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Tag: snowden


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Hackers

// Posted by on 05/28/2015 (5:56 PM)

This weeks reading was very eye opening for me. I am not one to watch the news every day but in the past few semester I have taken courses that require me to become more knowledgeable in what is going… Read more

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This weeks reading was very eye opening for me. I am not one to watch the news every day but in the past few semester I have taken courses that require me to become more knowledgeable in what is going on in the world around me. I guess growing up in this digital age I assumed that the technology had always been around and was not new to people. One mind-blowing fact I learned this week was that there are people being paid to hack into others computers to see what they are doing. While reading this week I went back and forth as to whether I agreed with the idea of Stuxnet and how it was hacked. It also made me go back and forth on my thoughts about Snowden as there are people from both situations that were thought of as trying to sabotage our nation.

The difference between Snowden and Stuxnet to me is that Snowden was trying to help our country and Stuxnet was a virus aimed to attack another country. As an American I agree with both because they are both helping to protect our country. Nuclear warfare is not a new fear for the United States. We have feared this type of attack for a long time. This is the reason why Stuxnet was created. The government was trying to protect our country against this type of attack. The reason that I went back and forth as to whether I agreed with hackers is because of the fact that they are paid to do try to hurt others work. I realize though that the creators of Stuxnet were also hackers so I guess I am still undecided if the idea is positive for the greater good or negative.

I can only imagine the scramble that the creators of Stuxnet were in when they realized that hackers had started to decode their system. It amazes me that there are people who are paid to hack these systems. Moreover it is crazy to me how much money people are paid when they do find a zero day in a system. I think that this is a good skill to have but only if it is used for the right reason.

I liked the idea of the Idefense that we read about. This was where hackers could turn in the information they had discovered about zerodays to a safe place. I think that there should be more incentive to have people do this because I am sure many people are selling to the black market just because they get the most money. As the world is changing and technology is advancing I think that more people should get involved in the information technology system as it seems that it is a career that will always have an opening.


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Mass Survellience

// Posted by on 05/26/2015 (10:32 PM)

Former government employees, hackers and journalist are educating American citizens who have a false since of security regarding government activities and their personal data.  Similarly to how Brand and Brilliant provided The Whole Earth Catalog and the WELL, an… Read more

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Former government employees, hackers and journalist are educating American citizens who have a false since of security regarding government activities and their personal data.  Similarly to how Brand and Brilliant provided The Whole Earth Catalog and the WELL, an online meeting place for their followers (hackers, journalist and other professionals), people could log onto WikiLeaks.org and obtain classified government information unattainable elsewhere.  The activities being uncovered include illegal, immoral and murderous practices, and are costing tax payers billions of dollars.

As written in the article, The NSA is building the country’s biggest spy center, billions are dollars being spent on secret facilities such as Bluffdale (a facility that will be five times the size of the US Capitol) filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. The author indicates “Its purpose to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the WORLD’s communication obtained from satellites, underground and over the ground wiring”.  Not just pertinent information needed for national security but all information.

Oddly enough, these informants work unaccompanied or in small groups which brings to mind the biblical story of David and Goliath with Goliath representing the bureaucracy.  Captured from the article, Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations Edward Snowden believed that the public deserved to know about the “threat to democracy” occurring with hidden government actions which included a “federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers” that exist in a “world that I love” even though he has now become a fugitive from this world. I think he felt if he did not act quickly the abuse of power would have continued its downward spiral.

Snowden understood that he will be ridiculed by the media and punished including put to death by government in the event he is caught but this martyr seems to put the good of others first when he states that “The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won’t be able to help any more”.  His fears were justified as he lives in isolation, fearful for his life and of his loved ones.  I have always been more of a follower than a leader and doubt I would have the same courage to antagonize a hunger lion as Snowden.  The hunger lion referenced would be the sometimes embarrassed, overly incompetent and overly zealous NSA who seemed to stand idly by during 9-11, World Trade Center and other terrorist attacks successfully executed.

United States government employees and agencies are participating in unwarranted, secretive, and illegal activity against its citizens and citizens of other countries via the internet and phone conversations which are being uncovered and share with a very naïve public under the guise of our own safety.  In the article, No Secrets Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency, Assange “shared confidential information and publish it on a Web site called WikiLeaks.org and in a manner that it could not be erased”.  These illegal activities are not limited to the USA but others have threatened legal actions include unscrupulous Kenyan politicians, the Swiss banks, Russian offshore stem-cell centers, former African kleptocrats, or the Pentagon.”

Do the ends justify the means?  I think it does when the purpose is as noble and self-less as has been documented in these articles.  Especially when the end result brings about the kind of enlightenment that both Snowden and Assange’s have shared.  In the article, How digital detectives deciphered stuxnet, the most menacing malware in history the reader is introduced to how the zero-day code can infect thousands of computers in high usage countries and extracting confidential information and return this information to multiple locations.  The data stored by the worm used to track down the source and can be fixed or sold.

I get the sense that few are truly against US surveillance when it is properly regulated and those who abuse the power are quickly punished.  I am grateful to reports like Glen Greenwald who work to uncover the truth exposing the antagonist and the protagonist, all while being unafraid of the blowback. I think this type of work encourages the leaders to take positive action regardless of the cost.

Interesting links

http://us.macmillan.com/static/holt/greenwald/NoPlaceToHide-Documents-Compressed.pdf

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/05/12/311619780/glenn-greenwald-nsa-believes-it-should-be-able-to-monitor-all-communication <http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/05/12/311619780/glenn-greenwald-nsa-believes-it-should-be-able-to-monitor-all-communication>

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/11/19/irrelevance-u-s-congress-stopping-nsas-mass-surveillance/ <https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/11/19/irrelevance-u-s-congress-stopping-nsas-mass-surveillance/>

 

 

 


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Edward Snowden and Mass Surveillance

// Posted by on 05/26/2015 (10:05 PM)

Edward Snowden left a life of comfort seemingly due to his strong beliefs and opinions about government mass surveillance. Working for the NSA he was privy to confidential information and documents about the U.S. government and what it knows and… Read more

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Edward Snowden left a life of comfort seemingly due to his strong beliefs and opinions about government mass surveillance. Working for the NSA he was privy to confidential information and documents about the U.S. government and what it knows and about whom. From the many readings for this post I’ve come to see him not as a hero or a villain but rather as an intelligent young man with a sound basis and desire to do what he thinks is the right thing for all Americans. Notice I say what “he thinks” is right for us, but not necessarily what all Americans might agree is the right thing to do.

It’s obvious that the complexity of this issue is not easily summarized. There are technological pieces and parts that even Snowden said would be difficult for the average person without the high level training he has had to understand. Simply put, he wants us to know our government is spying on us without due cause. Snowden wants to release and disclose only those documents he feels are pertinent to domestic surveillance, not foreign. This causes me to consider how he distinguishes between right and wrong based on if the U.S. government is spying on domestic soil or foreign? He doesn’t seem to have an issue with foreign surveillance but definitely with domestic surveillance of unknowing citizens. Snowden made it clear in his interview with John Oliver that the average American does not understand just how complex the NSA is. This is a fair statement. I, for one, do not understand the intricacies of the NSA and why should I…if I trust by government. Herein lies the heart of this discussion.

After 9-11 and the Patriot Act was established, I don’t think many Americans were focusing on anything other than our government protecting us from foreign threats. We weren’t thinking of Patriot Act 215 which allows the government to ask businesses to handover any documents to prevent terrorism. After all, that seems reasonable in light of what had just occurred in our country and the number of deaths at the hands of terrorists. What Edward Snowden is focused on is educating the public on the breadth of intrusive, invasive surveillance that is occurring within the government. His mission is to enlighten the public in order to engage a conversation on the legitimacy of NSA actions.

Snowden’s plan seems well thought out and not a knee-jerk reaction to the knowledge he became aware of. He didn’t just one day think to himself…I’ll disclose government secrets to the world, flee the country and continue to keep feeding documents to journalist so the information will continue to be disclosed to the public. He was by all accounts a very smart man. I’m sure at one point, perhaps in the beginning of his recognition that what he was seeing or learning wasn’t what he personally felt big brother should be doing, he must have been scared just thinking about what he was going to do and formulating his plan. The actions he took aren’t one of a non-planning and systematically organized individual. He must have given a lot of thought as to how he would implement his plan to disclose the ills of the NSA.

Snowden tells us that the NSA knows all and that is pretty scary. Seriously, can the NSA store phone records of all Americans? Probably, yes. Can the NSA intercede and impede the fundamental rights of citizens? Snowden says absolutely they can and they do. He purports the information stored on servers is moved around from server to server and implicates Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others in his accusations. If what Snowden says and the documents he has leaked are true, then nothing we do is private because the government can access our online activities at any time. That would include phone calls, text, Skype, computer activity, etc. And it’s not just that Snowden viewed the invasion by the NSA as harmful to Americans, but also to foreign countries where the NSA had no purpose to collect information or monitor online activities.

If you’re looking at this from the point of view of the NSA they are of course going to substantiate any and all actions in the name of preventing terror attacks on the U.S. The last thing they want is a whistleblower like Snowden releasing the “secrets.” Snowden is a man on the run and hiding out from many people who are looking for him. It makes me wonder why if the NSA has the power to “know all” about anyone and anything, they can’t find Snowden…he has managed to evade those looking to bring him back to the U.S. for prosecution. Snowden presents the NSA’s actions as a blow to the fundamental concept of liberty for all Americans. He says the information is being used against us. He urges citizens to learn and understand the system so they have an opportunity to decide what kind of government they want to have. But, he also admits the technology is difficult to understand.

The way Snowden explains PRISM is a system run by the NSA that is used to gain access to private communications of users of the top nine Internet servers. I found myself asking, how does he know all of this information? Why has no one else come forward with him if the NSA’s surveillance is basically spying on citizens. Snowden couldn’t be the only person who knows this information. It’s too wide spread for him to be in this alone. I know he continues to pass information along to journalists so it can be communicated to the public but how did one man become the major whistleblower for such a large government agency as the NSA? I’m sure foreign countries would love to have Snowden’s knowledge. This makes him a marked man. How can he ever return to a normal life? He says he missed his family but his life’s mission is disclosing what the government is doing and the breadth and scope of information our government is collecting about us. I think Snowden is brave but I also think he has crossed a line in which he can never return. He will forever be on the fun from someone who wants his knowledge for good or for bad. He seems determined to stay the path no matter what the personal cost.

This brings up once again the age of digital America and is the Internet a good thing or a bad thing in the long run. What if Snowden had never come forward with any of this information? Would we be concerned about what we put online, text, or say on phone calls? Even now knowing who Snowden is and what he is trying to do (and has done), has it changed the average American’s life? Do we stop using the Internet, shut down our Facebook accounts and stop texting friends. No, we do not. I think at this point the government knows so much and has such a volume of information on everyone that is it almost incomprehensible and unimaginable to try and understand how it all works.

 


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Hope for the best, but plan for the worst!

// Posted by on 05/26/2015 (9:08 PM)

For the past few days I have given a lot of thought to having records of my personal emails and phone calls possibly being stored in a warehousing facility in Bluffdale, Utah.  It is troubling, very troubling.  I can somewhat… Read more

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For the past few days I have given a lot of thought to having records of my personal emails and phone calls possibly being stored in a warehousing facility in Bluffdale, Utah.  It is troubling, very troubling.  I can somewhat understand the idea behind such a place that according to the article in Wired, will be “…secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks.”  It is for the greater good, right?  We should be okay with the NSA doing this as a way to protect us, shouldn’t we?  The issue I have is intent.  What is the intent of all of this data collection?  How will this information be used?  How could it possibly be used against me or someone I know?

When I was in 9th grade I had a world history teacher named Mr. Meyerholz.  He was different from any other teacher than I had ever had before.  He was different because he offered contrarian viewpoints to history.  Up until that point I had been taught that our government would take care of us and had our best interests at heart. (Over simplified for purposes of blog!) In class one day he said that many people did not mind having a dictator as they would not have to be bothered by making decisions about their own lives.  He would question us with what it would look like if we stopped paying attention and just let out leaders rule without opposition. Looking back it all makes sense.  Mr. Meyerholz was ahead of his time!

I have added a scene from the movie The American President. I think it is very appropriate in this situation.  It is the scene near the end of the movie where President Andrew Shepherd addresses some issues that his opponent has questioned him on.  I especially like his explanation of free speech and the way he explains how elections are won.  He doesn’t use the word apathy, but I will.  This seems to be a common theme to me in the articles, especially the Snowden and Assange articles.  Each of these men, in their own way, have brought information to the world and it is up to us to react or not.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OC2jhQ0KAAU

In the Wired interview Snowden made an excellent point regarding NSA fatigue comparing the mass surveillance leaks to the deaths of troops during a war.  We get used to hearing it and we stop paying attention to it.  It is not news anymore, it is the new normal.  I would argue that the average person does not care that the NSA is listening in on their phone conversations or reading their emails.  I would further argue that they do not believe it is going on in the first place.  Why would our government do this to us?  I live in Hometown, USA and I have nothing to do with terrorist plots so why would the NSA worry itself over what I am doing? Why, indeed.

I have also included a 60 Minutes interview regarding the Edward Snowden data breach.  It offers a different view of Mr. Snowden than the article in Wired.   I realize the NSA has to save face and I understand the badmouthing of Snowden, but it felt odd.  I felt as though they were talking someone I knew.  I had not really paid much attention to him until taking this class.  I just figured he was a traitor pure and simple.  The article about him made his explanation sound so plausible.  This 60 Minutes interview discusses the clean up after he left the NSA.  They had no idea what he had done or even taken.

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/the-snowden-affair/

I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Meyerholz when I was reading the article about Julian Assange.  Mr. Meyerholz would say that we are allowing ourselves to be led around by our noses and that we need to question what is going on.  Julian Assange is trying to do this with WikiLeaks.   His life’s work is bringing information to the people and the people are not paying attention.  For example, he and his staff went to great lengths to edit and share the video Collateral Murder.  Once it was made public the military was able to explain its actions by saying that they had not violated any rules of engagement.

Again, I think it is difficult for the average person to think that the military would do something so criminal.  One point that Khatchadourian made in the article that I think is very important to remember is that, “Assange, despite his claims to scientific journalism, emphasized to me that his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events.”  This, I think, may cloud the information that he provides.  He may very well be putting lives in danger and there are those that do not understand that policy.

Any information can be manipulated and used for ill will.  I feel the lesson from the readings this week and Mr. Meyerholz is to question what is being done with the information.  The groundbreaking ceremony under a tent in Utah is a bit suspect!  On the other hand I also think it is funny that the article tells us where the top secret facility is!  I know I have just contradicted myself, but it is a very hard topic to form a solid opinion on.  So I will offer this.  I have heard it said before on more than one occasion that hope is not a strategy.  But I hope that the information that is being collected by the NSA is being used for good and not evil.  I hope the information gathered and leads to stopping future terrorist attacks and saves lives.  I hope, I hope, I hope.

UPDATE!

I just saw this and thought it was interesting.  I wonder if Aaron Portnoy helped Apple out?

Apple finds bug that causes iPhones to crash|Reuters

 

 

 

 


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Welcome to Diaspora*

// Posted by on 09/21/2014 (5:50 PM)

Diaspora*? What?

In keeping with a social media response theme, for this week’s experience I joined Diaspora*. Established in 2010, Diaspora* is a social media site that allows users to join or create their own servers (called “pods”) to share… Read more

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Diaspora*? What?

In keeping with a social media response theme, for this week’s experience I joined Diaspora*. Established in 2010, Diaspora* is a social media site that allows users to join or create their own servers (called “pods”) to share content ranging from text, articles, photos, and videos. There are pods all over the world; some larger than others. Users have the option to create their own pod to post their content to, or join one based on their size and location preferences. Unlike other centralized forms of social media like Facebook or MySpace, users own everything they post on Diaspora*, which means they have control over how it is shared and distributed.

 

For our experience, I was assigned the character of Edward Snowden, the infamous former NSA employee who stole and subsequently leaked classified documents to the press. Guided by the belief that the government was infringing on the privacy, internet freedom, and basic liberties of its citizens with a monumental surveillance machine, Snowden methodically searched through close to two million documents, selecting those that would best expose the absence of federal transparency (Greenwald, MacAskill, & Pointras). Trying to keep in character, I googled “social media sites” and pulled up a Wikipedia article that had compiled a master list of social media websites, including a description of their focus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites).  I wanted to join a site that shares Snowden’s values of privacy and freedom, and Diaspora* fit the bill. Committed to decentralization, freedom, and privacy, in many ways it is a direct reflection of Snowden’s opinions on the ideal relationship between technology and society.

Using the site

Signing up to use Diaspora*, I was prompted for my email, a username, and password. I was never asked for my real name, age, location, or gender. Once I signed up, I was directed to a page that asked me “What Are You Into?,” giving me a space to type in searchable hashtags that other participants had used in their posts. I typed in #snowden-nsa, #edwardsnowden, #glengreenwald, #transparency, #nsa, #chelseamanning, #wikileak, #julianassange, and #surveillance. After hitting “enter,” a Facebook newsfeed-style page appeared with posts that contained those hashtags. Originally, I had planned on sharing something or commenting on a post. I realized that these hashtags relate to matters of national security, and in a panic I had a vision that my words would land me on a government watch list. Perhaps my new friend Edward Snowden is to blame for the paranoia?

Below are screen shots of some posts that appeared on my page. If anything, the conversations captured below should do something to assuage Snowden’s worry that the public has become numb to NSA disclosures. People are talking, and they want to be heard:

 

 

What does Diaspora* have to do with our experience?

In Information Please, Poster endeavors to examine the ways we spark confrontations between culture and media. He argues that culture can no longer be understood independent from technology, and that the relationship between culture and technology has made the national global by facilitating new types of interactions across the world. Both Diaspora* and our experience on Wednesday reflect this global interconnectedness. Because of technology, Edward Snowden, Wikileaks, Glen Greenwald, Hong Kong, Russia, Chelsea Manning, and the NSA are intertwined in ways they never would have been in its absence. During the experience, we were able to see how the actions of individuals impact entire nations and organizations. Users on Diaspora* are able to weigh in on these matters in a way that doesn’t stand to threaten their beliefs in decentralization, privacy, and freedom. Is this the direction social media is heading in? I don’t know. What I do know is that as our experience and this site clearly demonstrate, opinions, actions, and their consequences will never again be confined to the borders of a single nation.


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The real threat.

// Posted by on 02/21/2014 (9:28 PM)

Attacks occurred on September 11 of 2011 triggered a new urgency to predict threats to the United States and every other nation. Although the headlines of the news were principally oriented to geopolitical strategies, the necessity of a better-prepared country… Read more

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Attacks occurred on September 11 of 2011 triggered a new urgency to predict threats to the United States and every other nation. Although the headlines of the news were principally oriented to geopolitical strategies, the necessity of a better-prepared country didn’t end there.
Experts on Nation’s Security turned their sight to the Internet. Therefore, in a decade of dependence on technology the fear of digital attacks began to rise in the Congress of the United States, who believed that the camouflage provided by the cyberspace could set the perfect scenario for what they called “cyber-terrorism”, which included espionage programs leaded by terrorists organizations targeting the United States.
What really happened since 9/11 is that World’s politics failed to reach the gigantic steps of telecommunications and virtual space. Therefore they didn’t identify the real threats and intending to protect national security, government violated the freedom of speech and the privacy prior given by the Constitution of the United States of America.
In that matter, Chris Clymer, manager of advisory services at SecureState affirmed “terrorist have focused on doing physical damages to the United States instead of cyber-wars”.
On the other hand, smartphones, tablets and such devices didn’t exist as popular as they are now back in 2011. Nevertheless, the real threats were not, are not and probably will not lay in the communication established via daily used apps (“angry birds”, Hotmail, whatsapp, and so). Instead, they will hide in the dark corners of the “deep web”, which is a space away from any controlled or regulated site of the Internet. In that place; hitmen, weapon traffic and human trade are a common practice. As a result, violating the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution by searching everyone’s data without a warrant and with no logical or sustained suspicious will only break the trust of citizens in their government and will not prevent the real threats of the cyberspace to explode.
Finally, if Internet continues being used as a way to complete unjustified investigations on innocent people and prohibiting the freedom of speech given by the Constitution what will happen is that the monster of anger and distrust will spark in the citizens and a more horizontal (and less vertical) communication between the government, the media and the people will be demanded resulting in real “sneak-leak” attacks not committed by other countries but by the local press and the average citizen, as already happened with the Snowden issue.

 

Itzel Hervert 888568


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Response to Aranzazu at Tec

// Posted by on 02/21/2014 (3:15 PM)

Sorry about the terrible sound quality! It was recorded on my phone.

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Sorry about the terrible sound quality! It was recorded on my phone.


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Response to National Security vs. Internet Privacy

// Posted by on 02/20/2014 (8:37 PM)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLG58k8r6dk

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLG58k8r6dk


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