News you may have missed #0029

  • Iranians revolting against Nokia for alleged spying complicity. Consumer sales of Nokia handsets in Iran have allegedly fallen by up to 50%, reportedly because of the company’s membership in the Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) partnership. As intelNews has been pointing out since last month, NSN allegedly helped supply the Iranian government with some of the world’s most sophisticated communications surveillance systems.
  • Analysis: Why NSA’s Einstein 3 project is dangerous. This editorial argues that US President Barack Obama’s decision to proceed with a Bush administration plan to task the National Security Agency with protecting government computer traffic on private-sector networks is “antithetical to basic civil liberties and privacy protections” in the United States.
  • New US government report says Bush secrecy hampered intelligence effectiveness. A new report from the Offices of Inspectors General of the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, CIA, NSA, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, says that the Bush administration’s decision to keep NSA’s domestic wiretap program secret seriously hampered the broader intelligence community’s ability to use the program’s output.

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Fears raised of Iranian-style surveillance in the US

NSN Logo

NSN Logo

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Nokia Siemens Networks has denied allegations, published in The Wall Street Journal and reported by intelNews, that it helped the Iranian government acquire what experts describe as “one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms” for spying on Iranian telecommunications users. But critics remain unconvinced and are raising concerns about the use of similar intrusive capabilities by Internet service providers (ISPs) in the US. The Open Internet Coalition, a consortium of online business and consumer groups, has sent letters [.pdf] to US Congress members urging them to consider regulating the use of deep packet inspection technology. In addition to blocking or monitoring target communications, deep packet inspection enables ISPs and monitoring agencies to trace and alter the content of messages exchanged between users. Read more of this post

Western companies help Tehran spy on protestors

NSN Logo

NSN Logo

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Numerous celebratory articles have appeared recently in several blogs that praise Western Internet firms for “help[ing] out the pro-democracy movement inside [Iran]”. These articles overlook Tehran’s extremely powerful Internet and telephone spying capabilities, which experts describe as “one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms”. Moreover, as intelNews reported last April, the Iranian government acquired these mechanisms with the help of some of Europe’s leading telecommunications hardware and software manufacturers, who were all too happy to supply Tehran with advanced means to spy on its own people. Read more of this post

Western companies sold phone spy equipment to Iran

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
For about a year now, political dissidents in Iran have suspected that the Iranian government’s ability to spy on private communications has intensified, covering for the first time cell phone and instant messaging exchanges. Last Monday it emerged that two European telecommunications hardware manufacturers are actually behind the Iranian government’s increased surveillance capabilities. The Wall Street Journal reports that Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) sold Iran Telecom –Iran’s government-owned telecommunications provider– a sophisticated surveillance system, in the summer of 2008. NSN is an engineering partnership between Finland’s Nokia Corporation and German hardware manufacturer Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering firm. Read more of this post

Unprotected Wi-Fi now seen as security threat in India

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
IntelNews has been reporting on the interesting technical intelligence details of the November 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai. On January 7, we explained that the organizers of the attacks used a virtual number, 1-201-253-1824, set up by a California-based VOIP (voice-over-Internet protocol) telecommunications provider, to communicate with the assailants on the ground in real-time. Now the Mumbai Police have said they will start monitoring the city’s neighborhoods for unprotected Wi-Fi networks, and instructing their owners to secure them on the spot. This is because militant groups have apparently been logging on to unprotected wireless networks to sent emails claiming responsibility for several attacks in the country. Last November it emerged that the email claiming responsibility for the Mumbai attacks was sent by an individual with “technical expertise and their knowledge of sophisticated [anonymizing] software”.

Speculation about NSA vetting of Obama’s wireless gadgets

Obama calling

Obama calling

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Longtime technology correspondent Declan McCullagh has published a lengthy article speculating about the wireless communications options for incoming US President Barack Obama. He suggests that Obama’s heavy use of Blackberry distinctly raises “the possibility of eavesdropping [on wireless Presidential communications] by hackers and other digital snoops” and reminds that the President-Elect’s cell phone records with Verizon “were improperly accessed last year” by unauthorized company technicians. McCullagh speculates that the incoming President will be separated from his Blackberry and will be given instead a National Security Agency (NSA)-approved PDA phone designed under the US Pentagon’s SME-PED project, which stands for Secure Mobile Environment Portable Electronic Device. SME-PED communications are said to be user-friendly Blackberry replacements for high-level US government officials. McCullagh contacted the NSA for his article. The Agency, of course, declined to comment.