News you may have missed #773

Tamir PardoBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Conflicting reports on CIA-ISI meeting. Lieutenant General Zahir ul-Islam, who heads Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the ISI, held talks in Washington with his CIA counterpart General David Petraeus, between August 1 and 3. It was the first time in a year that the chief of the ISI made the trip to the US, signaling a possible thaw in relations. Depending on the source, the meeting was either “substantive, professional and productive”, or “made no big strides on the main issues”.
►►Senior Mossad official suspected of financial misconduct. A senior Mossad official is suspected of financial misconduct and has been forced to take a leave of absence until Israeli police complete an investigation into his alleged deeds, Israeli media reported on Sunday. The official, a department head in Israel’s spy organization, has reportedly denied any wrongdoing, but sources said he would likely not be reinstated in light of investigation findings and is effectively being forced to retire. The nature of the official’s alleged misconduct has not been reported, but it is said that the official in question has close ties to Mossad Director Tamir Pardo, who appointed him to his position last year.
►►Ex-NSA official disputes DefCon claims by NSA chief. William Binney, a former technical director at the NSA, has accused NSA director General Keith Alexander of deceiving the public during a speech he gave at the DefCon hacker conference last week. In his speech, Alexander asserted that the NSA does not collect files on Americans. But Binney accused Alexander of playing a “word game” and said the NSA was indeed collecting and indexing e-mails, Twitter writings, Internet searches and other data belonging to Americans. “The reason I left the NSA was because they started spying on everybody in the country. That’s the reason I left”, said Binney, who resigned from the agency in late 2001.

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Situation Report: Hacker convention brings out top NSA spy

DefConBy TIMOTHY W. COLEMAN | intelNews.org |
In less than a week, the 20th annual DefCon Hackers convention will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada. The yearly gathering brings out the good, the bad and the script kiddies alike. Computer security practitioners, cyber-criminals, grey and white hat hackers, law enforcement, and members of both the US intelligence community as well as probably foreign government representatives will be on hand to listen to presentations, see novel techniques, and view new innovative methods for cyber intrusion. DefCon has become a Mecca of sorts for those interested in groundbreaking developments and nefarious possibilities within the computer security and cyber realm. As organizers of the event explain in their call for presentations, “DefCon is all about thinking up cool and new ways to approach everything from the most complex modern technology to hacking grandma’s toaster […] what attack exploits, defensive techniques, or unique research [have] you have been working on”. The focus is often two-fold “how to break it”, followed by a segment on “how to fix it”. “Spot the Fed” is an ongoing and widely popular contest at the convention. The task of regular attendees is to properly identify plain-clothed members of law enforcement or the intelligence community. As DefCon explains, “if you see some shady MIB (Men in Black) earphone penny loafer sunglass wearing Clint Eastwood to live and die in LA type lurking about, point him out”.

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News you may have missed #570

Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah

Abdullah Nassr

►►Libya internal security chief defects. Egyptian airport officials said Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah, Muammar al-Gaddafi’s interior minister, landed in a private plane in Cairo with nine family members traveling on tourist visas. Nassr was the minister responsible for police, civil defense, domestic intelligence, and some border security units.
►►S. Korea admits 1962 death occurred in spy training camp. A special committee is reviewing whether the family of a South Korean man who died half a century ago while being trained as a spy for elite missions into North Korea is eligible for compensation. South Korea’s military intelligence command admitted in a July 14 letter that “Mr. Jeon Gwang-su died during training on Sept. 30 of 1962 ahead of being dispatched for a mission in the North”.
►►NSA announces ‘hiring blitz’. The National Security Agency, America’s largest cryptologic intelligence agency, has announced its intention to hire as many as 3,000 people over the next two years, many of them cybersecurity experts. In fact, NSA recruiters even took a trip to Las Vegas in the last few weeks to look for potential hires at DefCon, a high-profile hacker conference there.

News you may have missed #0062

  • Hacking, Lock-Picking, Booze and Bacon. Excellent illustrated review of some of the highlights of DefCon 17, the world’s largest hacking convention, which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Were NC terror suspect’s stories an exaggeration? There are more doubts over the genuineness of the Afghan exploits of Daniel Boyd, who was recently arrested along with seven others in North Carolina on domestic terrorism charges.
  • Ex-DHS boss comes out in support of controversial NSA project. Michael Chertoff, who directed the US Department of Homeland Security under the Bush Administration, has come out in support of EINSTEIN 3, a rumored joint project between the NSA and US telecommunication service providers, which requires the latter to route government data carried through their networks to the NSA, via secret rooms installed in exchange sites. Critics have condemned the project as “antithetical to basic civil liberties and privacy protections” in the United States.

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News you may have missed #0061

  • Finland police identify body of WWII Soviet spy. Police believe a body found near Kouvola, Finland, to be the World War II remnants of a Soviet spy. The man apparently parachuted to his death. The body will be offered to the Russian Embassy for repatriation –an offer that is expected to be refused.
  • Hacker conferences attract spies, thieves. Interesting account of Defcon conference anecdotes by CNET correspondent Elinor Mills, who has been attending Defcon since 1995.
  • Interesting interview with lawyer behind CIA lawsuit. McClatchy news agency has published a rare interview with Brian Leighton, the lawyer representing retired Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer Richard A. Horn, who in 1994 claimed that CIA agents illegally wiretapped his conversations while he was stationed in Burma.

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