NSA's reported Huawei hack gives glimpse of agency's role in 'cyber Cold War'

A new report based on the trove of secret NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden gives a glimpse of the agency's role in the cyber-intrigues taking place between the US and China, with files showing that the NSA hacked into Chinese router-maker Huawei's servers with the hope of gaining info on government plans and of exploiting the company's products to spy on other foreign rivals.

The New York Times reports that the NSA "pried its way into the servers in Huawei's sealed headquarters in Shenzhen, China's industrial heart" and "obtained information about … Read more

Obama talks spying with Facebook's Zuckerberg, Google's Schmidt

As expected, President Obama met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and other tech executives Friday afternoon to discuss efforts to reform the National Security Agency's controversial surveillance programs.

"The President used this opportunity to update the CEOs on our progress in implementing the principles and reforms he announced on January 17, including the new Presidential Directive he issued to govern our intelligence activities that will ensure that we take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances, our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of our companies, … Read more

Snowden nicked NSA docs with common tool, raising more concern about agency -- report

Edward Snowden used common "Web crawler" software to grab top secret NSA documents, according to unnamed intelligence officials cited in a New York Times report, a revelation that raises further questions about the efficacy of the agency's internal security measures.

The software was not named by the officials, but it's apparently similar to Googlebot, the program the search giant created to index new Web pages, as well as a program called "wget," which Chelsea Manning used to download the batches of secret files that were published by WikiLeaks several years back.

The crawler can … Read more

NSA siphoning less phone data than thought -- but perhaps not for long, say reports

The NSA has been sweeping up significantly less phone-call metadata than previously thought. But the agency would like to get its hands on as much as possible.

That's the gist of a pair of reports published Friday, one in The Washington Post, the other in The Wall Street Journal. The Post article cites unnamed "current and former US officials" in reporting that the controversial spy agency is collecting "less than 30 percent of all Americans' call records because of an inability to keep pace with the explosion in cell phone use." The Journal story, which … Read more

NSA foe Greenwald, eBay's Omidyar to launch digital magazine next week

The new journalism venture backed by millions from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and involving Glenn Greenwald -- the journalist to whom Edward Snowden entrusted many of his purloined NSA documents -- is set to launch its first publication early next week.

The digital magazine's "initial focus will be in-depth reporting on the classified documents previously provided" by Snowden, according to Omidyar and former Rolling Stone Executive Editor Eric Bates, who posted a brief item about the launch on the First Look Media Web site today. Bates had been previously announced as a First Look team member, along with a handful of others. … Read more

Navy cryptology specialist tapped to helm NSA

It looks like the NSA may soon be in the hands of a Navy officer who specialized in code-making and breaking.

The White House will name Vice Admiral Michael S. Rogers the new director of the National Security Agency, according to The New York Times, which cites unnamed senior officials with the Obama administration. (The Washington Post published a similar report earlier.) Rogers' appointment would be subject to Senate confirmation.

Rogers, presently the Navy's cybersecurity chief, would replace Army General Keith Alexander, who's retiring after eight years as the head of the NSA. Rogers would be stepping into … Read more

Snowden nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

Two members of Norway's parliament put forward the nomination, saying Snowden has made "a critical contribution" to restoring the balance between "a country's legitimate need for reliable intelligence to preserve its own security" and "people's individual freedoms."

"There is no doubt that the actions of Edward Snowden may have damaged the security interests of several nations in the short term," the Norwegians -- Socialist Left party members Bård Vegar Solhjell and Snorre Valen -- … Read more

Crypto, security, comp-sci specialists speak out on NSA

More than 50 big names in the fields of computer science, security, and cryptography have published an open letter calling for an end to the NSA's controversial spying practices, including reported efforts to undermine encryption and network-security standards.

"Every country, including our own, must give intelligence and law-enforcement authorities the means to pursue terrorists and criminals, but we can do so without fundamentally undermining the security that enables commerce, entertainment, personal communication, and other aspects of 21st-century life," reads the letter, which is signed by, among many others, Edward Felten and Steve Bellovin, both former chief technologists … Read more

Snowden: 'Not all spying bad' but NSA program 'divorced from reason'

"I think a person should be able to dial a number, make a purchase, send an SMS, write an e-mail, or visit a Web site without having to think about what it's going to look like on their permanent record."

That's the word from NSA whistle-blower and leaker Edward Snowden, who today answered questions tweeted by the public as part of a live Web chat, his first since June of last year.

The Thursday event took place the same day that the US Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent federal watchdog agency within … Read more

Microsoft legal chief seeks global rules on spying, data

As President Obama made clear in his NSA speech last week, surveillance reforms aren't going to happen overnight, and on Tuesday a blog post by Microsoft's chief legal officer gave a glimpse of the international back-and-forth that may need to take place for civil liberties, national security -- and cross-border business -- to be protected as the digital era moves ahead.

Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith called for "an international legal framework -- an international convention -- to create surveillance and data-access rules across borders," saying current legal structures are out of date and have prompted &… Read more