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Archive for July, 2013

Attorney General Eric Holder writes to the Russians re Snowden

July 27, 2013 Leave a comment

US Attorney General Eric Holder’s letter to the Russians is amazing.

First, the United States would not seek the death penalty for Mr Snowden should he return to the United States.

That is, we won’t kill him for telling the people what we should have told them but didn’t want them to know.

Second, Mr Snowden will not be tortured.

Tell that to Bradley Manning, whose treatment (according the United Nations) amounted to torture.

Furthermore, says Holder,

Mr Snowden believes that he is unable to travel out of Russia… That is inaccurate; he is able to travel… He is eligible… for direct return to the United States.

So, to summarize, Mr Holder says that everything is OK because Mr Snowden can travel anywhere in the world provided it is straight back to the USA where Holder will not kill him for telling the truth nor even torture him — even though history shows that the US has and uses its own peculiar definition of torture.

Well, that’s alright then. I guess on the basis of this Mr Snowden will be packing his bags and booking his flight.

Categories: All, Politics

Dangerous Dave Cameron – Family Guy

July 24, 2013 Leave a comment

If it wasn’t so scary, it would be hilarious.

Big Dave is on the vote scrounge – blagging (speech here) gullible votes as dangerously as some press (and law firms and insurance companies) have blagged personal information.

He’s doing it by conflating child abuse (an illegal and universally loathed practice) with adult pornography (largely a legal and adult pastime) in order to create the basis for government-controlled censorship of the internet.

He has to include pornography since child abuse sites and images are already illegal, and the UK has an envious and successful record in taking down and removing such images. He doesn’t have to do anything about child abuse other than increase the resources of CEOP, IWF and SOCA.

But he wants that ability to censor the internet.

By throwing pornography into the pot he simultaneously wins the votes of mumsnet and the Daily Mail, and gains the lever to start the censorship.

What will happen is that users of the major UK ISPs (something in excess of 90%) will be forced to opt-out of an ISP operated blacklist of forbidden sites. I’m not sure how he’ll justify that with the European Union, which insists that ‘options’ have to be opt-in, not opt-out – except for national security in which the EU cannot interfere (but since everything this government does dubiously is justified by national security, that might become the chosen route).

So far, merely having to opt out doesn’t seem too onerous; and I hope that 100% of the UK population chooses to do so – not to view porn, but to make a point.

But that is just the beginning. Once the government has a list of sites that it knows it can block because of the connivance of the ISPs, that list will grow. Already it is likely to include ‘self-harm’ sites. Next will be sites nominated by the entertainment industry. Then it will be dubious political sites. Then it will be any site telling a truth that Big Dave doesn’t want known.

You think I’m joking? Where is the press discussion about GCHQ’s Tempora fibre cable surveillance disclosed by Edward Snowden? Suppressed by D Notice. With Cameron’s porn filters, the government will gain the ability to suppress anything it wants.

Categories: All, Politics, Security Issues

Apple Customer Support needs to try harder with its emails

July 23, 2013 1 comment

I got this email from Apple Support about my Apple ID. That’s not surprising since their developer site may (or may not) have been breached last Thursday (see here for details).

It was a little more surprising since I’m not an Apple developer and don’t have an Apple ID – but hell, I’m not going to argue; they might sue me.

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applesupport

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But, despite the fear of being sued, I would suggest that Apple spends a little time on its grammar and style checker. The spelling’s not bad, but it doesn’t seem to understand the relationship between full-stops (or American periods) and spaces.

Oh, and that sentence. “We need your help in order to not be frozen your account,” is decidedly not Anglo-Saxon in structure.

So, Apple, until you can improve things, I don’t think I’m going to bother with you. But one last thing. Although you’ve got the link “update Now >” looking quite reasonable, I do suggest you change the name of your support site hidden beneath it. http:// e-kosmetyczka.waw . pl/404.html could almost look like a scam site.

Categories: All, Security Issues

Today’s stories on Infosecurity Mag (Apple breach, SIMs rooted and Ubuntu Forum hacked)

July 22, 2013 Leave a comment

SIM Cards Cracked; Hundreds of Millions of Phones Vulnerable
I love this one — it looks so easy (I’m sure it isn’t) that it’s surprising that it hasn’t been done before. But it’s strange how many vulnerabilities / bugs / flaws get found just before Black Hat.

Ubuntu Forum Hacked; 1.8 Million Accounts Compromised
The worry here is that users who are no longer active on the site might not realise their passwords have been compromised — and if they use the same password elsewhere, well…

Apple Developer Site Breached
Or was it? Ibrahim Balic says it wasn’t, but it could have been. Apple, in typical ‘say nothing’ mode is giving very little away. But if Balic is right, the price of his publicity could be a nasty lawsuit from Apple (remember, they once sued a grocer for selling apples too much like their own).

Categories: All, Security News

The European Federation has officially arrived

July 19, 2013 Leave a comment

European-Federation“Establishing a European Public Prosecutor’s Office – A federal budget needs federal protection,” says Viviane Reding today.

She’s talking about the formation of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office, “to fight fraud against the EU budget and to uphold the rule of law across the Union.”

I like the idea of fighting fraud.

I distrust the concept of the ‘rule of law’ – it’s just a political concept devised to say, ‘you Pleb, me Lord, you do what I say, always, no arguments.’

But that’s not the point here. “It is a federal budget. If we don’t protect it, nobody else will do it for us,” says Reding.

Federal budget? Did I miss something? When did the European Union morph into the European Federation?

Categories: All, Politics

Whistleblowing and survival by madness

July 15, 2013 2 comments

Britons look with disbelieving amazement at the book thrown at US Whistleblowers such as Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. They are charged under an act designed during the Cold War to deter the sale of state secrets to a real and credible nuclear threat: the USSR and China. That threat no longer exists. The threat to governments today is that the people may learn the truth; and that is a truth that out-of-control intelligence agencies need to keep hidden.

Annie Machon, herself “a former intelligence officer for MI5, the UK Security Service, who resigned in 1996 to blow the whistle on the spies’ incompetence and crimes,” puts it like this:

Brad­ley Man­ning and Edward Snowden have risked their lives to expose the fact that we are liv­ing under a global police state and that our mil­it­ary and intel­li­gence agen­cies are run­ning amok across the planet, with CIA kill lists, rendi­tions, tor­ture, wars, drone strikes and dirty tricks.
The “Insider Threat”

But maybe, just maybe, the American way is more humane than the British. I can think of three high-profile British whistleblowers – apart from Machon herself, who seems to have got away with it – the three Davids: Kelly, Shayler and Icke.

David Icke is not a whistleblower in the traditional sense. A rather negative article in Wikipedia says he “combines discussion about the universe and consciousness with conspiracy theories about public figures being satanic paedophiles, and how apparently unconnected events are really attempts to control humanity.” Seems right so far.

Shayler was an MI5 agent who worked with Machon. Together they exposed an MI5 plot to assassinate Muammar al-Gaddafi. Machon chose a relatively low-profile approach to life after that; Shayler ‘joined’ the Truth movement which seeks to expose government involvement in major conspiracies.

Dr David Kelly exposed the ‘sexing up’ of the Iraq WMD report, showing that there was no evidence that Iraq had such weapons. The truth was distorted in order to justify the invasion.

Icke will now tell you that the world is ruled by alien reptiles. In other words he is mad and is no further threat to the authorities. But he is alive.

Shayler will tell you he is the Messiah reincarnate. In other words he is mad and no further threat to the authorities. But he is alive.

David Kelly did not go mad. Instead he killed himself by a method that many medical experts will tell you it is impossible to kill oneself. The two people seen in the area at around the time of his suicide have not, as far as I am aware, ever been identified. And if you look long and hard enough you will find references to several other MoD employees who committed suicide in very, very strange circumstances. Let’s not even mention Gareth Williams, the MI6 agent who managed to kill himself inside a locked bag (after, it is claimed, he had been talking about whistleblowing).

So maybe the Americans are actually more humane than the Brits… There’s little choice in America – just a very long period of incarceration with a touch of torture while you’re waiting. But in Britain you get a choice: death or madness.

Categories: All, Politics, Security Issues

Sweden — Paradise Lost, a continuing tragedy

July 14, 2013 Leave a comment

When I was a child of the sixties Sweden enjoyed a worldwide reputation for freedom and liberalism. This was confirmed in the ’70s when Sweden gave asylum to Marcello Ferrada-Noli. In his own words,

I remember vividly when the Pinochet government revoked my constitutional right of renewing my passport, making me stateless, after my testimony at the Russel Tribunal in Rome 1974 exposing the killings, torture and horrible crimes perpetrated by the Junta in the Prisoners Camp in which I have been confined. Helped by lawyer Hans Göran Frank (one of the founders of Amnesty International Sweden), I obtained political asylum and a främnlingpass (alien’s passport) according to the Geneva-Convention in a matter of weeks.
Why Sweden should consider asylum to Edward Snowden

Ferrada-Noli is now calling on Sweden to reaffirm that old reputation largely lost in recent years through the increasingly open “alignment by Sweden with U.S. interests, not only militarily and at geopolitical levels, but also in matters of information-sharing, intelligence cooperation and protection of American industrial businesses and copyrights.”

Sweden, as we now know from Edward Snowden, is effectively the ‘sixth eye’; part of the global Echelon/Five Eyes surveillance system operated by the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Sweden’s role is to monitor Russian internet traffic for the NSA.

Sweden’s new status is further confirmed by the country’s treatment of the Assange ‘rape’ case — there is absolutely no legal or logical reason why Assange could not be questioned in the Ecuador embassy in London. The only explanation can be Sweden’s determination to get Assange onto Swedish soil from where he can be shipped to the US for trial.

Ferrada-Noli believes that Sweden could regain its old liberal position by now offering Snowden asylum in the same way it was granted him many years ago. It’s a lovely thought. I believe that the Swedish people would welcome Snowden. But like so many ‘western’ countries, behind the facade of democracy, governments no longer reflect the people.

It will never happen. In fact it must not happen — not while Carl Bildt has a breath in his body.

Categories: All, Politics, Security Issues