NSA infosec links December 30, 2014

Over 700 Million People Taking Steps to Avoid NSA Surveillance - Bruce Schneier - Schneier on Security

Even so, I disagree with the "Edward Snowden Revelations Not Having Much Impact on Internet Users" headline. He's having an enormous impact. I ran the actual numbers country by country, combining data on Internet penetration with data from this survey. Multiplying everything out, I calculate that 706 million people have changed their behavior on the Internet because of what the NSA and GCHQ are doing. (For example, 17% of Indonesians use the Internet, 64% of them have heard of Snowden and 62% of them have taken steps to protect their privacy, which equals 17 million people out of its total 250-million population.)

NSA waiting until Christmas Eve to reveal its embarrassing self-audit - Kevin Collier - The Daily Dot

The report is a collection of documents, heavily redacted, arranged by quarter, and ranging from the end of 2001 to the end of 2012. They largely catalog individual instances where a National Security Agency employee illegally or mistakenly used the agency’s powerful technology to search an American or a foreigner in the U.S. without a warrant, was caught, reprimanded, and the information deleted.

Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA's War on Internet Security - SPIEGEL Staff - SPIEGEL Online International

Today, NSA spies and their allies do their best to subvert the system their own military helped conceive, as a number of documents show. Tor deanonymization is obviously high on the list of NSA priorities, but the success achieved here seems limited. One GCHQ document from 2011 even mentions trying to decrypt the agencies' own use of Tor -- as a test case.

InfoSec links December 22, 2014

Hacker Lexicon: What is a Zero Day - Kim Zetter - WIRED

Zero-day vulnerability refers to a security hole in software—such as browser software or operating system software—that is yet unknown to the software maker or to antivirus vendors. This means the vulnerability is also not yet publicly known, though it may already be known by attackers who are quietly exploiting it. Because zero day vulnerabilities are unknown to software vendors and to antivirus firms, there is no patch available yet to fix the hole and generally no antivirus signatures to detect the exploit, though sometimes antivirus scanners can still detect a zero day using heuristics (behavior-tracking algorithms that spot suspicious or malicious behavior).

Finally, a New Clue to Solve the CIA's Mysterious Kryptos Sculpture - Kim Zetter - WIRED

The 12-foot-high, verdigrised copper, granite and wood sculpture on the grounds of the CIA complex in Langley, Virginia, contains four encrypted messages carved out of the metal, three of which were solved years ago. The fourth is composed of just 97 letters, but its brevity belies its strength. Even the NSA, whose master crackers were the first to decipher other parts of the work, gave up on cracking it long ago. So four years ago, concerned that he might not live to see the mystery of Kryptos resolved, Sanborn released a clue to help things along, revealing that six of the last 97 letters when decrypted spell the word “Berlin”—a revelation that many took to be a reference to the Berlin Wall.

How the World's First Computer Was Rescued From the Scrap Heap - Brendan I. Koerner - WIRED

When the Army declared ENIAC obsolete in 1955, however, the historic invention was treated with scant respect: its 40 panels, each of which weighed an average of 858 pounds, were divvied up and strewn about with little care. Some of the hardware landed in the hands of folks who appreciated its significance—the engineer Arthur Burks, for example, donated his panel to the University of Michigan, and the Smithsonian managed to snag a couple of panels for its collection, too. But as Libby Craft, Perot’s director of special projects, found out to her chagrin, much of ENIAC vanished into disorganized warehouses, a bit like the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Exploring Information Security: What is cryptography


In the fourth edition of the Exploring Information Security (EIS) podcast, I talk to the smooth sounding Justin Troutman a cryptographer from North Carolina about what cryptography is.

Justin is a security and privacy research currently working on a project titled, "Mackerel: A Progressive School of Cryptographic Thought." You can find him on Twitter (@JustinTroutman) discussing ways in which crypto can be made easier for the masses. Be sure to check out his website for more information.

In the interview Justin talks about

  • What cryptography is
  • Why everyone should care about cryptography
  • What some of it's applications are
  • How someone would get started in cryptography and what are some of the skills needed

Leave feedback and topic suggestions in the comment section below.