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by spocko

Which US-made Internet Routers Did the NSA Tamper With?

3:59 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Today in the Guardian, Glenn Greenwald has an excerpt from his new book No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State He reveals how the NSA tampers with exported US-made internet routers, servers and other computer networking devices.
Kitteh Lovez Teh Interweb

 A June 2010 report from the head of the NSA’s Access and Target Development department is shockingly explicit. The NSA routinely receives – or intercepts – routers, servers and other computer network devices being exported from the US before they are delivered to the international customers.

The agency then implants backdoor surveillance tools, repackages the devices with a factory seal and sends them on. The NSA thus gains access to entire networks and all their users. The document gleefully observes that some “SIGINT tradecraft … is very hands-on (literally!)”.

Over at Boing Boing. Joel Moore asks a couple of great questions.

Two questions immediately come to my mind:


1) How exactly does the NSA “interdict” these shipments? Hijacking? Bribery? Willing cooperation of someone in the supply chain?

2) How deeply embedded is this software? Can it be wiped by reinstalling firmware downloaded directly from the vendor?

These are great questions. They really should be addressed by the manufacturers. There are only handful of major manufacturers of the products in question and tech journalists know who they are. Cisco, Juniper and a few others. 

But who is going to ask them? For all we know they are all cooperating under NSA security letters so they can’t talk about it. They can’t even tell people that they have a security letter. Would they welcome a chance to address this issue as a way to clear their name? Reassure customers?

One of the parts about this story that I find fascinating is that the US accused the Chinese of doing this to the routers they were sending here. In this regard they are like the RW media. Whatever they accuse the left of doing, THEY are doing. Based on this principle, what else did the US intelligence community accuse foreign intelligence agencies of doing?

Speaking of the intelligence community, today on Fresh Air is a great interview with two from NSA analysts talking about an upcoming Front Line show, United States of Secrets. where they discuss how the spying program was developed.

Once again I see just how horrible the system is, and how people who want to do the right thing and go through channels are ignored. Then, when someone finally goes to the outside, the government viciously attacks them.

How can insiders fix things that are wrong? How can outsiders help them? One way might be to look at stories like this and use them as a window of opportunity. Hopefully management will not be as pig headed as the US government when it comes to listening to internal voices. After all, their silence has now hurt their profits.  We all know that the most important thing is maintaining profits. Silence is no longer golden.

Speak now or forever hold your tweets.

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by spocko

How Will Fox React to a Post-Snowden Terrorist Attack? Hint: Think Benghazi Not 9/11

9:49 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

After 9/11 I remember predicting another attack. Yet in the US it didn’t happen. (Of course we don’t count the anthrax attack because reasons. That also happened on the Bush/Cheney/Rice watch, but never mind.)

Suppose a third attack had happened under Bush/Cheney. How would Fox News have responded? They would rally around the President. It would be clear it wasn’t Bush/Cheney’s fault, even if it was. They would have a million excuses. Then they would shift the blame to anyone who got in the way of a “gloves off” torture program or the “we’ll surveil everyone” mindset. Anyone who wasn’t in favor of their new martial law was palling around with terrorists and responsible for the last attack.

Fox would target us, people who believe torture is wrong and ineffective, war is not the answer and who think maintaining our civil liberties make us stronger, not weaker. We would be blamed. Even if we could show that all the things that Bush/Cheney did that sacrificed our civil liberties still didn’t keep us safe. So let’s prepare now for this.

Imagine an attack under Obama. An attack where supposedly the NSA is now forced to ‘blind’ themselves and the CIA have had to “put the gloves back on” and not torture people. How will Fox News respond? Will they rally around the President? Will they point out that the NSA surveillance is still on but it still didn’t stop and the attack? Will they remind people that torture doesn’t work, is morally wrong and ‘enhanced interrogation’ still went on under Obama, and it still didn’t catch the terrorists? Don’t make me laugh, I have chapped lips.

Fox News will lose their minds! And they will try to take the country with them against us. Not the terrorists. Against the people who might have thought there was another way to deal with the threats, especially the threats that were created by the rights’ over reactions. I can hear Fox anchors screaming now:

Because of the Snowden revelations the NSA couldn’t do their job! The terrorists knew how to evade capture! The CIA couldn’t get good intelligence out of suspects because they wouldn’t use enhanced interrogation! Dick Cheney and George Bush kept us safe! Obama is soft on terrorism! 

All sorts of worthless and horrific programs and structures that “kept us safe” under Bush/Cheney/Obama/Biden will be given a bigger budget. Even if those programs could never have caught the perpetrators.

I though of all this while watching Person of Interest. It is one of the finest TV shows on network television. Don’t go slumming into 24 for your fighting terrorism fix, check out PoI.

At 18:16 into the show the person who is responsible for the AI program “Northern Lights” explains how it has kept us safe from terrorism in the PoI world. This is the speech that I’ll bet the NSA is still giving today if anyone dares to question how effective they are. As Kevin Gosztola and others have pointed out, their success are mostly an illusion. As a secret agency with no oversight, they can always play the,”We really DID save you, but it’s classified” card. 

In the video clip shown, I really like speech by Control talking about the terrorist plot they busted. I also wonder if, during all this back and forth about Northern Lights (the NSA-like surveillance AI program) a terrorist attack happens. The Fox News in their world would be all over it! “Obama shuts off machine protecting us! Anti-surveillance group has innocent blood on their hands!” The head of the NSA will be seen as a hero, and people whining about their “civil liberties’ are making America unsafe. “That attack could have been stopped.” Is what the head of the Northern Lights program will say, “But we were told to shut it down. If the American public wants to be safe again, they need to let us turn it back on. ”

So when the next attack happens, how will we respond? We already know how Fox News will. We are the real enemy to them. Obama is not their President. In a time of crisis I would like to think they would stand with the President of the United States like many of us did with Bush. But look at what they are doing with Benghazi, and ask. “What would Roger Ailes do?”


We are seeing votes to ‘rein in the NSA‘ will future votes split on partisan lines?  Then when the next attack happens they can say, “I didn’t want to rein them in!”