Thursday, May 15, 2014

More NSA Mischief: Purchased Products Intercepted and Tampered With

In another revelation  on still more NSA malfeasance that was published in the just released Glenn Greenwald book "No Place to Hide" the American Stasi has been intercepting computer hardware purchases and implanting spying tools before repackaging the product in the original wrapping. Not this should be a surprise to anyone who has been following the wanton criminality of Obama's out of control surveillance state and an earlier piece that was published in Germany's Der Spiegel back in December already had revealed the hijacking of laptop deliveries but the book adds it to the pile of damning evidence courtesy of heroic whistleblower Edward Snowden that is also available online here in a large file but one that is well worth the space. This story of what is basically theft of a customer's paid for item by government goons and which should be a felony along the lines of mail fraud is not going to go over well with American tech companies, one of which, Cisco Systems just published a stinging letter on exactly what is thought of such sleazy chicanery.
Other than the inclusion in "No Place to Hide" the story is getting increasing circulation as a caveat emptor to all who which to purchase US manufactured network hardware with the expectation that the product will arrive as promised and without surveillance mechanisms illegally implanted. The Guardian in a piece from Greenwald's book has the following in a story entitled "Glenn Greenwald: how the NSA tampers with US-made internet routers" from which I excerpt the following:
For years, the US government loudly warned the world that Chinese routers and other internet devices pose a "threat" because they are built with backdoor surveillance functionality that gives the Chinese government the ability to spy on anyone using them. Yet what the NSA's documents show is that Americans have been engaged in precisely the activity that the US accused the Chinese of doing.
The drumbeat of American accusations against Chinese internet device manufacturers was unrelenting. In 2012, for example, a report from the House Intelligence Committee, headed by Mike Rogers, claimed that Huawei and ZTE, the top two Chinese telecommunications equipment companies, "may be violating United States laws" and have "not followed United States legal obligations or international standards of business behaviour". The committee recommended that "the United States should view with suspicion the continued penetration of the US telecommunications market by Chinese telecommunications companies".
AND
But while American companies were being warned away from supposedly untrustworthy Chinese routers, foreign organisations would have been well advised to beware of American-made ones. A June 2010 report from the head of the NSA's Access and Target Development department is shockingly explicit. The NSA routinely receives – or intercepts – routers, servers and other computer network devices being exported from the US before they are delivered to the international customers.
The agency then implants backdoor surveillance tools, repackages the devices with a factory seal and sends them on. The NSA thus gains access to entire networks and all their users. The document gleefully observes that some "SIGINT tradecraft … is very hands-on (literally!)".
Eventually, the implanted device connects back to the NSA. The report continues: "In one recent case, after several months a beacon implanted through supply-chain interdiction called back to the NSA covert infrastructure. This call back provided us access to further exploit the device and survey the network."
It is quite possible that Chinese firms are implanting surveillance mechanisms in their network devices. But the US is certainly doing the same.
This by the way has not jack shit to do with "terrorism", the justification of this monstrous and ongoing invasion of privacy by a long out of control NSA and the trillion dollars of taxpayer subsidized bottom feeders that contribute to our Surveillance State Gomorrah. This is just plain and simple using a technological advantage as well as laws that have been hollowed out by the phony war on terror - which Obama and others paid homage to today at the grand opening of the obscenity that is the 9/11 Museum - to commit industrial espionage and gain unfair competitive advantage but hey that is the American way now in the land of fuck you, I got mine. The 9/11 Museum is just grotesque and sickening and only perpetuates the myth of the day that everything changed but that is a story for another time - be sure and get your T-shirts, coffee mugs, beer coolers and key chains at the gift shop. 
Greenwald is everywhere right now promoting the book and is getting the well deserved attention that he deserves as an investigative journalist, the careerist, power-sucking scum here in The Homeland would do well to take some lessons from the man who harkens back to the good old days of muckraking and non-celebrity journalists who shined a light on corrupted power like a blowtorch. Two great extended interviews of Greenwald were done by Amy Goodman at the liberal Democracy Now - here are the links (transcripts also available): May 13, 2014 and May 14, 2014 - check them out and pass them around to others. Now may be the last time that we have to really hit these bastards hard and put a choke chain on them while there is still a slim chance to do so.
I have always maintained that the only way that any serious restraint of the cancerous surveillance industrial complex can only be made possible by an alliance of American tech businesses (fuck the corrupt telecoms who are in on the con) to engage in awareness campaigns, implementing stronger encryption and pooling their vast resources to sue the hell out of the US government and fund the campaigns of political opponents of those that protect the NSA - like California's own Dianne Feinstein. If this is the case there is hope in the aforementioned Cisco Systems communique by Mark Chandler which I excerpt from at length:
Today’s security challenges are real and significant.  We want governments to detect and disrupt terrorist networks before they inflict harm on our society, our citizens, and our systems of government.   We also want to live in countries that respect their citizens’ basic human rights.  The tension between security and freedom has become one the most pressing issues of our day.  Societies wracked by terror cannot be truly free, but an overreaching government can also undermine freedom.
It is in this context that I want to offer some thoughts on actions by the US Government that in Cisco’s eyes have overreached, undermining the goals of free communication, and steps that can be taken to right that balance, and I do so on behalf of all of Cisco’s leadership team.
Confidence in the open, global Internet has brought enormous economic benefits to the United States and to billions around the world.  This confidence has been eroded by revelations of government surveillance, by efforts of the US government to force US companies to provide access to communications of non-US citizens even when that violates the privacy laws of countries where US companies do business, and allegations that governments exploit rather than report security vulnerabilities in products.
As a matter of policy and practice, Cisco does not work with any government, including the United States Government, to weaken our products. When we learn of a security vulnerability, we respond by validating it, informing our customers, and fixing it.  We react the same when we find that a customer’s security has been impacted by external forces, regardless of what country or form of government or how that security breach occurred.  We offer customers robust tools to defend their environments against attack, and detect attacks when they are happening. By doing these things, we have built and maintained our customers’ trust.  We expect our government to value and respect this trust.
This past December, eight technology companies expressed concern to the President of the United States and Members of Congress that the US government’s surveillance efforts are in fact harmful. They stated, in part, “We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight.”  We agree and support these positions – without customer confidence in the privacy and security of communications, the extraordinary steps toward freedom, productivity and prosperity that is the promise of the Internet can be lost.
This week a number of media outlets reported another serious allegation: that the National Security Agency took steps to compromise IT products enroute to customers, including Cisco products. We comply with US laws, like those of many other countries, which limit exports to certain customers and destinations; we ought to be able to count on the government to then not interfere with the lawful delivery of our products in the form in which we have manufactured them.   To do otherwise, and to violate legitimate privacy rights of individuals and institutions around the world, undermines confidence in our industry.
As our malignantly rotten Supreme Court has made evident: money is speech and there shall be no constraints on those who have a shitload of it. Silicon Valley has an abundance of it and in the best interests of not only keeping the internet free but for just the sake of ensuring that American business won't take another big hit due to crony capitalism and outright fascism should invest as much of it as possible to carpet bomb the corrupt Democrat and Republican criminals back to the stone age in 2014, 2016 and forever after in favor of pro-American, pro-civil liberties and pro-business libertarians and independents.