Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government United States Your Rights Online

NSA Targeting Domestic Computer Systems 105

Posted by timothy
from the domestic-abuse dept.
The NSA was originally supposed to handle foreign intelligence, and leave the domestic spying to other agencies, but Presto Vivace writes with this bit from CNET: "'The National Security Agency's Perfect Citizen program hunts for vulnerabilities in 'large-scale' utilities, including power grid and gas pipeline controllers, new documents from EPIC show.' 'Perfect Citizen?' Who thinks up these names?" "The program is scheduled to continue through at least September 2014," says the article.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NSA Targeting Domestic Computer Systems

Comments Filter:
  • Imperfect citizens (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davidwr (791652) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @05:27PM (#42377145) Homepage Journal

    'Perfect Citizen?' Who thinks up these names?"

    Answer in subject line.

    • peopel who get in based on know they kown or who can make the biggest pay off.

      • by wdef (1050680)

        peopel who get in based on know they kown or who can make the biggest pay off.

        That is not intelligible.

    • by slick7 (1703596) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @05:56PM (#42377329)

      'Perfect Citizen?' Who thinks up these names?"

      Answer in subject line.

      Hitler had his youth organization that turned in their parents.
      We have GTA IV, HALO, Gears of War, etc. De-sensitizing children to violence leads to cold-blooded adults. War does the same thing, but it's more expensive and messier; and it is "these" people that will become the storm-trooping, hob-nail booted thugs to keep the peace. Peace through violence. Serving their masters, which you undoubtedly are not.
      There will come a time where there will be only two choices to pick from; prisoner or prison food.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        no, the differences be tween seeing it death on a 72' screen and watching the man/woman in front of you pulled off to the showers/killing room are so far different in reality. Now if you ask those same children or adults stop this stuff before it happens, why no they just like watching their movies with violence and killing on the tv to be concerened about the brown people being taking to the camps.
        • by icebike (68054)

          watching the man/woman in front of you pulled off to the showers/killing room are so far different in reality

          And you would know this HOW?

          • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @07:15PM (#42377855) Homepage Journal

            I can't speak for AC, but a lot of things in life are different than a video portrayal. Automobile accidents, for instance. I don't watch television much at all, but the most catastrophic accident on television is - just a little messy. Being a first responder even at a relatively minor accident can be unsettling. I've tossed my lunch at major accidents, and had a hard time falling asleep that night. Few people can appreciate an injury as simple as a broken leg, until they put their hands on that broken leg, and can feel how the bone grinds away, cutting muscle and other tissue as it does so.

            Naturally, I've never lived through what AC posted. No concentration camps for me, but I can sort of imagine the difference from what we've seen in movies and television. Very different, indeed.

            • I had similar experiences as a reporter in the 90s, getting called out numerous times at 2 or 3 AM to cover various fires and accidents.

              I was exposed to enough blood and guts and other misery during that time that I learned to appreciate just what difficult and unpleasant jobs first responders and fire/rescue people have, and I have to admit that I don't think I could handle it for very long myself. My compliments to you and your colleagues, Runaway.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          What the fuck are you talking about? Seriously, are you one of those goebbelsian al qaeda propagandists who attempt to conflate the war on islamic terrorism with racism against black people?? If anyone is hauling off anyone of darker skin to be killed, it is the arab janjaweed muslim supremacists in Sudan.
          Get the fuck off our internet, Saudi Arabia.

          I'd call you a troll, but I know that there are people being paid to push such holocaust inversion propaganda. Your lies have no standing, and draw attention to

      • Well Mr. Godwin, you could also say that games like GTA IV, HALO, Gears of War, etc show us the difference that one person can make.

      • no, we have the TIPS programs, and the sort of paranoia and fear that happens after every media frenzied tragedy

        Do your friends/family look mentally ill derranged?

        Do your neighbors looks like terrorists?

        And urges you to report them.

        Even when you are doing now, is more of the same. Do you know someone who plays violent video games? report them to authorities.

        Fact: Before violent video games, there where violent movies, before than, violent books(in english going all the way back to gilgamesh, the first known
      • by wdef (1050680)

        De-sensitizing children to violence leads to cold-blooded adults.

        This is why the Khmer Rouge used to train kids to torture and kill animals, graduating to killing people.

    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @06:04PM (#42377391)
      I believe that "Perfect Citizen" is the English version of the Russian "novy sovetsky chelovek".
    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @06:28PM (#42377543)
      The same kind of people who dreamed up "Operation Enduring Freedom". At least they got the "Enduring" part right.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by craigminah (1885846)
      I'm curious to know who named this article, "NSA Targeting Domestic Computer Systems". Could have made it more dramatic and attention-getting by naming it, "NSA Targets Racist White Babies with Assault Rifles Because of G. W. Bush's Fault", or something to that effect (I know it's nonsensical but http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qItugh-fFgg [youtube.com])
      • by ubrgeek (679399)
        Was thinking the same thing. Unless the PDF specifically calls out the National Security Agency actively targeting and attempting to compromise domestic SCADA systems, the posting reads like something Drudge would write about Obama (countdown to Drudge flame war in 3 ... 2 ...)
        • of all the funny shit the NSA does, I think this is spot on money.

          After complaining about a "Digital Perl Harbor", securing SCADA systems is a far better alternative than the previous campaign of aggressive black hat'ing they were seeming to imply they were doing. Even if it has a creepy fucking name.

          as for conservative disinformation, its ironic how they claim the smallest financial measures are taking away their freedoms, on theorhetics that would save money for the wealthiest, at their expense, but the b
  • The prisoner (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I am not a number i am a free man.....
    we want ...infor-matin infromation

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 23, 2012 @05:35PM (#42377189)

    People seem to forget that Intelligence gathering is only part of NSA's mission.
    They are also tasked with ensuring the security of the nations computers, cryptosystems and more recently critical infrastructure. But people will believe what they want to believe, so any more when people ask me if stuff in Enemy of the State is accurate I tell them 100%. They're not likely to believe that no, it could actually take weeks-months to get reliable intel data and it's usually generated by some analyst that's 17-25 years old sitting in some windowless building with a crappy computer.

    • by Jetra (2622687)
      Because it's not like we have a hundred other agencies already watching over us to make sure we're not doing anything illegal. (Cough, HackNSA FBI CIA TSA CTU cough hack)
      • by wdef (1050680)

        Because it's not like we have a hundred other agencies already watching over us to make sure we're not doing anything illegal. (Cough, HackNSA FBI CIA TSA CTU cough hack)

        Not only illegal. J Edgar Hoover knew that all data is power. Agencies have blackmailed each other in the past with embarrassing information about senior figures.

        • by Jetra (2622687)
          Seems to explain that Secret Service fiasco that happened a while back with them at the strip club.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      People seem to forget that Intelligence gathering is only part of NSA's mission.

      OK, so they're tasked with that. Doesn't make it right - or wrong. Congress also created that fucking horrible law - The Patriot Act. So, being tasked doesn't automatically make it right.

      They are also tasked with ensuring the security of the nations computers, cryptosystems and more recently critical infrastructure.

      Again, so what? And who decides what is "critical"? I don't think the power grid is critical because the folks who really need the power have backups. So, what business is it is of our spy agency if Walmart can keep their lights on? My local hospital has multiple backup generators and so does my local Air Force base/NAS.

      But people will believe what they want to believe, so any more when people ask me if stuff in Enemy of the State is accurate I tell them 100%.

      • by bbelt16ag (744938)
        i seriously doubt it would take hours to get intel on joe blow,with all of the technology and power of the government they would know you from seed to coffin in an hour or less. At this point, the time for preventing this facists awesome powers from being bestowed has passed. All agencies now have the powers to make citizens vanish or execute them under the guise of terroist. They are monitoring the freaking occupy movement, and i wonder when they start to scream that some of their key people are being h
        • by budgenator (254554) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @07:29PM (#42377945) Journal

          i seriously doubt it would take hours to get intel on joe blow,with all of the technology and power of the government they would know you from seed to coffin in an hour or less.

          They can assemble a lot of raw data pretty quickly, but so can anybody; for example I applied for credit at Dell they ask which street I had lived on, one was arround the corner from where I presently lived, two were out of the blue, and the correct answer was where I had lived 40 years ago when I was 10 years old! What we have to remember is raw data isn't information, it's a lot easier to take a person of interest and assemble a dossier from available data, than it is to take the raw data and deducing who the person of interest is. Even with the incredable resources the law enforcement and intelligence agencies have, most cases are broken through serendipity.

      • Critical in that backup generators only last so long, besides which there would be quite a bit of chaos if our power grid went down unexpectedly and for a long period. Best just to head that off.

        I'd really be fine with this if it wasn't a spying agency doing this. ; but I guess all the know how is in the nsa's headquarters, so we can't just have a
        Domestic computer security agency doing this, one with no ties to the intelligence community...

      • " I don't think the power grid is critical because the folks who really need the power have backups"

        after living through hurricane sandy, I'd tend to disagree with you.
      • Again, so what? And who decides what is "critical"? I don't think the power grid is critical because the folks who really need the power have backups. So, what business is it is of our spy agency if Walmart can keep their lights on? My local hospital has multiple backup generators and so does my local Air Force base/NAS.

        And the really important places in the US have anti-aircraft weapons. But I'm still glad the Air Force has part of it's missions to keep [insert scariest foreign group] from dropping bombs

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And who better than somebody who knows how the other side thinks?

  • So ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eric_herm (1231134)

    So the NSA is looking at the vulnerabilities over stuff deployed in USA ? What is the problem ? They also have a mission of protecting and giving advice for the national security ( heck, national security agency, do people fail at english comprehension test ? ).

    NSA publish guides on how to secure linux or windows, do explain what the federal agency should do to be secured, so that seems logical to do the same for lots of things not "computer" related, if that can be used to disrupt the country. That's not d

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by reboot246 (623534)
      Exactly. Speaking as someone in the utilities business, I welcome the NSA and the work they're doing. It's scary how vulnerable the nation's utility systems are.
      • by alcourt (198386)

        Scary implies I'm not numbed to the state of affairs by years of apathy by management.

      • There is ZERO reason for SCADA systems to be connected to the Internet.
        • by gtall (79522)

          Nope. There's an economic reason, i.e., otherwise you must built out a network by yourself, and the fellow over there must as well, and that next guy. SCADA systems are connected to the internet because it is cost effective to do so. Terrorism could change the economics, but it would have to be very effective terrorism.

          Now you could argue that SCADA should be constructed in such a way that the control part is kept separate from the data distribution part. And you would be correct, yet economics bites you in

        • yes, I hope the NSA sends people to unplug them.
    • heck, national security agency, do people fail at english comprehension test ?

      I don't even... can you tie your shoes? Are, in fact, allowed to vote, and old enough to reproduce? Somebody hold me, please.

    • by alcourt (198386)

      Two other examples I can think of include SELinux and the hardening of what became DES against differential cryptanalysis, twenty years before the attack was widely known.

    • exactly, for all the bad stuff they do, this is not it.

      I think this is a step in the right direction. How much do we really have to fear about a "digital pearl harbor", if we make sure that critical infrastructure has great security. Glad to see they still do their jobs once and a while. (In addition to the SHA and AES competitions which get together great minds to work on civilian crypto).

      "That's truly a fucking non news."
      some fucking company is going to bitch because they have to buy new, more secure gear
  • Some perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @05:38PM (#42377217) Homepage

    >hunts for vulnerabilities in 'large-scale' utilities

    It's not like they're spying wholesale on American citizens...wait, they're already doing that, too.

    I think the whole foreign/domestic spy division is pretty much gone at this point. Not saying it's right, just the reality.

    • by elucido (870205)

      >hunts for vulnerabilities in 'large-scale' utilities

      It's not like they're spying wholesale on American citizens...wait, they're already doing that, too.

      I think the whole foreign/domestic spy division is pretty much gone at this point. Not saying it's right, just the reality.

      It never actually existed. The US government spied on itself since the Revolutionary war in the form of the stay-at-home militia. It continued in the form of the Pinkerton detective agency. The correct term for it is counter-intelligence.

      • by Threni (635302)

        Exactly. I'm sure TOR is effectively broken, at least in the US, as I'm assuming the NSA has access to every single exit node. I'm sure there's either official or unofficial access to all traffic at ISP level. It's just an extension of Project Shamrock. The NSA has the money to build and make the kit and do the maths to crack a lot of encryption but it was probably decided at some point in the last 20 or 30 years that they couldn't continue to assume that domestic or foreign traffic could always be defea

        • by Anonymous Coward

          What you do is called "FUD". Spreading unsubstantiated fear against a very useful privacy tool. How exactly do they subvert TOR by monitoring exit routers ??

          Your objective is to have as few people as possible using TOR, because it is actually a pain in the arse of your org.

          • by Smauler (915644)

            This. It is essential for people who wish to track data to make it seem like trying to avoid your data being tracked is useless or counterproductive.

            • by Threni (635302)

              Wrong. It's essential for them to be able to bypass the protection and see who is talking to who, and perhaps also what they are saying. It's not essential that they make it appear to be ineffective, as some people are still going to use TOR anyway as an extra layer of protection if for no other reason.

        • "Exactly. I'm sure TOR is effectively broken"

          how are you sure of this?
    • Our 3 letter agencies don't spy on Americans, they spy on the Austrailians, the Austrailians spy on the British, then the British spy on the Americans. When anybody discovers anything interesting, an anonomous file is sent through back channels to the respective government.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        ..is quite unproven. What IS proven is that they simply ignore rules about "US persons" and such. Their intercept gear is in the exchanges and everybody knows. They have presidential authority to do so and the courts don't challenge it. You know, "terrorists".

        Also, police agencies of all levels (including FBI) operate humint assets. Which is in their charter ("drugs", "weapons trafficking", "terrorism")

      • by russotto (537200)

        Our 3 letter agencies don't spy on Americans, they spy on the Austrailians, the Austrailians spy on the British, then the British spy on the Americans. When anybody discovers anything interesting, an anonomous file is sent through back channels to the respective government.

        No need for that. Even before USA PATRIOT when the barriers came down, they didn't need any back channels. For instance, the Australians would tap American traffic, and the NSA would tap the Australians tap.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @05:38PM (#42377219)

    'Perfect Citizen?' Who thinks up these names?"

    People who are so deluded they think destroying our way of life is the same as saving it.

  • by PPH (736903) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @05:39PM (#42377227)

    The NSA is tasked with collecting intelligence from foreign sources as well as securing US government information systems from attack. As the private entities listed are components of our nation's critical infrastructure, keeping them secure is probably a good idea. I wouldn't wait for Siemens and its ilk to step up to this task.

    Its probably not a perfect separation of government, private industry, domestic and foreign intelligence tasks. But since the NSA has the expertise, I say let them help out. Its not like operating utilities and other infrastructure companies isn't already subject to extra regulation and oversight. Its just a shame the SEC/CFTC doesn't keep as close an eye on our banks.

    • The banking indusrtries computers and computer networks are just as important to National Security as electric utility networks and computers are, so I'm sure they'll get their turn in the barrel sooner or later.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    NSA was always the domestic counterpart to the CIA, which is only chartered to operate outside our borders.

    • by schwit1 (797399)

      Up to 9/11 the FBI was the domestic counterpart to the CIA. After 9/11 all lines got blurred.

      • by elucido (870205) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @07:05PM (#42377785)

        Up to 9/11 the FBI was the domestic counterpart to the CIA. After 9/11 all lines got blurred.

        The FBI never had the power of the CIA. The CIA can do clandestine ops while the FBI does not have the authority to do clandestine ops without the specific and expressed permission granted by the President. This is a major difference.

        Domestic clandestine operations are operations which can be said to not exist at all. The CIA for example could run a clandestine CIA operation which does something clearly illegal such as hack a bunch of websites and then claim the terrorists did it. I'm not saying this sort of false flag is something the CIA would do, usually the FBI would do something like that but it's a possible example of a clandestine operation. The civilian government would believe criminals or cyber-terrorists did it.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          ..for CIA to operate on US soil. And the FBI is very much capable of spreading lies and disinformation on their own. Then there are present and former members of the armed forces who can always be counted on to play the thugs in a dirty game. They are accustomed to believe the lies they are told by their former COs and their buddies. All very informal, no paperwork generated at all.
          Does not include physical violence in Pax Americana Land, as that would bring police into picture. But most people can be "effe

          • by elucido (870205)

            ..for CIA to operate on US soil. And the FBI is very much capable of spreading lies and disinformation on their own. Then there are present and former members of the armed forces who can always be counted on to play the thugs in a dirty game. They are accustomed to believe the lies they are told by their former COs and their buddies. All very informal, no paperwork generated at all.
            Does not include physical violence in Pax Americana Land, as that would bring police into picture. But most people can be "effected" with other means such as rumors, lies, slander, sex, marriage and some dark tricks you cannot find in any textbook. It works mostly optically and there is not more than a eyeglasses involved. It is called MK1 eyeball. If you are interested, start training with a cat and learn what effects you can get on the cat just using your eyes.
            That is one reason some people wear windshield-class glasses; it protects against optical attack by opposing eyes.

            If something is clandestine then the law simply does not apply. You cannot arrest what doesn't exist and didn't happen.

            You're right about most of what you say.And the tactics are terrible and destroy lives, but what alternative is there really in warfare?

    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Sunday December 23, 2012 @06:20PM (#42377477)

      That's not what its charter says, which restricts it to "foreign intelligence or counterintelligence" and prohibits the NSA "acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons".

      • by EmagGeek (574360)

        Hah, but this is the US Government. Since when does "what the charter actually says" have anything to do with what the TLA actually does?

      • by fluffy99 (870997)

        Helping secure domestic computer systems and communications falls under the definition of counterintelligence. They don't need to acquire information concerting the domestic activities of US persons. A business or the govt is not a person, either.

  • This is a good idea. The NSA should take on these sorts of roles because domestic computer systems are notoriously insecure.

    The real question is whether or not the NSA has the expertise to pull it off.

    • by pepsikid (2226416)
      The unanswered questions are; if, and how does the NSA inform critical domestic utilities of their vulnerabilities, and what power might they have to compel those utilities to secure their systems appropriately? The problem being that the NSA would probably prefer to quietly catalog and study vulnerabilities, to help quell revolts or secessions in the future, rather than send out emails full of advice for patching bugs. Thus, they're no help to anyone, and at a high price. On the other extreme, the NSA's so
      • by elucido (870205)

        The unanswered questions are; if, and how does the NSA inform critical domestic utilities of their vulnerabilities, and what power might they have to compel those utilities to secure their systems appropriately? The problem being that the NSA would probably prefer to quietly catalog and study vulnerabilities, to help quell revolts or secessions in the future, rather than send out emails full of advice for patching bugs. Thus, they're no help to anyone, and at a high price. On the other extreme, the NSA's solution to every problem would likely be the compulsory installation of their own home-grown monitoring software, you know, to be "extra secure". Certainly, you can trust them. Their entire history is proof of the advantages of cooperation.

        If they help quell revolts and secession in the future then they are a help to everyone. That is the least I would expect from them.
        Also what monitoring software does the NSA have or did you pull that one out of your ass?

        • by pepsikid (2226416)
          Speaking of pulling things out of their ass.... NSA presenting itself as the covert white knight of America's domestic computer systems. HooBOY.

          So, Good Citizen, you must think that free men should be stopped from overthrowing an unjust government. You can think what you want, but when you sputter "NSA? Possess surveillance software?!?! Ridiculous!!", you only look like an idiot.
          • by elucido (870205)

            Speaking of pulling things out of their ass.... NSA presenting itself as the covert white knight of America's domestic computer systems. HooBOY.

            So, Good Citizen, you must think that free men should be stopped from overthrowing an unjust government. You can think what you want, but when you sputter "NSA? Possess surveillance software?!?! Ridiculous!!", you only look like an idiot.

            You look like an even bigger idiot when you're like "Revolution! Free men!". You have no clue how things work.

            • by pepsikid (2226416)
              What I know, Good Citizen, is that this government is assembling an engine of tyranny, literally a thousand times bigger than that of any absolute dictatorship mankind has ever known. And if things work the way you suggest, it would also be the first time a government assembled such a system without any interest in using it.

              It's people like you who insist "but they're only *building* internment camps! They're not *using* them!" 40.427277 -111.934485
              • by elucido (870205)

                What I know, Good Citizen, is that this government is assembling an engine of tyranny, literally a thousand times bigger than that of any absolute dictatorship mankind has ever known. And if things work the way you suggest, it would also be the first time a government assembled such a system without any interest in using it.

                It's people like you who insist "but they're only *building* internment camps! They're not *using* them!" 40.427277 -111.934485

                It's always been the same system. Nothing new is being assembled.

                • by pepsikid (2226416)
                  Thank you so much for saying that.
                  The gargantuan facility being assembled at those coordinates say you're a gravely colossal fool.
                  This conversation is over.
  • Infosec is part of the NSA brief, and the function is unclassified, so it isn't news. You'll remember this when some scriptkiddy turns your power off, while you were complaining that NSA shouldn't be doing this type of network testing to prevent it from happening.

    http://www.nsa.gov/ia/index.shtml

  • No surprise really (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dbIII (701233) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @09:19PM (#42378581)
    With the homeland security monolith growing into a huge machine that consumes cash and excretes bullshit and the FBI and CIA so dysfunctional and jealous that the FBI managed to depose the head of the CIA on "moral" grounds it actually makes sense to pass things over to a bunch that look like they actually work for a living, no matter what their current responsibilities are.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Apparently Thin Thread [newyorker.com] is not dead, and not only that, the civil liberties and oversight protections have been cheerfully scrapped, and the rest has been expanded to bring abuse of civil liberties not to a foreign audience, but rather, to a domestic one. Why bother having elections when the director of the NSA has all the powers of the worst of the worst police states of the last 100 years. No judicial, political or civilian oversight, unlimited powers, unlimited budget (in the name of national security y

  • by sethstorm (512897) on Monday December 24, 2012 @10:43PM (#42385283) Homepage

    That is, using the lists generated by people that denounce their US citizenship sorted by income by their last two years of citizenship?

    In addition, I'm quite sure that the NSA can always trade with other friendly countries for what its charter does not allow them to have.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

Working...