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NSA Cracked Into Encrypted UN Video Conferences 427

Posted by timothy
from the for-the-greater-good dept.
McGruber writes "According to documents seen by Germany's Der Spiegel, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) successfully cracked the encryption code protecting the United Nations' internal videoconferencing system. NSA first breached the UN system in the summer of 2012 and, within three weeks of initially gaining access to the UN system, the NSA had increased the number of such decrypted communications from 12 to 458. On one occasion, according to the report, while the American NSA were attempting to break into UN communications, they discovered the Chinese were attempting to crack the encryption code as well."
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NSA Cracked Into Encrypted UN Video Conferences

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  • by protoporos (900257) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:43PM (#44669959)
    Am I the only one seeing a war on information soon descending upon us?
    Governments, once they realize the full breadth & capability of the US surveillance, and the fact that they themselves are vulnerable, and not only their citizen... they will soon decide to take action! And of course the US, having the confrontation with China in mind (and that it cannot weaken its position in such a critical time), will not back down easily.

    Net neutrality is the first that could go, but I'm not sure it will be the last.

    Do you think that Snowden will prove to be the trigger to the 3rd WW? (but an information/electronic one this time)
  • Re:The dilema ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:44PM (#44669965)

    If the NSA can do it, so can other people. So should the NSA reveal what they can do so the UN can switch to more secure communications. Or should the NSA have continued to monitor with the knowledge that the Chinese, Russians and probably a few others were also listening in?

    Where's the dilemma? Yes. No.

  • by updatelee (244571) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:46PM (#44669975) Homepage

    Exactly. So it's OK the USA does it but not the Chinese?

    UDL

  • Fuck the (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:48PM (#44669999)

    USA.

    First you make bribing politicians legal, destabilize the entire world's banking industry and start war after war in 3rd world countries so your military industrial complex can get more tax payer money. And now new private contractors show up and bribe some politicians who in return give them the right and money to spy on whoever they want.

    And do you even protest or riot? No you assholes whine on /. I think there have been more protests here in germany over that than in the US

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:53PM (#44670027)
    Why would any country trust a closed-sourced product produced by a US Technology firm?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:55PM (#44670047)

    The UN doesn't care any more. There is barely a power structure left which isn't dominated by US flunkies.

    The world was rightly scared of the USSR, but it should be far more worried about a one-superpower world.

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@ao[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday August 25, 2013 @12:58PM (#44670067) Journal

    The US has veto power against any resolution the UN might pass against the US. Nothing to worry about...

  • Re:The dilema ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:09PM (#44670131)

    Spying is an act of WAR.

    If spying were an "act of WAR", then EVERY government has a casus bellum against EVERY OTHER country.

    Face it, espionage has been a fact of life between governments since at least the time of the ancient Greeks...

  • Re:The dilema ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:10PM (#44670137)

    No, spying is NOT an act of war. In fact, spying probably stopped WW 3 from happening several times. Since we were spying on the USSR, (And them on us), both sides knew where things stood and how far they could push.

    And as to the NSA spying on the UN, big deal. that is one place they should be spying on. You could probably cook a steak from all the radio waves emanating from the bugs, taps and other assorted intelligence gathering devices in and around that building.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:12PM (#44670149)

    Of course. We may do every kind of atrocity, for it is in the name of peace and democracy.

  • Re:The dilema ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plover (150551) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:20PM (#44670199) Homepage Journal

    Spying is an act of WAR.

    No, spying has been an illegal but ongoing act of governments everywhere, and has been true across history. It's unethical, highly offensive, unjustifiably immoral, and dangerous to the agent if you act on the knowledge gained, but it's not an act of war.

    The primary differences between the NSA and all other spying is that they have essentially unlimited resources, technology, and personnel to throw at it, and they are very, very good at it.

    Where the NSA is lacking, though, is with actual infiltration. They have no agents hiding inside every possible organization. They are instead performing their spying on the communications that the other people are using. It's cheaper, easier, more reliable, and more "politically acceptable" to tap conversations. It's expensive, difficult, and unreliable to have a source reporting from within the organization, and it's politically unpalatable when an agent is discovered and killed or tortured for their treason.

    Typically, infiltration has been the job of the CIA and similar spy agencies in other countries, but their historic mission has been to infiltrate an entire nation-state. Nations are easier to spy on because the attack surface is large, and they can get useful benefits from spies anywhere in the government, military, or police. It's much harder to infiltrate a religious or tribal clan, where it's a smaller group where everyone is personally known to the others.

    Where it gets dodgy, though, is not in the passive (or even aggressive) monitoring. It's when the monitors begin injecting their own information in order to influence the behavior of others. It's obviously one thing to overhear a voice on the radio saying "we'll meet at the ABC building on Thursday," but a completely different thing to alter the voice on the radio to say "let's meet at the 123 building on Thursday" to lead them into an ambush. Deploying an agent provocateur can indeed be an act of war, even via the proxy of communications.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:24PM (#44670233)

    2. it literally kills public confidence in the government doing the spying.

    Maybe among a minority. But public confidence in the Soviet leadership when its repressive mechanisms were working best was remarkably high, and the vast majority of the Chinese population supports its government even though they are aware of censorship and monitoring. If a government can convince the people that the state, warts and all, is better than the alternative (collapse and civil war, or foreign invasion), then dissidents are going remain an insignificant minority.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:24PM (#44670239)

    In theory, yes. In fact it's like the school bully going through your lunch box and you catching him doing it. What are you gonna do? Beat him up? C'mon...

  • Re:The dilema ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:25PM (#44670243)

    Good riddance.

    The UN's special brand of corruption makes the entirety of the US - from our incompetent presidents, to our circus-like Congress, to our crushing-rights-under-jackboots three-letter organizations - look like goddamned saints.

    Please. Get the hell out of my country. I beg you. Shit, I'll even help you pack.

  • Re:The dilema ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geek (5680) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:31PM (#44670291) Homepage

    Spying actually prevents wars as it allows governments to act diplomatically before the shit hits the fan. However, spying on ones own citizens is what dictatorships do to oppress their own people. The NSA was created specifically to spy on foreign nations, just like every other country does.

    It sucks but thats how the world is.

  • Re:The dilema ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jmc23 (2353706) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:31PM (#44670293) Journal
    umm, you do know it was corrupted by the US right?
  • Re:The dilema ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dotancohen (1015143) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:43PM (#44670381) Homepage

    Face it, espionage has been a fact of life between governments since at least the time of the ancient Greeks...

    And soon, it we don't so something about it:
    Year 4026, in the Human's Republic of Earth: "Face it, government surveillance of citizens in their own homes has been a fact of life since at least the time of the ancient American empire..."

  • Re:The dilema ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @01:53PM (#44670469) Homepage Journal

    So you justify your actions by "everyone else is doing it"? That's just as immoral as "the (potential) ends justify the means".

    An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. In this case, trust is the sight lost. And not caring about trust between partners is short-sighted.

  • Re:The dilema ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elucido (870205) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:12PM (#44670593)

    Spying is an act of WAR.

    If spying were an "act of WAR", then EVERY government has a casus bellum against EVERY OTHER country.

    Face it, espionage has been a fact of life between governments since at least the time of the ancient Greeks...

    Espionage is how wars are prevented. We'd have a world war constantly for hundreds of years if not for the spy wars. World War 1 would never have ended.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:13PM (#44670601)

    Exactly. So it's OK the USA does it but not the Chinese?

    Who is making moral judgements? As long as some countries might become a threat in the future, every other country will spy. The alternative is to be caught off guard and lose a war. You don't have to like it, but pretending to be shocked makes you come off as incredibly naive. Put "prisoner's dilemma" into the search engine of your choice to understand the problem better.

  • Re:The dilema ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:33PM (#44670771)

    It's very simple, and there's a multitude of historical precedent; war is profitable. It keeps the "little people" in line via fear, and it's a wonderful oppurtunity to steal everything you can pick up. It has evolved into the "military industrial complex" and it isn't going away until and only if We the People exercise our fundamental right to self protection and get rid of the thieves and murderers that always inhabit governments. The "Axis of Evil" is easy to find in the present case: it's midway between the White House and the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

    Of course it's probably moot, our Plutocrats can easily see climate change, peak oil, and worldwide food shortages looming and have been building the infrastructure of control as fast as they can so they can toss us all under the bus with impunity when the shit hits the fan big time. They will be able to do this because most of those reading this are way too complacent to try to defend themselves even when it's obvious their own death is imminent. "Land of the free, home of the brave" . . . right.

  • by shiftless (410350) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:36PM (#44670793) Homepage

    Who is making moral judgements? As long as some countries might become a threat in the future, every other country will spy. The alternative is to be caught off guard and lose a war. You don't have to like it, but pretending to be shocked makes you come off as incredibly naive.

    Yeah, and? The U.S. has spent decades loudly vilifying the Chinese in news media for doing things like this...and now they're getting exposed for the liars and hypocrites they really are.

  • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:39PM (#44670809) Homepage

    "By the way, that's how Alan Turing helped win WW II."

    That is a great point, and a perfect analogy! The NSA is just trying to help US win the war against the UN !!!

  • by shiftless (410350) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:39PM (#44670813) Homepage

    You're still suffering under the delusion that the U.S. are the "good guys"? lol.

    "Since the 1979 Iranian revolution and the downfall of the US Puppet Ruler the Shah, Iran has been an Islamic state. In that interval of time, 1979 to the present, Iran has not invaded anyone. Not once. People of all religions live in peace in Iran, even Jews, who find life so comfortable in Iran they refused an offer by the government of Israel to emigrate!

    In the same period of time, Israel, a self-declared Jewish state, attacked Iraq in 1981, bombing the power station at Osirik, claiming it was a clandestine weapons factory. Subsequent examination of the ruins following the 2003 invasion proved Israel had lied. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. This led to the Massacres at Sabra and Shatilla. In February 2003 Israel staged incursions into Gaza and Nablus. In September 2007 Israel bombed Syria, again insisting they were destroying a clandestine weapons laboratory. Again there was no evidence to support Israel’s claims. In 2006, Israel attacked Lebanon, killing 1200, mostly civilians, several UN observers, and littering the landscape with land mines on their way out. In February 2008 Israel again raided Gaza, killing over 100. HAMAS agreed to a cease fire and kept it for 6 months until November 4, when Israel again attacked without warning, killing 6 HAMAS members, and launching operation CAST LEAD.

    1300 Gazans, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel lost 13 soldiers. Violations of international law included the use of White Phosphorus incendiary bombs against civilians and non-military targets. The United Nations investigated, but Israel refused to cooperate. In May 2010, Israel attacked an international aid flotilla bringing food and medical supplies to Gaza in international waters. 9 people were murdered including an American from New York.

    In the same period of time, the United States, officially a secular nation but predominantly Christian, attacked El Salvador (1980), Libya (1981), Sinai (1982), Lebanon (1982 1983), Egypt (1983), Grenada (1983), Honduras (1983), Chad (1983), Persian Gulf (1984), Libya (1986) , Bolivia (1986), Iran (1987), Persian Gulf (1987), Kuwait (1987), Iran (1988), Honduras (1988), Panama (1988), Libya (1989), Panama (1989), Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru (1989), Philippines (1989), Panama (1989-1990), Liberia (1990), Saudi Arabia (1990), Iraq (1991), Zaire (1991), Sierra Leone (1992), Somalia (1992), Bosnia-Herzegovina (1993 to present), Macedonia (1993), Haiti (1994), Macedonia (1994), Bosnia (1995), Liberia (1996), Central African Republic (1996), Albania (1997), Congo/Gabon (1997), Sierra Leon (1997), Cambodia (1997), Iraq (1998), Guinea/Bissau (1998), Kenya/Tanzania (1998 to 1999), Afghanistan/Sudan (1998), Liberia (1998), East Timor (1999), Serbia (1999), Sierra Leon (2000), Yemen (2000), East Timor (2000), Afghanistan (2001 to present), Yemen (2002), Philippines (2002) , Cote d’Ivoire (2002), Iraq (2003 to present), Liberia (2003), Georgia/Djibouti (2003), Haiti (2004), Georgia/Djibouti/Kenya/Ethiopia/Yemen/Eritrea War on Terror (2004), Pakistan drone attacks (2004 to present), Somalia (2007), South Ossetia/Georgia (2008), Syria (2008), Yemen (2009), Haiti (2010), etc. etc. etc. etc.

    So, who is the danger to world peace?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @02:58PM (#44670939)

    The native americans disagree. It's fun to see you type your propaganda from your office in the pentagon. Do you really think you fool anybody cold fjord? I think you just make it more obvious what is being done and how they hire people to post comments on forums such as this. In the balance at the least. Do they pay you enough to live with the things you excuse on your conscience?

  • by sjames (1099) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @05:52PM (#44671963) Homepage

    So you advocate a get out of jail free card for anyone who only sold a few bags of dope or 'only' robbed a few liquor stores? How about if they "only" committed tax fraud? It's not like they overthrew their government and ordered the death of millions or anything. They didn't even dupe a superpower into a costly and unnecessary war with trumped up evidence.

    I am sad to say, the U.S. has tortured, and it has imprisoned people without a trial and without competent legal representation. It has performed lethal medical experiments on minorities. It hasn't done it on the scale of the Nazis but it has done it. It would be easier to say that was then but it has grown and changed if we didn't still have Gitmo up and running and if the NSA's domestic spying had been shut down instantly and without question rather than being allowed to continue while we hunt down the person who exposed the distinctly unConstitutional and un-American (in the ideals sense rather than actuality) program.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @09:16PM (#44672973)

    The vast majority of those deaths were either terrorists killing Iraqis, or Iraqis killing each other. This internecine warfare was often a part of militias struggling for control or extracting what they considered vengeance for terrorist attacks. The Coalition forces killed relatively few of them. So no, once again it was not the US.

    You may interested to learn that Iraq has requested aid from the US to combat al Qaida in Iraq.

    Iraq seeks help from US amid growing violence [stripes.com]

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @09:19PM (#44672993)

    You seem to have left out the role of the French. Of course that might complicate the faulty narrative. I give you kudos for creativity, but not for accuracy.

  • by dywolf (2673597) on Monday August 26, 2013 @09:08AM (#44675843)

    actually this is the sort of thing I would expect a spy agency to do.
    this is about getting an edge in the foreign relations / diplomatic game.
    and im ok with this, its the same as spying on embassies (which everyone also does).
    this is still spying on "the other guys", which is what spies are supposed to do.

    its the "spying on our own citizens for their own safety" that I have a problem with.
    this? business as usual, and acceptable at that.

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