Self censorship.

  nsa self_censorship snowden surveillance

How many things have you started to write and stopped because you were afraid of who or what might read them? How many blog posts have you shelved, how many files have you deleted, how many pages have you burned because you feared what might happen if the wrong person or wrong thing spotted them and decided to make an example of you?

Have you ever wondered what the criteria might be under which a message in a chat room might trigger increased scrutiny, like mysterious malfunctions of your computer?

How many fears have you not expressed or opinions have …

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Turtles all the way down: Introduction

  computers hardware information_security news nsa software surveillance

The sum total of the Edward Snowden revelations have pretty conclusively proved one thing: That we can't trust anything. The communications networks wrapped around the globe like a blanket are surveilled so minutely that Russian President Vladimir Putin has openly stated his admiration for the US getting away with it so successfully. Much of the cryptographic infrastructure used to protect our communications and data at rest is known to be vulnerable to one or more practical attacks that, in the end they can't really be called effective if one wants to be honest. The company RSA has all but admitted …

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Our cyberpunk dystopia is shaping up nicely.

  communications crypto cyberpunk infosec nsa politics scandal surveillance

I find it increasingly difficult these days to shake the feeling that the cyberpunk dystopia our world is becoming is shaping up to be more and more like Shadowrun. Ever since 2012 (which turned out to be a slightly less tumultous year than Terrence McKenna had always preached) things have become more and more surreal and disturbing (in a David Cronenberg and not a David Lynch kind of way). The Snowden/NSA scandal continues to bring truly frightening information to light, and the first thing that comes to mind is that ECHO MIRAGE exists as a real thing which is …

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Dominant discourse.

  cryptography dialogue exploits information_security nsa

Since the NSA revelations began coming a couple of times a week for the past month, an all too common set of dialogues has been cropping up again and again and again in practically every forum that one would care to visit. While the discussion itself isn't perfectly replicated the overall pattern is. It goes something like this:


  • Brief description of vulnerability. Mitigating tactic.
  • Mention of a vulnerability elsewhere in the user's system.
  • Description of a slightly more esoteric vulnerability.
  • Use another system.
  • Encrypt everything.
  • Quantum computer.
  • Use Tor.
  • Tor can't protect against country-level surveillance.
  • NSA backdoor.
  • The NSA has …

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Spooks, dirty tricks, and creative linguistics.

  us 2005 big_brother demands fbi government grand_jury leaks nsa patriot_act phone_bills powers records risen subpoena wiretapping

It seems that the US federal government has been busy lately - a pair of news articles released last week show the lengths they're going to so that they can get their way while seeming to be on the up and up. As you'll recall, back in July of 2005 the city of London, England was rocked by a number of explosions which were placed by suicide bombers to maximally disrupt the public transportation system of the city. The British government probably asked the FBI to assist in the investigation (as suggested by a number of documents obtained through the Freedom …

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Is No Such Agency now the Network Security Agency?

  classified_directive cracking dhs hi_echelon infiltration infosec nsa odni pentagon us_government

Earlier this month, George W. Bush authorized a classified government directive that authorizes the National Security Agency to monitor the data networks of other US government agencies as well as monitoring the communications traffic of American citizens and foreign countries. The specifics can't be released due to the security classification but it is known that the US government is very concerned about its information security posture (no jokes, please) and their first remediation step involves understanding what's going on inside their networks. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is charged with coordinating efforts to track down the sources …

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It seems that the one book they read was 1984.

  airports big_brother books fisa monitoring nsa screeners surveillance telecommunications

George W. Bush, while at NSA headquarters yesterday, asked the US Congress to turn the NSA program that allows any and all communications to be monitored without a warrant into a law rather than letting the program expire in February of 2008. While this law does not give operatives carte blanche to break into a home and plant monitoring devices or copy data from computers (that's covered by another set of statutes entirely), it does mean that they can record and analyze telephone calls, e-mails, and other forms of communication without oversight or legal record. As to why he didn't …

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