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No Question: Snowden Was 2013's Most Influential Tech Figure 108

Nerval's Lobster writes "Lots of CEOs, entrepreneurs, and developers made headlines in 2013—but in hindsight, Edward Snowden will likely stand as this year's most influential figure in technology. In June, Snowden began feeding top-secret documents detailing the National Security Agency's surveillance programs to The Guardian and other newspapers. Much of that information, downloaded by Snowden while he served as a system administrator at an NSA outpost in Hawaii, suggested that the U.S. government swept up massive amounts of information on ordinary Americans as part of its broader operations. Whatever one's feelings on the debate over privacy and security, it's undeniable that Snowden's documents have increased general awareness of online vulnerability; but whether that's sparked an increased use of countermeasures—including encryption tools—is another matter entirely. On the developer side of things, when you consider the sheer amount of money, time, and code that'll be invested over the next few years in encryption and encryption-breaking, it's clear that Snowden's influence will be felt for quite some time to come—even if the man himself is trapped in Russian exile."
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No Question: Snowden Was 2013's Most Influential Tech Figure

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  • I Think I Was ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I think it was the guy mentioned in this article [].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:45PM (#45830635)

    ...that the federal government has. And it's not the muslim jihadists they're worried about. It's us.

    • by deconfliction ( 3458895 ) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:19PM (#45830949)

      ...that the federal government has. And it's not the muslim jihadists they're worried about. It's us.

      Indeed, and since it seems so apropos to link to and quote slashdot today- []
      The insecurity is on the side of the NSA.
      They wouldn't go through such hoops if we didn't have the most powerful freedom tool ever, namely the Internet.

      Use it properly and they shall vanish.

    • Then I'd say we're doing our job as citizens. Now on to the next problem to solve, "Who's the asshole that started this?"
    • by alexo ( 9335 )

      ...that the federal government has. And it's not the muslim jihadists they're worried about. It's us.

      -1 delusional.

      The federal government does not fear "you".
      "You" have neither the will nor the means to effectively oppose them.
      Hell, "you" can't even inconvenience them.
      "You" are not even a blip on their radar.
      "You" are nothing but a resource to be exploited.

      The only thing Showden accomplished is reassuring the powers that be that they can get away with anything and don't even have to hide their misdeeds anymore.

  • by x_IamSpartacus_x ( 1232932 ) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:47PM (#45830659)
    Why the hell is this here? There have already been like 50 other stories about how important Snowden was/is and now /. feels it's important to post a ridiculously redundant [] story of their own that is JUST A BUNCH OF OTHER LINKS to other news sites? WTF /.?


    • When your house is burning down around you, the topic may come up a bit more frequently than you'd like. But some situations are so dire, so tragic, that when they occur they eclipse all that surround them.

  • by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:47PM (#45830663)

    Der Spiegel reported on the NSA’s access to smartphones and, in particular, the iPhone back in September []. Today, these reports expand to the NSA’s apparent ability to access just about all your iPhone data [] through a program called DROPOUTJEEP, according to security researcher Jacob Appelbaum.

    The NSA claims a 100% success rate in installing the malware on iPhones. Functionality includes the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device. SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc. Command, control and data exfiltration can occur over SMS messaging or a GPRS data connection. All communications with the implant will be covert and encrypted.

    It is unknown whether the backdoor was developed in cooperation with Apple, but Appelbaum doubts it. Video of Appelbaum's full speech is included in the article.

    • And yet you *still* can't do a selective backup/restore.
    • by Chaz12 ( 2749825 )
      The NSA and any national intelligence forces have ZERO access to messages that are encrypted 256 at source and only decrypted using long (eg 25 character non-dictionary) passwords that have been exchanged manually. Even a SuperComputer would take hundreds of thousands of years or more to crack these, and paper messages exchanged manually bypass ANY security altogether! So either stone-age bits of paper or very high tech encryption will suffice. If there is an additional random insert of characters based o
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Only if you're typing in the cyphertext and doing the encryption/decryption off-device.
        If they've got root on your phone, no amount of encryption will prevent access to the data (hint, your phone has to decrypt it at some point so you can use it).

    • "The initial release of DROPOUTJEEP will focus on installing the implant via close access methods. A remote installation ability will be pursued for a future release."

      This is exactly why I don't let my NSA friends borrow my iPhone.

      Seriously, though, the private sector has been doing this for years. [] Do you really think the NSA can't pwn a phone, or any other type of computer, given physical access or a remote root exploit?

    • That's been obvious for years since there must be a very good reason why Obama isn't allowed to have an iPhone.

    • Apple actually responded to the issue today after it was reported again yesterday:

      Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements. Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.

      Also worth pointing out: in addition to Apple, Appelbaum also leaked the fact that Android and Blackberry have been similarly compromised, and that the NSA is even going so far as to intercept new smartphones en route to their destination and then install this software, before sending them on their way.

    • by Guru80 ( 1579277 )
      Apple is, as of right now, denying any cooperation but that's status-qua.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    William Binney & James Bamford? They just aren't the media personality Snowden is?

  • by dfn5 ( 524972 ) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:11PM (#45830879) Journal
    Most influential maybe in terms of politics, but technology? What was the technology he pioneered or employed? Copy? Not very influential in my opinion.
    • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:34PM (#45831119)

      Most influential maybe in terms of politics, but technology? What was the technology he pioneered or employed?

      Nothing. But his actions will have a huge influence on the future development and use of technology, thus it is reasonable to call him influential ;-)

    • Exactly. The guys at Nest created the internet of things, or made it viable. That will be remembered for centuries, even after Vint Cerf and von Neumann are forgotten. They created a thermostat.
    • You're conflating "influential" and "innovative". You don't have to make something to be able to have a significant influence on it, and there's little doubt that Snowden's actions have influenced how the general population looks at and thinks about technology in a major way. They're asking the sorts of questions about—and demanding the sorts of things from—technology that many of us here wished they had been asking and demanding a long time ago, and most of that is thanks to his revelations.

  • One of the few good things I can say about this mess is that applied cryptography is back... something that hasn't been really fundamentally worked on since the mid-1990s when SSL/TLS and SSH were hammered out. People seem to be interested in PGP again, and cryptocurrencies are the rage with preeve saying one Bitcoin is worth $760 at this time.

    Of course, one has fears about yet another Internet-related bubble... but this is a place where people coming in to build new stuff is a very good thing. In fact, r

  • Snowden began feeding top-secret documents detailing the National Security Agency's surveillance programs to The Guardian and other newspapers.

    Does anyone know how Snowden decides which paper to leak which document to? For instance, The Washington Post seems to get more than its fair share. IIRC a plurality go to The Guardian. Is there some strategy behind where he leaks what? A cynical person would assume there's a bidding war going on, but most (legit) newspapers view it as unethical to pay for stories. [PDF] []

    • by HBI ( 604924 )

      Snowden was interested in leaking to somewhere that wouldn't turn him over to the FBI instantly, and was out of the subpoena/no knock warrant power of the United States government. That's why the Guardian. It would be idiotic to give anything harmful to US interests to a US newspaper. Even if they wanted to play ball, the feds would be all over them with "National Security" letters.

      Snowden played this excessively smart, and that's the only reason he's sort of free now.

      • Snowden played this excessively smart, and that's the only reason he's sort of free now.

        I don't think Snowden is that smart or free. Today he does what the Russian government allows him to do. But consider the Russians have protesters in Moscow, protesters in Kiev, and suicide bombers in their midst. How long will the Russian government tolerate an icon for freedom from surveillance, especially given their history? I believe Snowden is in considerable danger. []

        Another reference: Sergei Guriev []

        Also Mikhail Khodorkovsky []

        As for Snowden, I still think we know 10% or less of the story. There is a

        • by HBI ( 604924 )

          I don't think there is that much more to the Snowden story. The guy seems to be an idealist. Snowden is at risk in Russia, but he's at risk anywhere in the world. The US would like nothing better but to take him into custody. That's the sum total of his protection - his freedom amounts to thumbing a nose at the US government and pointing out its powerlessness. Same as the Soviet defectors back in the Cold War era.

    • by gmhowell ( 26755 )

      I think most (all) of the documents got handed over to Greenwald. At first, Greenwald pushed most stuff through his employer, The Guardian, with a few other outlets to increase exposure outside the UK. Now it seems they will be used to help bootstrap a new venture that Greenwald is starting.

  • People are touted as being "the most influential" who are nothing more than drama fodder for the 24x7 news organizations. Snowden will soon be a memory, heck he's almost a memory now, and bitcoin and its ilk will fare no better over time. It used to be that people expected 15 minutes of fame, now with the pace of information flow they should expect 15 ms of fame at best.
  • The guy's only rival is the pope for most influential person of the year, period.
  • It is not for his technical prowess.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta