices and run more frequently when the companies are able to decipher personal data and determine which parts of the audience are most likely to be interested in certain products.

The stakes are particularly high for Google, which sold $44 billion in digital advertising last year alone.

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence for the Obama administration, last week confirmed PRISM had been approved by a judge and is being conducted in accordance with U.S. law. He hasn’t listed the companies cooperating. Those identifications came from the PRISM documents leaked to The Washington Post and The Guardian, a British newspaper.

Even while acknowledging PRISM’s existence, Clapper has insisted the scope of its surveillance has been more limited than depicted in published reports.

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Google also portrayed itself as an unwitting participant in the program. Executives at the Mountain View, Calif., company maintain that they didn’t know about PRISM until reading about it for the first time last week. Google insists it hasn’t been handing over user data on a broad scale, something the company believes it can prove if it receives clearance to disclose the number of requests that have been submitted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

Federal law currently prohibits recipients of FISA requests from revealing information about them.

“Google’s numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made,” David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, wrote to Holder and Mueller. “Google has nothing to hide.”

In its own statement, Microsoft said it also wants to be more forthcoming if the Justice Department would allow it.

“Permitting greater transparency on the aggregate volume and scope of national security requests, including FISA orders, would help the community understand and debate these important issues,” the Redmond, Wash. company said.

Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s general counsel, said the social networking leader wants to provide “a complete picture of the government requests we receive, and how we respond.”

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Henry Sapiecha

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WORRIED THAT GOVERNMENTS CAN LISTEN IN ON YOUR CALLS & MONITOR YOUR INTERNET USE, THEN READ THIS.

How to shield your calls and internet activity from government surveillance

mobile phone people image www.ispysite

If you have followed the startling revelations about the scope of the US government’s surveillance efforts, you may have thought you were reading about the end of privacy. But even when faced with the most ubiquitous of modern surveillance, there are ways to keep your communications away from prying eyes.

A new frontier of sweeping secret surveillance is not a conspiracy theory but a burgeoning reality. 

First, instead of browsing the internet in a way that reveals your IP address, you can mask your identity by using an anonymising tool such as Tor or by connecting to the web using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN.

Additionally, you can avoid Google search by using an alternative such as Ixquick, which has solid privacy credentials and says it does not log any IP addresses or search terms or share information with third parties.

When it comes to sending emails, if you are using a commercial provider that has been linked to the PRISM spy initiative, you can throw a spanner in the NSA’s works by learning how to send and receive encrypted emails. PGP or its free cousin GPG are considered the standard for email security, and these can be used to both encrypt and decrypt messages – meaning you can thwart surveillance unless you are unlucky enough to have Trojan spyware installed on your computer.

Novice computer users learning how to use PGP or GPG may find it daunting at first, but there are plenty of tutorials online for both Mac and Windows users that can help guide you through the process. For journalists working with confidential sources, attorneys seeking to ensure attorney-client privilege, or others whose work requires secure communications, learning how to use PGP or GPG is an absolute necessity. Organisations seeking to protect themselves from email grabs could go one step further: they could take more control of their messages by setting up their own email server instead of relying on a third-party service, helping ensure no secret court orders can be filed to gain covert access to confidential files. And if you need to store private documents online, you can use Cloudfogger in conjunction with Dropbox.

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For instant messaging and online phone or video chats, you can avoid Microsoft and Google services such as Skype and G chat by adopting more secure alternatives. Jitsi can be used for peer-to-peer encrypted video calls, and for encrypted instant message chats you can try using an “off the record” plugin with Pidgin for Windows users or Adium for Mac. Like using PGP encryption, both Pidgin and Adium can take a little bit of work to set up – but there are tutorials to help ease the pain, such as this for setting up Adium and this tutorial for Pidgin.

As for phone calls, if you want to shield against eavesdropping or stop the NSA obtaining records of who you are calling and when, there are a few options. You could use an encryption app such as Silent Circle to make and receive encrypted calls and send encrypted texts and files, though your communications will be fully secure only if both parties to the call, text or file transfer are using the app. Other than Silent Circle, you could try RedPhone (Android and iOS) for making encrypted calls or TextSecure for sending encrypted texts.

A new frontier of sweeping secret surveillance is not a conspiracy theory but a burgeoning reality. But it is not an Orwellian dystopia – at least, not yet. Tools to circumvent government monitoring exist and are freely available. The onus is on us as individuals to learn how to use and adopt them.

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Henry Sapiecha
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