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Tag: guardian

Guardian: Internet Security Becomes Huge, Growing Problem

hacking By Editorial Board
The Guardian

The phone in your pocket gives you powers that were hard to imagine even five years ago. It can talk to you, listen, and give sensible answers to questions. It knows your fingerprint and recognises your face and those of all your friends. It can buy almost anything, sell almost anything, bring you all the news you want, as well as almost all the books, films and music you might want to look at. What’s more, it will even allow you to talk to your friends and to communicate with almost anyone.

The problem is that these powers are not yours – at least they don’t belong to you alone. They belong to whoever controls the phone and can be used to serve their purposes as well as yours. Repressive governments and criminal gangs are all contending to break into phones today, and this kind of hacking will increasingly become the preferred route into all of the computer networks that we use – the ones we don’t call “phones”.

Apple’s sudden forced upgrade to the iPhone operating system last week was a response to these anxieties. A dissident in the UAE appears to have had his iPhone hijacked by a very sophisticated piece of malware produced by a security company and sold legally, if in secret, to regimes that want to spy on their enemies. This offers its controllers complete knowledge of anything the infected phone is privy to: that’s all the contacts, all the messages of any sort, whether chats, texts or emails, all the calendars and even, potentially, any voice conversation that it overhears. It’s difficult to imagine a more assiduous or intimate spy. And once one phone has been subverted, it becomes a tool for spying into all other the networks to which it or the owner has access.

To read more click here.

Guardian Columnist: Calm Down, FBI. The Web Won’t Go Dark Anytime Soon

Apple logoJohn Naughton
Guardian

The Apple v FBI standoff continues to generate more heat than light, with both sides putting their case to “the court of public opinion” — which, in this case, is at best premature and at worst daft. Apple has just responded to the court injunction obliging it to help the government unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernadino killers with a barrage of legal arguments involving the first and fifth amendments to the US constitution. Because the law in the case is unclear (there seems to be only one recent plausible precedent and that dates from 1977), I can see the argument going all the way to the supreme court. Which is where it properly belongs, because what is at issue is a really big question: how much encryption should private companies (and individuals) be allowed to deploy in a networked world?

In the meantime, we are left with posturing by the two camps, both of which are being selective with the actualité, as Alan Clark might have said. Apple is staking a claim to the high moral ground: this is not just about one phone, it says, but about the security and privacy of millions of citizens everywhere. Agreeing to the FBI’s request to write a special version of the phone’s operating system that would disable its in-built blocking mechanism against automated password guessing would set a very dangerous precedent that governments everywhere would exploit. True, especially in China, where, coincidentally, Apple sells more iPhones than it does in the US.

The FBI, for its part, is trying a two-pronged approach. One is the soothing tone: don’t worry about a precedent, they say, we just want to get the data off this one phone. The FBI should tell that to the marines, or at any rate to prosecutors all over the US who have iPhones that they want Apple to unlock. The Manhattan district attorney, to name just one, has 175 of the darned things. So if Apple is forced to concede in the end, it’ll find a long queue at its door.

The other part of the FBI strategy is also to stake a claim to the high moral ground. James Comey, its director, has been sounding off for ages that cyberspace is “going dark” (ie invisible to law enforcement) because of encryption and that this is intolerable. Over here, the same line has been energetically peddled by David Cameron. “In extremis,” he said recently, “it has been possible to read someone’s letter, to listen to someone’s call, to mobile communications… The question remains: are we going to allow a means of communications where it simply is not possible to do that? My answer to that question is: no, we must not.”

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

Stejskal: The Double Steal — The Right and Wrong Way to Steal Trade Secrets

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

Greg Stejskal

 
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

It took about 5,000 years from the discovery of glass until a process was developed to economically mass produce flat glass, and only a few years before the technology was stolen.

Glass is one of the great fundamental inventions – not at the level of the wheel or fire, but up pretty high on the list. Glass is chiefly made from relatively common and inexpensive raw materials: sand, soda ash (sodium carbonate) and lime.

No one knows when glass was first invented or by whom. It does occur in nature when lightning strikes sand or sometimes from volcanic eruptions (obsidian). Its first use seems to have been as a glaze for ceramic vessels in about 3,000 BCE. It wasn’t until about 1,500 BCE that glass vessels were produced in Egypt (ultimately used to hold beer, one of my favorite inventions). The use of a pipe for blowing superheated glass wasn’t invented until circa 30 BCE.

Through the ages uses for glass have multiplied and are as diverse as flat glass to optical lenses which enabled the development of telescopes and microscopes. But this story is about the technology to produce flat glass, and why some people would go to great lengths to steal it.

Flat glass is used primarily for windows and doors on homes, buildings and vehicles. Until relatively recently there wasn’t an economical way to produce large quantities of quality flat glass.

Flat glass was originally made by blowing cylinders of glass that were cut open and flattened then cut into panes. Most window glass up until the early 1800s was made using the cylinder method. The cylinders were limited in size. They were 6-8 feet (2-3m) long and 10-14 inches (~30cm) in diameter, thus limiting the size of the panes that could be cut. Large windows had to be made of multiple panes.

In 1848 Henry Bessemer, an English engineer, designed a system that produced a continuous ribbon of flat glass by forming the ribbon of molten glass between rollers. This was an expensive process as the surface of the glass had to be ground and polished. This did overcome the size limitations of the cylinder method. Beginning in the 1920s, a continuous ribbon of glass was passed through a lengthy series of inline grinders and polishers, reducing glass loss and cost.

The major breakthrough in the production of flat glass didn’t come until the late 1950s. Sir Alastair Pilkington and Kenneth Bickerstaff of Pilkington Brothers, Ltd. in the UK developed the first successful commercial float glass process.

Bill Davidson

Float glass uses common glass-making raw materials. The materials are mixed with cullet (waste glass) in a furnace where it is heated to ~2,800 degrees F (1,500C). When the mixture becomes molten, it is allowed to pour onto a “tin bath,” a bath of molten tin about 2.3 inches (6cm) deep, 3-4 feet (3-4m) wide and 150 feet (45m) long.

The glass enters via a canal. The speed and volume of glass flow is controlled by a gate called a twill. The glass literally floats on top of the tin with uniform thickness. (The molten tin does not adhere to the glass, but an oxygen free atmosphere has to be maintained to keep the tin from oxidizing and adhering to the glass.) As the glass flows along the tin bath, the temperature is gradually reduced. At the end of the bath, the glass has cooled to approximately 1,100F (600C). At that temperature the glass can be lifted from the bath onto rollers. The glass ribbon is pulled by the rollers at a controlled speed. The speed at which the glass is pulled determines its thickness.

As the glass is pulled from the bath, it passes through a lehr (a type of kiln) where it gradually cools so that it anneals and does not crack from more rapid temperature change. After exiting the lehr, the glass is cut by machines.

Read more »

Some Congress Members Demand More Answers About Boston Marathon Bombing Probe

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Some members of Congress are still not satisfied with FBI’s response to questions about the Boston Marathon bombings, My Fox Boston reports.

One of the lingering questions is: Why didn’t the FBI tell local law enforcement that Russian authorities had warned the U.S. about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the bombing suspect who was killed.

Leading the charge is Rep. William R. Keating, D-Bourne, who is frustrated that he can’t get more pointed responses from the FBI.

“(Information sharing) was an important piece after 9/11, and I’m not seeing any kind of formal effort to take information that’s there and share it with local law enforcement,” Keating told FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.

The FBI responded that the police department had access to a computer system, Guardian, that would have divulged information about Tsarnaev.

Brit Official Denies Report FBI is Sending Armed Agents to 2012 London Olympics

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
Reports that the FBI is sending an army of armed agents to the 2012 Olympics just ain’t true, at least according to the a Brit official.

The website News24 reported that Chris Allison, the national security co-ordinator for the games, “sharply rejected reports that armed FBI agents would be taking part in securing the games, insisting on Tuesday that Britain did not need outside help to keep the event safe.”

Specifically, he rejected reports in the Guardian newspaper that said the U.S. would send armed FBI agents to protect U.S. interests.

“There will be no foreign armed personnel here,” Allison said, according to the site.

 

Oracle Investigation Latest in Trend in Foreign Corrupt Practice Act Crackdown by Justice Dept.

 
By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The Software company Oracle is being investigated by the FBI, reports the Guardian, in what some see as a trend in the increase of prosecutions under the foreign corrupt practices act (FCPA), which forbids U.S. companies from paying bribes to foreign government officials or employees of state-owned companies.

“Every week there seem to be more and more companies going through what Oracle is going through,” said Butler University professor Mike Koehler, who maintains a blog on the subject, according to The Guardian.

Koehler cited increasing globalization and the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which brought stricter corporate disclosure requirements, for the increase. He said  FCPA actions in 2010 accounted for 50% of the fines levied by the Justice department’s criminal division.

“The Justice Department brought 24 enforcement actions in 2010, up from five in 2004, and has brought seven so far this year,” the Guardian reports.

Other software companies have or are facing similar concerns; Hewlett-Packard is currently under investigation, and IBM paid the SEC $10 million this year on similar charges.

Investigators are looking at whether or not Oracle or it’s employees paid government officials to secure software contracts in western and central Africa.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST