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How the CIA Allegedly Turns Everyday Devices into High-Tech Spy Weapons

Some of the computer programs target the iOS software that runs Apple iPhones as well as Google’s Android operating system, which does the same for phones built by Samsung, HTC and Sony, WikiLeaks said.

The “weaponized” software also reportedly provides techniques to defeat the encryption abilities of popular apps including WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and Wiebo, which claim to supply users with secure and private communications.

One program, known as “Weeping Angel,” can even be used to infect Samsung “smart” TVs and covertly activate their built-in microphones to record conversations and then transmit them over the internet, WikiLeaks said.

[Read the full story here, at New York Post]

The documents also reveal that the CIA as of 2014 was “looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks,” WikiLeaks said.

“The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations,” WikiLeaks suggested.

Although it posted online nearly 9,000 documents and files related to the Orwellian tools — a cache it called “Year Zero — WikiLeaks said it had decided to hold off on releasing the actual software.

“WikiLeaks has carefully reviewed the ‘Year Zero’ disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of ‘armed’ cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should be analyzed, disarmed and published,” the hack clearinghouse said in a press release.

There is nothing in the WikiLeaks documents to suggest that the CIA — which is charged with obtaining foreign intelligence for national security purposes — uses any of these devices to spy on American citizens.

The CIA refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of the WikiLeaks information, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer wouldn’t comment, saying it “has not been fully evaluated.”

A retired CIA operative told The Post that the WikiLeaks disclosure could cripple the agency’s high-tech surveillance capabilities.

“This essentially gives our enemies a playbook on how we go about our clandestine cyber-operations,” the former agent said.

“This will be bad for the agency. They will have to re-examine its procedures for doing this type of work.”

Cybersecurity experts said the material appeared genuine.

Jake Williams of Rendition InfoSec, who has experience dealing with government hackers, noted the files’ repeated references to operation security.

“I can’t fathom anyone fabricated that amount of operational security concern,” he said. “It rings true to me.” Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Safe and Sorry: Terrorism & Mass Surveillance


China’s Creepy New Form of Oppression

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‘Authoritarianism, Gamified’

China’s Communist government is rolling out a plan to assign everyone in the country “citizenship scores.” According to the ACLU, “China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age—electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting—to construct the ultimate tool of social control. It is, as one commentator put it, ‘authoritarianism, gamified.’ ”

“Expressing the wrong opinion—or merely having friends who express the wrong opinion—will hurt your score. The higher your score, the more privileges the government will grant you.”

In the system, everyone is measured by a score ranging from 350 to 950, and that score is linked to a national ID card. In addition to measuring your financial credit, it will also measure political compliance. Expressing the wrong opinion—or merely having friends who express the wrong opinion—will hurt your score. The higher your score, the more privileges the government will grant you.

“When it comes to weaponizing oppression, even the Communist Chinese now see the value of private enterprise. That’s something to keep in mind when American politicians inevitably start agitating to enlist Apple or Google in launching some grand political initiative.”

This horrifying plan is to be administered by Alibaba and Tencent, companies that run much of China’s approved social networks and already have tremendous stores of data about what Chinese citizens are saying. When it comes to weaponizing oppression, even the Communist Chinese now see the value of private enterprise. That’s something to keep in mind when American politicians inevitably start agitating to enlist Apple or Google in launching some grand political initiative. Read the rest of this entry »


Tom Nichols: ‘You, Too, Will Love Big Brother’: The New Totalitarians Are Here

Obama Big brother

Totalitarians want their rule, and their belief system, to be accepted and self-sustaining – even if it takes bludgeoning every last citizen who disagrees

 writes: There’s a basic difference in the traditions of political science between “authoritarians” and “totalitaritarians.” People throw both of these words around, but as is so often the big-brother-halfcase, they’re using words they may not always understand. They have real meaning, however, and the difference between them is important.

Simply put, authoritarians merely want obedience, while totalitarians, whose rule is rooted in an ideology, want obedience and conversion. Authoritarians are a dime a dozen; totalitarians are rare.  The authoritarians are the guys in charge who want to stay in charge, and don’t much care about you, or what you’re doing, so long as you stay out of their way. They are the jefe and his thugs in a brutal regime that want you to shut up, go to work, and look the other way when your loudmouthed neighbor gets his lights punched out by goons in black jackets. Live or die. It’s all the same to the regime.

Totalitarians are a different breed. These are the people who have a plan, who think they see the future more clearly than you or who are convinced they grasp reality in a way that you do not. They don’t serve themselves—or, they don’t serve themselves exclusively—they serve History, or The People, or The Idea, or some other ideological totem that justifies their actions.

[Read the full text here, at The Federalist]

They want obedience, of course. But even more, they want their rule, and their belief system, to be accepted and self-sustaining. And the only way to achieve that is to create a new society of people who share those beliefs, even if it means bludgeoning every last citizen into enlightenment. That’s what makes totalitarians different and more dangerous: they are “totalistic” in the sense that they demand a complete reorientation of the individual to the State and its ideological ends. Every person who harbors a secret objection, or even so much as a doubt, is a danger to the future of the whole project, and so the regime compels its subjects not only to obey but to believe.

Authoritarians merely want obedience, while totalitarians, whose rule is rooted in an ideology, want obedience and conversion.
ObamaOrwell

This is what George Orwell understood so well in his landmark novel “1984.” His dystopian state doesn’t really care about quotidian obedience; it already knows how to get that. What it demands, and will get by any means, is a belief in the Party’s rectitude and in its leader, Big Brother.

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If torturing the daylights out of people until they denounce even their loved ones is what it takes, so be it. That’s why the ending of the novel is so terrifying: after the two rebellious lovers of the story are broken and made to turn on each other, the wrecks left by the State are left to sit before the Leader’s face on a screen with only one emotion still alive in the husks of their bodies: they finally, truly love Big Brother.

Read the rest of this entry »


Bret Stephens: When Reportage Is Propaganda

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Journalism from places like North Korea and Iran should be prefaced with a disclaimer: Big Brother Is Reading This, Too

Bret Stephens writes: The New York Times recently featured a photo and video essay by the celebrated photojournalist David Guttenfelder titled “Illuminating North Korea.” It’s a potent reminder that nothing is so blinding as the illusion of seeing.

big-brother-poster

I don’t mean to disparage Mr. Guttenfelder’s photographic skills or his sincerity. But what are we to make of a photo essay heavy on pictures of modern-looking factories and well-fed children being fussed over in a physical rehabilitation center? Or—from his Instagram account (“Everyday DPRK”)—of theme-park water slides, Christian church interiors, well-stocked clothing stores and rollerblading Pyongyang teens—all suggesting an ordinariness to North Korean life that, as we know from so many sources, is a travesty of the terrifying truth?

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I’ve been thinking about Mr. Guttenfelder’s photos, and of the prominence the Times gave them, while considering the trade-offs between access and propaganda. In April 2003, Eason Jordan, then CNN’s news chief, wrote a revealing op-ed in the Times about his network’s coverage of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

“Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders,” Mr. Jordan wrote. “Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard—awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.”

iran-delays

It was an appalling confession of a massive journalistic whitewash, all for the sake of scoring prime time with tyrants. But sometimes it takes a great fool to reveal an important truth. In this case, the truth that much of what passes for news reporting from closed societies is, if not worthless, compromised to the point that it should be prefaced with an editorial disclaimer: Big Brother Is Reading This, Too. Read the rest of this entry »


Tweet of the Day: Orwell on Journalism

 


Chinese Cinema: Base FX’s Effects Exception | Move Over Hollywood

BaseFX-studio

China has yet to establish much of a visual effects industry built on quality of work. Indeed most Chinese filmmakers tend to use Thai or Korean shops, as their graphics are better than those from China’s vfx companies but not as pricey as the top-end effects from the U.S., Europe or Australia/New Zealand.

One notable exception to the mediocrity of Chinese vfx has been Base FX, a Beijing-based digital effects house set up in 2006 with the aim of serving both Hollywood and the local Chinese and Asian industries.

Read the rest of this entry »