News you may have missed #836

Investigating the Boston bombingsBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►NSA guide explains how to access private info on Google. In 2007, the US National Security Agency produced a book to help its spies uncover intelligence hiding on the World Wide Web. The 643-page tome, called Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research (.pdf), has just been released by the NSA following a FOIA request filed in April by MuckRock, a site that charges fees to process public records for activists and others. Although the author’s name is redacted in the version released by the NSA, Muckrock’s FOIA indicates it was written by Robyn Winder and Charlie Speight.
►►Are the EU’s unofficial spy services growing out of control? Since its founding, the European Union has been building its own spy programs, often triggered by specific needs, in an ad-hoc manner, without strategy and without a coherent concept about their structure, methods, and people. Unofficially, the has been building an intelligence apparatus of six services so far, some of them brand new, populated already by 1,300 specialists. But because they are technically not conducting covert operations, they simply deny being intelligence services.
►►Hearing on Boston bombings exposes intelligence failures. The US House Committee on Homeland Security’s hearing on the Boston Marathon bombings on Thursday amounted to more than the usual political posturing: it exposed clear deficiencies in communications among intelligence- and law-enforcement agencies. whatever the cause of the intelligence breakdown, the failure to share vital information —and the continued finger-pointing between agencies yesterday— shows the need to improve coordination.

About these ads

News you may have missed #752

Charles SchumerBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►US companies ‘use military-style planes’ to make maps. Companies such as Apple and Google could push the limits of citizens’ privacy thanks to the use of “military-grade spy planes” when creating their next-generation mapping technologies, according to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). Schumer expressed his concerns in a letter to the two companies, arguing that hyper-detailed images of people’s backyards and other objects could pose a threat to both privacy and national security. The Senator also pointed out the potential for criminals and, yes, even terrorists to view detailed maps of “sensitive utilities”.
►►CIA wanted ‘torture cage’ for secret prison. Polish Senator Jozef Pinior claims prosecutors in Krakow have a document that shows a local contractor was asked to build a cage at Stare Kiekuty, a Polish army base used as a CIA prison for al-Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003. “In a state with rights”, Pinior told the Polish paper Gazeta Wyborcza, “people in prison are not kept in cages”. He said a cage was “non-standard equipment” for a prison, but standard “if torture was used there”. After Poland launched its official investigation of the Stare Kiekuty site, President Bronislaw Komorowski said the probe was needed because “the reputation of Poland is at stake”.
►►US Air Force spy planes facing postwar cut. The US Air Force plans to cut back on the number of Hawker Beechcraft’s MC-12 spy planes it wants to operate after the draw-down from Afghanistan and Iraq, official data indicates. With declining operations, the aircraft began to lose its priority role and recent comments indicated at least some of the aircraft would either be grounded or given to the National Guard or other services. Since the MC-12 was first deployed in Iraq, U. forces have acquired access to more sophisticated surveillance aircraft as well as drones that can perform roles previously assigned to manned aircraft.

News you may have missed #703: US edition

NSA headquartersBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►NSA pressed to reveal details on Google deal. The Electronic Privacy Information Center is locking horns with the National Security Agency over a secret deal the agency cut with Google following an attack on Gmail by Chinese hackers in 2010. The information center has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the NSA to obtain information about the deal. That request was rejected by a federal court and an appeal process continues.
►►US spy agencies can keep data on Americans longer. Until now, the US National Counterterrorism Center had to immediately destroy information about Americans that was already stored in other government databases when there were no clear ties to terrorism. But it will now be able to store information about Americans with no ties to terrorism for up to five years under new Obama administration guidelines. The new rules replace guidelines issued in 2008 and have privacy advocates concerned about the potential for data-mining information on innocent Americans.
►►Islam convert leads CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. Roger, which is the first name of his cover identity, has been chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center for the past six years. Colleagues describe Roger as a collection of contradictions. A chain-smoker who spends countless hours on a treadmill. Notoriously surly yet able to win over enough support from subordinates and bosses to hold on to his job. He presides over a campaign that has killed thousands of Islamist militants and angered millions of Muslims, but he is himself a convert to Islam. His defenders don’t even try to make him sound likable. Instead, they emphasize his operational talents, encyclopedic understanding of the enemy and tireless work ethic.

News you may have missed #628 (analysis edition)

Michael Scheuer

Michael Scheuer

►►Should intelligence agencies chase tax evaders? Three years ago, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, paid a whistleblower close to $7 million for DVDs containing information on thousands of secret accounts at a leading Liechtenstein bank. The discs contained data on 4,527 Liechtenstein foundations and financial entities, 1,400 of which were owned by Germans. But should a spy agency like the BND take part in the unglamorous and politically charged business of collecting information on tax cheats?
►►UK ex-spy chief says Google makes spies work harder. The rise of the web and Google means Britain’s spies have to work harder to produce genuinely secret intelligence, according to Sir David Pepper, the former director of GCHQ, Britain’s signals intelligence agency. He said “the Google effect” of so much information being readily available online had “very substantially” raised the “threshold for producing intelligence” for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.
►►Ex-CIA official says America ‘creates its own enemies’. Americans are in the crosshairs of terrorists worldwide purely due to Washington’s policy in the Muslim world, according to former CIA officer Michael Scheuer, who spoke to Russia Today. Scheuer, author of Through Our Enemies’ Eyes, worked for the CIA for over 20 years and at one time was the chief of the agency’s ‘Bin Laden unit’.

FBI ‘used Google Translate’ to indict alleged Syrian spy, claims lawyer

Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid

Mohamad Soueid

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The lawyer of a Syrian national accused by the United States of spying for Syria has accused the Federal Bureau of Investigation of resorting to Google to prepare the case against his client. Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid was arrested last summer and charged with conducting political espionage against Syrian and American citizens participating in demonstrations against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The alleged espionage appears to have been organized by members of the Syrian embassy in Washington, DC. A few weeks prior to Soueid’s arrest, the US Department of State had communicated to Syria’s ambassador to Washington, Imad Moustapha, “a number of [...] concerns with [...] reported actions of certain Syrian embassy staff in the United States”. The concerns centered on confirmed sightings of Syrian diplomats conducting technical surveillance against Syrian opposition activists in several US cities. Soueid was subsequently arrested for allegedly gathering intelligence on protesters and planning an extensive intimidation campaign. But Soueid’s lawyer, Haytham Faraj, told the court last week that his client’s name, as transcribed in the FBI indictment, had been wrongly transliterated into English using Google Translate. He also wrote in a court filing that the prosecution had “demonstrated a serious deficit in its ability to translate recorded conversations from Arabic into English”. Soueid’s defense also argues that federal prosecutors appear “to have taken extensive liberties with a playful [telephone] conversation” between the accused and his wife back in Syria, eventually producing an English-language translation “that has no basis in fact”. In one case highlighted by the defense, the accused allegedly told his wife that the Syrian intelligence agency was monitoring telephone calls; but in English, the phrase was changed to say “this phone belongs to intelligence agency”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #544

Google

Google

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Russia a ‘leading suspect’ in cyberespionage attack on US. I wrote on Monday about the cyberespionage operation that targeted a leading US defense contractor last March, and resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of classified documents. US Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, who disclosed the operation, said only that it was conducted by “a foreign intelligence service”. According to the last sentence of this NBC report, US officials see Russian intelligence as “one of the leading suspects” in the attack. ►►Al-Qaeda acquires Pakistani spy service manuals. Jamestown Foundation researcher Abdul Hameed Bakier reports that al-Qaeda operatives have managed to get access to espionage training manuals used by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI). Copies of the documents have apparently been posted on Internet forums that are sympathetic to al-Qaeda, and bear the mark of the As-Sahab Foundation, al-Qaeda’s media wing. ►►Google-NSA collaboration documents to remain secret —for now. Even before Google shut down its operations in China, following a massive cyberattack against its servers in early 2010, the company has maintained close contact with American intelligence agencies. But after the 2010 cyberattack, some believe that Google’s relationship with the US intelligence community has become too cozy. In February of 2010, the ACLU said it was concerned about Google’s contacts with the US National Security Agency (NSA). Other groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), have filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking access to the inner workings of Google’s relationship with NSA. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #452

  • Britain’s GCHQ turns to Google for help. GCHQ, Britain’s Cheltenham-based signals intelligence agency, is recruiting an expert on MapReduce, the patented number-crunching technique developed by Google to distribute the load of billions of web searches across its cluster of hundreds of thousands of commodity servers.
  • CIA double agent pleads guilty from prison. CIA officer Harold James Nicholson, who in 1997 was jailed for spying for Russia, has pleaded guilty to enlisting his son Nathan to sell the Russians more secrets and collect money owed to him by the Russian spy services.
  • Georgia offers to negotiate with Russia over spies. Tbilisi is ready for negotiations with Moscow on the repatriation of several alleged Russian spies arrested in Georgia, the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze has said.

News you may have missed #405

  • Democracy Now on Google-CIA partnership. Democracy Now has aired an interview with John Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Inside Google project, and Noah Shachtman, of Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog, who broke the story of the Google-CIA investment partnership.
  • Ex-CIA chief downplays cyberwar with China. Retired CIA chief Michael Hayden downplayed the notion that the US is in a raging “cyberwar” with China during a speech on Thursday at the Black Hat Technical Security Conference in Las Vegas.
  • Men held over parcel bomb sent to MI6. Two men have been arrested in north Wales, after parcel bombs were sent to the offices of the British government executive at 10 Downing Street, and the headquarters of MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency. The two men, aged 52 and 21, are believed to be related and of Pakistani origin.

Bookmark and Share

News you may have missed #403

Bookmark and Share

Analysis: Google-NSA partnership part of broader trend

Google

Google

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
We reported last week the apparent alliance between the Google Corporation and the US National Security Agency, which is the main US government organization tasked with communications interception, as well as communications security. The partnership, which began soon after Google’s decision to close down its venture business in China, where its operations came repeatedly under cyber-attack, has caused considerable controversy among civil liberties advocates. But an op-ed in the US-based Federal News Radio website describes it as the beginning of a new trend, which is likely to intensify. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0286 (Internet edition)

  • Email trojan targeted at US .gov, .mil accounts. A Trojan-containing email, which is spoofed so that it appears to have been sent by the US National Intelligence Council, appears to have been directed solely at US government and military email accounts.
  • Analysis: Smuggling secret information through VOIP. Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) systems use a series of protocols to essentially create an open, unmediated link between two computers. VOIP applications also provide a way to make sure the packets are ordered quickly and correctly. And that’s a goldmine for anyone trying to send hidden messages.
  • ACLU concerned about Google-NSA partnership. Google corporation has turned to the US National Security Agency for assistance in warding off cyberattacks. But the American Civil Liberties Union is among several organizations that view the partnership as “troubling”.

Bookmark and Share

News you may have missed #0271 (analysis edition)

  • Analysis: The Women of the CIA. Former CIA agent Valerie Wilson says the recent massacre of CIA agents in Khost, Afghanistan, shows that it is “time to recognize that women play a vital role in ensuring our national security and that they are very much on the frontlines, taking all the same risks but recognized and credited much less than their male counterparts” at the CIA.
  • Analysis: Google and the democratization of espionage. Roland Dobbins, a solutions architect with the Asia Pacific division of Arbor Networks, explains why the recent Google-China hacking affair is a perfect example of how the botnet has enabled what he calls “the democratization of espionage”.

Bookmark and Share

Analysis: The meaning of China’s cyber-attack on Google

Google

Google

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Google’s recent decision to close down its venture business in China, after its operations there repeatedly came under cyber-attack, has received plenty of media attention. But most non-experts find it difficult to understand why these cyber-attacks were important enough to cause Google to abandon what is admittedly one of the world’s most lucrative online user markets. An excellent analysis in The New York Times explains the significance and meaning of the cyber-attacks. It turns out that, traditionally, cyber-rogues have been interested in detecting or building back doors (known as Trojan Horses) in commercial software, such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or Word, in order to replicate them, and make money selling pirate copies. But the types of attacks that caused Google’s flight from China were different. The instigators of these attacks, which were very sophisticated, seemed to want to gain access to widely used Google applications so that they could spy on their users. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0259

Bookmark and Share

News you may have missed #0094

Bookmark and Share

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 712 other followers