Analysis: PRISM revelations harm US political, financial interests

NSA headquartersBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Ever since June 6, when Edward Snowden, a former United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) technician, exposed a vast communications spying system called PRISM, observers have focused on the ramifications of this controversy inside America. But in an excellent analysis written for ComputerWorld magazine’s New Zealand edition, Taylor Armerding points out that Snowden’s revelation could result in extensive international blowback for the United States, in both the political and economic realms. Armerding quotes Toronto University political science professor Ron Deibert, who argues that this latest revelation of massive communications interception activity by the National Security Agency (NSA) carries with it “unintended consequences […] that will undermine US foreign policy interests”. Deibert points out that the spy scandal has the potential to undercut America’s role and influence in global Internet governance. In the words of renowned security expert Bruce Schneier, many around the world are beginning to view the US as “simply too untrustworthy to manage the Internet”. Even policymakers and ordinary users friendly to Washington are worried about what they perceive as the “huge disadvantages” of their dependence on US-managed Internet networks that host the content of social media sites, cloud computing databases, or telecommunications exchanges, says Deibert. But the biggest potential damage to US interests, argues Armerding, is not political, but economic. “It is not just personal information that is being swept into the NSA’s massive databases”, he notes; “it is corporate data as well”. Indeed, the vast foreign and domestic spying represented by PRISM poses a direct threat to the global competitiveness of the American technology sector. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #776

Alexei NavalnyBy I. ALLEN and T.W. COLEMAN | intelNews.org |
►►US Army critiques its own intel collection system. An intelligence gathering system, known as the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS), widely used by the US Army in Afghanistan to detect roadside bombs and predict insurgent activity, has severe limitations and is “not suitable”. This is according to a memo sent on August 1 by the Army’s senior equipment tester, General Genaro J. Dellarocco, to the Army’s chief of staff, General Raymond Odierno. The memo hammers the DCGS system for its “poor reliability” and “significant limitations” during operational testing and evaluation earlier this year.
►►Russian lawyer exposes wiretap find on Tweeter. Russian lawyer and political activist Alexei Navalny, who discovered a wiretapping device at his workplace, allegedly installed by the Russian government, has used YouTube and Tweeter to publicize his discovery. The wiretap was allegedly found attached to a set of wires hidden inside the wall molding of Navalny’s office at the Moscow-based organization Anti-Corruption Fund. It was reportedly discovered with the help of a bug detector. The same wires seem to also be attached to a hidden camera.
►►Volkswagen victim of Chinese industrial espionage? A recent article by Agence France Presse claims that German-based Volkswagen has become a victim of industrial espionage. While operating under a joint partnership agreement with the Chinese automobile company First Automobile Works, to build and manufacture cars for China’s burgeoning domestic market, designs and technical specifications for Volkswagen engines were apparently stolen. An unnamed Volkswagen manager stated that the loss was “quite simply a catastrophe”. It’s worth noting, however, that a similar accusation leveled against China in 2011 by French automaker Renault, turned out to be a criminal hoax.

Situation Report: Samsung accuses LG of corporate espionage

Samsung smartphones on display in KoreaBy TIMOTHY W. COLEMAN | intelNews.org |
Most technology companies spar with rivals over patent portfolio infringement, pricing arrangements, bundling of products and services with partners, and other trade practices. More recently, technology companies have been waging a war for talent and human capital. But in Korea, a dispute between Samsung and LG Electronics has been taken to a new level with Samsung publicly accusing LG of conducting corporate espionage. According to VenterBeat, Samsung has leveled corporate espionage charges against an employee at LG regarding particularly sensitive display technology that is used in smartphones and other mobile devices. This technology is of great value to Samsung, as its displays are used in nearly 98 percent of mobile phones around the globe. The critical display technology, active-matrix organic light-emitting diode, or MOLED, technology, is an extremely thin-film, which is a lynchpin technology for televisions and mobile devices. This technology replaced previously existing display technologies because it required significantly less power and therefore less battery drain and it also increased response rates to mere milliseconds. Such technology was perfectly positioned to help spur on the proliferation of the mobile and smartphone boom. Read more of this post

Guest Comment: India’s corporate espionage boom

AssoCham IndiaBy BRITTANY MINDER | intelNews.org |
A survey conducted earlier this month by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (AssoCham) found that corporate espionage in India is surging. The June 14 survey found that 35 percent of Indian firms regularly and aggressively conduct research on competitors and employees, which goes far beyond the normative business intelligence realm. Secretary General of AssoCham, D.S. Rawat, maintained that “demand from certain industries, such as information technology, infrastructure, insurance, [and] banking and manufacturing is overwhelming”. With an increasing demand for espionage gadgetry, up nearly 30 percent from last year, the survey also noted that “almost all the company representatives in these domains acknowledged the prevalence of industrial espionage to gain access to information and steal trade secrets of their competitors through private deals with sleuths and spy agencies”. The appetite for corporate espionage and gadgets doesn’t stop at rival-on-rival activity; espionage is a pursuit while industrial espionage is a practice. Overall corporate vulnerabilities, a lack of appreciation for corporate security best practices, and the tangible motivation of revenue is, according to AssoCham, driving, “companies who have strong unions and are vulnerable to pilferage hire spy agencies and plant an under-cover agent, a mole in minor job profiles in rival companies to ascertain if union leaders are getting paid for creating trouble”. According to The New York Times, conservative acknowledgements of the boon of the corporate spy industry willingly concede that some companies even hire “mystery vendors” to gauge their own employees’ response to sifting from outsiders. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #583

Chiou I-jen

Chiou I-jen

►►Ex-Akamai worker pleads guilty to spy charge. Elliot Doxer, an American employee of Massachusetts-based Akamai Technologies, is charged with providing inside company information to an FBI agent posing as an Israeli spy. Ironically, Israel may have helped the Bureau nab Doxer.
►►Taiwan ex-spy cleared of corruption charge. Chiou I-jen, Taiwan’s ex-spy chief and right-hand man of jailed former president Chen Shui-bian, was cleared Tuesday of embezzling diplomatic funds during Chen’s term in office. The former head of the National Security Bureau, was acquitted of pocketing $500,000 –earmarked for expanding Taiwan’s participation in international affairs– in 2005, due to a lack of evidence.
►►Wiretaps seen as key in hunt for Gaddafi. “There are some groups who are looking for him and also trying to listen to his calls. Of course he doesn’t use the phone, but we know the people around him who use the phones”. This is according to Hisham Buhagiar, a senior military official in Libya’s National Transitional Council, who is coordinating efforts to find Muammar al-Gaddafi.

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

  • More on CIA spies working for corporations. Author Eamon Javers provides more information about his new book, in which he examines the increasing phenomenon of CIA agents working for private corporations on the side.
  • Rio Tinto spy controversy thickens. Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto says it is “extremely worried” about four of its staff, who were arrested last July by Chinese authorities and have now been formally charged with espionage.
  • Court keeps White House spy emails secret. Two weeks ago, US President Barack Obama declared in his State of the Union address that “it’s time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or Congress”. This does not appear to apply to telecommunication industry lobbyists, who campaigned in favor of facilitating warrantless communications interception through the National Security Agency’s STELLAR WIND program.

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