British intelligence officials can infiltrate the very cables that transfer information across the internet, as well as monitor users in real time on sites like Facebook without the company’s consent, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
The internal documents reveal that British analysts gave instruction to members of the National Security Agency in 2012, showing them how to spy on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in real time and collect the computer addresses of billions of the sites’ uploaders.
Recently, Facebook got into hot water with investors when it was revealed that as many of its 1.18 billion active users 14.1 million (and likely orders of magnitude more) were fraudulent. Things are even worse at Twitter, where Italian security researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli found that of the social network’s 232 million monthly active users about 20 million are fake and for sale, while Jason Ding of Barracuda Labs said 10% of more of all Twitter accounts are fake.
Welcome to the world of click farms, where nothing is what it seems, and where social networking participants spend millions of dollars to appear more important, followed, prestigious, cool, or generally “liked” than they really are.
Shouldn’t Internet companies actually “make a profit” at some point before being considered worth billions of dollars? A lot of investors laugh when they look back at the foolishness of the “Dotcom bubble” of the late 1990s, but the tech bubble that is inflating right in front of our eyes today is actually far worse. For example, what would you say if I told you that a seven-year-old company that has a long history of not being profitable and that actually lost 64 million dollars last quarter is worth more than 13 billion dollars? You would probably say that I was insane, but the company that I have just described is Twitter and Wall Street is going crazy for it right now. Please don’t get me wrong – I actually love Twitter. On my Twitter account I have sent out thousands of “tweets”. Twitter is a lot of fun, and it has had a huge impact on the entire planet. But is it worth 13 billion dollars? Of course not.
When it comes to the Internet, what is hot today will probably not be hot tomorrow. Continue reading »
Google (GOOG) is tinkering with the ever-delicate balance between selling advertisements and creeping its users out. On Friday the company said it would begin including recommendations that Google+ users make in advertisements. The new policy kicks in on Nov. 11.
Here’s how it works: You use Google+ to rate some product or service. It turns out the company behind that product wants to advertise on Google. When the company purchases an ad, your friends will see a version that includes your photo along with what you said about the product.
There was a time when the shadier online “element” was mostly interested in procuring credit card numbers, usually from Eastern European sources, in order to turn a quick buck. However, over time, interest in credit card fraud declined and according to RSA the going rate for 1000 credit card numbers has now dropped to a mere $6. What has taken the place of monetary online fraud, is artificial “likability” and “popularity.” Reuters reports that with the rise of social networking, instead of obtaining credit card numbers, hackers have used their computer skills to create and sell false endorsements – such as “likes” and “followers” – that purport to come from users of Facebook, its photo-sharing app Instagram, Twitter, Google’s YouTube, LinkedIn and other popular websites. This can be seen in the costs charged by “service” providers: 1,000 Instagram “followers” can be bought for $15, while 1,000 Instagram “likes” cost $30. It is likely that the going rates for fake popularity on other online social networks, FaceBook and Twitter is comparable.
In other words, being “liked” and “followed” online – traditionally an indication of influence, importance and power – has become more important than having instant access to liquidity, and naturally, since there is demand for online popularity shortcuts, there is also supply.
Enter Zeus: a computer virus that was once widely used to steal credit card numbers, has now been modified to create bogus likes that can be used to generate buzz for a company or individual.
In short: marketing and self-promotion is now the most impotant gray market commodity on the internet.
These fake “likes” are sold in batches of 1,000 on Internet hacker forums, where cyber criminals also flog credit card numbers and other information stolen from PCs. According to RSA, 1,000 Instagram “followers” can be bought for $15 and 1,000 Instagram “likes” go for $30, whereas 1,000 credit card numbers cost as little as $6.
Some of the world’s leading telecoms firms, including BT and Vodafone, are secretly collaborating with Britain’s spy agency GCHQ, and are passing on details of their customers’ phone calls, email messages and Facebook entries, documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden show.
BT, Vodafone Cable, and the American firm Verizon Business – together with four other smaller providers – have given GCHQ secret unlimited access to their network of undersea cables. The cables carry much of the world’s phone calls and internet traffic.
The press has lost the plot over the Snowden revelations. The fact is that the net is finished as a global network and that US firms’ cloud services cannot be trusted
Repeat after me: Edward Snowden is not the story. The story is what he has revealed about the hidden wiring of our networked world. This insight seems to have escaped most of the world’s mainstream media, for reasons that escape me but would not have surprised Evelyn Waugh, whose contempt for journalists was one of his few endearing characteristics. The obvious explanations are: incorrigible ignorance; the imperative to personalise stories; or gullibility in swallowing US government spin, which brands Snowden as a spy rather than a whistleblower.
Newly published top-secret documents detail how NSA interfaces with tech giants such as Google, Apple and Microsoft
The Washington Post has released four previously unpublished slides from the NSA’s PowerPoint presentation on Prism, the top-secret programme that collects data on foreign surveillance targets from the systems of nine participating internet companies.
The newly published top-secret documents, which the newspaper has released with some redactions, give further details of how Prism interfaces with the nine companies, which include such giants as Google, Microsoft and Apple. According to annotations to the slides by the Washington Post, the new material shows how the FBI “deploys government equipment on private company property to retrieve matching information from a participating company, such as Microsoft or Yahoo and pass it without further review to the NSA”.
”When they come for our guns, the time has come to use them!”–Jim Fetzer
In another stunning display of the power and arrogance of the national security state, when I attempted to “share” the below article from about a new legislative proposal for internment camps around the county, should there be an emergency need for them, I was blocked by the following notice:
What more proof do we need that we are already in the grip of the national security state, that we are no longer “the home of the brave and the land of the free” and that heavily-armed soldiers supported by light tanks and using assault weapons will soon be knocking at our door to confiscate any weapons we may have.
Permanent Link to Concentration Camps Revisited: National Emergency Centers Establishment Act 2013 Infowars.com – June 25, 2013
The bill – submitted to the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats & Capabilities – is a reformulation of an earlier bill going by the same name, H.R. 645, introduced in 2009. That bill was referred to committee and subsequently died there.
If it had made it out of committee, the earlier legislation would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to do the following:
SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook has inadvertently exposed six million users’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses to unauthorized viewers over the last year, the company said late Friday.
Facebook blamed the data leaks, which began in 2012, on a technical flaw in its huge archive of contact information collected from its 1.1 billion users worldwide. As a result of the problem, Facebook users who downloaded contact data for their list of friends obtained additional information that they were not supposed to have.
What do Google, AOL, Skype, Facebook, Apple, Hotmail and Yahoo all have in common? They have all been caught turning over private user data to the government’s spy agency, the NSA. All these companies routinely turn over the emails, voice calls, text chats, photos, files and even logins and passwords of their users, including Americans.
“There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal,” journalist Glenn Greenwald recently told Piers Morgan (who knows all about spying and hacking people’s private data). “And that is to destroy privacy and anonymity not just in the United States but around the world.”
In the aftermath of the PRISM spying scandal, the first and logical response was an expected one: lie. Thepresident did it, and so did the various companies implicated in the biggest US surveillance scandal ever exposed. To wit:
Zuckerberg: “Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers.”
Google CEO Larry Page: “We have not joined any program that would give the US government – or any other government – direct access to our servers.”
Yahoo: “We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”
One small problem: they are all lying.
The NYT explains just how the explicit handover of private customer data from Corporate Server X to NSA Server Y takes place.
The companies that negotiated with the government include Google, which owns YouTube; Microsoft, which owns Hotmail and Skype; Yahoo; Facebook; AOL; Apple; and Paltalk, according to one of the people briefed on the discussions. The companies were legally required to share the data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. People briefed on the discussions spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited by law from discussing the content of FISA requests or even acknowledging their existence.
In at least two cases, at Google and Facebook, one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it, people briefed on the discussions said.
The UK’s electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has been secretly gathering intelligence from the world’s biggest internet companies through a covertly run operation set up by America’s top spy agency, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.
The documents show that GCHQ, based in Cheltenham, has had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year.
The US-run programme, called Prism, would appear to allow GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material such as emails, photos and videos from an internet company based outside the UK.
Classified information obtained by the Washington Post and The Guardian has revealed a massive, warrantless online surveillance system in use by a US military intelligence agency, giving access to Americans’ search history, emails, live chats and more.
The 41-page PowerPoint presentation, which has been verified by both papers and published almost concurrently on Thursday evening, outlines details of a previously undisclosed program known as PRISM, which allows the fabled military intelligence agency to harvest massive amounts of data on everything from electronic correspondence to file transfers.
The slides were meant to be declassified in 2036.
According to the documents, the program currently boasts access to some of the largest Internet companies in the world, with Microsoft thought to be the first corporation to sign onto the surveillance arrangement in 2007.
That company’s participation was followed by Yahoo in 2008, Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009, YouTube in 2010, Skype and AOL in 2011, and Apple joining in 2012. Meanwhile, cloud storage company Dropbox is described as “coming soon.”
With the participation of those companies, PRISM and thereby Washington intelligence workers have access to the bulk of Americans’ email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype) chats, file transfers, social networking details and more. Continue reading »
“Evil Facebook, now openly engaged in outrageous censorship and violations of the First Amendment, is suspending accounts that post photos of children holding up protest signs during the March Against Monsanto rally:”
The scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service’s illicit, politically-motivated scrutiny of conservative, patriot, Tea Party and pro-Israel groups continues to expand daily, as more information is learned about its depth, breadth and scope.
In addition to delaying tax-exempt status for these organizations, the IRS also demanded donor rolls and printouts of Facebook posts to determine who was contributing to the organizations and what sort of information they were putting out in regards to the current administration, and what books people were reading, according to a Politico review of documents from 11 of the targeted groups.
That review “shows the agency wanted to know everything – in some cases, it even seemed curious what members were thinking,” the website reported. “The review included interviews with groups or their representatives from Hawaii, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere.”
Some tea party groups even worried they’d be punished for followers’ Facebook comments, Politico reported – a chilling prospect, given the huge First Amendment implications of any such shenanigans. Continue reading »
Guess why 18 year old Cameron D’Ambrosio is being held on one-million dollars bail and faces twenty years in prison? The answer is “terror charges.” This case is a perfect example of why I am so against using the word “terrorist” in general at this point. Think about all the pointless wars and erosion of domestic civil liberties that have been justified in the name of this never-ending Orwellian “war on terror.” We’ve been tricked, and in the future anyone that does anything the oligarchs and politicians don’t like will be named a “terrorist” and be subject to the aggressive terror laws that most states passed after 9/11. We need to take a giant cultural deep breath and react to terrorism in a sane way before we lose what’s left of our dignity and freedom. Be very suspicious of anyone who uses the word “terror” too often. They are trying to keep you in fear, and if you are in fear, you are easily controlled.
Yesterday, D’Ambrosio was absent from school, but messing around online, changing his profile photos and tweaking his status updates. At approximately 12:20 pm, one of his peers alerted MHS administration that the Methuen native had posted “disturbing verbiage” on Facebook, lyrics menacing enough for the school to call the city police.
The increasing amount of personal information that can be gleaned by computer programs that track how people use Facebook has been revealed by an extensive academic study.
Such programs can discern undisclosed private information such as Facebook users’ sexuality, drug-use habits and even whether their parents separated when they were young, according to the study by the University of Cambridge academics.
In one of the biggest studies of its kind, scientists from the university’s psychometrics team and a Microsoft-funded research centre analysed data from 58,000 Facebook users to predict traits and other information that were not provided in their profiles.The algorithms were 88 per cent accurate in predicting male sexual orientation, 95 per cent for race and 80 per cent for religion and political leanings. Personality types and emotional stability were also predicted with accuracy ranging from 62-75 per cent.
It hasn’t drawn much attention, but Facebook’s first annual earnings report contains an accounting gem:a multibillion-dollar tax deduction for the cost of executive stock options and share awards.
Even though Facebook (FB) reported $1.1 billion in pre-tax profits from U.S. operations in 2012, it will probably pay zero federal and state taxes—and even receive a federal tax refund of about $429 million—according to a Feb. 14 statement from Citizens for Tax Justice.
Summary: President Obama unexpectedly signed an executive Order on cybersecurity prior to tonight’s State of the Union address. UPDATED: Links to the Order and “new” CISPA added.
President Obama signed an executive order aimed at bolstering U.S. cybersecurity prior to tonight’s State of the Union address. The Order precedes a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on “new threats.”
It is the government’s latest move in attempting to deal with cyber threats, and the order has not undergone any public technical, rights-based, or privacy review.
The Order “enables the government to share more information with private industry partners and developing a new framework of practices to reduce cybersecurity risks.” Continue reading »
First TRAPWIRE, now RIOT, the new product from the defence company, Raytheon, and which is featured in the above video. RIOT will use GPS and other technologies to track people anywhere in the world. It also boast predictive capabilities (work out the most likely location the target will go to next). RIOT will basically search, analyse and organise all social network content globally.
MPs’ report outlines spooks’ take on the draft Communications Data Bill
It shows they are keen to implement nationwide surveillance regime
They want ISPs to install ‘black boxes’ that can inspect all internet traffic
Spies claim they are only interested in ‘communications data’
Campaigners warn it will give spies unprecedented surveillance powers
UK spy agencies want to install ‘black box’ surveillance devices across the country’s communications networks to monitor internet use, it emerged today.
A report by an influential committee of MPs tells how spooks are keen to implement a nationwide surveillance regime aimed at logging nearly everything Britons do and say online.
The spy network will rely on a technology known as Deep Packet Inspection to log data from communications ranging from online services like Facebook and Twitter, Skype calls with family members and visits to pornographic websites.
App intended to alert users when Facebook ‘friends’ are nearby
It will also help the social network target localised adverts
Privacy campaigners warn it is ‘profit trumping privacy’
Facebook is developing a new smartphone app to track the location of users in an effort to target them with localised adverts, according to reports.The app will help users to find friends who are nearby, alert them when it detects one in close proximity even when the app is not open on the handset, it is claimed.