Tag Archives: NSA

China counters US claims with own charges of cyber-espionage

On Tuesday China’s state controlled media released a report that stated that the Americans had hacked into over 1 million Chinese computers. The report said that during the past 2 months, 1.2 million computers had been hacked into by the Americans.

The report was released after America’s allegations on Monday, that five Chinese officials had stolen trade secrets from American companies. This is the first time America has tried to charge state funded hackers.

China said that the “fabricated” allegations are damaging their two countries relations. US officials have said that “the country will not tolerate the alleged sabotage of its companies.” China was very quick to deny the claims, saying that the Americans were being hypocritical.

Chinese government officials said that “China is a victim of severe U.S. Cyber Theft, wire tapping and surveillance activities.”

Many of the claimed targets of the American cyber attacks include: Chinese government departments, universities and major companies.

To ease tensions between the two nations and to resolve the security issues, the two nations have established a Chinese and US working group. But china’s foreign minister said that the group had been suspended due to “the US’s lack of sincerity.” China now demands a withdrawal of the US’s claims.

Tensions have been high between the two countries after Edward Snowdon’s claims that the US had been hacking into schools and companies based in mainland china, in his damaging report on the NSA. Many experts believe that this is to bring the alleged hacking, back into the spotlight and American officials believe that the cyber espionage preformed by the Chinese government will result in major job losses and have a damaging effect on the US economy. No official agreement has been made between the two countries to resolve the issue. This dispute is expected to go on into the future.

NSA use tool to record “100%” of a country’s phone calls

The Washington Post is today reporting that the NSA used blanket tactics to monitor phone calls from an entire country.

Millions of voice “cuts” are extracted for long time storage as part of a system called MYSTIC that’s been running since 2009, according to the latest tranche of leaked documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Analysts have been able to use a search tool called RETRO (retrospective retrieval) to query data on the vast system and replay the content of calls.

TheWashington Postis acting on a request from US officials to withhold anything that might identify the country where the system is being employed or the other six countries where its use is planned.

MYSTIC is rare, if not unique, in focusing on the content of voice communications. Most of the agency’s previously disclosed operations have focused on either call metadata or the data mining of electronic communications through programmes such as PRISM.

Handling and transmitting bulky voice files acted as a major snag in putting together MYSTIC, at least in its early days. Around a year after MYSTIC went live, a programme officer wrote that the project “has long since reached the point where it was collecting and sending home far more than the bandwidth could handle,” theWashington Postreports.

Similar capacity ceilings have cropped up across a range of NSA collection programs, a factor that explains the spy agency’s move to cloud-based collection systems and the construction of a massive mission data repository at a new facility in Utah, theWashington Postadds.

An indiscriminate bulk content collection programme, even one that operates in a limited number of foreign countries, sits uncomfortably with a January reassurance by President Obama that the “United States is not spying on ordinary people who dont threaten our national security.

Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that history suggests the MYSTIC program is only to “expand to more countries, retain data longer and expand the secondary uses over the next couple of years or so.

NSA & GCHQ Target Mobile Apps to Gain Personal Data

It has been reported that personal data has been obtained by the British spy agency, Government Communications HQ (GCHQ) and the US spy agency, National Security Agency (NSA) from smartphone apps which leak personal data.

The documents were leaked by Edward Snowden who is currently living in asylum in Russia and faces espionage charges in the USA after revealing the NSA’s telephone and surveillance programmes last year.

It is reported that the leaked documents show that mapping, gaming and social networking apps are providing the GCHQ and NSA with location information and other details such as their political association and sexual orientation.

One app that has been heavily exploited is Angry Birds. It is one of the leading apps with a download count of over 1.7 billion worldwide.

Rovio, the company that made the app Angry Birds claimed that they have no knowledge of the GCHQ or NSA trying to collect data from their app.

Saara Bergström, who is Rovio’s VP of marketing and communications stated, “Rovio doesn’t have any previous knowledge of this matter, and have not been aware of such activity in 3rd party advertising networks. Nor do we have any involvement with the organizations you mentioned (NSA and GCHQ).”

Angry Birds wasn’t the only app to be detailed in which personal data was obtained. In one of the leaked documents, there was a list which detailed other mobile apps which could be exploited. Such apps that were listed included the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Flixster and Flickr.

Reports in the New York Times and the Guardian suggested that the joint spying programme “effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system.”

The NSA has released a statement claiming that these allegations are not true. In the statement, they claimed that, “Any implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is focused on the smartphone or social media communications of everyday Americans is not true. We collect only those communications that we are authorised by law to collect for valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes – regardless of the technical means used by the targets.”

The GCHQ refused to comment but claimed that all of its activities were “authorised, necessary and proportionate.”

With social media apps and gaming apps becoming more and more popular, it is important that you are happy with just how much personal data is potentially being disclosed as it is unknown just who may be able to access it.

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