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Australia and NSA Gain Comprehensive Access To Indonesian Phone System 133

Posted by samzenpus
from the welcome-to-the-club dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Newly disclosed documents from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden reveal that in Australia with the NSA has gained comprehensive access to Indonesian's national communications systems. They tapped into Indosat, Indonesia's domestic satellite telecommunications provider including data on Indonesian officials in various government ministries and obtained 1.8 million encrypted master keys, used to protect private communications, from Indonesia's Telkomsel cell phone network. Australia has been recently criticized for tapping the phone of the Indonesian President's wife and for the Royal Australian Navy accidental incursions into Indonesian territorial waters."
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Australia and NSA Gain Comprehensive Access To Indonesian Phone System

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  • Everyone does it... the main difference is they were caught.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's like masturbation, except usually you stop for a minute or two when you get caught masturbating. The NSA will look you in the eye and keep doing what they're doing. Think about it...

      You're masturbating and someone opens the door and catches you. Instead of acting embarred you simply say 'hi' and continues masturbating. You're asked what you're doing. As your hand continues to play with your genitals, you look them in the eye and simply say 'nothing wrong'. "you're masturbating" they say. You r
      • You're masturbating and someone opens the door and catches you.

        Yes, but in a general sense, there's nothing wrong with masturbating.

        You need to expand your scenario:

        "...at the office."
        "...in your car."
        "...while paying the pizza delivery guy."

        Something like that.

        • by Znork (31774)

          You're masturbating and someone opens the door and catches you.

          Yes, but in a general sense, there's nothing wrong with masturbating.

          "... while listening in to someone elses private conversation."
          "... while looking at intercepted pictures."
          "... while reading your XKEYSCORE results on 'steamy secret agent sex'"

          More like that.

      • by jalet (36114)

        You made my day !

      • by JazzXP (770338)
        Damn, the time I wish I had mod points... This is brilliant!
      • 1. It's not masturbating. They are back-dooring EVERYBODY.
        2. Obviously, they can only look you in the eye if there is a mirror present.

      • by tragedy (27079)

        Your scenario needs something extra. Perhaps you're using some personal item of theirs in the act? Perhaps they're a neighbor and, in order to get it, you would have had to break into their home, then break into some additional private space. Or, perhaps, they didn't walk in on you. Perhaps they were enjoying some private time with their partner and they looked up to see you lounging in a chair in their bedroom, one hand holding a video camera, the other... well, you know. That's still not quite enough thou

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I wish people would stop making this statement.

      a) It's just an opinion, and there's little other than anecdotal evidence to back this statement up. I'd also hazard that it's not universally true.
      b) It implies this is the natural state of things and that it should be accepted.
      c) It implies there aren't laws against this, which there are.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      "everyone" smokes dope too.

      still they put people in the slammer for 30 years for doing it 3 times at some places.

      look man, they're breaking the law and they made contracts that they wouldn't do it. you keep up with this shit and no country will give a shit about usa's (or australias) extradition requests and will just print them out to wipe their asses with them while some finance/hack/whatever crooks keep on scamming americans for their cash.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re Everyone does it. The real question is who has Australian telco keys :) Its the same international NSA/FBI ready expensive, crypto junk rolled out at a national exchange level for digital wiretaps, cell tracking, billing, internet logging .... That is why the Snowden news is so useful - nothing works as sold and many nations have their "unique" secure keys in the hands of other nations, random contractors, ex staff and unexpected 'others'.
      Thanks to Snowden a generation of crypto experts, designers and
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I was wondering when we would start seeing more coverage of the NSA here.

  • I didn't mind the odd general discussion on how they compromised Google etc but an awful lot of money has now just gone down the tube for no useful purpose except perhaps to satisfy a Gen-Y's sudden burst of conscience.
  • Seriously. These are spy organizations. And here they are - spying. On foreign countries, no less. What were they thinking?

    The Snowden leaks started out with things the public actually needed to know. The NSA spying on Americans is a gross overstep of the organization's charter. Spying on friendly nation's leaders is an embarrassment. This, however, seems to me like them doing their job.

    At first, I thought that labeling Snowden as a spy was an overreaction. The US government trying to silence a whistle blow

    • by clockwise_music (594832) on Monday February 17, 2014 @12:51AM (#46264471) Homepage Journal
      Maybe from an American point of view this isn't such a story. But I can assure you from an Australian and Indonesian point of view this is going to be massive.

      The Australian government has already received heaps of flak about phone tapping the Indonesian president's wife which was a very big deal. Indonesia were not happy. The president even took the unprecedented step of tweeting his displeasure. Then the Australian government decided it was a good idea to start towing asylum seeker boats back to Indonesia - they claimed the policy was to "turn the boats back" - turns out they've been actually towing them and going straight into Indonesian waters with our war boats. Stupid, stupid. Plus they "accidentally" did this 5 times.

      And only two days ago some Aussie girl was just released early after having been locked away in an Indonesian prison for 10 years. This will have raised the Indonesians ire too. This will just give them another excuse.

      In 2 hours there will be another spluttering prime minister on the TV trying to put this fire out claiming that it's nothing new, "all's fair in love and war" etc etc, but it really depends on how the Indonesians react - if the headline is "Aussie's listening to ALL our phone calls, 1.8 million keys stolen, collaborating with the US", the people will react and protest, the government will look weak in front of their people, and they will have to react.

      I think there's going to be a bit of a storm about this one.
      • by Sun (104778)

        I think you are thinking about the wrong question. The question is not whether the publication is going to cause trouble. Of course it is. The question is whether it is legitimate for the spying to have taken place in the first place.

        If it is, then Snowden releasing this information is betrayal, and the shit storm that will (likely) happen now is just one good reason to keep this a secret.

        My point was that countries are forming spy organizations. I know very few people who claim those organizations are comp

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        And only two days ago some Aussie girl was just released early after having been locked away in an Indonesian prison for 10 years.

        Which was bloody excessive. Fuck Indonesia and their stupid shrimp. Not that the USA, where I live, doesn't do the same excessive shit.

    • by mrcoolbp (928930)
      fuck beta!!!
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      The Snowden leaks started out with things the public actually needed to know. The NSA spying on Americans is a gross overstep of the organization's charter. Spying on friendly nation's leaders is an embarrassment. This, however, seems to me like them doing their job.

      Here's the actual article being quoted from
      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/16/us/eavesdropping-ensnared-american-law-firm.html [nytimes.com]

      What's interesting is that the center piece of this /. summary was a throwaway paragraph at the end of a long article.
      It added nothing at all to the story.

      It's curious how The Guardian and Glenn Greenwald aren't writing the stories that people complain about as disclosing too much.
      Instead it's the NY Times and Laura Poitras, Snowden's other confidant.

      It seems like there are different

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why not spy on your own citizens? Why not on "friendlies"? Who made up the line? Who decides these things? In the US it is supposed to be We The People. Yeah, right.

      Spying is evil. Perhaps a necessary evil. However, giving a monopoly on spying to the government, especially with runaway "secrecy" and classification of everything under the sun is absurd.

      If spying is OK for some, then it has to be OK for all. If the NSA can spy, so can corporations, so can news agencies, so can reporters, so can individuals,

    • by Sabriel (134364) on Monday February 17, 2014 @02:45AM (#46264901)

      You've missed the point. Pull your focus back from the NSA. Snowden isn't just whistleblowing on them, he's whistleblowing on the rot, and the rot extends to the entire Federal Government and it's fellow international governments, including mine.

      I don't have a problem with intelligence agencies spying. That's what they're for. What I _do_ have a problem with is _governments_ pretending that their intelligence agencies never spy on anyone except evil villains, when that's quite frankly ludicrous.

      The difference, if you think about it, is rather profound. Think about where this kind of "oh we'd never spy on our allies (except when we do)" bullshit leads - a lack of proper checks and balances, a lack of oversight in favour of rubberstamping, etc.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Food for thought: fuck the US and it's corrupt government. Saying that because they unleashed an out of control spy agency that they oughta be doing just that is ludicrous and ignores that there's no other reason for that to be happening if not to shaft the country being spied on in the long run.

      As you said yourself: it's spying on Americans too. If you think you'll somehow reason with them and they'll go "oh ok, we'll go back to spying on foreigners only", I got no words for how naive you are. Not you spec

    • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Monday February 17, 2014 @05:04AM (#46265341)

      Seriously. These are spy organizations. And here they are - spying. On foreign countries, no less. What were they thinking?

      The Snowden leaks started out with things the public actually needed to know. The NSA spying on Americans is a gross overstep of the organization's charter. Spying on friendly nation's leaders is an embarrassment. This, however, seems to me like them doing their job.

      At first, I thought that labeling Snowden as a spy was an overreaction. The US government trying to silence a whistle blower. However, were I a juror in a trial in which he released just this document, I'd convict.

      Anyone who disagrees is kindly requested to answer two simple questions:
      1. What should the NSA do?
      2. Assuming this is not this, how can a country maintain military intelligence without doing this?

      Shachar

      There is the subtle way to do things and then there is the really clumsy and idiotic way to do them. I mean I can see how it is legitimate for the USA and Australia to spy on Indonesia with a bit more intensity than their close allies. However, is it really worth it to take the spying to a level that the target nation might construe as bordering on an act of war? What if the shit hits the fan in the region and a formerly cooperative Indonesia is so pissed off over this that they have moved into the Chinese camp? Would this spying still be worth it? Is it worth while to tap the telephones of the leaders of your closest allies (an operation that the NSA it self has admitted resulting in pretty much ZERO usable intelligence?) and risk spoiling a set of relationship that has been of vital strategic and economic importance to the USA since the end of WWII? Is the role of the NSA really to wreck every diplomatic relationship the USA has? How paranoid is the US leadership? Why isn't it enough for them to keep spying on their closest allies sufficient for the US leadership to have a good idea of what their closest allies are doing? Why must US intelligence operations be at a level that seems aimed at knowing what kind of underwear every single citizen of these nations is wearing down to the size, brand and color? *** WARNING: sarcasm ahead *** I think the USA can rest assured that none of its NATO allies is planning a sneak nuclear attack on the USA and we aren't secretly funding Al Quaeda either and if the US leadership needs to tap the telephones of Angela Merkel and François Hollande to discover that, then the US leadership need psychological help.

      I am not a US citizen, I am however a citizen of a NATO allied nation and I value our strategic and economic relationship with the USA and from my point of view Snowden's revelations about the near Orwellian level of US spying on it's closest allies is a positive thing. This is especially true if Snowden's revelations result in the EU internet infrastructure being restructured so as to minimize the amount of traffic that goes through locations where the USA can intercept it because it may help to prevent the relationship between us Europeans and the USA from deteriorating even further despite the best efforts of the US security services to sabotage it with their excessive paranoia.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      2. Assuming this is not this, how can a country maintain military intelligence without doing this?

      Shachar

      Oh, yes. That's un-possible. Poor US Army, what it could do if missing the critical information about the Indonesian trade of shrimp and cloves cigarettes [sbs.com.au]?

      The law firm was advising Indonesia in relation to trade disputes with the US over the export of shrimp and clove cigarettes. In the latter case the World Trade Organization ruled the United States had violated international trade laws.

      According to the classified document, Australian intelligence agents covertly monitored talks between Indonesian officials and the law firm, and offered to share the information obtained with America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

      Foreign Minister Natalegawa admitted on Monday that he was perplexed by the claims, the latest in a string of damming revelations about the extent of Australia’s espionage activities in the region.

      "I find that a bit mind-boggling and a bit difficult how I can connect or reconcile discussion about shrimps and how it impacts on Australia’s security,” Natalegawa told reporters at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is on a two-day visit to Jakarta.

    • by vux984 (928602)

      And here they are - spying. On foreign countries, no less.

      You don't care who they spy on or why? So if the Vice President wants to buy a home in the Bahamas, he should have the NSA dig up dirt on the current owners to try and lower the price?

      I mean... its spying on a foreigner so ... okey dokey right? That's what the american public are funding the NSA for... better prices on realestate for VIPs!

      Hell no. That's not what the NSA is for. Its to secure our intelligence against foreign spies, and to identify an

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Spying on specific foreign targets who may be a threat is accepted. Spying en-masse on allies, often for commercial reasons, is not.

  • Phone tapping national leaders 'normal', says former Indonesian spy chief [smh.com.au]

    Indonesia's former top spy master has accused his own President of exaggerating the problem of phone tapping, saying attempts by intelligence agencies to snoop on national leaders were "normal".

    And former spy agency chief Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono has also punctured claims by his Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa that Indonesia would never tap the phones of Australian politicians, insisting it was a routine part of "black intelligence". .....

    Mr Hendropriyono, the head of Badan Intelijen Negara (BIN) until 2004, has been thrust into the Australian political debate because of a TV interview he gave in 2004, in which he admitted to bugging Australian politicians. .....

    In an interview with Fairfax Media, the former Indonesian army general has now amplified his 2004 comments, saying of Australia's attempts to listen to the conversations of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the first lady and their confidantes: "For intelligence, it's normal."

    He added that Indonesia not only had the capacity to tap the phones of Australians, but that intelligence agencies also had a responsibility to try it, "friend or foe". .....

    Asked if Indonesia could listen to Mr Abbott's phone, he said: "We have the ability to tap and to counter-tap". However, he also suggested that Australian counterintelligence would prevent this happening.

    Mr Hendropriyono said human intelligence — what he called "white intelligence" — was standard practice in embassies worldwide, but that phone tapping was "the most reliable" way to confirm information gathered.

    "Tapping and counter-tapping is quite common in the intelligence life, because it is one of their primary jobs," he said. .....

    "Intelligence is judged like in sport, two boxers fighting in the ring. They punch and they counter-punch... They attack and they defend themselves, but it is in the ring — the ring of intelligence. If the officials, in this case politicians, interfere in the case, that is wrong. That is very wrong."

    Now that it is in the political arena, the politicians have overreacted, he said. ....

    "I hope that both our leaders, SBY as well as Tony Abbott should not be too emotional... Please do not deteriorate [the relationship] because of a very small thing. This is a very technical thing."

    Yes another US ally screwed by a Snowden leak. Can we assume at this point that we'll be hearing nothing about China, Russia, or Iran? Remember how Snowden claimed that he was an expert about Chinese activities and taught classes on them? I wonder what happened to that material?

    • Can we assume at this point that we'll be hearing nothing about China, Russia, or Iran?

      There's some pretty good books available about similar things, and worse, in those places. It went as far as a journalist that had been a vocal critic of Putin being murdered on Putin's birthday, and it being very obvious that it was intended to be a present.
      So in other words just take it as read that we know that bad things happen in other places.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Whats interesting about the collection efforts of China, Russia, or Iran cold? They can collect what all in their own country, have some fancy satellites, neat spy ships, embassies with limited space and known staff, neat science cover stories and lots and lots of 'classic' expensive well placed generations of human spies.
      As for the US ally screwed by a Snowden leak:
      Indonesia fully understood the "Martin and Mitchell defection" news in 1960
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]
      Indonesia knew they had cry
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      "Intelligence is judged like in sport, two boxers fighting in the ring. They punch and they counter-punch... They attack and they defend themselves, but it is in the ring — the ring of intelligence. If the officials, in this case politicians, interfere in the case, that is wrong. That is very wrong."

      Now that it is in the political arena, the politicians have overreacted, he said. ....

      "I hope that both our leaders, SBY as well as Tony Abbott should not be too emotional... Please do not deteriorate [the relationship] because of a very small thing. This is a very technical thing."

      Translation "spooks to govt: Give us your money and keep your dirty noses out of our game: it's none of your business, you see... it's too technical for you to even understand something".
      The only thing that wasn't explicitly said is "... or else".

      And this should function as a justification for what NSA is doing? Is it meant to offer me (a citizen which pays taxes these damn'd spooks live on) assurances of a responsible behavior consistent with respect of human rights and liberties?
      Pray tell, exactly how the

  • Psst (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Don't like beta? Want a Slashdot without the Dice? Try

    http://soylentnews.org/

  • If it isn't yet considered an act of war, it's soon going to be. Wait for it. Shit's about to get interesting.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      If it isn't yet considered an act of war, it's soon going to be. Wait for it. Shit's about to get interesting.

      These kind of things are rarely considered acts of war.

      If an Australian navy warship entering Indonesian waters without the knowledge or permission of the Indonesian government wont start a shooting war, this definitely wont.

      Besides the Indonesians wont risk a war with Oz, they'll talk tough but they need the US more than the US needs them. Also any military action would only end in stalemate, Australia doesn't have the forces to invade Indonesia and Indonesia doesn't have the ships to go toe to toe w

      • I meant in the more general case. I'm guessing that within 6 years, tapping communication lines will be considered an act of war by someone. It'll be the moment after someone realizes that there's no way to secure any network.

        • by mjwx (966435)

          I meant in the more general case. I'm guessing that within 6 years, tapping communication lines will be considered an act of war by someone. It'll be the moment after someone realizes that there's no way to secure any network.

          As did I.

          For the most part, getting caught tapping communications is a minor transgression that ends up getting used to licit political/territorial concessions rather than an excuse for war. Its the political equivalent of getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar.

  • Indonesia's phone system is fairly meh in the first place. This isn't something terribly difficult to achieve.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Most nations invite in and have a network build, from copper to optical to wireless, backhaul and satellite over many years.
      Digital exchanges, towers, trunk lines, crypto all gets planned and 'dropped' in.
      What most of Asia always knew is that their expensive equipment was always Echelon ready and evolved in an 'open' way for Australia and NSA to enjoy over generations of upgrades and expansion.
      All the codes, splitting, locations are all mapped by Australia and updated.
      The only way be secure from this to
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Indonesia's phone system is fairly meh in the first place. This isn't something terribly difficult to achieve.

      Only because something is possible or even easy doesn't necessarily imply one should do it.

      • I'm betting if Indonesia's phone system was only secured using a WEP encypted 802.11b router, we might be singing different praises.

  • Folks seem to be missing the point that this involved tapping an American law firm, apparently in order to gain an edge during trade negotiations? (And similar stuff happening during recent climate negotiations?)

    That kinda muddies the water I think; people spying on other people for national security is one thing, but when it spills over into the commercial world and UN politics then it's no longer security, but obtaining an advantage by underhand means.

    Also, I'm curious - doesn't US law say something abou

  • by isorox (205688)

    I bet they got comprehensive access to beta and ran away screaming!

  • ... cook the american and world people as frogs..... how woudl you ease them into accepting being spied on?

    Enter SNOW DEN... the pot being slowly heated

    How to know this is simple. It cannot be illegal (as has been claimed of what snow den did) to inform the people of the very acts the Declaration of Independence is against --- "...But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty

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