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Archive for January 23rd, 2014|Daily archive page

Verizon Publishes First Ever Transparency Report on Law Enforcement/Government Data Requests

In Archive, CIA, FBI, NSA, Surveillance, Verizon on January 23, 2014 at 8:37 PM


Late last year, some activist shareholders of Verizon and AT&T demanded the companies publish transparency reports to retain the trust of its customers. Verizon is the first major phone carrier to publish a report of this kind — other carriers, like AT&T (plans to publish report in “early 2014”), Sprint and T-Mobile US, have yet to take a similar step.

The transparency report divides the requests into different categories; in 2013, Verizon received 164,184 subpoenas, followed by 70,665 court orders, 36,696 warrants, approximately 50,000 emergency requests from law enforcement, and between 1,000 and 2,000 National Security Letters. The report does not specify the number of subscribers or accounts impacted by these requests, nor does it contain information on FISA orders.

Of the 70,665 court orders received last year, 6,312 were for so-called pen/trap orders; a pen register order requires Verizon to provide real-time access to phone numbers as they are dialed, while a trap and trace order compels the company to provide real-time access to the phone numbers from incoming calls. Verizon also received 1,496 wiretap orders, requiring the company to assist with the surveillance of a call’s content.

The report also shows that Verizon is willing to give out large chunks of information about its customers without a warrant. According to Verizon’s report, only 36,696 of the 321,545 requests in 2013 included a warrant.

Verizon says it will continue to issue transparency reports on a semi-annual basis.

Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board Report on NSA Telephone Records Program: Illegal, Ineffective, Should End

In Archive, NSA, Patriot Act, Surveillance on January 23, 2014 at 7:22 PM


An independent executive branch board has concluded that the National Security Agency’s long-running program to collect billions of Americans’ phone records is illegal and should end.

In a strongly worded report issued Thursday, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) said that the statute upon which the program was based, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, “does not provide an adequate basis to support this program.”

The board’s conclusion goes further than President Obama, who said in a speech Friday that he thought the NSA’s database of records should be moved out of government hands but did not call for an outright halt to the program. The board had shared its conclusions with Obama in the days leading up to his speech.

The panel also concluded that the program raises serious threats to civil liberties, has shown limited value in countering terrorism and is not sustainable from a policy perspective.

The board is the third official government entity in recent months to examine the NSA’s metadata program and question its utility in fighting terrorism. In December, a federal judge found that the metadata program was likely unconstitutional and wrote that he had ”serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program.” Shortly thereafter, a White House appointed surveillance policy review board found that the program was “not essential” to preventing attacks.

Spoiled Onions: Exposing Malicious Tor Exit Relays (Winter/Lindskog)

In Archive, Internet, Surveillance, Tor on January 23, 2014 at 2:15 AM


Scientists Detect “Spoiled Onions” Trying to Sabotage Tor Privacy Network

What the “Spoiled Onions” Paper Means for Tor Users



Related Links:

The Tor Network: We’re Living In Interesting Times – Roger Dingledine & Jacob Appelbaum @ 30c3

Microsoft’s Secret Battle Against the Tor Botnet

NSA & GCHQ Target Tor Network (TOP SECRET Docs)

CrowdStrike Global Threat Report: 2013 Year In Review

In Archive, Hacking, Internet, Malware, Technology on January 23, 2014 at 1:28 AM



CrowdStrike, a global provider of security technologies and services focused on identifying advanced threats and targeted attacks, today released “CrowdStrike Global Threats Report: 2013 Year in Review,” the product of CrowdStrike’s year-long study of more than 50 groups of cyber threat actors. The 30-plus page report offers insight into the evolving behaviors of these cyber attackers, naming groups in China, Iran, Russia, North Korea, and Syria that are responsible for some of the world’s most recent and visible online attacks.

The CrowdStrike Global Threats Report offers insight on the activities of several sophisticated groups of attackers, including:

DEADEYE JACKAL, commonly known as the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)
NUMBERED PANDA, a group of China-based attackers, who conducted a number of spear phishing attacks in 2013
MAGIC KITTEN, an established group of cyber attackers based in Iran, who carried on several campaigns in 2013, including a series of attacks targeting political dissidents and those supporting Iranian political opposition
ENERGETIC BEAR, a Russia-based group that collects intelligence on the energy industry
EMISSARY PANDA, a China-based actor that targets foreign embassies to collect data on government, defense, and technology sectors

In addition to profiling some of the world’s most prominent threat actors, the CrowdStrike Global Threats Report offers a look at some of these attackers’ most popular tactics and techniques for breaching the defenses of a targeted organization. For example, the report offers a detailed analysis of how several organized threat groups are using strategic web compromise (SWC) – sometimes called “watering holes” – to penetrate a target by infecting the websites most frequently surfed by its members. SWC attacks on the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. Department of Labor, and several foreign embassies are described in detail in the report.

The report offers predictions on the evolution of sophisticated adversaries in 2014. CrowdStrike predicts that 2014 will bring increased targeting of third-party vendors, abuse of the Internet’s new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), and vulnerabilities in Windows XP, which will reach end-of-life from Microsoft this April. The report predicts increased use of encryption to help protect and obfuscate malware; greater use of black markets for buying and selling custom-made malware; and increased targeting of attacks around major events, such as the Olympics, the 2014 G20 Summit, and major national elections. In the wake of the recent breaches of major retailers, the CrowdStrike team also discusses the evolution of cyber criminals, who are beginning to develop capabilities to identify and breach specific targets in pursuit of sensitive account data.

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