LeT operative stayed with terrorists in Kashmir, filmed Indian army camps:

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

LeT operative stayed with terrorists in Kashmir, filmed Indian army camps: Officials

During interrogation, Sheikh disclosed that he had stayed in Pulwama, moved to various places with the help of Malik and even photographed some Army and para-military camps, the officials claimed.

INDIA Updated: Dec 11, 2017 21:15 IST

Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Army soldiers share a lighter moment as they guard during a gunbattle at Pakharpore village, south of Srinagar, Kashmir, on Nov. 30, 2017.
Army soldiers share a lighter moment as they guard during a gunbattle at Pakharpore village, south of Srinagar, Kashmir, on Nov. 30, 2017. (AP)

Suspected Lashker-e-Taiba operative Abdul Nayeem Sheikh, who was arrested last month from Lucknow, had spent some time in trouble-torn south Kashmir and filmed some Army installations, officials said.

Sheikh, a resident of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, was on the radar of central intelligence agencies for quite sometime before he was nabbed with the help of Uttar Pradesh police in the last week of November.

The case was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a central probe agency mandated to investigate all terror modules in the country.

The central security agencies, which interrogated Sheikh at length, had told the investigators about his accomplice, Tauseef Ahmed Malik, in Pulwama district of south Kashmir. He was placed under arrest by the NIA on December 9.

During interrogation, Sheikh disclosed that he had stayed in Pulwama, moved to various places with the help of Malik and even photographed some Army and para-military camps, the officials claimed.

Sheikh, who was wanted in connection with a 2014 terror case and was since on the run, told investigators that some important power projects and railway tracks in the Valley were surveyed, they said.

He had also visited some places in Himachal Pradesh, especially Kasol, which is frequented by Israeli nationals visiting India, according to the officials.

Security agencies have claimed that Sheikh was roped in for a recce mission similar to that undertaken by David Headley, a Pakistan-American, who is at present serving a prison sentence of 35 years at a US jail for his involvement in terror activities and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks of 2008.

They said Malik’s association with the Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba also came to light during Sheikh’s interrogation.

Malik had shown to probe officials the places where Sheikh had stayed with the terrorists for over three months, they added.

NSA and the War on Our Privacy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

NSA and the War on Our Privacy

Saturday, 18 November, 2017 – 08:00

Since the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures began showing up in the Washington Post and the Guardian, the political debate over the American surveillance state has been stuck in the 20th century.

The public has feared a secretive, all-seeing eye, a vast bureaucracy that could peer into our online lives and track the numbers our smartphones dialed. Privacy as we knew it was dead. The era of Big Brother was here.

President Barack Obama responded to the Snowden leaks by commissioning a blue-ribbon panel that ended up concluding the way the National Security Agency did business often trampled on legitimate civil liberties concerns. The government did not need to store our metadata or the numbers, times and dates of our phone calls.

It turns out though that the questions prompted by Snowden were only part of the story. A recent expose from the New York Times tells a very different, and more frightening, tale. In this case, the proper analogy is not Big Brother, but an outbreak. A shadowy network of hackers, known as the shadow brokers, stole the NSA’s toolbox of cyber weapons it had used to peer into the computers of our adversaries. This network then offered subscribers the fruits of powerful cyber weapons that the U.S. government was never supposed to even acknowledge. The virus is no longer confined to the lab. It’s out in the wild.

And while the cyber weapons appear to be dated from 2013, the extent of the damage is still being assessed. The Times reports that the NSA still hasn’t found the culprits. NSA cyber warriors are subjected to polygraphs, and morale at the agency is low. Was there a mole? Was there a hack? The world’s greatest surveillance organization still doesn’t know.

Aside from puncturing the aura of the NSA as an all-seeing eye, the Times story also shows that today the greatest threat to our privacy is not an organization with a monopoly of surveillance power, but rather the disaggregation of surveillance power. It is not the citizen versus the state. Rather it is a Hobbesian state of nature, a war of all against all. Today, foreign governments and private hackers can use the same tools we all feared the U.S. government would use.

It’s enough to make you wish for a simpler time when the greatest threat to our privacy came from our own government.

Bloomberg

Virginia man charged with espionage for giving top-secret documents to China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)

Virginia man charged with espionage for giving top-secret documents to China

A Virginia man has been charged with espionage for transmitting top-secret documents to Chinese officials.

Kevin Patrick Mallory, 60, was arrested Thursday at his home in Leesburg, Virginia, and appeared in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

Mallory, a self-employed consultant and Army veteran, was charged with gathering or delivering defense information to aid a foreign government and for making material false statements under the federal Espionage Act.

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Mallory, a fluent Mandarin speaker, traveled to Shanghai in April, and was caught with $16,500 in two carry-on bags upon his return to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. He had failed to declare the cash.

Mallory was interviewed by the FBI in May, when he admitted he met with two people from a Chinese think tank, whom he suspected were Chinese intelligence agents. Mallory told the FBI the Chinese agents had given him a special communications device for transmitting documents.

He also told the FBI that the only documents he transferred were two unclassified blacked out security classification documents which he had written on U.S. policy matters, according to the affidavit.

Analysis of the transmitted materials revealed that two of the documents were classified as “secret,” while one of them was classified as “top secret.”

Analysis of the device through which the documents were transmitted revealed a handwritten index.

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Court records indicate that Mallory worked as a special agent for the Diplomatic Security Service at the State Department.

He could face life in prison and the charges, if certain conditions are met, could make Mallory eligible for the death penalty, according to prosecutor John Gibbs.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Wikileaks: The CIA Is Using Popular TVs, Smartphones And Cars To Spy On Their Owners

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Wikileaks: The CIA is using popular TVs, smartphones and cars to spy on their owners

March 7 2017

Wikileaks posts alleged trove of CIA hacking tools

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Anti-secrecy group Wikileaks on Tuesday said it had obtained a top-secret trove of hacking tools used by the CIA to break into phones, communication apps and other electronic devices, and published confidential documents on those programs. (Reuters)

The latest revelations about U.S. government’s powerful hacking tools potentially takes surveillance right into the homes and hip pockets of billions of users worldwide, showing how a remarkable variety of every day devices can be turned to spy on their owners.

Televisions, smartphones and Internet-connected vehicles are all vulnerable to CIA hacking, according to the Wikileaks documents released Tuesday. The capabilities described include recording the sounds, images and the private text messages of users, even when they use encrypted apps to communicate. The CIA also studied whether it could infect vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks, which Wikileaks said could allow “nearly undetectable assassinations.”

In the case of a tool called “Weeping Angel” for attacking Samsung SmartTVs, Wikileaks wrote, “After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on, In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.”

The documents, which The Washington Post could not independently verify and the CIA has declined to confirm, list supposed tools for cracking into such widely popular devices as Apple’s iPhone or the Android smartphones whose operating system is made by Google, but there are marked differences from the 2013 revelations by the National Security Agency’s former contractor Edward Snowden.

His documents largely described mass surveillance of Internet-based communications systems, more often than the individual devices that appear to have been the focus of the CIA. By targeting devices, the CIA could gain access to even well-encrypted communications, on such popular apps as Signal and WhatsApp, without having to crack the encryption itself. The Wikileaks reports appear to acknowledge that difference by saying the CIA “bypassed” as opposed to defeated encryption technologies.

Resignation and frustration rippled through Silicon Valley on Tuesday as technologists grappled with revelations of yet another government attempt to exploit their systems.

“The argument that there is some terrorist using a Samsung TV somewhere – as a reason to not disclose that vulnerability to the company, when it puts thousands of Americans at risk — I fundamentally disagree with it, “ said Alex Rice, chief technology officer for Hacker One, a startup that enlists hackers to report security gaps to companies and organizations in exchange for cash.

Privacy experts say the CIA may have been forced into focusing on vulnerable devices because the Internet overall has become more secure through more widespread deployment of encryption. In this new world, devices have become the most vulnerable link.

“The idea that the CIA and NSA can hack into devices is kind of old news,” said Johns Hopkins cryptography expert Matthew Green. “Anyone who thought they couldn’t was living in a fantasy world.”

Snowden’s revelations and the backlash made strong encryption a major, well-funded cause for both privacy advocates and, perhaps more importantly, technology companies that had the engineering expertise and budgets to protect data as it flowed across the world.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and many other companies announced major new initiatives, in part to protect their brands against accusations by some users that they had made it too easy for the NSA to collect information from their systems. Many Web sites, meanwhile, began encrypting their data flows to users to prevent snooping. Encryption tools such as Tor were strengthened.

Encrypting apps for private messaging, such as Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp exploded in popularity, especially among users around the world who were fearful of government intrusion. In the days following the U.S. presidential election, Signal was among the most downloaded in Apple’s app store and downloads grew by more than 300 percent.

Open Whispers Systems, which developed Signal, released a statement: “The CIA/Wikileaks story today is about getting malware onto phones, none of the exploits are in Signal or break Signal Protocol encryption.” WhatsApp declined to comment, and Telegram did not respond to requests for comment. Google declined to comment, while Samsung and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

U.S. government authorities complained loudly that the new wave of encryption was undermining their ability to investigate serious crimes, such as terrorism and child pornography. The FBI sued Apple in hopes of forcing it to unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernadino killers before announcing it had other ways to crack the device amid heavy public criticism.

Against that backdrop, many privacy advocates argued that devices — often called “endpoints” for their place on chains of communications that can criss-cross continents — were the best available target left in a world with widespread online encryption. The Wikileaks documents suggests that the CIA may have reached the same conclusion.

“It would certainly be consistent with the hypothesis that we’ve made real progress in the encryption we’ve been introducing,” said Peter Eckersley, technology projects director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group. “It’s impossible to be 100 percent certain, but reading the tea leaves, it’s plausible.”

The Wikileaks revelations also will serve as a reminder that, for whatever the political backlash to revelations about digital spying, it is not going away and probably will continue to grow. The focus on hacking into individual devices — rather than the messages traveling between them — is likely to increase pressure on companies to make those devices safer because, as experts have long said, they are the most vulnerable target in a long chain of digital interactions.

That could be especially important for U.S. tech companies, such as Google, Apple and Facebook, that have worked to rebuild their reputations as stewards of their users’ privacy in recent years.

Cybersecurity experts, meanwhile, reacted with alarm to the news of the Wikileaks release.

“This is explosive,” said Jake Williams, founder of Rendition Infosec, a cybersecurity firm. The material highlights specific antivirus products that can be defeated, going further than a release of NSA hacking tools last year, he said.

The CIA hackers, according to WikiLeaks, even “discussed what the NSA’s …hackers did wrong and how the CIA’s malware makers could avoid similar exposure.”

Hackers who worked at NSA’s Tailored Access Operations unit said the CIA’s library of tools looked comparable. The description of the implants, which are software that enable a hacker to remotely control a compromised device, and other attack tools appear to be “very, very complex” and “at least on par with the NSA,” said one former TAO hacker who spoke on condition his name not be used.

The WikiLeaks release revealed that they have sophisticated “stealth” capabilities that enable hackers not only to infiltrate systems, but evade detection, as well as abilities to “escalate privileges” or move inside a system as if they owned it.

“The only thing that separates NSA from commodity malware in the first place is their ability to remain hidden,” the former TAO hacker said. “So when you talk about the stealth components, it’s huge that you’re seeing a tangible example here of them using and researching stealth.”

Computer security experts noted that the release includes no actual tools or exploits, “so we don’t know if WikiLeaks did not get them or is just not choosing to publish them,” Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley. “However we should assume that whoever stole this data has access to the exploits and tools.”

He noted that the dates in the files suggest the tools were taken in February or March 2016 and that there are at least two documents marked Top Secret, “which suggests that somebody in early 2016 managed to compromise a Top Secret CIA development system and is willing to say that they did.”

One internal CIA document listed a set of Apple iPhone “exploits” — or tools that can be used to compromise the device by taking advantage of software flaws. Some of the tools are based on “zero-days,” which are software vulnerabilities that have not been shared with the manufacturer. So “some of these descriptions will allow Apple to fix the vulnerabilities,” Weaver said. “But at the same time, they’re out in the public and whoever stole this data could use them against U.S. interests.”

Trump Accuses Obama Of “Nixon/Watergate” Type “Bugging” Of Trump Tower Phones

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

President Trump on Saturday angrily accused former president Barack Obama of orchestrating a “Nixon/Watergate” plot to tap the phones at his Trump Tower headquarters last fall in the run-up to the election.

Citing no evidence to support his explosive allegation, Trump said in a series of five tweets sent Saturday morning that Obama was “wire tapping” his New York offices before the election in a move he compared to McCarthyism. “Bad (or sick) guy!” he said of his predecessor, adding that the surveillance resulted in “nothing found.”

Trump offered no citations nor did he point to any credible news report to back up his accusation, but he may have been referring to commentary on Breitbart and conservative talk radio suggesting that Obama and his administration used “police state” tactics last fall to monitor the Trump team. The Breitbart story, published Friday, has been circulating among Trump’s senior staff, according to a White House official who described it as a useful catalogue of the Obama administration’s activities.

A spokesman for Obama did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Trump has been feuding with the intelligence community since before he took office, convinced that career officers as well as holdovers from the Obama administration have been trying to sabotage his presidency. He has ordered internal inquiries to find who leaked sensitive information regarding communications during the campaign between Russian officials and his campaign associates and allies, including ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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Washington Post reporter Adam Entous breaks down Friday’s intelligence report on Russian involvement in the 2016 election. (Dalton Bennett/The Washington Post)

Some current and former intelligence officials cast doubt on Trump’s assertion.

“It’s highly unlikely there was a wiretap on the president-elect,” said one former senior intelligence official familiar with surveillance law who spoke candidly on the condition of anonymity. “It seems unthinkable. If that were the case by some chance, that means that a federal judge would have found that there was either probable cause that he had committed a crime or was an agent of a foreign power.”

A wiretap cannot be directed at a U.S. facility, the official said, without finding probable cause that the phone lines or Internet addresses were being used by agents of a foreign power — or by someone spying for or acting on behalf of a foreign government. “You can’t just go around and tap buildings,” the official said.

Trump sent the tweets from Palm Beach, Fla., where he is vacationing this weekend at his private Mar-a-Lago estate. It has long been his practice to stir up new controversies to deflect attention from a damaging news cycle, such as the one in recent days about Sessions and Russia.

Trump’s tweets took numerous top White House aides by surprise, according to a second White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly. There was an expectation that Saturday would be a “down day, pretty quiet,” this official said, and there was little if any attempt to coordinate the president’s message on the wire-tapping allegations.

AMERICA’S TOP SPY TALKS SNOWDEN LEAKS AND OUR OMINOUS FUTURE

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘WIRED’)

AMERICA’S TOP SPY TALKS SNOWDEN LEAKS AND OUR OMINOUS FUTURE

Canadian 2 Years In China Prison For Spying: Deported Back To Canada

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

Canadian arrested in China returns home

A Canadian man arrested in China two years ago on charges of spying and stealing state secrets has been freed and has returned home, his family said.

Kevin Garratt was detained in 2014 along with his wife Julia Dawn, who was later released on bail, in Dandong, a northeastern city on the border with North Korea.

Before their arrests, Garratt and his wife, both Christians, had run a coffee shop in Dandong and were active in helping send humanitarian aid to North Korea.

Garratt was deported from China on Thursday after a court in Dandong ruled on his case on Tuesday, his family said in a statement.

“Kevin has returned to Canada to be with his family and friends,” the family said.

In a statement, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday Garratt had been treated “according to law.” The ministry said China “fully guaranteed all kinds of procedural rights of Kevin Garratt, and fully respected and implemented the consular rights of the Canadian side.”

But the ministry declined to say what investigators found or what the outcome of the trial was.

Chinese state media previously reported that authorities found evidence that implicated Garratt in accepting tasks from Canadian espionage agencies to gather intelligence in China.

Garratt’s release comes as both sides pledged to strengthen economic ties during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to China earlier this month for the G20 summit, and a week before Premier Li Keqiang is to visit Canada for talks with Trudeau.

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