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Category: Edward Snowden

There are 2 posts published under Edward Snowden.

Top Startup and Tech News Today-7 Things You Missed Today

1. US and UK spy agencies defeat privacy and security on the internet


US and UK intelligence agencies have successfully cracked most of the online encryption people used to protect the privacy of their personal data according to a top-secret document revealed by Edward Snowden. The files show that the NSA and the GCHQ (the UK counterpart to the NSA) have broadly compromised and stretched the guarantees that internet companies tell their customers. Communication, online banking, and medical records are not as indecipherable to governments as consumers are being told.


The agencies, the document says, have launched an ongoing and systematic assault on what is viewed as one of their biggest threats to their ability to access huge amounts of internet traffic – “the use of ubiquitous encryption across the internet.” One method used by these agencies include using supercomputers to break through encryption with what is called “brute force” and collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers. Through these partnerships, agencies have managed to insert “backdoors” into commercial encryption software.


The agencies insist that this is all necessary to their mission of fighting terrorism and foreign intelligence gathering. But security experts accuse them of simply attacking the internet and endangering the privacy of all internet users. “By deliberately undermining online security in a short-sighted effort to eavesdrop,” Bruce Schneier, an encryption specialist says, “the NSA is undermining the very fabric of the internet.”


2. The Lessons Every Entrepreneur Must Learn: The Wisdom Of Tony Hsieh, Blake Mycoskie And Many Others


1. Experience wins out over graduate school.

2. Keep a strong network.

3. Think “outside the box” – this will always win out.

4. Keep your venture philanthropic – do good, feel good, and you’ll see good results.

5. Use more than one discipline when approaching a new market.

6. Time, knowledge, and effort are just as important measured of currency as money.

7. Use capitalism as a force for good by incorporating the act of giving into your everyday life.

8. Low-risk, high-reward opportunities are aplenty. Today a company can be started for a minimal price and education can be gained through your fingertips. Exploit this.

9. When are young, you start at zero. So you can’t fail. Don’t take the safe choice.

10. Embrace the idea that you may have more than one career and they may not be in the same fields.

11. Risk assessment and risk management are important to have throughout your life.

12. Follow your passion – you’ll never find a successful person who isn’t passionate about what they do.

13. Don’t be afraid to disrupt. This is where innovation comes from.


3. Hackers for Hire, Just in It for the Cash


From Anonymous to the Syrian Electronic Army, it seems as through high-profile hackers and their adventures and exploits of the internet are constantly making the news. Some are driven by political ideals and revenge; some are driven by nothing more than boredom. But we see these two ends of the spectrum so often and so frequently that we forget about the most powerful motivator of all: money.


Last week, 24-year old Andrew James Miller pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and two counts of computer intrusion. From the years of 2008 to 2011, Miller allegedly hacker into “various commercial, education, and government computer networks” in order to steal information and install “backdoors” that would allow him to sell access to these networks later. He was caught for trying to sell secret access to two US government supercomputers for $50,000 to an undercover FBI agent. Miller also sold the FBI access to the Domino’s Pizza Chain domain for a price of $1,000.


Miller is a prime example of the other type of computer hacker – not the one who has a political goal or is simply looking for something to do, but one that hacks for hire. Not everyone wants to bring down a government; most clients simply want access to someone’s Facebook or email account.


Go ahead and Google “hacker for hire” and see a wide array of price quotes and services. Hackers for hire is a new trend, a new occupation, and one that looks like it is going to last.


4. Hackers find weaknesses in car computer systems


There are now cars that can park and drive by themselves. As cars become more automated and more advanced, they become more and more like PCs on wheels – so, if a hacker can take over a PC easily, who’s to say he can’t take over a car?


Recent demonstrations have shown that hackers can slam a car’s brakes at freeway speeds, jerk the steering wheel, and shut down the engine all from their laptop computer. All cars and trucks are roughly 20-70% computer. This computer runs through an internal network that controls everything from the brakes to the acceleration to the windows; this network is one that many hackers have gained access to. To be fair, these “hackers” were computer security experts, and it took them months to hack into the acr. But, experts say that high-tech hijackings get easier as automakers add more computer-controlled devices. “The more technology they add to the vehicle, the more opportunities there are for that to be abused for nefarious purposes,” says rich Mogull, CEO of Securosis, a security research firm.


Chris Valasek, a hacker and director of intelligence and a computer security consulting firm, says that he could control “steering, braking, acceleration to a certain extent, seat belts, lights, horn, speedometer, gas gauge.” The information that he and his partner Miller found when hacking into the car was released publicly at a hacker convention. They choose to do this in hopes of drawing attention to the problem; however, they say that the automakers haven’t added security to the ports or addressed any of the issues they found.


Whether or not “car hackers” is a legitimate security threat is a question that is subjective and open to interpretation. What is not, however, is the fact that people can gain access to your cars through the technology installed within it – the threat is real, and it is more than likely simply going to increase as time passes.


5. The four stages of life every successful startup must go through


Stage One: Winning your first ten customers. So how do you go about getting them? Som companies like Dropbox use virality. But most achieve product/market fit and generate word of mouth referrals by creating lasting customer experiences. It’s important for early-stage startups to stay close to their customers and beta-testers.

Stage Two: Overcoming the Gap. There are often discrepancies between what early adopters expert from a product and what the market needs; this is the biggest reason behind startup “infanticide.” Many startups forget to create ways for users to provide feedback into their products. Make sure you have this, and make sure you listen.

Step Three: Listening and Responding. Passionate users will direct customers to an online community where the organization actually talks and engages with them. Create discussions and inspire early users.

Step Four: Build Trust. Your users need to trust you. Be responsive with them, elicit their feedback, and communicate with your earliest and most enthusiastic users. Constantly wow customers through their experience with you.


6. Life’s a pitch: The other reasons startups do competitions


Competitions and pitches are tiring. So why do startups choose to do them? The only pitch that should matter is the one before an investor or a customer, right?




Pitching at competitions is a great test for ideas, says Mark Briggs, creator of Fork, a mobile app that lets people take and share photos of their home-made food. It makes sure that the pitcher has a clear and concise vision and concept that they’re able to explain and share with others. It’s not so much about the competition itself as it is the process getting there, he continues. “ Also, you usually get great feedback from smart people on your idea. Or, at least, your ability to pitch that idea. That can be super helpful, too.”


7. Stanford Investing in Student Startups


Stanford is jumping headfirst into the venture capital world by investing in student and alumni tech startups. It’s starting an uncapped investment fund and giving a $3.6 million grant to StartX, a non-profit startup accelerator for companies with a Stanford affiliation. The university’s business affairs department will oversee the investments.

StartX only invest in companies that have raised half a million in funding and a percentage of that must come from VCs or professional investors.



The Truth About Edward Snowden and the NSA

Behind the walls of Fort Meade, powerful technologies lurk - technology awesome in its power but which can become terrifying if turned against you.


Remember the scene from Batman where he has an entire city’s cellphones monitored? Well, the NSA can do much more than that. Edward Snowden, the 29-year old hacker who is waiting in Moscow for his political asylum to Ecuador, is responsible for “leaking” the fact that NSA has been using that power. And while we are fine with the government using that power where legal applicability is proven, all of us are aghast at the extent to which that power is being [mis]used - this is the true revelation made by Snowden.


We, the Public, knew that the NSA was reading mails and listening in to calls. But we all assumed we were somehow exempt from that surveillance. And nobody suspected that their “like” on a friend’s photo on Facebook would be handed over as server logs to the government’s top secret spy agency.


Everything you do online is logged on a server somewhere. It’s worthwhile to keep that in mind while using the internet. And its only a matter of time before someone [with access] can figure out what you were doing, when, from where and for how long.


I do not blame the NSA. I don’t think they should be reading people’s emails and listening to people’s phone calls. But hey! they are a spy agency. That is what spies do! They spy on people. Edward Snowden was remarkably clever and more importantly- moral and responsible - when he released the documents that the government was so keen to hide from us. Its funny how we constantly see signs that say : “this area is under surveillance”. Maybe its time for us to hang one of those signs inside our homes.


Snowden was adamant that the release should not be used as media fodder- something that most glory hounds desire. He was also careful not to release anything that would endanger his country or the agency he worked for. Remarkable traits in a man accused of espionage-don’t you think?


When the white house petition to pardon Edward Snowden reached 100,000 signatures, the news made it to the top of Hacker News and stayed there for a long time. People know that Snowden is innocent. And that’s important. Edward Snowden has educated people around the world. People are now talking about the Internet and the PRISM project and are more careful with what they do online. In fact, the search traffic to - a search engine that does not track its users like Google does -  experienced double the traffic a week after the PRISM revelations.


People now know that their communication is not secure. That the online anonymity that they thought existed, doesn’t. As individuals there isn’t anything we can do about it other than be more careful. Its amusing to hear the people with authority say,”If you have nothing to hide, you should not be so concerned.” They refuse to acknowledge the fact that just because a person has nothing to hide, that doesn’t mean you should stalk her. Nobody wants to be monitored all of the time.


Snowden did not betray his government. If he had wanted to betray the government,, he could have perpetrated horrors with the information that he had access to  by selling it to foreign governments. Instead, he chose to disclose the information - only just enough information necessary and no more- to a newspaper. He believed that people should know if they are being watched without a warrant. That is a sensible and ethical belief to have.


Its a tragedy that Snowden, a privacy activist, is right now stranded in a foreign country waiting for asylum while his home labels him a traitor. Let’s hope the Obama administration considers the petition that was signed and pardons Snowden.

Edit: Edward Snowden is still being sought by the US government. He remained in the airport’s transit zone for over a month while his asylum request was being considered. He has been given temporary asylum in Russia which will enable him to stay there for a year. Snowden’s lawyer told the media that Snowden has left for a “safe place”.