Snowden Blames Malware Leak on Russia

Exiled American whistleblower Edward Snowden recently shared his belief that Russia is responsible for leaking a malware that allegedly belonged to the United States National Security Agency.

The hackers responsible for the breach called themselves Shadow Brokers and started auctioning off the malicious software last week after apprehending it.

Security firm Kaspersky has said in a statement that it believes the original files to have come from Equation Group, a group widely assumed to be linked directly to the NSA.

snowdenFormer NSA employee Dave Aitel also shared suspicions that Russia may have been involved. According to Aitel, the breach was likely all part of a diplomatic strategy that ties into Russia being widely blamed for the hack of servers belonging to the United States’ Democratic party earlier this summer.

Yesterday, Snowden tweeted that “This leak is likely a warning that someone can prove US responsibility for any attacks that originated from this malware server.”

Kaspersky released its findings, which led the company to think “with a high degree of confidence that the tools from the Shadow Brokers leak are related to the malware from the Equation group.”

The hackers released a sample of the malware they stole as a way to verify that their stolen software did indeed share characteristics thought to be unique to the Equation Group. The remainder of the data is still encrypted and can only be decrypted with a key given to the highest bidder in the Shadow Broker’s bitcoin auction.

Ex-NSA employee Aitel listed a variety of reasons why the malware leak was likely to be related to the hacks carried out on the US Democratic party, a leak which resulted in the resignation of the party’s chairwoman. One of the reasons is the auction’s timing; it is occurring around three years after experts believe that the software was originally stolen.

snowden2“High level US political officials seemed quite upset about the DNC hacks, which no doubt resulted in a covert response, which this is then likely a counter-response to,” Aitel explained. He added that the “ability to keep something this big quiet” for this length of time was “probably limited to only those with operational security expertise or desire to leverage those bugs for themselves.”

Snowden tweeted that the “hack of an NSA malware staging server is not unprecedented, but the publication of the take is.” He went on to explain that security services often tried to target each other’s hacking tools so that they could “create ‘fingerprints’ to help us detect them in the future.”

“Why do they do it? No one knows,” he continued, “but I suspect this is more diplomacy than intelligence, related to the escalation around the DNC hack.”

Snowden too suggested that the leak was likely a warning, adding “That could have significant foreign policy consequences. Particularly if any of those operations targeted US allies… particularly if any of those operations targeted elections.”

“Accordingly,” he continued, “this may be an effort to influence the calculus of decision-makers wondering how sharply to respond to the DNC hacks.”

“This leak looks like a somebody sending a message that an escalation in the attribution game could get messy fast,” he concluded.

Wiki Leaks Founder Against Hillary Clinton

In the aftermath of the massive DNC email and voice mail leak, I have become aware of a host of grudges that were either previously unconfirmed or pushed out of the limelight by more “breaking” news.

assange2While the revelation that Democratic National Committee staff members were openly plotting against and mocking Bernie Sanders was hardly surprising, perhaps more interesting is the grudge that has surfaced between Hillary Clinton and Julian Assange. Assange has never been secretive about his disapproval of the highly tenured politician, but his willingness and capability to act openly and powerfully against her campaign is only recently coming to the forefront.

Julian Assange is the founder of Wikileaks, a website dedicated to publishing and indexing hacked information not meant for the public eye, often to the displeasure of politicians. When an undisclosed hacker came to Wikileaks with over 19,000 DNC emails and voice mails, Wikileaks was happy to publish it… just before the Democratic National Convention.

Since the publishing of those emails, the DNC’s head chairwoman has been forced to step down in response to the exposition of what has been seen by many as her unfair treatment of Clinton’s primary opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders. Embarrassing donor information and fundraising processes within the DNC have been revealed to the public, and apologies are being made all around.

But why did Assange choose to publish this information at a time when it would produce the most possible chaos for the Democratic National Convention, during which Clinton was expected to be nominated? What horse does Julian Assange have in the American political race?

julian assangeIt turns out that Assange and Clinton have been on the rocks for a long time now. From his status in exile at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Assange participated in an interview with ITV’s Preston, during which he maintained that Clinton receives constant updates on his actions.

Clinton has ample reason to be threatened by the Wikileaks founder. Through his website, Assange has made accessible a whole lot of dirt on the Secretary’s problematic past. Wikileaks exposed the connection between Google and Clinton when Jared Cohen, an adviser to Clinton at the State Department, left the department to serve as the director of Google Ideas. Assange says that Cohen participated in black channel diplomacy between Google and the State Department.

Earlier this month, Assange accused Google of colluding with Clinton even further:

“Google is directly engaged with Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” Assange said in a video. “Of course, when she is in power… she is a problem for freedom of speech. We know what she is going to do. She made the chart for the destruction of Libya- she was involved in the process of taking the Libyan armory and sending it to Syria.”

“I have had years of experience in dealing with Hillary Clinton and have read thousands of her cables. Hillary lacks judgement and will push the United States into endless, stupid wars which spread terrorism. Her personality combined with her poor policy decisions have directly contributed to the rise of ISIS,” he said last February. “She’s a war hawk with bad judgement who gets an unseemly emotional rush out of killing people.”

Travel 2.0


When you think of the short comings of problem areas of any flight you are likely thinking of the seat belts being completely useless, or perhaps the fact that much of the fleet of your favorite airlines is totally antiquated in their navigation and GPS systems. These are all legitimate concerns when you think of the quality and safety of a flight, but you are likely not going to consider the fact that one of the biggest culprits in this regard is your window. That’s right, the window, the think that everyone seems to need in out of their flight and is perhaps the most beloved part of anyone flight is when they go over a geological or natural wonder like the grand canyon or Yankee stadium and have the opportunity to see it from this new birds eye perspective.To get rid of this would truly be a big blow to the enjoy-ability of peoples flight, making them feel less secure and safe in a dark metal tube. The fact of the matter is that having windows is one of the biggest issue in terms of efficiency, safety and performance is and has always been the inclusion of windows into the body of any air plane. The reason being is that you drastically alter the performance of the cabin when you put so many holes in it, and are asking for failure with only needing one to fail to have catastrophic affects in the future. Moreover, you also run the risk of having points of failure do to the sheer fact that there are two very different materials coming together and you need them to make an air, water, and high pressure, and temperature, resistant bond that is going to experience hyper wear and tear. So as it stands now it seems like there is a pull in the industry to insensitivity the windowless cabin. This is nothing sort of a bummer in the eyes of most, but when you see what they are rolling out to replace them you might have second thoughts to your need for the window seat. The reason being is that given the recent exposition in video surface technologies as well as camera interfaces there is the possibility of doing some pretty remarkable things that will be function works of art which removed the Menotti of daily existence and existential dread we usually feel at the airports. For one thing that has been pitied around is that an array of high resolution pixels will line the ceilings and laws and allow you to at night look out at the night sky as if you are flying through it with much less visible light pollution. The same effect could take place during the day time hours as you skip across the surfaces of clouds. Unfortunately a lot of these screens will be used for things like Adam Sandler and Kevin James films, but hey you can’t win them all. For the most part you are going to see a little bit of savings and there will be a new interactive and beautiful standard for air travel.


Musk Plans Trip to Mars

It has become widely known that CEO of Tesla and SpaceX Elon Musk hopes to colonize and ultimately retire on Mars. How exactly he plans to do this remains in the works. However, in an interview published in The Washington Post last Friday, Musk outlined his plans with a little more detail, allowing us all a much-anticipated peak into the innovator’s head, and perhaps, into the future.

According to Musk, as soon as 2018 SpaceX may launch a spacecraft to Mars. While the craft would be unmanned, it could then potentially be followed by future unmanned flights every two years, timed opportunely for when the Earth and Mars orbits position the planets to be closest together.

musk dragonAccording to Musk, a cargo route would be necessarily established far in advance of any manned trip. He went on to compare these supply ventures to trains that leave a station at regular intervals. After all, before any astronauts could colonize Mars, all the materials for critical infrastructure must already be stationed on the planet.

All these ventures are part of the initial stage of a larger effort to prepare for SpaceX’s first human mission to Mars in year 2025. The first unmanned missions would be sent for the purposes of science experiments and to deliver rovers to the planet through which earthbound scientists could conduct basic exploration.

The major issue that Musk may run up against is the fact that SpaceX is a private company. NASA and other organizations that have successfully sent materials and humans into space have always been government-backed and -associated groups. While NASA has promised to provide technical support for SpaceX’s 2018 mission, no government entity has offered to foot the bill. Musk will have to find the money (and investors) on his own.

NASA is currently planning for an official government-supported mission to Mars, but it wouldn’t take place until the 2030s. There are apparently also members of Congress that would rather return to the moon than venture to another planet. For the US government, space exploration is a costly venture for which no lobbyists are willing to support re-election campaigns.

mars“Launching infrastructure-building space missions to Mars and taking advantage of every launch window would be essential for establishing a sustainable program,” offered Mike Gruntman, professor of aerospace engineering and systems architecture engineering at the University of Southern California. “Similarly, weather conditions allowed [ships to sail] to North America from Europe in the old days,” he continued.\

SpaceX would likely launch a rocket to Mars by utilizing its Dragon spacecraft, which would then be boosted into space by the Falcon Heavy, which derives its power from 27 first-stage engines. While the Dragon is larger than any man-made object to ever successfully land on Mars, it would need to be only the first of many missions that would deliver more and potentially even larger critical infrastructure. Considering that infrastructure must then travel 140 million miles, even when Earth and Mars are at their closest, perhaps only to find a race of angry martians that don’t want to share their planet, SpaceX has certainly got its work cut out for it. That said, Elon Musk has a knack for surprising and revolutionizing the human population.

Australian PM Named in Panama Papers

The Panama Papers data leak is proving to be one of the most sweeping revelations in terms of widespread tax fraud and evasion in data storage history. Heads are rolling, and as more and more of the papers are processed by media specialists, the number of higher ups with links to the offshore post will only increase further.

pmAustralian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has proven to be the latest world leader caught up in the scandal. He was named by the Panama Papers as a former director of a British Virgin Islands company set up and administered by law firm Mossack Fonseca with the intention of exploiting a Siberian gold prospect.

Turnbull and former NSW Premier Neville Wran joined the board of Star Mining NL on October 29, 1993. The Australian listed company hoped to develop a $20 billion Siberian gold mine called Sukhoi Log. According to the data, Turnbull and Wran were appointed directors of the Star Mining’s subsidiary in the British Virgin Islands, Star Technology Services, on December 3, 1993, just five weeks later. Star Technology Services held the group’s stake in the Sukhoi Log prospect.

A spokesman for Mr. Turnbull recently stated that the Prime Minister was not aware that the company had been administered by Mossack Fonseca as the registered agent in Road Town, Tortola. According to the spokesperson, none of the data implies that the PM acted improperly in any way.

However, Star Technologies has allegedly made donations to Russian politicians, an action that is unlikely to be coincidental to the fact that the gold mines were located in Siberia. The spokesperson then responded that Turnbull was not aware of any payments to political parties or to politicians made by Star during or prior to his time as director.

panama papersThe use of the British Virgin Islands company provided privacy to many of its users; according to spokespeople working for Emma Watson, her naming by the papers was due only to the star’s need for personal privacy and safety that companies could supply to her as a result of British law.

While Emma Watson’s involvement with the company may not be extremely incriminating, the Prime Minister’s seems more shady.

Turnbull’s use of the company made it so that his Australian shareholders couldn’t tell that Star Technology was investing in the gold mine in Siberia. Star Technology was listed as a subsidiary in Star Mining’s 1994 annual report with the note that it was a “controlled entity not required to be audited under British Virgin Islands requirements.”

Eventually the Prime Minister and Mr. Wran resigned from Star Mining no September 1, 1995 citing work commitments in Australia. They also stepped down from their posts at Star Technology on September 25. Turnbull & Partners and broker County NatWest were able to raise somewhere around $72 million for Star Mining in share placements in Ovtober of 1993. Eventually court decisions in Russia stripped Star Mining of its gold stake and the company was forced to write off $127 million on the failed venture in 1998.

Again, it’s not suggested that there was anything improper in the Prime Minister’s role in the company.

Google Glass Entering Medical Realm

Our understanding of autism now is very limited, in fact we know almost nothing regarding its cause, its apparent rise, or even how to help those who are affected by it. Our understanding is so limited in fact that the anti vaccination movement was able to have a foothold in the social discourse for a moment in the social consciousness to give some perspective this had absolutely nothing supporting the claims it made. But in the absence of knowledge we are eager to grasp onto whatever in the hopes of receiving some solace or hope for understanding. Although we have no idea what the cause and remedies for autism are we at least know what being affected by it looks like and in what areas the people are socially deficient. For instance what we do know is that kids with autism are often have difficulty with making eye contact in addition to recognizing emotion and social cues that occur with their exchanges with other people. The punchline of the tech world google glass may be the tool that can help these people better identify these conversational nuances and bolster their social aptitude in real time which is something light years ahead of anything being considered right now in regards to therapy for children with autism. Many prominent public figures have autism.  bderp

Stanford University graduate student Caitlin Voss is heading up the Autism Glass on campus. The 20 year old has some pretty lofty goals, and is getting help from an associate professor Dennis Wall. “The promise of using Google Glass is that it’s transportable out of a therapeutic setting into an everyday social situation, whether it be school or a birthday party…  But there are just not enough therapists to meet increasing demand, and flash cards are removed from real life.”

The implications here are immense and they are only in the very beginning stages and so they are poised with answering huge philosophical and informativeness questions such as, what is to be healthy mentally, what does it mean to be unset or happy, and if you can make this distinction to what degree are we made aware of it in our own case? these are but a few of the questions that need to be answered and reveal that this is not going to be any easy whattask. For instance, to say that you are giving the person what they don’t know in regards to the emotion does not solve the question. Think about it, if you are acknowledging the fact that they have a blind spot in their perception then they are not developing these skills, consider that these skills are not present to these people and you just say that they just are shown these things and you expect them to react in the way as if you did. For instance this may be a useful tool in regards to them being able to have a kind of flash card system wherein they are able to train ahead of time the normative responses to certain stimuli, but this obviously is not the whole picture, but it may be a start.

Hackers Threaten Ted Cruz

A few weeks back, hacker-vigilante group Anonymous issued an eerie warning to Ted Cruz demanding that he drop out of the presidential race or else face a damning revolution regarding him and a dark past involving prostitution.

“Mr. Cruz,” the narrator of a chilling video stated, “we are not demanding that you exit this race within 24 hours, or Anonymous will release all of the information we have found. It’s time that we tell America what’s hiding behind the curtain.”

ted“Have you heard of the expression ‘candy wrappers’?” asks the narrator, referring to a colorful term for a male contraceptive. “Do you recall visiting prostitutes?” the narrator continues, more to the point.

“Your so-called underground acts that you think were done in the dark, will be brought out for all the public to see. It will be sent to every media outlet to publicize your disgusting behavior. We assure you it will go viral on every social media platform in a matter of minutes. Mr. Cruz, your disgusting campaign ends now; your campaign to gain power with ulterior motives that include your wife will also be exposed.”

To end this chilling tirade, the narrator closes: “There is nothing from your past that won’t haunt you.”

Keep in mind that this all occurred over a week before the Enquirer came out with its articles regarding Cruz’s extramarital affair, and even before the #CruzSexScandal came to be.

Cruz of course claimed that the prostitution ring reports published by the National Enquirer were baseless and embellished, and even claimed that these accusations were all part of a larger and secretive attack planned by Donald Trump (who was already attacking Ted Cruz and his wife, Heidi) and Cruz’s former consultant, Roger Stone.

It has since been concluded that the Enquirer‘s claims were false, but Anonymous has stated that it despite the report’s frivolous and incorrect details about Cruz’s secret affairs, there is legitimate evidence that these affairs occurred.

Anonymous claims to have incriminating evidence to prove that one affair, which allegedly occurred between Cruz and a Cuban mistress, legitimately occurred. Anonymous also revealed that the sex scandal claims are also more linked to Marco Rubio than to Donald Trump.

On the 22nd of this month, Anonymous released a video implying that they have acquired evidence regarding a prostitution ring secret and involves Ted Cruz, hoping to force Cruz to suspend his presidential campaign.

heidi cruzShortly after the video was released, the Breitbart News shared that it had been approached with a scandalous sex story regarding Ted Cruz but had decided not to run it due to a general lack of details regarding the circumstances surrounding the accusations. The News did reveal that the story came from a “Rubio ally.”

“It was too thin, so [Breitbart‘s Washington politcal editor Matt Boyle] decided not to runit. There was no way to verify the claims,” explained a source from the news outlet.

Despite this, Anonymous continues to claim that it has collected the accurate evidence to support their theories regarding Ted Cruz’s extramarital affairs.

Google EU to Offer: Right to Be Forgotten Next Week

Today, March 4, 2016, Google has confirmed that it shall get rid of some search results from all of its websites beginning next week (March 11, 2016) for searches that are conducted within the confines of the European Union Nations.  This comes on the back of a 2014 ruling on a European Union Supreme Court that decided Google is now hereby obligated to comply with requests to remove a certain amount of their search results placed forward by European complainants in a decision that has come to be know as the “right to be forgotten.” Per the stipulations of the ruling European internet users can put forth or submit a formal request to Google, that they deist the results that are no longer seen as having significance or reliance to their immediate search reliance and are for all intensive purposes deemed outdated. eu2

This is significant, because up until this point Google would only delist such results for a European Union site, per the request of the user. However, the information could still be accessed by private industries through several easily circumvented obstructions which effectively undermines the “removal” in the first place.

Googles offical EU spokesperson released a statement, “starting next week, in addition to our existing practice, we will also use geolocation signals ( like IP addresses) to restrict access to the delisted URL on all google Search domains, including google. com, when accessed from the country of the person requesting the removal… We’ll apply the change retrospectively, to all delisting that we have already done under teh European court ruling.”

Although this is a big step in terms of internet privacy and security in general, the looming problem in light of all of this remains that Google, if left to its own devices would see no value in enacting such restrictions upon themselves. Essentially, it were not until they were literally ordered by a court through a long drawn out legal battle that they are required to do so. as we can see no such law exists in other countries such as the US or Japan. Google-Pffffffffrivacy-1.jpg-1

That said it may be the catalyst to achieving a more private and respectful relationship between tech giants and their uses, however, I wouldn’t hold my breath. The very notion of privacy has changed more in the past 5 years than the proceeding 5,000. For many the it seems all to obvious that the Google and Facebooks of the world should adhere to a higher code of ethics, and not merely when ordered to by threat of law. But for many, primarily of the younger end of the millenial or post minileal class is that they simply do not care, that access to their intimate and person internet data by someone does not give them pause. whether or not one is right or more ethical remains to be seen, or perhaps it doesn’t. it maybe that this highly subjective notion has no more grounding in reality than the simply notion of something being good, or having quality in and of itself.

New Pact Saves Data Storage Companies After Safe Harbor Decision

Back in October, an agreement was reached between the United States and the European Union regarding American companies handling the personal data of overseas citizens.

This agreement created a “Safe Harbor” for U.S. businesses by decreeing that an American company could simply give its word that it planned to properly protect the data of Europeans (and would need no other form of assurance).

Promises are not generally taken at face value in the world of business, especially when it comes to data protection. However, this decision was more a symptom of desperate circumstances than thoughtful negotiation.

facebookBecause the European Union has passed much stronger sanctions protecting the data of its citizens than the United States has ever bothered to create, issues began to spring up regarding American companies (functioning under more lax American law) becoming responsible for data belonging to people who expect their privacy to be better protected. 

The European Court of Justice believed that the Safe Harbor Agreement was a band-aid solution to a deeper problem regarding world tensions around surveillance, terrorism, and privacy. In light of Edward Snowden’s outing of the United States government’s collection of massive, indiscriminate amounts of personal data via snooping on cloud service providers, the European court ruled that the Safe Harbor protections were not acceptable.

The court believed that there was a real threat that the United States government would ignore the Safe Harbor sanctions meant to protect the data of European citizens. The court also cited the fact that neither European individuals nor European privacy authorities had any real way to punish U.S. government agencies for snooping if they were caught in the act.

Accordingly, the ECJ declared the agreement invalid.

eu2This came as a shock for many European and American tech companies. The agreement was invalidated without the implication of any grace period, so a lot of company leaders are being forced to choose between shutting down their companies or risking potential liability.

HyTrust  Senior Vice President Fred Kost was skeptical about the decision:

“If companies want to completely comply, it likely means that they must examine what data they have from nations in the EU and begin moving the data to infrastructure housed in those nations or demonstrate that it is inaccessible if stored on infrastructure outside those nations via encryption or access controls,” Kost claimed. “The risk to companies lies in how quickly enforcement or legal action is taken.”

Accordingly, just yesterday the United States and the European Union made official a pact known as the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, which asserts that:

  • “Strong obligations on how Europeans’ personal data is handled and individual rights are guaranteed. The U.S. Commerce Department will monitor compliance with the obligations, and the Federal Trade Commission provide enforcement.
  • “A promise that access by U.S. law enforcement and national security agencies to Europeans’ personal data will be subject to clear limitations, safeguard and oversight mechanisms.
  • “Establishment of several forms of redress for Europeans who believe their data has been misused.”

The glaring issue is, of course, that American government agencies will monitor their own country’s compliance with the obligations.


Police Use Software to Calculate “Threat Score”

In Fresno, CA, police officers have begun to use software that determines a person’s potential for violence much like a bank might run a client’s credit. Its program scours data regarding arrest reports, property records, commercial databases, deep Web searches and the man’s social-media postings. With this information inputted, the man’s threat level was calculated to be the highest of three gradients the span from green to orange to red.

If a man has a firearm conviction, for example, or a gang association, that information is taken into consideration when determining his score. Police can then calculate his score upon being alerted of an issue and know whether or not they should send a negotiator or a squad unit to the scene of the crime.

fresnoThe algorithm used is all part of the Beware software, a tool being used by Fresno police that gives them unprecedented surveillance power. This makes many citizens uncomfortable, but police argue for its necessity given the Paris and San Bernadino terrorist attacks’ proof that more data must be collected to prevent mass shootings and equip officers with the information they need in times of emergency.

Civil libertarians and activists disagree. They claim that the Beware software is an intrusion on people’s privacy and has been deployed with little to know public oversight, meaning it has the potential to be abused.

In general, people don’t like discovering that law enforcement has been snooping on their lives without notifying them or, in some cases, having the proper warrants. People are just realizing that many departments were collecting massive amounts of cellphone data without search warrants. Some Authorities in Oregon are now facing an internal investigation after using social-media monitoring software to keep tabs on the activists involved in the Black Lives Matter protest. The software allegedly tracked hashtags related to the movement and who was saying them.

“This is something that’s been building since September 11,” claimed Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Lynch is a senior staff attorney dedicated to protecting civil liberties in the digital era. “First funding went to the military to develop this technology, and now it has come back to domestic law enforcement. It’s the perfect storm of cheaper and easier-to-use technologies and money from the state and federal governments to purchase it.”

Although most police departments refuse to discuss what surveillance tools they’re using, the Fresno police department was remarkably open about their Beware software, among other advances.

fresno2The Fresno cops also use something ShotSpotter, which can triangulate the location of a gunshot using microphones strung around the city. Media Sonar allows cops to leave social media scanning to programs, which turn up whatever illicit activity they find. Apparently it’s been incremental in helping Police, to monitor individuals, threats to schools and hashtags related to certain gangs. They can also dial up feeds from school and traffic cameras to try to search for particular license plates or criminals on the move. Apparently there are 200 police cameras and 800 feeds from city’s schools and traffic cameras, plus there will be 400 more streams once officers get body cameras.