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House Intelligence Committee Report: Edward Snowden in Contact with Russian Agents 

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The criminal government leaker with the hero complex is now living in Moscow under a 2013 asylum deal granted after Snowden gave the media troves of classified documents that revealed the extent of the U.S. surveillance state.

Eric Geller reports: Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been in contact with Russian intelligence agents since he stole troves of classified documents, a House committee alleged on Thursday.

“If the Russian or Chinese governments have access to this information, American troops will be at greater risk in any future conflict.”

— Committee reportMini-Snowden-Me

“Since Snowden’s arrival in Moscow, he has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services,” the House Intelligence Committee said in a report on the Snowden leaks released Thursday.

“Most of the material he stole had nothing to do with Americans’ privacy. Its compromise has been of great value to America’s adversaries and those who mean to do America harm.”

— House Intelligence ranking member Adam Schiff

The declassified report, which is heavily redacted, did not offer proof of its serious accusation. It follows the committee’s release in September of an executive summary of the then-classified document.

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in a statement that the report offers “a fuller account of Edward Snowden’s crimes and the reckless disregard he has shown for U.S. national security, including the safety of American servicemen and women.”

The document casts Snowden as a dishonest miscreant and attempts to refute the portrayal of him as a duty-minded whistleblower.

[Read the full story here, at POLITICO]

The House panel’s report says there is “no evidence that Snowden took any official effort to express concerns about U.S. intelligence activities … to any oversight officials within the U.S. government, despite numerous avenues for him to do so.”

Snowden and his defenders claim that he feared reprisal and have pointed to numerous instances of the intelligence community retaliating against employees who complain about secret programs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Powerful NSA Hacking Tools Have Been Revealed Online: ‘Keys to the Kingdom’

NSA headquarters. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Strings of code were released to the Internet by a group calling themselves ‘the Shadow Brokers’. They claim the code is a tool that can be used to hack into any computer. 

The cache mysteriously surfaced over the weekend and appears to be legitimate. 

Ellen Nakashima reports: Some of the most powerful espionage tools created by the National Security Agency’s elite group of hackers have been revealed in recent days, a development that could pose severe consequences for the spy agency’s operations and the security of government and corporate computers.

“Faking this information would be monumentally difficult, there is just such a sheer volume of meaningful stuff. Much of this code should never leave the NSA.”

— Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley

A cache of hacking tools with code names such as Epicbanana, Buzzdirection and Egregiousblunder appeared mysteriously online over the weekend, setting the security world abuzz with speculation over whether the material was legitimate.

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The file appeared to be real, according to former NSA personnel who worked in the agency’s hacking division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO).

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

“Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom,” said one former TAO employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal operations. “The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.”

Said a second former TAO hacker who saw the file: “From what I saw, there was no doubt in my mind that it was legitimate.”

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“Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom. The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.”

Strings of code were released to the Internet by a group calling themselves “the Shadow Brokers”. They claim the code is a tool that can be used to hack into any computer.

The file contained 300 megabytes of information, including several “exploits,” or tools for taking control of firewalls in order to control a network, and a number of implants that might, for instance, exfiltrate or modify information.

The exploits are not run-of-the-mill tools to target everyday individuals. They are expensive software used to take over firewalls, such as Cisco and Fortinet, that are used “in the largest and most critical commercial, educational and government agencies around the world,” said Blake Darche, another former TAO operator and now head of security research at Area 1 Security.

The software apparently dates back to 2013 and appears to have been taken then, experts said, citing file creation dates, among other things.

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“The tools were posted by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers using file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent and DropBox.”

“What’s clear is that these are highly sophisticated and authentic hacking tools,” said Oren Falkowitz, chief executive of Area 1 Security and another former TAO employee.

Several of the exploits were pieces of computer code that took advantage of “zero-day” or previously unknown flaws or vulnerabilities in firewalls, which appear to be unfixed to this day, said one of the former hackers.

The disclosure of the file means that at least one other party — possibly another country’s spy agency — has had access to the same hacking tools used by the NSA and could deploy them against organizations that are using vulnerable routers and firewalls. It might also see what the NSA is targeting and spying on. And now that the tools are public, as long as the flaws remain unpatched, other hackers can take advantage of them, too.

The judge says the government learned from its mistakes on 9/11. | AP Photo

“The disclosure of the file means that at least one other party — possibly another country’s spy agency — has had access to the same hacking tools used by the NSA and could deploy them against organizations that are using vulnerable routers and firewalls. It might also see what the NSA is targeting and spying on. And now that the tools are public, as long as the flaws remain unpatched, other hackers can take advantage of them, too.”

The NSA did not respond to requests for comment.

“Faking this information would be monumentally difficult, there is just such a sheer volume of meaningful stuff,” Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, said in an interview. “Much of this code should never leave the NSA.”

The tools were posted by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers using file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent and DropBox. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] More Leaked DNC Data Coming 

Congressional Democrats are scrambling to assess the scope of an unprecedented leak that revealed the personal data of nearly 200 current and former House Democrats, and they are bracing for more leaked data. Iconic Security CEO Adam Ghetti joins Lunch Break and explains how the FBI deals with data breaches.

pelosi-incandescentspy-data-nsa-gop-nro Read the rest of this entry »


Global Panic Update: Government Reveals Details About Energy Grid Hacks

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Hackers have stolen sensitive information from American energy companies — and have planted malware in the energy grid with the intent to turn off the lights in the future.

Jose Pagliery reports: They even managed to infect at least three energy companies with Cryptolocker ransomware, a particularly nasty computer virus that locks digital files and demands a ransom payment.

Newly released documents from the Department of Homeland Security are finally shedding some light on what exactlyAPPROVED-non-stop-panichackers are doing when they sneak into the American electrical grid.

The DHS intelligence assessment — originally dated January 27, 2016 — was published by Public Intelligence, a research project that shares secretive documents to educate people.

Some of the attacks described in the report are potentially serious.

Aggressive foreign government hackers broke into American companies 17 times between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014, according to DHS. In two cases they snuck into U.S. petroleum organizations, and hackers are “suspected of exfiltrating data” from one of them.

It’s rare, but highly sophisticated foreign government hackers have gotten inside the energy grid, DHS said. They hack “primarily to conduct cyber espionage … to conduct a damaging or disruptive attack in the event of hostilities with the United States,” DHS stated in a recent internal “intelligence assessment.”

[Read the full story here, at CNNMoney]

That sounds alarming, but DHS is throwing cold water on any present worries. The agency concluded that damaging cyberattacks against the American energy sector is “possible but not likely.”

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That calm demeanor doesn’t sit well with some cybersecurity experts. Ryan Duff is a researcher and former member of U.S. Cyber Command, the American military’s hacking unit. He warned that once a hacker gets into a computer — even if physical damage hasn’t been caused yet — the potential is there.

“While I agree with the DHS assessment overall, it’s still pretty frightening,” he said. “The fact is that the ability to cause destruction exists. Their assessment that attack is unlikely is based on political realities instead of technical realities. Attack is way more than technically possible.”

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DHS prefers to label these cyber incidents as “espionage or some other activity,” rather than “cyberattacks.” To date, there have been “no damaging or destructive attacks against the U.S. energy sector,” DHS said.

“The majority of malicious activity occurring against the U.S. energy sector is low-level cybercrime that is … not meant to be destructive,” DHS analysts wrote.

Kyle Wilhoit, who investigates these types of hacks for Trend Micro (TMICF), said criminal hackers sometimes gain access to sensitive machinery by mistake.

“Most of the attacks that we’ve witnessed against this sector are in fact criminal in nature,” he told CNNMoney. “In some cases we even see criminals not realizing the importance of some of the machines [they gained access to.]”

The agency cautions against media using the term cyber “attack,” although it’s own 2013 advisory refers to cyber “attack” 56 times. Read the rest of this entry »


Intrigue: MI6 Spy Found Naked and Dead in Bag in Bath Had Hacked Clinton Data

The MI6 spy who was found dead inside a holdall bag in his bathtub in London hacked into secret data held on former U.S. President Bill Clinton, The Sun newspaper has sensationally claimed today.

Breitbart London reports: Gareth Williams was 31 years old when he was found naked, dead in his own bathtub in Pimlico, just a few minutes walk away from Britain’s Houses of Parliament.

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“The Clinton diary hack came at a time when Williams’s work with America was of the most sensitive nature.”

Speculation has been rife ever since his death in September 2010 about the circumstances surrounding his death. A Metropolitan Police investigation revealed predictably, though suspiciously, that Mr Williams’ death was “probably an accident”. This was despite an initial inquest concluding that his death was “unnatural and likely to have been criminally mediated.”

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Since then the unexplained death has been the subject of investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The BBC reported as early as December 2010 that Mr Williams had been on secondment from Britain’s signals intelligence operation GCHQ to MI6, and then subsequently to the United States’ National Security Agency.

[Read the full text here, at Breitbart London]

The Sun reports that Williams had “dug out the guestlist for an event the former American president was going to as a favour for a pal.”

Peter Faulding (main) tries to climb inside a holdall police said Williams (inset) locked himself in

Peter Faulding (main) tries to climb inside a holdall police said Williams (inset) locked himself in

[Also see – MI6 spy Gareth Williams found dead in a bag WAS murdered – express.co.uk]

…Mr Faulding, whose expertise is finding bodies or people stuck in confined places, made several other disturbing points which raise serious questions about the Yard’s new perception on the mystery.

When Mr Williams’s body was found on August 23, 2010, in his central London flat the door to the bathroom was shut and the light was off, making the room pitch black.

The shower screen was in place, making the space he had to move around very tight if he were to put the bag in the bath and then step into it. There were no palm prints on the bath, which meant Mr Williams, who was single and a maths genius, would have had to stand up in the bag first and then get into it. Mr Faulding said: “Entry into the bag needs to be shoulder first and then pulling the bag under the bottom, this would leave footprints at the end of the bath above the taps but there were none.

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“The shower screen was closed. If he was practising getting into the bag this would have been wide open as it creates a barrier. No finger, foot, palm prints or DNA belonging to Gareth Williams were present on the rim of the bath, padlock or zipper. He was not wearing any gloves.” Mr Faulding added: “If he was practising or dabbling in escapology he would have carried a knife in the bag to release himself, he was an intelligent individual and not a chancer….(read more at express.co.uk)

Continuing from Breitbart London:

The Murdoch-owned paper reports:

The Sun on Sunday can reveal that voicemail messages Mr Williams left for family and pals were deleted in the days after his death. And a rival agent may also have broken into the flat to destroy or remove evidence.
Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu! French TV5Monde Websites Hacked by Islamic State Supporters

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“We are no longer able to broadcast any of our channels. Our websites and social media sites are no longer under our control and are all displaying claims of responsibility by Islamic State.”

Paris (AFP) – French television network TV5Monde on Wednesday evening said it had been hacked by individuals claiming to belong to the Islamic State group, hijacking its TV channels, websites and Facebook page.

“We are no longer able to broadcast any of our channels. Our websites and social media sites are no longer under our control and are all displaying claims of responsibility by Islamic State,” the broadcaster’s director general Yves Bigot told AFP. Read the rest of this entry »


The Private Self(ie)

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TIME

Since the Jennifer Lawrence photo hack, Internet security has come under scrutiny. But why do many young women feel the need to take and share nude selfies in the first place? Don’t get me wrong: I think hackers are morally reprehensible and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But I also think that we need to build an alternative to the dogma “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” Young women are told that it’s a sign of being proud of your sexuality to “sext” young men—a philosophy that has turned girls into so many flashing beacons, frantic to keep the attention of the males in their lives by striking porn-inspired poses.

Today if you watch the famous Algerian-French singer Enrico Macias singing to his late wife, Suzy, about how he “won her love,” their dynamic seems as if it’s from another planet. Some might watch this…

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