Posting’s been slow of late, mostly because we’re into the eighth day of a nast respiratory bug.
But let’s get right to it, starting with this headline from Digital Trends:
NSA can gain complete access to iPhones, but Apple denies it helped install spyware
The National Security Agency can intercept the world’s Internet communications, tap Google’s and Yahoo’s corporate networks, collect revealing data on every phone call in America, and covertly divert new PC shipments to install monitoring software. And now, as newly revealed NSA documents show, we know it can take complete control over virtually anyone’s Apple iPhone.
Apple, for its part, says it knew nothing about the iPhone exploit, and has vowed to protect customers from any “malicious hackers.”
First revealed by security researcher Jacob Appelbaum and Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, the NSA installs a piece of spyware called DROPOUTJEEP, which enables the agency to intercept SMS text messages; snag voicemail, geolocation data, cell tower location, and contact lists; capture conversations over the iPhone’s microphone; and snap pictures via the camera.
More from The Guardian:
Top secret program to target iPhones: Australian agencies may have known
- Apple denies knowledge of the tool, saying it ‘has never worked with the NSA to create a back door in any of our products’
Australian intelligence agencies may have had knowledge of a top secret US National Security Agency program for targeting iPhones, according to newly-released documents.
The Guardian debunks:
President Obama claims the NSA has never abused its authority. That’s false
The facts that we know so far – from Fisa court documents to LOVEINT – show that the NSA has overstepped its powers
Digital Trends ironizes:
TURBOPANDA, RAGEMASTER, and 13 other NSA codenames that prove spies laugh, too
The National Security Agency gets a lot of flack for, you know, violating the entire world’s right to privacy and whatnot. But after seeing the codenames the NSA gives its spyware and other snooping tech, we’re starting to wonder if we’re thinking of these guys all wrong. They’re not clandestine cyberspies who seek to infiltrate every nook and cranny of the digital world – they’re just misunderstood comedians! Seriously, whoever thought “BANANAGLEE” was a good name for anything this side of a Lemon Party has a fantastic sense of humor.
Computerworld havests the Blue Screen of Death:
Unencrypted Windows crash reports give ‘significant advantage’ to hackers, spies
- Microsoft transmits a wealth of information from Windows PCs to its servers in the clear, claims security researcher
Windows’ error- and crash-reporting system sends a wealth of data unencrypted and in the clear, information that eavesdropping hackers or state security agencies can use to refine and pinpoint their attacks, a researcher said today.
Not coincidentally, over the weekend the popular German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) collects Windows crash reports from its global wiretaps to sniff out details of targeted PCs, including the installed software and operating systems, down to the version numbers and whether the programs or OSes have been patched; application and operating system crashes that signal vulnerabilities that could be exploited with malware; and even the devices and peripherals that have been plugged into the computers.
From Wired, another gotcha:
Court Upholds Willy-Nilly Gadget Searches Along U.S. Border
A federal judge today upheld a President Barack Obama administration policy allowing authorities along the U.S. border to seize and search laptops, smartphones and other electronic devices for any reason.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in New York comes as laptops, and now smartphones, have become virtual extensions of ourselves, housing everything from email to instant-message chats to our papers and effects.
Reuters seeks enlightenment:
ACLU sues for details of U.S. surveillance under executive order
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Monday, seeking to force the U.S. government to disclose details of its foreign electronic surveillance program and what protections it provides to Americans whose communications are swept up.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, came three days after the ACLU lost a bid to block a separate program that collects the phone calls of millions of Americans.
The Verge has a body count:
Covert US targeted killings took 253 lives in 2013, report estimates
The Council on Foreign Relations has released its estimates on the year’s covert targeted killings in Yemen and Pakistan, carried out primarily by drones. The numbers are based on reports from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, The Long War Journal, and The New America Foundation. Each source provides slightly different numbers, but the Long War Journal figures estimate a total of 54 strikes and 253 casualties, of whom 31 were civilians. The Council estimates a total of 3,520 casualties since the drone strike program began in 2004, of whom 457 have been civilians.
The numbers are only estimates, as data on civilian casualties is notoriously unreliable, but CFR is straightforward about its goals in releasing the report. “The current trajectory of US drone strike policies is unsustainable,” author Micah Zenko wrote in his initial report last year, to which these new numbers are an update. “Without reform from within, drones risk becoming an unregulated, unaccountable vehicle for states to deploy lethal force with impunity.”
USA TODAY has just the job for you:
Looking for a college major? How about drone technology
The controversial use of drones in business and everyday life is leading to more and more interest on an academic level
And from Deutsche Welle, another educational opportunity:
Master in Cyber Spying — Britain’s University for Secret Agents
If James Bond were to hit the books again, he’d likely attend the University of Buckingham in South East England. The private institution offers a Master’s degree in Security and Intelligence Studies. Cyber espionage is also part of the curriculum.
People come from around the world to study at the university’s Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies. Graduates hope to work in counter-terrorism or help businesses ward off cyber-attacks.
Vladimir Putin vows vengeance after Volgograd bus bombing
- Police sweeps lead to detention of dozens in southern Russian city
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday vowed to annihilate “terrorists” following two deadly bomb attacks in less than 24 hours in the southern city of Volgograd that raised security fears ahead of the Winter Olympics.
The uncompromising remarks in a New Year’s Eve address were Putin’s first public comments since suicide bombers killed at least 34 people in attacks on a railway station and a trolleybus on Sunday and Monday.
The bombings raised fears of further attacks before Russia hosts the Winter Olympics in less than six weeks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, a major prestige project for Putin.
Off to Asia, where crises are the order of the day, first with a very troubling headline from Want China Times:
Japan has enough plutonium to build 1,000 nuclear bombs: report
The real reason why Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, refuses to abandon nuclear power is because he wants to develop a nuclear weapons program, claims the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po, citing Koide Hiroaki, an assistant professor at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute.
There have been strong calls for Tokyo to reconsider its position on nuclear energy after the Fukushima nuclear incident in March 2011, when the Fukushima Daiichi plant north of Tokyo was hit by an earthquake and tsunami, triggering the world’s worst nuclear incident since Chernobyl.
Despite the risks, Hiroaki said that Tokyo is determined to develop a nuclear bomb. As Japan is not allowed to legally import weapons-grade plutonium, he says it is able to extract the plutonium it needs from the nuclear waste from the country’s power plants.
After the jump, the latest stunningly aggressive moves by the administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, North Krean nightmares, American electoral insecurity, and the reinicarnation of Pepper Spraying Cop. . . Continue reading