Apple’s Encryption Will Slow, Not Stop, Cops And Spies

Apple’s Encryption Will Slow, Not Stop, Cops And Spies



While the newest Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc. (GOOGL) smartphones will automatically encrypt data stored on them, that won’t keep U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies from obtaining evidence linked to the devices. Read More….

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Hacking scandal celebrities were ‘dumb’ to keep naked selfies on their computers and phones, says EU digital commissioner

Hacking scandal celebrities were ‘dumb’ to keep naked selfies on their computers and phones, says EU digital commissioner



The European Union’s new digital head has accused celebrities whose naked photos have been leaked online of being ‘dumb’ for having taken them in the first place. Images of more than 80 stars including Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, singer Rihanna […]

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Hacking scandal celebrities were ‘dumb’ to keep naked selfies on their computers and phones, says EU digital commissioner

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The European Union’s new digital head has accused celebrities whose naked photos have been leaked online of being ‘dumb’ for having taken them in the first place.

Images of more than 80 stars including Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, singer Rihanna and reality queen Kim Kardashian were stolen and posted online a month ago by mystery hackers.

The images, which were taken on the stars’ mobile phones, appear to have been obtained by accessing private accounts on the ‘cloud’.

Gunther Oettinger, who will become the European Commissioner for digital economy and society next month, today refused to apologise after saying that what had occurred was the fault of celebrities for having nude photos.

‘Stupidity is something you can only partly save people from,’ he told MEPs at a meeting on Monday.

The German politician said: ‘The fact that recently there have been an increasing number of public lamentations about nude photos of celebrities who took selfies – I just can’t believe it.

Gunther Oettinger, who will become the European Commissioner for digital economy and society next month, refused to apologise for saying that the leaked images were the fault of celebrities like Rihanna

‘If someone is dumb enough as a celebrity to take a nude photo of themselves and put it online, they surely can’t expect us to protect them.’

When asked to clarify his comments, Mr Oettinger told the BBC: ‘Everybody has a right to privacy.

‘The EU Commission wants to make cloud computing safer.’

Asked if he would like to apologise for his comments, his spokeswoman said: ‘No.’

Appalled critics said that while the images were technically online, they were in fact kept private.

The images were stolen from private cloud accounts belonging to the celebrities.

A German MEP, Julia Reda from the Pirate Party, said of Mr Oettinger’s comments: ‘The statement is unbelievable.

‘The person applying to be in charge of shoring up trust in the internet so that Europeans do more business online just blamed people whose personal data was accessed and spread without authorisation.

‘He placed the moral blame for that crime squarely on the victims rather than the perpetrators.’

She added: ‘By making a mockery of what he should recognise as a serious problem and by doing it in this aloof and insulting tone, Günther Oettinger is seriously calling into question whether he is qualified for the job of shaping our digital society for the next five years.’

The German magazine joined the attack on the commissioner, saying the comments demonstrated that he had ‘no clue about current events and issues at the core of his new resort’.

Meanwhile, Google is being threatened with a £60million lawsuit from female celebrities for allegedly profiting from the biggest nude photo-hacking scandal in history.

The search giant has been accused of failing to remove the private images and ‘making millions from the victimization of women’, according to a legal letter obtained by the New York Post.

Top Hollywood lawyer Marty Singer, said to be representing 12 of the women whose privacy was invaded, has now reportedly written to Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin as well as executive chairman Eric Schmidt accusing them of ‘blatantly unethical behaviour’.

He claims Google has failed ‘to act expeditiously and responsibly to remove the images, but in knowingly accommodating, facilitating, and perpetuating the unlawful conduct. Google is making millions and profiting from the victimization of women’.

Mr Singer claimed his law firm, Lavely & Singer, first sent notice to Google a month ago demanding the images were removed but many remain on sites like YouTube and BlogSpot.

Two topless pictures of Rihanna and as many as 50 nude snaps of Johnny Depp’s fiancé Amber Heard were reportedly among those leaked online.

Naked photos of Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Kate Bosworth and soccer star Hope Solo were also among those hacked last month.

Speaking recently on ITV’s This Morning, actress Cameron Diaz – who was not hacked – was convinced the perpetrators would be punished.

‘Whoever has done it, they will be caught and made examples of,’ she said.

‘This can happen to anyone. If these guys can do it to this group of people then everyone’s vulnerable to it.

‘I think that people really need to look at… how would they feel if it happened to them?’

Digging Deeper Into NSA Spying Uncovers Unexpected Link to Reagan Administration

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If Americans want to understand how their government justifies sweeping intelligence-gathering measures, they need to familiarize themselves with a little-known executive order from the Reagan era:

It’s being dubbed the real source of power behind the government’s dragnet surveillance—not any of the post-9/11 legislation that responded to modern terror threats, such as parts of the Patriot Act or the FISA Amendments Act that created secret courts to handle terror surveillance authorization. The order dates to 1981 and may be used as justification to conduct surveillance in the United States, according to documents released by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The documents make it clearer than ever that the government’s vast surveillance apparatus is collecting information—including from Americans—about much more than just terrorist threats,” wrote Alex Abdo, an ACLU attorney.

Unlike activities authorized by the Patriot Act and other laws that have been part of the public debate about government spying, the programs operating under the order have virtually no oversight from Congress or the courts—not even secret courts.

“Given its scope, it deserves a lot more attention than it’s gotten,” said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. One of the “irksome” things about collecting information under this order, Nojeim said, is a “willful blindness to the fact that the techniques being used are going to vacuum up a lot of Americans’ communication.”

Some of the most shocking tactics of government spying revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were authorized by this executive order, according to the ACL. Instances include NSA’s interception of Web traffic traveling through fiber-optic cables to Google’s and Yahoo’s foreign data centers and a cell-phone-location tracking program.

Given how the government relies on this order to conduct controversial surveillance programs, the ACLU argues that it deserves more public scrutiny. To what extent it can be reined in, though, is not an easy question to answer.

“It’s not a law,” Nojeim said. “The only thing that Congress can really do is pass a law that would require the executive branch to amend it.”

The Obama administration has already taken steps to curb the use of domestic surveillance, including information gathered under E.O. 12333. The presidential directive Obama issued in January prohibits the use of bulk data acquired under programs authorized by this order unless it is for the purposes of detecting and countering specific security threats such as espionage.

Nojeim finds that encouraging but urges the Obama administration to do more to stop the indiscriminate gathering of data.

One such opportunity will be at the start of 2015, when the intelligence community must provide the president with a report assessing the feasibility of creating software that would enable more targeted information acquisition rather than bulk collection.

Not only is targeting security threats a way to better avoid infringing on privacy, Nojeim notes, but it’s also a practical necessity.

“There is an ocean of data, and it’s growing,” he said. “The answer can’t always be build a bigger data center, but that’s been the answer so far.”

Apple’s Encryption Will Slow, Not Stop, Cops And Spies

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While the newest Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc. (GOOGL) smartphones will automatically encrypt data stored on them, that won’t keep U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies from obtaining evidence linked to the devices.

Marketing by the two companies in which they pledge to shield photos, documents, contact lists and other data from the prying eyes of government or hackers won plaudits from privacy advocates. It also drew condemnation from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director James Comey and local police officials who say it will make it harder to investigate crimes ranging from child abuse to drug trafficking and terrorism.

Those assertions “are wildly exaggerated” because police can still obtain evidence through traditional court warrants while revelations about government spying show the National Security Agency can break or bypass encryption for terrorism investigations, said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional-law professor at The George Washington University Law School.

“Citizens should not assume that these encryption devices will necessarily prevent government from intercepting communications,” Turley said in a phone interview. “If history is any guide, the government will find a way to penetrate these devices.”

The issue has renewed tension between law enforcement and intelligence agencies and technology companies trying to stand up for the privacy rights of their users. Apple, Google and other companies have been trying to restore their reputations after revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that they cooperated with government spying programs in the past.

Automatic Scramble

The companies announced in recent weeks that their new phones will automatically scramble data so that a digital key kept by the owner is needed to unlock it, making it harder for detectives to examine the content of suspects’ phones without their knowledge or cooperation. Previously, such encryption was an option that required users to endure a time-consuming process to activate.

“This is going to have a very big impact on law enforcement,” said Stewart Baker, a former general counsel for the NSA and now a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington. “There will be crimes that people get away with because this information is not available.”

However, many traditional investigative methods will still work, he said.

Wiretaps, Records

“Wiretaps would still work. You can also get call-details records,” he said. “That’s available from the phone companies and it’s not affected by this decision.”

Much of the data sent from or to the devices can still be captured and investigators can hack software to collect evidence. That means there will likely be little change in the way text messages, e-mails, phone calls, location coordinates and other data are mined for terrorist communications and other threats.

Data stored in so-called cloud services, including photos such as the ones stolen from Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities, would still be vulnerable to hackers.

The encryption feature offers users some confidence and is a selling point for the companies.

“There’s a little bit of PR, there’s a little bit of competitive pressure, and there’s a little bit of honest effort to improve the security of the Internet as a whole,” said Jon Oberheide, co-founder and chief technology officer of Duo Security. The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company provides computer security.

Cloud Services

Companies can be forced to turn over information stored in cloud services, Baker said. And governments with powerful spying tools such as the U.S. and China can bypass encryption on mobile phones by hacking into suspects’ devices. Right now, a committee of U.S. judges is weighing a proposal that would give federal agents greater leeway to secretly access suspected criminals’ computers in bunches not simply one at a time.

While the improved security of their smartphones is a challenge for law enforcement, the moves can help protect the privacy rights of users who haven’t broken any laws, Turley said.

“Civil libertarians have long called for privacy speed bumps or barriers for the government,” he said in a phone interview.

The NSA is “concerned about the proliferation of any technology that might allow international terrorists or other foreign intelligence targets to evade lawfully authorized surveillance,” said agency spokeswoman Vanee Vines.

“As a general rule, NSA does not comment on specific, alleged foreign intelligence capabilities,” she said.

Combination Locks

A Google spokeswoman, Niki Christoff, said “People previously used safes and combination locks to keep their information secure — now they use encryption.”

“It’s why we have worked hard to provide this added security for our users,” she said in an e-mail.

Apple spokesman Colin Johnson declined to comment on the impact of their encryption measures beyond pointing out a public statement by Apple CEO Tim Cook on the company’s website.

“We have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services,” Cook wrote. “We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.”

Yahoo Data

The scope and force of secret government requests for data was highlighted last month when newly released documents showed Yahoo! Inc. might have had to pay millions of dollars a day in fines if it kept refusing to comply with U.S. requests for its users’ Internet data. Yahoo complied on May 12, 2008, giving in to the NSA’s Prism electronic surveillance program that had operated without public knowledge until Snowden exposed it. The company then went to court to win the right to release details of its fight against the order.

Apple, which has in the past cooperated with court orders and extracted data from phones for law enforcement or provided data from its systems, described its new measures in a statement on its website on Sept. 17.

“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” the policy says. Apple is based in Cupertino, California.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, earlier in September said that it was making its encryption feature automatic after offering it as an option for more than three years. Google also said it cannot access users’ passcodes or decrypt encrypted devices.

The more aggressive focus on security has also put a spotlight on the ability of technology companies themselves to access users’ data. One tool in particular, little-known outside of the security community, is known as a kill switch.

Kill Switch

Built into mobile operating systems, kill switches give companies such as Apple and Google the ability to reach into users’ devices remotely to delete malicious software and access content stored on them. Designed as a security feature, it’s also a potential avenue for spying and it’s not clear whether new encryption measures will close the door on it.

In 2010, Duo Security’s Oberheide became one of the first people to goad Google into using its kill switch, successfully baiting it to delete his test app from 200 Android phones.

Overall, new data encryption measures represent important steps in raising consumer awareness about security and make mass surveillance harder, he said.

“If the NSA is coming after you, they will get you either way,” Oberheide said. “But at least it will help prevent the inadvertent collection of information, which is where a lot of the outrage comes from about the NSA.”

Authorities Think About Telling You If You’re Watchlisted from Warrantless Spying

Authorities Think About Telling You If You’re Watchlisted from Warrantless Spying



The Obama Administration might have to start letting people know when they’ve been flagged for terrorist connections based on information picked up from secret NSA spying programs. That could potentially affect the tens of thousands of individuals on the government’s […]

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Mobile Technology Vendors Making Money on Both Side of the Cyber Battlefield – Making Security Apps While Creating Hacking Apps

Mobile Technology Vendors Making Money on Both Side of the Cyber Battlefield – Making Security Apps While Creating Hacking Apps



Mobile technology companies generally make security apps to prevent hacking. But there is another side to that equation. They can also make apps that hack and spy your mobile phones. Mobile technology vendors that create both hacking and anti-hacking apps […]

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Cyber Spy High: Meet the NSA’s Hacker Recruiter

Cyber Spy High: Meet the NSA’s Hacker Recruiter



The National Security Agency has a recruiting problem. Rocked by the Edward Snowden disclosures and facing stiff competition for top talent from high-paying Silicon Valley firms, the nation’s cyber spy agency is looking to recruit a new generation of college […]

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The Unpatchable Malware That Infects USBs Is Now on the Loose

The Unpatchable Malware That Infects USBs Is Now on the Loose



It’s been just two months since researcher Karsten Nohl demonstrated an attack he called BadUSB to a standing-room-only crowd at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, showing that it’s possible to corrupt any USB device with insidious, undetectable […]

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Journalist’s father dies following harassment by Franco-Israeli hacker

Journalist’s father dies following harassment by Franco-Israeli hacker



A Franco-Israeli hacker has threatened to sue a website over articles linking him to the death of the father of one of its journalists. Grégory Chelli, alias Ulcan, phoned Rue89 reporter Benoît Le Corre to mock him after hearing the […]

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