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Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

CSEC Taps Airport Wi-Fi to Track Travellers, Tested Program on Canadians in 2012

In Archive, Canada, CSEC, NSA, NSA Files, Snowden on January 31, 2014 at 7:48 PM


Greg Weston/Glenn Greenwald/Ryan Gallagher/CBC News:

A top secret document retrieved by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowdenand obtained by CBC News shows that Canada’s electronic spy agency used information from the free internet service at a major Canadian airport to track the wireless devices of thousands of ordinary airline passengers for days after they left the terminal.

The document dated May 2012 is a 27-page power-point presentation by CSEC describing its airport tracking operation. While the document was in the trove of secret NSA files retrieved by Snowden, it bears CSEC’s logo and clearly originated with the Canadian spy service.

CSEC DOCUMENT: IP Profiling Analytics & Mission Impacts

After reviewing the document, one of Canada’s foremost authorities on cyber-security says the clandestine operation by the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) was almost certainly illegal.

Ronald Deibert told CBC News: “I can’t see any circumstance in which this would not be unlawful, under current Canadian law, under our Charter, under CSEC’s mandates.” Deibert says that whatever CSEC calls it, the tracking of those passengers was nothing less than an “indiscriminate collection and analysis of Canadians’ communications data,” and he could not imagine any circumstances that would have convinced a judge to authorize it.

The spy agency is supposed to be collecting primarily foreign intelligence by intercepting overseas phone and internet traffic, and is prohibited by law from targeting Canadians or anyone in Canada without a judicial warrant.

The latest Snowden document indicates the spy service captured metadata information from unsuspecting travellers’ wireless devices by the airport’s free Wi-Fi system over a two-week period.

The document shows the federal intelligence agency was then able to track the travellers for a week or more as they — and their wireless devices — showed up in other Wi-Fi “hot spots” in cities across Canada and even at U.S. airports. That included people visiting other airports, hotels, coffee shops and restaurants, libraries, ground transportation hubs, and any number of places among the literally thousands with public wireless internet access.

The document shows CSEC had so much data it could even track the travellers back in time through the days leading up to their arrival at the airport, these experts say.

While the documents make no mention of specific individuals, Deibert and other cyber experts say it would be simple for the spy agency to have put names to all the Canadians swept up in the operation.

The document indicates the passenger tracking operation was a trial run of a powerful new software program CSEC was developing with help from its U.S. counterpart, the National Security Agency.

In the document, CSEC called the new technologies “game-changing,” and said they could be used for tracking “any target that makes occasional forays into other cities/regions.”

Sources tell CBC News the technologies tested on Canadians in 2012 have since become fully operational.

The document does not say exactly how the Canadian spy service managed to get its hands on two weeks’ of travellers’ wireless data from the airport Wi-Fi system, although there are indications it was provided voluntarily by a “special source.”

It is also unclear from the document how CSEC managed to penetrate so many wireless systems to see who was using them — specifically, to know every time someone targeted at the airport showed up on one of those other Wi-Fi networks elsewhere.

Deibert and other experts say the federal intelligence agency must have gained direct access to at least some of the country’s main telephone and internet pipelines, allowing the mass-surveillance of Canadian emails and phone calls.

Experts say the document makes clear CSEC intended to share both the technologies and future information generated by it with Canada’s official spying partners — the U.S., Britain, New Zealand and Australia, the so-called Five Eyes intelligence network.

The spy agency boasts in its leaked document that, in an apparently separate pilot project, it obtained access to two communications systems with more than 300,000 users, and was then able to “sweep” an entire mid-sized Canadian city to pinpoint a specific imaginary target in a fictional kidnapping.

Operation Sovereign Borders – Senate Inquiry 31st Jan 2014

In Activism, Air Force, Amnesty, Archive, Army, ASIO, ASIS, Australia, China, DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE, Economy, Indonesia, Internet, INTERPOL, leaksource, New Zealand, UN on January 31, 2014 at 2:00 AM

via digitalfolklore

In the first time a minister from parliament’s lower house has fronted a Senate inquiry since 1992, immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Operation Sovereign Borders commander Lieutenant General Angus Campbell are giving evidence before an inquiry into government secrecy over border protection operations.

The Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee is examining the government’s public interest immunity claim to deny the upper house access to official documents.

Lieutenant-General Campbell warned the disclosure of certain documents could undermine international cooperation and agreements.

Lieutenant-General Campbell also believed it was too early to provide more information on the 22 boat arrivals that took place in the early phase of the operation, which started on September 18.

Operation Sovereign Borders would not have achieved the objectives it had without a limit on the information it released publicly.


Pakistan Government’s Secret Report on CIA Drone Strikes Leaked

In Archive, CIA, Drones, Pakistan on January 31, 2014 at 12:31 AM



The Bureau has obtained a secret Pakistani document showing the assessment by local officials of over 330 CIA drone strikes dating back as far as 2006.

Officials in the FATA Secretariat, which oversees the tribal areas, compile the document using information obtained from local sources by field agents. Each day the local Political Agent, the ranking officer in the field, submits a Daily Situation Report to the FATA Secretariat, listing any violent incidents in the area that day. The document published here is compiled from those reports.

The Bureau previously obtained and published a section of the same document showing strikes from 2006 to late 2009. The new version includes strikes dating up to the end of September 2013.

Although in some respects the document is detailed – showing the exact times and locations of strikes, for example – it also has striking omissions: none of 2007′s five strikes are shown, and the report almost never notes the names or alleged militant affiliations of the dead. Most strikingly, almost all civilian casualties after the start of 2009 are missing, even in incidents where the Pakistani government has acknowledged civilian deaths.

The overall casualties recorded by the document are broadly similar to those compiled by the Bureau, which uses sources including media reports, sworn affidavits and field investigations. The Bureau estimates that at least 2,371 people died in the time covered by the document (excluding 2007, which is missing from the record), while it records 2,217 deaths in total.



In the latest episode of the Bureau’s podcast Drone News, Alice Ross who obtained this document on a trip to Pakistan talks more about what it reveals.

Related Links:

Every Drone Attack in Pakistan 2004-2013

Naming the Dead: TBIJ Project Identifies People Killed By CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan

Amnesty & HRW Reports on US Drone Strikes in Pakistan/Yemen: Violate Int’l Law, Officials Should Be Charged with War Crimes

US v. Lavabit Contempt of Court Appeal Re: Handover of User (Snowden) Data/Encryption Keys (Oral Arguments/Audio)

In Archive, DOJ, Encryption, FBI, Lavabit, Snowden, Surveillance on January 30, 2014 at 10:26 PM

h/t Andrew Blake



Lavabit, a now-defunct private email service, appeared in court on Tuesday to appeal against a contempt of court ruling centred around the company not handing over unencrypted data of one of its users – widely believed to be ex-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Last summer Lavabit was ordered to provide real-time email monitoring of the anonymous user. It responded by telling the federal authorities that it could only do so by following an internal process that would take a period of 60 days from when the request was made.

The federal government obviously weren’t prepared to wait that long and returned with a search warrant which allowed them to grab all of the company’s SSL keys, giving them the ability to potentially decrypt the traffic of all 410,000 Lavabit users, not just the one individual it had professed an interest in.

Lavabit’s CEO, Ladar Levison, compelled to hand over the five SSL private keys, did so in printed form, using a 4-point font spread across 11 pages. Law enforcement were not chuffed.

After handing the keys over, Levison promptly shut his 10-year-old business down in August in order to protect customers’ data. Commenting at the time, he said:

This experience has taught me one very important lesson - without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would strongly recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

During yesterday’s hearing, Lavabit and federal prosecutors each presented oral arguments to a panel of three judges at the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

Judges Agee, Gregory and Niemeyer heard, and questioned, arguments from both sides though they seemed keen to focus on the specifics of why Lavabit failed to comply with a court order to hand over data on a specific user, rather than the broader question posed by Lavabit as to what else the government may do with the keys.

Judge Paul Niemeyer commented that the issue surrounding the use of those keys had been “blown out of proportion with all these contentions” of what the FBI may do with them.

Curiously, PC World reports that he also said, “There’s such a willingness to believe” that the keys will be misused and that “the government will spy on everyone”, which I find to be somewhat ironic considering that the powers-that-be actually seem to be rather keen on doing exactly that lately.

Judge Gregory, however, pointed out that “the encryption issue was a red herring” and that the case should actually be focused upon Lavabit’s non-compliance to a court order.

PC World also reports that US attorney Andrew Peterson, on behalf of the government, contended that “any trust between Lavabit and the government had broken down” and that the company appeared to view court orders not so much as a legal requirement but more like contract negotiations.

Now that all of the appeal arguments have been heard, the court could read its verdict at any time, though no date has been set yet. If Lavabit triumph, Levison said that the service will be resurrected.

In the meantime, the BBC speculate that the verdict could have far-reaching consequences upon secure communications in the future, quoting Brian Hauss, Legal Fellow for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Hauss said:

This case is about protecting the encryption architecture that underwrites the security of the internet.

That architecture depends on SSL [Secure Sockets Layer] encryption and SSL encryption depends on the continued privacy of the private keys of the companies that use that encryption.

If the court does not find in Lavabit's favour, technology companies will look for new ways to protect user data.

Related Links:

Unsealed Documents Shed Light on Lavabit Shutdown; Defied FBI Demands to Monitor Snowden’s Account & Turn Over Site’s Crypto Keys

Lavabit Appeal Brief Re: U.S. Government Order to Divulge Site’s Private Keys

DOJ Appellate Brief in Lavabit Surveillance Case

Lavabit Reply Brief: Gov’t Warrant Illegal; Interception of Hundreds of Thousands Innocent People’s Email Absent Any Suspicion of Wrongdoing

NYTimes NSA/GCHQ Redaction Fail

In Archive, GCHQ, NSA, NSA Files, Surveillance on January 28, 2014 at 7:32 PM

On Monday the New York Times published NSA and GCHQ documents on smartphone surveillance and failed to properly redact the slides, making it possible by highlighting, copying and pasting the text, to extract the information. In the NSA document the name of an NSA employee (Paula Kuruc), a Middle Eastern terrorist group the program was targeting (AQI Mosul Network), and details about the types of computer files the NSA found useful to extract information from, can be seen. In the GCHQ document the single redacted area reads, “Standalone TERRAIN for Initial Mobile Exploit – SSE/SMO/COMSAT access (Long term MVR for SSE).

A NYTimes spokeswoman blamed the mistake on a “production error,” and has since replaced the documents in properly redacted form. (1) (2)





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