NSA system designed to attack 'millions' of computers -- report

Through an operation called Turbine, the NSA crafted an automated system designed to hack "millions" of computers, new documents from Edward Snowden's leaks on government surveillance reveal.

According to documents published by The Intercept on Wedesday, Turbine created "implants" that let it gain access to peoples' computers. Getting the implants onto machines involved an array of deceptions: fake Facebook Web pages, spam emails with malicious links, and man-in-the-middle attacks that would "shoot" bogus data at a target's computer when the NSA detected it was visiting a Web site the NSA could spoof. … Read more

Feinstein excoriates CIA for spying on Senate committee

Senator Dianne Feinstein is not a fan of government surveillance, at least when it's directed at the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The California senator, who has been the chair of the committee since 2009, said on Tuesday that the Central Intelligence Agency improperly monitored an independent computer network created for Congress to investigate allegations of torture and abuse in a detention and interrogation program from the George W. Bush administration.

Feinstein went public with the allegations after the CIA ignored letters from her on January 17 and January 23 that demanded an explanation and an apology.

She said in a … Read more

TrustyCon's RSA Conference rebels promise more to come

SAN FRANCISCO -- What started as a one-man boycott of the annual RSA Conference here in response to the confab's parent company's ties to the National Security Agency has begun to blossom into a broader movement to reclaim the trust of technology and Internet users.

Alex Stamos, co-organizer of the event -- nicknamed TrustyCon -- and chief technology officer at the security firm Artemis, took the stage in Theater 14 at the AMC Metreon multiplex to explain just why the Trustworthy Computing Conference was needed in the first place. After all, with Security B-Sides earlier in the week, … Read more

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker friends Silicon Valley

The US Department of Commerce wants to friend Silicon Valley. That's the message from Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who made her first official visit this week to what she called a "place of majestic beauty" and a "dynamic and innovative ecosystem that is envied not just across the United States but throughout the world."

Pritzker met with Silicon Valley executives from Facebook, Google, and eBay, and with startup entrepreneurs. "With the country moving at warp speed toward the 'Internet of Everything,' our goal at the Department of Commerce as a service organization is … Read more

NSA targeted WikiLeaks, Pirate Bay, leaked documents show

The National Security Agency and the UK's Government Communications Headquarters targeted WikiLeaks and Pirate Bay -- and ultimately users of those sites as well, according to leaked files.

Examining a series of classified documents leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, news site The Intercept reported on Tuesday that the NSA wanted to deem WikiLeaks a "malicious foreign actor." Such a designation would have subjected the site to extensive surveillance without the use of "defeats," an NSA action that aims to prevent US citizens from getting snared in the surveillance.

The UK's GCHQ went a step … Read more

British spy unit reportedly hit Anonymous with DDoS attacks

A British spy unit turned a cyberattack method favored by Anonymous against it and other hacktivist groups, according to an NBC report based on documents Edward Snowden removed from the National Security Agency.

A division of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the UK's communications intelligence agency, used distributed-denial-of-service attacks to disrupt communications among members of Anonymous, according to the documents. DDoS is the same cyberattack technique used by the hacktivist group to mount online attacks targeting financial institutions, trade groups, and government entities after PayPal and banks refused to process payments for WikiLeaks.

Dubbed "Rolling Thunder" by … Read more

Tech firms reveal even more about FISA requests

Google and other top tech firms are beginning to flex their transparency muscles a bit, following the resolution of a lawsuit last week against the US Department of Justice to allow them to reveal more about national security data demands made of them.

On Monday, six major companies -- Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, and LinkedIn -- revealed more information about government requests made with National Security Administration letters. The letters can request both content-related material, and non-content, which can refer to name, age, and location data of user accounts. Revealed customer account requests cannot be specific, and are limited … Read more

DOJ to let tech companies speak out about NSA data collection

The US National Security Agency routinely demands that technology companies like Yahoo, Apple, Google, and Facebook fork over user data -- and limits those firms' ability to tell those users about it. Now, thanks to a new deal announced by the Department of Justice on Monday, those companies will be able to tell us more than ever about the US government's data collection practices.

Tech firms will now be able to disclose the total number of FISA court orders they receive annually and the total of number of users affected by those requests, as long as they do so … Read more

NSA using 'leaky apps' like Angry Birds, Google Maps to siphon user data

Relying on data scooped up from so-called leaky apps -- everything from Angry Birds and Google Maps to applications with photo- and location-sharing abilities like Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter -- the NSA and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters have been secretly collecting swaths of personal data about users' age, daily whereabouts, address books, and much more, according to documents provided by Edward Snowden and published in The New York Times, The Guardian, and ProPublica on Monday.

While the existence and extent of the US and British governments' mobile data collection have surfaced in previous reports, the latest documents shed new … Read more

Ex-CIA No. 2: NSA surveillance system might have stymied 9/11 attacks

The former Deputy Director of the CIA said Sunday that the September 11 terror attacks could have been prevented had the NSA surveillance program been in place at the time.

"If the program were in place before 9/11, I believe it would have prevented 9/11," Mike Morell said earlier today on the CBS television program `Face the Nation.' "And by the program, I mean two things. I mean, NSA's ability to query the database, which would have allowed NSA to find one of the 9/11 hijackers in California, and the part of the … Read more