Back to the future for national security surveillance

France says the Paris attacks are likely to have cost no more than 30,000 euros (NZ$49,000) to organise.

The attackers financed the assault by amassing several “tiny sums” which are hard to track, notably by using prepaid credit cards, Finance Minister Michel Sapin told a news conference.

“The cost of these latest attacks, the financing of the attacks, represents a sum not exceeding 30,000 euros,” Sapin said.

This means the attackers did not need to move any large sums of money during their preparations, he said.

The French finance ministry’s intelligence unit Tracfin said prepaid cards, some bought in Belgium, were used to pay for cars and apartments used by the assailants in the 48 hours preceding the attacks.

Sapin said tracking even small sums could turn out to be “crucial” in the fight against terror, if such data were cross-referenced with other parts of any investigation.

As part of efforts to improve surveillance of funds potentially used in future attack plans, France is to give Tracfin easier access to suspects’ files.

For some time, criminals, terrorists and spies were unaware what arrangements governments had made to monitor their communications and funding. ?Governments have quietly placed interception points in their national communication and banking infrastructure, and certain parameters for red flags are set by monitoring meta data. ? Read more »

Former CIA boss blames Paris on the traitor Edward Snowden

Politico Magazine reports:

Michael Morell, the former acting head of the CIA, says the Paris attacks have exposed how freely the Islamic State was able to operate in a chastened environment in which intelligence gathering was partly shut down after Edward Snowden?s exposure of National Security Agency surveillance in 2013. Now, Morell says, the need for greater security is on everyone?s mind?especially since the terrorist group has threatened an attack on the U.S. In his recently published book, The Great War of Our Time: The CIA?s Fight Against Terrorism From Al Qa?ida to ISIS, Morell accuses Snowden of aiding in the rise of the Islamic State. In an interview on Tuesday with Politico Magazine National Editor Michael Hirsh, Morell elaborates on the damage he believes the leaker has done.

Michael Hirsh: How did the Snowden revelations help the Islamic State, and did they somehow lead to the Paris attacks?

Michael Morell: First, ISIS went to school on how we were collecting intelligence on terrorist organizations by using telecommunications technologies. And when they learned that from the Snowden disclosures, they were able to adapt to it and essentially go silent ? And so, part of their rise was understanding what our capabilities were, adjusting to them so we couldn?t see them. No doubt in my mind. And the people who say otherwise are just trying to defend Edward Snowden.

Two?and much more damaging: The Snowden disclosures created this perception that people?s privacy was being put at significant risk. It wasn?t only the Snowden disclosures about [Section] 215 [of the PATRIOT Act, allowing for the mass collection of telephone metadata] that created that, it was the media?s handling of it. The media went to the darkest corner of the room, the CNNs and the FOXes etc. of the world, those people who have a 24/7 news cycle. In those early days, if you were watching CNN, they were saying the NSA is listening to your phone calls. It?s reading your emails. When you call your grandma in Arkansas, the NSA knows. All total bulls–t. They made the public more concerned about the privacy issue than the legitimate facts should have done. And so, the result of that was everything you?ve seen. The constraining of 215. The IT companies building encryption without keys. That is all, at the end of the day, back in Snowden?s lap, in my view.

As far as Paris goes, we don?t know for sure yet how these guys communicate among themselves and how they communicated back to the ISIS leadership in Iraq and Syria, but I?m fairly confident we?re going to learn they used these encrypted communication applications that have commercial encryption and are extremely difficult for companies to break?and which the companies have made the decision not to produce a key for. Even if the government goes to them with a warrant, they can?t give them anything because they don?t have a key. These companies made these decisions about encryption when they were finding it very difficult to sell their products overseas because the Snowden disclosures created the impression that the U.S. government was inside this hardware and software produced by them. They needed to do something to deal with the perception.

Read more »

Laila Harre doesn’t actually believe in her own party policies

…or she does, but she doesn’t have a clue what it all means. ?(More likely)




I still don’t believe that everything on Mega is inaccessible to the people who run Mega. ? It may be safe from outsiders, but the fact that they hold all the software and it hasn’t been independently verified to be secure leaves the possibility open that Mega staff and owners could, conceivably access anything at all.

This would be a matter of trust, would it not?

So you need to look at the people behind Mega. ?I wouldn’t be comfortable with it.


Another big fat German MEGA lie

via 3 News

via 3 News

Lies just drip out of Kim Dotcom’s mouth. Like his new found concerns over gun safety.

Remember all the hoopla surrounding the launch of Mega? How because it was encrypted no one could know what is there, not even MEGA.

The new Mega is designed around a “see no evil” principle. All your uploads are encrypted on their way up to the server, and downloads are encrypted on the way down, only to be opened afterward. While they’re out there floating around in the cloud, they’re encrypted using the private seed you and only you have: your password.

Don’t lose your Mega password, because you won’t be getting it back; Mega doesn’t have it. The service’s carefully calculated ignorance hinges on this point. Your password is?indirectly and complicatedly?used to generate your login credentials and to encrypt all your files on their way to the cloud. Mega won’t know so much as the file names, and neither will anyone else ever again if you lose that password.

They tout it on their website:

mega Read more »


Why I don't want an iPhone

I don’t want an iPhone. I like my Blackberry just fine, and now I will explain why I don’t want an iPhone, ever.

Major Reason: Security – PIN, encoded messaging and browsing.

Blackberry TorchUAE to ban Blackberry email, web browsing and messaging.

Citing national security concerns, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced that it will soon ban e-mail, web browsing and messaging for the BlackBerry smartphone.

?In the public interest, we have today informed the providers of telecommunications services in the country of our decision to suspend the Blackberry services of messenger, email and electronic browsing,? stated Mohammed al-Ghanem, the chief of the UAE?s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

?Today?s decision is based on the fact that, in their current form, certain BlackBerry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national-security concerns,? continued the government?s statement. According to al-Ghanem, ?It?s a final decision,? but they are continuing discussions with Canadian-based Research in Motion (RIM), makers of the BlackBerry device.

That is one major hell yeah reason why I want a Blackberry. Authoritarian, nosy, snoopy governments can’t read my data. The major plus is that Research in Motion has refused to buckle to such big brother bullying. If I am going to rely on something for my communications then i want to know that the provider of the technology won’t sell out on it’s consumers.

At the heart of the ban is the method in which RIM handles BlackBerry data. Unlike most phones, BlackBerry data is encrypted and routed overseas through RIM?s network center in Canada. This has been a major point of contention for several nations, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and India, because it means that these nations cannot monitor the encrypted data being sent. According to The Wall Street Journal, the ban came after RIM rejected the idea of setting up a proxy server within the UAE.

Data security and privacy is important, and it is something Apple and Microsoft suck at. kudos to research in Motion for looking after its consumers.

Ban on BlackBerry data a security badge of honor
By Glenn Chapman (AFP)

SAN FRANCISCO ? Security experts have said that banning BlackBerry data service in the United Arab Emirates smacks of political backlash and could be a testament to how hard it is to snoop on that network.

“The BlackBerry security model is very different from other phones,” said Kevin Mahaffey of Lookout mobile security firm.

“It is end-to-end and the encryption is so strong nobody knows how to monitor it.”

Canada-based Research In Motion built its own platform for business customers that encrypts BlackBerry email messages and routes them in a way that keeps the data off limits from even telecom firms that carry the transmissions.

“They have such good security that I think some countries are uncomfortable with the fact that they can’t intercept it,” said Lookout chief executive John Hering.

While iPhones have been all the rage with smartphones users thrilled by games, social networking, video watching and other casual uses, BlackBerry has remained a favorite for business people craving secure wireless communications.

Leave the iPhones to the kids. There is a reason why sensible government ministers use Blackberrys. The media is supporting Blackberry too.

Blackberry pickle: RIM should resist snoops

THE last thing Research in Motion should do is kowtow to authoritarian governments. The smartphone maker on Tuesday tried to create some buzz around the New York launch of its revamped product (the BlackBerry Torch is widely touted as the answer to the Apple iPhone). But the real buzz was over whether the Canadian company was caving in to pressure for it to sacrifice some of its vaunted consumer security to satisfy the demands of state security.

The United Arab Emirates, which boasts 500,000 BlackBerry users ? not to mention a fair chunk of the 100,000 visitors a day who pass through the Gulf states ? is threatening to suspend vital BlackBerry applications like email and Internet browsing unless the firm makes it easier for the government to monitor encrypted BlackBerry communications.

Kuwait has expressed similar concerns and has given RIM a list of 3,000 so-called porn sites it wants the firm to block from its smartphones in the country. Meanwhile, RIM is reportedly compromising with the government of India by sharing technical codes for corporate email services. (India, at least, is a genuine democracy.)

At issue is RIM?s closed communication network. The firm processes users? encrypted messages through its own centres in Canada and the U.K. and does not use the open Internet for transmissions, so BlackBerrys are less vulnerable to electronic surveillance.

Governments that like to keep an eye on their citizens are frustrated and claim the BlackBerry can enable criminal behaviour or terrorist plots, although terrorists are far better at carrying out attacks with low-tech means. The real concern is the fact that BlackBerrys can empower citizens to organize opposition to authoritarian governments.

I say to governments, including our own, keep you beady distrustful eyes out of my communications. And on that front, I note that Blackberry has released their new Torch.

A note to loyal fans thinking of buying a present for The Whale…a Blackberry Torch looks like the business for me. Thanks in advance.