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Category: NSA

There are 3 posts published under NSA.

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

1. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on NSA Leaks: “The Government Blew It”


Mark Zuckerberg offered his outraged opinion when questioned about his thoughts on the fact that government is asking internet companies for user information. He says that “the government blew it” when it came to finding the balance between maintaining the civil liberties of the people and national protection. He has taken and plans to take more steps towards increasing the transparency of government requests for data.


Facebook joined a lawsuit asking the Obama administration to “allow it to disclose more details of its forced cooperation.” In addition, Zuckerberg plans on visiting Republican lawmakers in Washington D.C. and discuss the privacy issues.


2. Court Decision Means Another Look At Google Street View Case


Google has, once again, been accused of breaching wiretapping laws with their Street View car excursions. The U.S. Appeals Court in San Francisco does not plan on dismissing the lawsuit against the company which states that the Street View cars were taking advantage of unencrypted networks to collect digital conversations.


Google argues that the “internet data it was collecting was broadcast over the airwaves and was not encrypted” and that “the communications were more like radio transmissions than phone calls.” Circuit Judge Bybee stated that, while it is common for people to take advantage of neighbors’ unencrypted, they don’t normally record and decrypt the data obtained. This lawsuit could cost Google billions.


3. Five Startups to Watch From Kaplan’s TechStars-Powered Ed Tech Accelerator Demo Day


Kaplan’s one time joint ed tech accelerator with TechStars decided to run their ed tech accelerator program again with strong results. It’s no wonder—analysts have said that “venture capital deal activity remains strong in ed tech.” Five of the most highly praised startups on demo day are: Degreed, Flinja, Newsela, Ranku, Verificient.


Degreed’s goal is to provide a means of “quantifying and credentialing learning.” Flinja offers college students small projects to do in an effort to break the catch 22 of needing experience for a job while needing a job for experience. Newsela works to improve student literacy by providing stories, each of which comes in several levels of difficulty. Students will be given a version of a story that matches their reading level and they can opt for more challenging version should they choose to do so. Ranku allows students to explore virtual degree programs that is able to provide a quality education at affordable prices. Verificient is an automated proctoring system that monitors keystrokes and facial expressions to keep virtual students honest whilst taking tests and whatnot.


4. Hanoi: 200 Students Off School Because of Hacker


An identified hacker broke into the security system of Ha Dinh primary school in Hanoi, Vietnam and sent messages to the parents of students. The first of the messages informed the parents of students that there would be unexpected work and that students would not need to attend on September 6th. A following message to the parents said that the school would be upgrading its facilities for improved education and asked for a contribution of VND1.2 million along with an extra VND200,000 per child. Luckily, the school caught wind of the messages soon after the second message was sent and followed up with a message clarifying the situation.


5. How the Internet of Things is Making Our Homes Smarter (And Easier to Hack)


With everything being connected together and to the internet, the world is becoming a more convenient place. However, this comes at a price: everything becomes accessible if someone tried hard enough.


John Matherly created a search engine named Shodan. It doesn’t function the same way other search engines like Google or Bing do—it searches for things that are connected to the internet. Additionally, it can tell how secure a device is. For example, it discovered a huge security flaw in a hydroelectric plant in France. What Matherly does with Shodan is to warn people of unsecure devices. In the end though, “it’s the customer’s responsibility to keep their own homes safe.”


6. Internet Entrepreneur Believed to be First 9/11 Casualty Remembered in New Book


No Better Time: The Brief, Remarkable Life of Danny Lewin, the Genius Who Transformed the Internet, a book written by Molly Knight Raskin details the first casualty of the September 11 attacks. He was stabbed on the first plane that hit the twin towers, leaving behind his wife and two children.


What makes him remarkable isn’t the fact that he’s the first casualty, but, instead, that he was one of the co-founders of a company known as Akamai. He and Tom Leighton, the other half of Akamai, worked on codes to speed up dial-up internet connections. This success brought in billions of dollars overnight. While they started strongly, the company hit a wall and was losing money quickly—it was September 10 when they had worked out how to cut costs.


Though he left use early, he left behind a legacy that strongly impacted the internet.


7. Microsoft’s Concept Videos From 2000 Were Spot-On. So Why Didn’t Ballmer Build Any of It?


Back in the days of minidisc players and 9 keyed phones, Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, had a vision; one where all devices within a household could be connected together. This idea came into existence before Apple, Google, or anyone else. What happened?


Essentially the company didn’t realize these aspirations due to disagreements on some aspects while other facets of the idea were before its time and, before long, the dot-com bubble burst. “Had the company executed on even a fraction of its vision, Microsoft wouldn’t be out looking for a new CEO,” stated a former Microsoft executive, Charles Fitzgerald.


Resilience - The Way To Survive A Cyber Attack

The claim that any Western, information technology dependent society could be brought down by a fifteen-minute cyber attack has recently provoked intense discussion.


In reality, a well-prepared cyber attack does not need to last for 15 minutes to succeed.  It takes only seconds to conduct an attack that could hit targets next door or on the other side of the world.


Society’s capability to withstand the attack determines whether or not it will lead to chaos - and in what time.  As a general rule, it takes a lot longer than 15 minutes for all consequences to manifest themselves and for Society to absorb and react to them. Re-establishing the equilibrium that existed before the attack may take years.


There is no such thing as absolute security; neither in the physical nor in the virtual world.  While technology could eliminate human error from the threat catalogue through automation, with it brings novel and constantly evolving threats.  Information technology vows to enhance situational awareness for security, yet carries unknown vulnerabilities with it.  Incomplete security is nothing new in itself, but the enmeshment of physical and virtual worlds creates new kinds of security opportunities and needs to address.


Today’s overall threat catalogue is versatile and in constant change.  As it includes both unemerged and just gradually appearing threats, it forces Society to plan and prepare for the unknown.  Preparing for the unknown can only take place through strengthened resilience. Resilience refers to the continuation of operations even when Society faces a severe disturbance in its security, the capability to recover from the shock quickly, and the ability to either remount the temporarily halted functions or re-engineer them.


Resilience is a multidimensional phenomenon. It affects Society at present, but will affect its future even more . Resilience is not only a headache for the decision-makers, but also a feature of states, organizations, corporations, and individuals.  Society’s overall resilience builds upon the capabilities of its parts to prevent and resist exceptions from the usual and adapt to them rapidly.


Resilience can be categorized as “infrastructure resilience,” “community resilience,” “business continuity” and “corporate resilience.” All of these are important for the survival of Society in a contemporary security environment. Resilience is not only physical - it is mental as well. Hence it also includes, for instance, the capability to make justifiable decisions and act upon them under distress. Tolerance for crisis should be seen as a function vital to society.


Western societies are used to a prevailing state of peace and have managed to construct well-functioning societal operations based on the utilisation of technology.  As a drawback to this state, however, they have lost some important survival capabilities.  Their mental ability to deal with distress is especially declining because of the lulling belief that nothing can go too wrong. This belief can lead to a situation in which the physical features of Society recover from an attack relatively quickly, but poor mental tolerance keeps it from re-balancing itself for years or decades.


Developing and maintaining resilience is a central demand presented by contemporary security thinking. Its importance will only heighten in the future as the world becomes more interconnected, threats become more complex and cooperation becomes a necessity to address complicated security questions. Resilience enables both efficient operating in times of distress and smooth societal functioning. The intertwinedness of physical and virtual worlds requires that preparation, acting, and learning take place in the intermingled reality .  This enables the utilisation of opportunities information technology and cyberspace create without exposing oneself to unnecessary risk.


Even the virtual world breaks sometimes. But minor disturbances, like temporal interruptions in communications networks or defunct ATMs, are only beneficial because we tend to trust the operability of bytes too much. If bytes do not function, we become helpless.


Temporal cyber disturbances and shocks will always happen. This could save us, because they keep us alert. Our future depends upon our resilience and our resilience depends on Society’s ability to protect itself from cyber attacks.


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”.