Two Overlooked Aspects Of Those Leaks About NSA Spying On French Presidents

US Intelligence Community Seal

US Intelligence Community Seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

from the reasons-to-be-cheerful dept

There’s been quite a lot of excitement in the press about the latest leaks that the NSA has been spying on not just one French President, but (at least) three of them. As Mike pointed out, this isn’t such a big deal, because it is precisely the kind of thing that you would expect the NSA to do — as opposed to spying on the entire US public, which isn’t. There is, though, an aspect that most people have overlooked: the fact that these NSA leaks don’t appear to originate from Snowden’s stash.

Of course, Mr Crypto himself, Bruce Schneier, did spot it, and pointed out it could be one of his “other” US intelligence community leakers, listed a couple of months ago, or even a completely new one. As that post shows, there are now a few people around that are leaking secret documents, and that’s a pretty significant trend, since you might expect enhanced security measures taken in the wake of Snowden’s leaks would have discouraged or caught anyone who attempted to follow suit. Continue reading

Big Brother is watching EU

U.S. Embassy at focus of NSA Germany Spy scandal. Getty

As the US moves towards privacy reform, Europe enacts sweeping new spying powers.

A strange — and strangely unnoticed — trend is emerging in the evolving global response to massive 2013 leaks about US surveillance activities. While our European cousins talk privacy reform, the United States is actually moving ahead with it, albeit more slowly than many would like. As the American side of the Atlantic inches toward self-restraint, many European governments are seeking sweeping new spying powers. Europe is at risk of falling behind the US in privacy reform. 

Following two post-Snowden reviews of US surveillance activities, the United States announced new limitations to its electronic surveillance activities, including additional privacy protections for Europeans and other non-US citizens, which few European countries currently afford Americans. Much-criticized US surveillance activities, including the bulk telephone metadata program, are set to expire in days unless Congress intervenes. Meanwhile, the bipartisan Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Overseas (LEADS) Act and similar draft laws are moving through Congress and garnering broad support from technology companies, business organizations, and privacy and civil liberties advocacy groups. Continue reading

Isis Propaganda War on the Front Line of Cyberspace

  • By Jarno Limnell  September 15, 2014 09:26 BST

When the White House finally invoked the word “war” on 12 September to describe the new US-led campaign against Isis in Iraq and Syria, the already ominous parallels between 1914 and 2014 grew more resonant still, with the 21st-century wrinkle of cyber conflict adding a particularly destabilizing factor to today’s situation.

Pockmarked by crises – Boko Haram, Gaza, Ukraine and MH17, Ebola, Isis – the unquiet summer just concluded seemed all along to be leading up to something.

In 1914 it took about six weeks after the June assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand for war to erupt between Germany and Austria, the Dual Alliance, and Britain, France, and Russia.

In 2014, similarly, it was only weeks after Isis militants drove hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from their homes in Mosul and Tikrit, and isolated the minority Yasidis on Mount Sinjar, that President Obama announced “we will degrade and ultimately destroy” Isis.[1] (The Isis beheading videos, starting with James Foley’s execution posted on the Internet on 19 August, were a political accelerant.)

The danger of another World War I, a violent continent-wide contest for territory and regional influence that leaves mass casualties and redraws maps, is low. Isis will not soon steam into New York Harbor, guns blazing. But, beyond the narrow and classically kinetic “war on Isis” newly defined by the Obama administration, there is a fierce below-radar war in cyberspace for economic and political influence, involving numerous players.

Isis flag

The black flag has become heavily associated with the Isis group(Getty)

With terrible brilliance, Isis, for one, both commits cyber crime and floats cyber propaganda. It boasts both a “backroom” criminal operation, which raises funds, and a front-of-house “daylight” operation devoted to image building.

Continue reading

State Department combats Islamic State recruitment via social media

Islamic StateU.S. Department of StateTerrorism
State Department relies upon YouTube, Twitter campaigns to combat Islamic State recruitment
An uptick in English-language terrorism propaganda leads State Department to new social media strategies

The U.S. State Department continues to ratchet up anti-terrorism efforts for an English-speaking audience, with its latest YouTube video satirizing recruitment efforts for the Islamic State. Continue reading

Cyberspace in the Service of ISIS

Flag of islamic state of iraq

Flag of islamic state of iraq (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

By INSS Gabi Siboni  September 4, 2014

 

While not much is known about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, otherwise known as the Islamic State), because it has no centralized control, and its size and command structure, along with the identity of its leaders, are unclear,  it is already obvious we are only at the beginning of a new fierce war in cyberspace. Indeed, while embodying the evil spirit of fanaticism, the organization’s activity demonstrates the duality between what appears to be primitivism and 21st century cyber warfare. In turn, in a step that aroused much criticism, organizations affiliated with Anonymous announced late last week a full scale cyber war against the Islamic State (Operation Ice ISIS), intended to attack ISIS supporters using social media for propaganda purposes. Continue reading

Found: The Islamic State’s Terror Laptop of Doom

Exclusive

Buried in a Dell computer captured in Syria are lessons for making bubonic plague bombs and missives on using weapons of mass destruction.

BY Harald Doornbos , Jenan Mous  AUGUST 28, 2014

ANTAKYA, Turkey — Abu Ali, a commander of a moderate Syrian rebel group in northern Syria, proudly shows a black laptop partly covered in dust. “We took it this year from an ISIS hideout,” he says.

Abu Ali says the fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which have since rebranded themselves as the Islamic State, all fled before he and his men attacked the building. The attack occurred in January in a village in the Syrian province of Idlib, close to the border with Turkey, as part of a larger anti-ISIS offensive occurring at the time. “We found the laptop and the power cord in a room,” he continued, “I took it with me. But I have no clue if it still works or if it contains anything interesting.”

As we switched on the Dell laptop, it indeed still worked. Nor was it password-protected. But then came a huge disappointment: After we clicked on “My Computer,” all the drives appeared empty.

Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Upon closer inspection, the ISIS laptop wasn’t empty at all: Buried in the “hidden files” section of the computer were 146 gigabytes of material, containing a total of 35,347 files in 2,367 folders. Abu Ali allowed us to copy all these files — which included documents in French, English, and Arabic — onto an external hard drive.

A screenshot of material found on the computer. The files appear to be videos of speeches by jihadist clerics. (Click to enlarge.)

The laptop’s contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations — and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State’s deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another. Continue reading

Who Leads? Avoiding the Balkanization of Cyberspace

3 July 2014

Cyber security, courtesy of UK Ministry of Defence/flickr
Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic

With the control of electronic information becoming part of the geopolitical high ground, is the ‘Balkanization’ of cyberspace possible? Chris Bronk thinks so. Its primary stakeholders, after all, have failed to provide the broader, beyond-infrastructure leadership that’s needed on this issue.

By Christopher Bronk for ISN

Although unfolding crises in Iraq and Ukraine might persuade us otherwise, the world remains a reasonably safe and secure place for many, if not most of its inhabitants. A century ago, Europe was about to embark on a horrific conflict, one difficult to imagine for the globalization advocates of the time. Things were just too interconnected and interdependent, they thought, to make war fathomable. Nonetheless, war happened. This historical example must be borne in mind in contemporary discussions about the security of cyberspace. Continue reading