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How Big Companies Can Hamper the Surveillance Infrastructure 153

Posted by timothy
from the little-friction-here-little-friction-there dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "Buried underneath the ever-growing pile of information about the mass surveillance methods of the NSA is a small but significant undercurrent of change that's being driven by the anger and resentment of the large tech companies that the agency has used as tools in its collection programs. The changes have been happening since almost the minute the first documents began leaking out of Fort Meade in June. When the NSA's PRISM program was revealed this summer, it implicated some of the larger companies in the industry as apparently willing partners in a system that gave the agency 'direct access' to their servers. Officials at Google, Yahoo and others quickly denied that this was the case, saying they knew of no such program and didn't provide access to their servers to anyone and only complied with court orders. More recent revelations have shown that the NSA has been tapping the links between the data centers run by Google and Yahoo, links that were unencrypted. That revelation led a pair of Google security engineers to post some rather emphatic thoughts on the NSA's infiltration of their networks. It also spurred Google to accelerate projects to encrypt the data flowing between its data centers. These are some of the clearer signs yet that these companies have reached a point where they're no longer willing to be participants, witting or otherwise, in the NSA's surveillance programs."
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How Big Companies Can Hamper the Surveillance Infrastructure

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  • by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday November 16, 2013 @08:47PM (#45445681)

    Oh come on, you expect them to drastically increase costs to encrypt everything everywhere and thus make every machine that works with the data have decryption keys?

    Setting up IPSEC tunnels between the machines is easy[*], and pretty close to free. Encrypting the drives should also be pretty much trivial, though not necessarily much help if the attacker already has access to the machine.

    [*] - as in, once you've spent days working out how to configure that monstrosity the first time, you can set it up easily on any other machines.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 16, 2013 @08:55PM (#45445713)

    Microsoft helping NSA to hack your Windows []

    According to a new report from the corporate press (as corporate as it can get, being Bloomberg), Microsoft tells NSA staff about universal unpatched holes before they are being addressed:

            Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the worldâ(TM)s largest software company, provides intelligence agencies with information about bugs in its popular software before it publicly releases a fix, according to two people familiar with the process. That information can be used to protect government computers and to access the computers of terrorists or military foes.

            Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft (MSFT) and other software or Internet security companies have been aware that this type of early alert allowed the U.S. to exploit vulnerabilities in software sold to foreign governments, according to two U.S. officials. Microsoft doesnâ(TM)t ask and canâ(TM)t be told how the government uses such tip-offs, said the officials, who asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

            Frank Shaw, a spokesman for Microsoft, said those releases occur in cooperation with multiple agencies and are designed to be give government âoean early startâ on risk assessment and mitigation.

    Glyn Moody asked, âoewhy would anyone ever trust Microsoft againâ¦?â

    Frank Shaw is not a technical man. His job is to lie, e.g. about sales of Vista 8 (quite famously and most recently). He came from Waggener Edstrom, a lying and AstroTurfing company. The above should be read as follows: when new holes exist which permit remote hijacking the unaccountable, cracking-happy NSA is being notified. What can possibly go wrong now that we have proof that the NSA is cracking PCs abroad with impunity?

    Some of the back and forth is innocuous, such as Microsoft revealing ahead of time the nature of its exposed bugs (ostensibly providing the government with a back door into any system using a Microsoft OS, but since itâ(TM)s donâ(TM)t ask, dontâ(TM) tell, nobody really knows). However the bulk of the interaction is steeped in secrecy: âoeMost of the arrangements are so sensitive that only a handful of people in a company know of them, and they are sometimes brokered directly between chief executive officers and the heads of the U.S.â(TM)s major spy agencies, the people familiar with those programs said.â

The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination -- but the combination is locked up in the safe. -- Peter DeVries