• NSA and Corporate Cooperation Revealed

    January 3, 2014

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy

    The latest NSA revelations reveal deeper and more insidious intrusions into our lives, and show deeper collusion between the government and private enterprise. If you really, really think this is OK because you have “nothing to hide,” you better be damn sure that’s the case.

    Back Doors

    It is now apparent that the NSA co-opted nearly every piece of electronics present in our lives. Der Spiegel reports that the NSA has found ways to slither through most firewalls and work around most security systems. This dirty work is done primarily via malware, computer code created by the NSA that is implanted in the targeted device to do the NSA’s bidding. This malware most commonly creates a “back door,” a new, hidden pathway into some computer system.

    NSA Lies about BIOS Attacks

    We also learn that the NSA, which only recently used the American TV news magazine “60 Minutes” to warn about a new form of Chinese cyberattack, actually employs the very same technique. NSA Information Assurance Director Debora Plunkett spoke in near-apocalyptic terms:

    [She] revealed the discovery by one of her 3,000 analysts of a secret computer weapon that could destroy any computer it infected. She would not name its origin, but 60 Minutes has learned it was engineered in China. The NSA allowed Plunkett to talk about it for the first time in detail. She says it was called the Bios Plot, for the foundational component, the Bios, that all computers have that performs basic functions like turning on the operating system and activating the hardware. The attack on the Bios would have been disguised as a request for a software update. If the user clicked on it, the virus would turn their computer into “a brick,” says Plunkett.

    “One of our analysts actually saw that the nation-state had the intention to develop and deliver, to actually use this capability to destroy computers,” Plunkett says. If successful, says Plunket, “Think about the impact of that across the entire globe. It could literally take down the U.S. economy.” The NSA quietly worked with computer manufacturers to eliminate this vulnerability.


    However, quite apart from “quietly working with computer manufacturers to eliminate” a BIOS attack, the NSA quietly worked to exploit BIOS attacks of its own making. Der Spiegel tells us:

    [NSA] developers have a clear preference for planting their malicious code in so-called BIOS, software located on a computer’s motherboard that is the first thing to load when a computer is turned on. This has a number of valuable advantages: an infected PC or server appears to be functioning normally, so the infection remains invisible to virus protection and other security programs. And even if the hard drive of an infected computer has been completely erased and a new operating system is installed, the malware can continue to function and ensures that new spyware can once again be loaded onto what is presumed to be a clean computer. The developers call this “Persistence” and believe this approach has provided them with the possibility of permanent access.


    A Look How Deep the Rabbit Hole Goes

    In a way, however, the most insidious technique the NSA employs is in a way one of the simplest. Der Spiegel reveals that the NSA intercepts computers and other eletronic hardware being shipped to a “target,” alters them, and then sends them on to be received and used by the target, albeit with the NSA software and/or hardware installed.

    Let’s break this down.

    Once the NSA identifies a “target” (whom we’ll refer here to as “You”), the NSA needs to know when You order a new laptop they want to intercept. That means the NSA has to spy on Your credit card, Your online activities and/or probe into the ordering systems of places like Amazon, Dell and the like. Perhaps there is a sort of “no fly” list distributed to manufacturers that requires notification to the NSA when someone like You on it buys something. Or all of the above.

    The NSA then must know when and how Your laptop will be sent to you. That means they need to have been accessing the computer systems of Amazon, Dell and the like, and/or UPS, Fedex and other shippers. Or all of the above.

    The NSA then has to have physical access to the warehouse of the shipping company. Or, the shipping company has to agree to mark your package, and deliver it instead to an NSA location. That all means the shipping companies are in on the NSA plot, or the NSA has to be hacking into the shipping companies’ data systems and substituting their address for Yours.

    Once in NSA hands, Your package has to be opened, and Your laptop must be altered in some undetectable way. They can’t steam open a box like a letter in the old movies; someone has to open it physically and then get it all buttoned up again without a trace. Does the NSA have a way to unstick packing tape and reseal internal bags, or do they have a ready supply from Dell and Apple of packing materials?

    Lastly, the NSA has to return the package into the shipping stream. That means the box, with say Amazon’s return address and Your home address, has to reenter say Fedex’s system from a third location without too many people knowing it happened. It would not do for the low-level UPS guy to pick up a ton of boxes everyday from a nondescript warehouse, all with third-party address labels. This strongly suggests cooperation by the shipping companies.

    You then open Your new laptop on Christmas morning. Yeah, be sure to select a secure password.

    Private Enterprise as Tools of the National Security State

    After a lot of denying and prevaricating, the telecommunications companies of the United States admitted they work hand-in-glove with the NSA under a secret portion of the Patriot Act to collect and transfer data about You. Verizon also hacked its own wireless modems to allow the FBI easier access to You. Microsoft collaborated to allow Your communications to be intercepted, including helping the NSA circumvent the company’s own encryption. Microsoft also worked with the NSA to grant easier access to its cloud storage service SkyDrive with Your documents. One technology expert speculates the NSA embeds back doors inside chips produced by U.S. corporations Intel and AMD. There are many more examples of corporate cooperation, as well as corporations appearing to “not know” about NSA intrusions deep into their systems and products.

    After I first published this piece on Firedoglake, I got an email from a “strategic communications” firm claiming to represent Microsoft. The email reminded me that “Microsoft offers an adamant and robust denial, writing that ‘There are significant inaccuracies in the interpretations of leaked government documents reported in the media last week,’ and referencing this Microsoft blog post. The communications person “Wondered if you’d consider adding Microsoft’s comments to your blog, rather than just giving one side of the story.” And so I just did.

    What we have here is an example of the depths into which You have fallen. The government has recruited private industry into its national security state, down to the level of the Fedex guy delivering packages to Your door in time for Christmas. For those of You who still foolishly insist that such spying is OK because they “have nothing to hide,” I sure as hell hope You are right, because whatever You do have now belongs to Them.


    BONUS: We would know none/none of this had it not been for Edward Snowden.



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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

  • Recent Comments

    • pitchfork said...

      1

      quote:”Your online activities and/or probe into the ordering systems of places like Amazon, Dell and the like.”unquote

      youbetcha. The moment after I finished viewing Appelbaums video, I fired off an email to NEWEGG, as I’ve purchased computer parts etc from them in the past. In no uncertain terms I told them should I find out Newegg HAS engaged in any co-conspiritorial activities with the NSA that compromises peoples purchases I would engage every legal remedy I can afford, and should proof emerge of their acquiescence, Newegg would be FINISHED. DONE. ZILCH.

      Furthermore, it would seem, if anything, IF, a vendor or shipping company is proved to be involved, that a class action suit could be filed against not only the commercial party, but against the NSA, as multiple customers, I believe, would then have standing.

      However, leaving the legal possibilities aside, in the last few days, I’ve done my best to link this information on as many sites as I can, as to me..this information is living proof we have have been bamboozled and the NSA has clearly superseded it’s mandates. The mere fact that they “interdict” products from American vendors of computers and parts, is living testimony to the depths this insidious agency has sunk to spy on America. And THAT is only the tip of the iceberg…

      http://leaksource.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/nsas-ant-division-catalog-of-exploits-for-nearly-every-major-software-hardware-firmware/

      Folks, we are witness to Orwell on steroids. We have arrived. The only question left is what are we to do about it.

      01/3/14 3:12 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      2

      ps, I ran across a quote today that perfectly illustrates what has happened…

      “Knocking off a bank or an armoured truck is merely crude. Knocking off an entire republic has, I feel, a certain style.”

      General Alexander should engrave this above the entrance to the NSA..

      01/3/14 3:17 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      3

      “Right now, since there have been no abuses and almost all the court decisions on this program have held that it’s constitutional, I really don’t know what problem we’re trying to solve by changing how we do this,” he said, saying the debate was sparked after “somebody stirred up the crowd.” – some pathological ex-NSA liar

      We should engrave this on our tombstone.

      01/3/14 3:20 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      4

      01/3/14 4:47 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      5

      Of course, in comparison to all the lives we destroyed – Vietnam to Afghanistan – the Great Leader is a saint.

      01/3/14 4:49 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      6

      It was a lot cooler AND MORE FUN in Italy under Mussolini!

      From Fellini’s “Amarcord”:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsTqJjDG2Xo

      01/3/14 6:20 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      7

      C’maan guys, time to have a little fun with NSA…

      http://grahamcluley.com/2014/01/nsa-product-name-generator/

      Hahahahahahahaha!

      Amazing. The internet at light speed.

      01/3/14 6:45 PM | Comment Link

    • developingtomorrow said...

      8

      What do you have to hide, PVB? “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Free me, PVB, tell me the truth. You can’t be leveraged if your honest with everybody.

      Interesting, focus on NSA targets. Your writing seems to reflect that NSA only targets “YOU” the American citizen. That isn’t necessarily an honest reflection of who they are, and what is happening in the cyber domain.

      I have found malware from a whole slew of countries. I could only imagine how and why I was targeted, I’m a broke out-of-work recent college graduate. I have nothing to offer as a target for hackers. My bank is at nil, I don’t have access to sensitive material, and I’m a good person that works to better my world around me. Chances are it is from a malicious cyber gang. Surely, I can’t be a national security threat.

      Everybody is engaged in these cyber attacks. The Chinese hit US servers millions of times a day. If anything, they are the aggressors in this arena. Lest not forget, other state sponsored hackers and non-state hackers that have us in their sights. Also, we can’t turn a blind eye to the tech savvy corporations either. Many of the social media platforms we are users on spy on us, and we gladly click the user agreement box. Big corporations (LOL. I sound like such a nutball socialist.) are making their apps in such a fashion, that they track your very movement around town and in stores so they can sell that information to marketers, and in turn, sell you more stuff. Let’s not forget, that you never see a dime of it, though their existence survives off your informational input into their databases. To add to that, LEO and the IC are scanning the shit out of that as well. The odds of you coming up in LEO scans, in my rational line of thought, are much higher due to the scale of the SNA scope.

      Bios attack is cool, but my favorite hack attack is that one from James Bond’s Skyfall. Ol’ Harry Potter didn’t know what hit him. That required some real skill, you know what I’m saying? Break that op down. ;)

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aApTVqeGJMw

      Thousands of years of spycraft, as it is the second oldest profession, and you are unsure if those geeks haven’t figured out how to intercept and open something on the low low? C’mon man, give the spooks some credit. There is a book about flaps and seals somewhere floating around online…

      That’s no rabbit hole, you should try some LSD. Remember MK Ultra?

      You ever thought about this absurd fact? The same guy who delivers your NSA tweaked laptop, also brings you your Silk Road packages, but yet nobody questions the 50 kilos of Afghani hash that was mailed to you, but if you have a conversation with a foreigner online, then they are on you like stink on shit.

      Spying is nothing new to this country, it has been a staple of our national security since the Revolutionary War. Just be watchful of the ideology of the rulers, it’s better to keep the guns pointed in, than out, but either way, guns are necessary in this crazy world.

      01/4/14 5:40 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      9

      developingtomorrow said…

      quote:” I don’t have access to sensitive material, and I’m a good person”unquote

      I can’t speak for Peter, but…how do you know this then?

      quote:”The Chinese hit US servers millions of times a day.”unquote

      quote:”Also, we can’t turn a blind eye to the tech savvy corporations either. Many of the social media platforms we are users on spy on us, and we gladly click the user agreement box”unquote

      Ha! That’s your problem, I don’t use them…period.

      quote:”Big corporations (LOL. I sound like such a nutball socialist.) are making their apps in such a fashion, that they track your very movement around town and in stores so they can sell that information to marketers, and in turn, sell you more stuff.”unquote

      ummm, how would you know. After all…I thought you were..ahem…broke..like me. I don’t shop for anything in stores who use that shit.

      quote:”Bios attack is cool, but my favorite hack attack is that one from James Bond’s Skyfall.”unquote

      Says one who thinks General Warrants are cool too. sheeeezusfuckingchrist…

      quote:”That required some real skill, you know what I’m saying?

      No, I don’t know what you’re saying and don’t give a fuck. Besides..I HATE that saying. You sound like one of those pants dragging dimwits …know what I’m saying?

      quote:”Thousands of years of spycraft, as it is the second oldest profession, and you are unsure if those geeks haven’t figured out how to intercept and open something on the low low? C’mon man, give the spooks some credit. “unquote

      Credit?? Fuck you. Senator Church would slap you silly.

      quote:”Thousands of years of spycraft, as it is the second oldest profession, and you are unsure if those geeks haven’t figured out how to intercept and open something on the low low? C’mon man, give the spooks some credit. “unquote

      Unsure? Pal, fuck off. I don’t know who you think you are, but I have a guess. I already addressed credit. But I’l bite. FUCK the NSA. The only credit I’ll give them is for lying through their fucking teeth and getting away with it for a while. But like all lies…sooner or later the betrayal is exposed. In this case, it was lies of biblical proportions.

      quote:”You ever thought about this absurd fact? The same guy who delivers your NSA tweaked laptop, also brings you your Silk Road packages, but yet nobody questions the 50 kilos of Afghani hash that was mailed to you, but if you have a conversation with a foreigner online, then they are on you like stink on shit.”unquote

      Absurd is a massive understatement. First off, addressing that statement towards the members here, pisses me off to the nth degree. I don’t take drugs, I don’t use Silkroad, and I don’t smoke hash, so eat me, you insufferable prick.

      quote:”Spying is nothing new to this country, it has been a staple of our national security since the Revolutionary War.

      Yeah, well they certainly weren’t spying on the citizenry like NSA is, at least till the FBI started in the 30′s so your point is moot.

      quote:”Just be watchful of the ideology of the rulers, it’s better to keep the guns pointed in, than out, but either way, guns are necessary in this crazy world.” unquote

      In? Ha! I’d submit, if the USG perpetrates a Waco2, I figure about 3% of the gun owners in this country could surround WDC ready to drag these cockroaches out and burn them alive.

      Notwithstanding the NSA, I don’t know who you work for but your apologist bullshit won’t work here. Now beat it fuckface.

      01/4/14 6:56 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      10

      “You can’t be leveraged if YOUR honest with everybody.”

      The only honest thing he wrote.

      01/5/14 12:04 PM | Comment Link

    • developingtomorrow said...

      11

      For a guy named “Pitchfork”, you’re not very sharp.

      I know what I know, because I am good at what I do.

      You are a liar, you do use those technologies. The fact that you are able to connect to the internet shows me you do use technologies that can be used to track you. Maybe you just don’t know how these technologies work? Which, in turn, is your problem, er shortcoming. Just because I am a not financially endowed, does not make me any less capable of understanding the technologies of our everyday life.

      I never said anything about General Warrants. I never met him.

      I find it interesting you said, “sheeeezusfuckingchrist…” and the proceeded to rip on me because I used a phrase that you are too emotionally unstable to deal with, and then you proceeded to use that same term you ripped me with, at the end of your statement. Not only was your explanation for outburst against my lexicon a borderline racial stereotype that cast you as a “could be bigot”, but it was cast you as a hypocrite. I sure hope you aren’t in the public diplomacy trade, then again I wouldn’t be surprised.

      It’s not nice to speak of the dead using any negative statements. I’ll refrain, as I am a bigger man. RIP. Senator Church.

      You have a guess to who I am? Looking at this very page, you are 2 clicks away from my Facebook page, information which I chose to provide. Why don’t you start acting like the NSA and snoop on me some more? Maybe your guess is right?!

      quote: “Absurd is a massive understatement. First off, addressing that statement towards the members here, pisses me off to the nth degree. I don’t take drugs, I don’t use Silkroad, and I don’t smoke hash, so eat me, you insufferable prick.”

      Absurd is a massive understatement. First off, addressing that statement towards this member here, pisses me off to the nth degree. I don’t eat humans, you dull bitchfork. I would suggest logging into Silkroad and buying some hash, the sand in your vagina has got you writing some hateful shit. You could use some “feel good time”.

      The rise of new tech gave rise to new battlespace environments. Isn’t it obvious?

      You are right on that “in quote”. OOPS. Just switch the prepositions around to the effect of better out, than in. Big difference that makes. ha. But you are wrong with your little Waco2 scenario. Like most, including you, you talk all this shit, but when it comes down to it, you’re a bitch. Even if the USG did do some shit like that you would get online and cry about it.

      You think I work?! LOL! I guess you don’t know who I am. However, I did tell you that within two clicks, you could be at my Facebook page. Never once did I apologize for anything.

      One more thing, Why didn’t you even touch the LSD statement? Do you even know what MK ULTRA was?!

      ______

      Rich, I didn’t capitalize YOUR. I also misspelled you’re. So YOU’RE wrong, that honestly isn’t what I said, nor was it what I meant to convey, thus, not completely honest.
      ______

      Rich and Bitchfork,

      Show me where I am wrong. Do the Chinese not hack us on the daily? Does the NSA target enemies outside US borders? Has spying and technology evolved in some manner throughout the ages?

      01/6/14 5:56 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      12

      “Do the Chinese not hack us on the daily?”

      By us I assume you mean “US.” And by “on the daily” I assume you mean the Daily Show, which provides more truth than the corporate media. (see Iraq War propaganda)

      01/6/14 10:14 PM | Comment Link

    • developingtomorrow said...

      13

      LMAO! I like you, Rich.

      Did you know it was corporate media who stood in the way of the US government’s efforts to provide the same information to the US public as they the USG would disseminate to foreign audiences? Let me tell you why. There was a small scare about government propagandizing the public, but the bigger issue was that the USG would have a monopoly over international news. It was those latter cries that would lead to decades of little oversight of USG message making. Now the corporate media does little to examine international issues. CNN who used to led that charge is barely a news service now. Personally, I prefer to follow a whole host of infomation providers. VOA and RFE/RFA are some of my favorites.
      While the Daily Show, seems to, keep it real, they still don’t fully illuminate the issues, but rather skew the picture further.
      My best advice, watch all of it with a grain of salt and use analysis of competing hypothesis and other analytical techniques to determine the truth of the matter.

      01/7/14 7:20 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      14

      01/7/14 10:56 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      15

      Dear Developing Tomorrow,

      That is an excellent point how foreign countries like China and criminal networks hack us and monitor the average person.

      I spent time briefly in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime, in Iran, and later in a part of the former USSR where I could hear ‘minders’ coughing in the back ground on my calls. In all these countries, surveillance was part old fashioned, and part electronic.

      Why the heck would I want to endure this in the United States?? How does this make me feel safer, if I am being monitored??

      It was laughable then, only because at some point I could check out and return to the US. The worst part — the bad guys are still infiltrating our infrastructures. Why? Because for some strange (or maybe not so strange) reason, our corporate entities STILL have security ‘holes’ in their networks that allow both the NSA and criminal gangs to infiltrate our systems. Its no coincidence. It’s also a curiosity how companies like google with that mapping scandal never get prosecuted for real law violations.

      The other problem — all the minders on our side STILL cant catch the real bad guys. Our mission in Benghazi was raided at least 3 times – yes at least 3 times. Did no one figure out how to monitor the bad guys the first time?? Unfortunately, we dont have enough linguists who really speak Arabic or Berber or their various dialects so how can our officials claim to be doing this in the name of security? Our agencies knew some of the 9/11 attackers were IN the US. Look what happened.

      The monitoring programs — are not doing their job. But someone is getting very wealthy in the meantime. Since some of us are STILL out of work, that narrows things down who it can be

      01/9/14 4:26 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      16

      *clarification – our mission in Benghazi and the mission near Tripoli sent ostensibly to find the ones responsible for the Ambassador and three other Americans who were killed

      01/9/14 1:23 PM | Comment Link

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