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The National Security Agency and its UK counterpart have made repeated and determined attempts to identify people using the Tor anonymity service, but the fundamental security remains intact, as top-secret documents published on Friday revealed.

The classified memos and training manuals—which were leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and reported by The Guardian, show that the NSA and the UK-based Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) are able to bypass Tor protections, but only against select targets and often with considerable effort. Indeed, one presentation slide grudgingly hailed Tor as "the king of high-secure, low-latency Internet anonymity." Another, titled "Tor Stinks," lamented: "We will never be able to de-anonymize all Tor users all the time."

An article published separately by The Washington Post also based on documents provided by Snowden concurred.

"There is no evidence that the NSA is capable of unmasking Tor traffic routinely on a global scale," the report said. "But for almost seven years, it has been trying."

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msm1267 writes "Attackers are using route injection attacks against BGP-speaking routers to insert additional hops in the traffic stream, redirecting traffic to third-party locations where it can be inspected before it's sent to its destination. Internet intelligence company Renesys has detected close to 1,500 IP address blocks that have been hijacked on more than 60 days this year, a disturbing trend that indicates attackers could finally have an increased interest in weaknesses inherent in core Internet infrastructure."

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Original author: 
Joshua Kopstein


Demand for encryption apps has increased dramatically ever since the exposure of massive internet surveillance programs run by US and UK intelligence agencies. Now Facebook is reportedly moving to implement a strong, decades-old encryption technique that's been largely avoided by the online services that need it most.

Forward secrecy (sometimes called "perfect forward secrecy") is a way of encrypting internet traffic — the connection between a website and your browser — so that it's harder for a third party to intercept the pages being viewed, even if the server's key becomes compromised. It's been lauded by cryptography experts since its creation in the early 1990's, yet most "secure" online services like banks and webmail still...

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Original author: 
Sean Gallagher

NSA Headquarters in Fort Meade, MD.


One organization's data centers hold the contents of much of the visible Internet—and much of it that isn't visible just by clicking your way around. It has satellite imagery of much of the world and ground-level photography of homes and businesses and government installations tied into a geospatial database that is cross-indexed to petabytes of information about individuals and organizations. And its analytics systems process the Web search requests, e-mail messages, and other electronic activities of hundreds of millions of people.

No one at this organization actually "knows" everything about what individuals are doing on the Web, though there is certainly the potential for abuse. By policy, all of the "knowing" happens in software, while the organization's analysts generally handle exceptions (like violations of the law) picked from the flotsam of the seas of data that their systems process.

I'm talking, of course, about Google. Most of us are okay with what Google does with its vast supply of "big data," because we largely benefit from it—though Google does manage to make a good deal of money off of us in the process. But if I were to backspace over Google's name and replace it with "National Security Agency," that would leave a bit of a different taste in many people's mouths.

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Original author: 
Nate Anderson

The ghost of Steve Jobs will not be pleased to see this.

Zack Henkel

Robert Silvie returned to his parents' home for a Mardi Gras visit this year and immediately noticed something strange: common websites like those belonging to Apple, Walmart, Target, Bing, and eBay were displaying unusual ads. Silvie knew that Bing, for instance, didn't run commodity banner ads along the bottom of its pristine home page—and yet, there they were. Somewhere between Silvie's computer and the Bing servers, something was injecting ads into the data passing through the tubes. Were his parents suffering from some kind of ad-serving malware infection? And if so, what else might the malware be watching—or stealing?

Around the same time, computer science PhD student Zack Henkel also returned to his parents' home for a spring break visit. After several hours of traveling, Henkel settled in with his computer to look up the specs for a Mac mini before bedtime. And then he saw the ads. On his personal blog, Henkel described the moment:

But as rendered in my browser, I realized I was in for a long night. What I saw was something that would make both designers and computer programmers wince with great displeasure. At the bottom of the carefully designed white and grey webpage, appeared a bright neon green banner advertisement proclaiming: “File For Free Online, H&R Block.” I quickly deduced that either Apple had entered in to the worst cross-promotional deal ever, or my computer was infected with some type of malware. Unfortunately, I would soon discover there was a third possibility, something much worse.

The ads unnerved both Silvie and Henkel, though neither set of parents had really noticed the issue. Silvie's parents "mostly use Facebook and their employers' e-mail," Silvie told me, and both those services use encrypted HTTPS connections—which are much harder to interfere with in transit. His parents probably saw no ads, therefore, and Silvie didn't bring it up because "I didn't want [them] to worry about it or ask me a lot of questions."

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hypnosec writes "Cloud-based service Incapsula has revealed research indicating 51 per cent of website traffic is through automated software programs, with many programmed for malicious activity. The breakdown of an average site's traffic is as follows: 5% is due to hacking tools looking for an unpatched or new vulnerability within a site, 5% is scrapers, 2% is from automated comment spammers, 19% is the result of 'spies' collating competitive intelligence, 20% is derived from search engines (non-human traffic but benign), and only 49% is from people browsing the Internet."

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If it’s true that 35 percent of all internet traffic is used for transferring porn, then the remaining 65 surely must be clogged up by the ramblings of elite Germans in skinny jeans and granny dresses who brazenly teach an unsuspecting audience about all those vapid little aspects that, in their acutely voiced opinion, make the particular part of Berlin they recently moved to the only place that’s still interesting to live at.

Yet, as the famous saying goes, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time,” it feels like most of these people are currently living in Berlin.

How so? Because now, as the hype they painstakingly created turns out to be working, in that droves of young, easily impressed people are crawling over each others’ shoulders to secure their place in one of the thousands of hyper-individualistic flat shares in the city of their uniformly predictable dreams, elite German people have come to the foreseeable conclusion that there is a downside to their desperate pursuit to become interesting by association with a trendy part of town. 

Upon closer inspection, the irritation seems to arise from the simple reality that it isn’t them who are in control of the immigration to their Altbau neighborhood. Although elite Berliners will argue that they are, in all likelihood, the most tolerant people on the face of earth, they throw tantrums as soon as someone moves in to the apartment next door who isn’t exactly like them. Oblivious to the paradox how they, arriving in Berlin as bumbling, provincial oxygen thieves barely able to hide their Osnabruck faces under a hastily grown, messy beard, resented being labeled as “gentrifiers,” elite Berliners tend to become extremely angry and insecure towards anyone who moves in after them.

That’s because the true German elite exists beyond the space-time continuum. Disproving Einstein’s theory of relativity, it is never them or their buddies who are gentrifying Berlin, but, you guessed right, the folks who move in a month, a week, a day, even just an hour, after them. The good news, Auslander, is albeit you might have been called a gentrifying yuppie pig, because, uhm, you didn’t obey the council of elder gentrifiers’ memorandum about the maximum acceptable salary for your specific neighborhood, you can rest assured that there exists one group of people who your elite German friends still hate more than you: Schwaben.

Any self-respecting and -appointed Mitte bohemian is obliged to despise anyone from the south-western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg who dares to share their ubernonconformist fondness for Berlin’s trendy neighborhoods. Schwaben, so the insinuation goes, make Berlin less hip because they all are nouveau riche, culture-averse countryside simpletons with way too much money and way too little enthusiasm for alternative art, crowd-sourced creativity, or old geezers publicly pleasing themselves at the Kit-Kat Club.

The accusations that all original gentrifiers can agree on is that Schwaben a) talk in an awful dialect that’s only remotely reminiscent of proper German and b) drive up the apartment rents because they are “good with money”. No word yet on whether elite German people also reckon that Schwaben have a weird physiognomy, you know, like huge, crooked noses.

Oddly enough, the more obvious criticism -- that Schwaben are hopeless johnny-come-latelies still in firm belief of the Berlin hype who are all-too-ready and gullible enough to trade in their narrow, yet likeable south-western environment of well-paid jobs, favorable climatic conditions, and tasty cuisine, for the despicable ambition to belong to a crowd of equally uninteresting pseudo-urbanites living in a perpetually up-and-coming city which, on a good day, feels like an abandoned suburb of Moscow -- should better be kept to yourself.

To the curious observer, the true motivation for the hatred is quite easy to grasp: Your German friends hate the Schwaben for holding a mirror up to them. Watching the hordes of corn-fed Schwaben roam the Berlin streets in naïve amazement about having accomplished the unthinkable by moving to a bigger city than Stuttgart, even the most narcissistic, full-of-themselves elite German people will come to the sobering realization that, in spite of all the blood, sweat, and tears spent in their effort to shed the marks of their own regrettably normal upbringing and become cosmopolites, all they are able to achieve is to barely stay two miserable months ahead of the average greenhorn from Tuttlingen.


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