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US Gov't To Scan More Civilian Infrastructure Traffic 115

Posted by timothy
from the boy-this-slope-sure-feels-slippery dept.
helix2301 writes with this snippet from NBC News: "The U.S. government is expanding a cybersecurity program that scans Internet traffic headed into and out of defense contractors to include far more of the country's private, civilian-run infrastructure. As a result, more private sector employees than ever before, including those at big banks, utilities and key transportation companies, will have their emails and Web surfing scanned as a precaution against cyber attacks." Further on, the story notes that "By using DHS as the middleman, the Obama administration hopes to bring the formidable overseas intelligence-gathering of the NSA closer to ordinary U.S. residents without triggering an outcry from privacy advocates who have long been leery of the spy agency's eavesdropping."
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US Gov't To Scan More Civilian Infrastructure Traffic

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  • by new death barbie (240326) on Friday March 22, 2013 @11:01PM (#43254331)

    'cause everybody trusts the DHS.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      'cause everybody trusts the DHS.

      While it would be nice to believe that this is sarcasm, and while most slashdotters don't trust the DHS, most nongeeks do trust the DHS. And there's whole, "If you don't have anything to hide then who cares..." that most people believe in.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by davester666 (731373)

        "I'm from the government and I'm here to keep you safe."

        • by slick7 (1703596)

          "I'm from the government and I'm here to keep you safe."

          Wh-wh-what? You mean it's not for the children or national security?

      • Plus, how many private sector employees expect privacy, anyway? Yes, I know the "slippery slope" argument, but I know that my emails and websurfing are being monitored at work anyway - by INTERNAL security. The fact that DHS is stepping in is not a huge deal. Monitoring me at home? Problem. At work? I don't care. It's my employer's equipment, infrastructure, etc.
    • by ixuzus (2418046)
      Now if the DHS is a trusted system to banking, infrastructure, utilities, etc then all your enemies have to do is compromise the DHS and they get the keys to everything.
      • by slick7 (1703596)

        Now if the DHS is a trusted system to banking, infrastructure, utilities, etc then all your enemies have to do is compromise the DHS and they get the keys to everything.

        DHS is the compromise, they have access to all your records, the question is, how do they get the children to spy on their parents?

  • Encrypt everything (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If you aren't browsing over a VPN with HTTPS / SSL and transmitting all your data encrypted by this point you ought to be.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      If you aren't browsing over a VPN with HTTPS / SSL and transmitting all your data encrypted by this point you ought to be.

      Why? After all, if you have nothing to hide and you set your evil bit [ietf.org] to zero, the DHS won't intercept your traffic.

      I mean: nobody is so crazy to waste citizens' money on intercepting and storing everyone's communication, the investment and maintenance cost will be everly increasing.
      And for what? After all it is only the traffic caused by hackers that would be interesting, not honest citizens' traffic. And the institutions/companies have already organized their own defense, as any good citizen does (e.g. i

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Cosgrach (1737088)

        I mean: nobody is so crazy to waste citizens' money on intercepting and storing everyone's communication, the investment and maintenance cost will be everly increasing.

        Wanna bet? They will simply take the money from some 'unimportant' department that actually provides some sort of public service. Sorry guys, you can't have money for cancer research, because we are going to snoop through your e-mails. You had better believe it.

      • by Seumas (6865)

        Agreed. The government is all about fiscal accountability and doesn't waste money or spend money it doesn't have.

        • by slick7 (1703596)

          Agreed. The government is all about fiscal accountability and doesn't waste money or spend money it doesn't have.

          What planet are you from? Was your flight long? Would you like to rest a spell before we tour the city?

      • by slick7 (1703596)

        I mean: nobody is so crazy to waste citizens' money....

        (grin)

        Brought to you by the people who supported the banksters and their gambling addicted wallstreeters. Get a clue, please.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, so you won't stand out of the crowd. Wouldn't want to become a person of interest.

      What's that guy's sig, about the 2nd law of thermodynamics? Something like, "you can't win, you can't even break even, and you can't quit."? Good luck to you, sir. I wish you the best. It's not that you're wrong, not at all; just too late, I think.

    • Just using a VPN isn't enough -- most of them hand over user data to the US government without question when asked [torrentfreak.com], regardless of whether the VPN account was free or paid and even if the VPN company and all of its servers are located in other parts of the world. (Yes, the article was focused on the use of VPNs for file-sharing, but the lesson remains the same: don't trust them to protect your personal data from your government.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So, big business implements half ass computer security for its infrastructure, at a lower cost. This could have been the logical business decision, especially with constantly changing computer technology. However, China, and increasingly other nations, are now going after security holes, and changes in computer technology have slowed down.

    However, for the American People to pay for the incompetance of half ass measures of big business is something else. Just, like the bank bailouts of 2008. This country has

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday March 22, 2013 @11:54PM (#43254585)

      The run for the bottom started way earlier, you can't blame the chimp for everything. Looking at the US for the past decades, I dare say the whole mess started with Reagan or no later than Bush Sr.

      What this country, or any country, could well need is the kind of politicians we had after WW2. Say what you want, I still think Eisenhower was the best since 45.

      • by jafac (1449)

        It started with the Lewis Powell Memo, in 1972. (Powell was the head of the US Chamber of Commerce - then was a Nixon appointee to SCOTUS).

        • by kermidge (2221646)

          Thanks for having excellent memory - I'd clean forgotten this. Long time back, man. Yeah, that was a good trigger.

        • You assume the US invented the abusive government-corporate partnership. Ever hear of the East India Company? This type of practice is as old as civilisation: Those with power need money, and those with money expect certain favours in return.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The NSA has taps on the fiber backbones already - the telcos have legal immunity and so are letting them mirror all traffic going through the major peering points. I don't see how a minor adjustment in the location of said tapping changes things. All traffic is already monitored, and relationship graphs are already generated for most US residents.

    • It's a matter of magnitude. Think of it as the difference between being stuck in cold weather without a coat and sitting butt naked in a frozen pond. Neither is really pleasant, but the latter sure as hell kills you faster.

  • by ALeader71 (687693) <(glennsnead) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday March 22, 2013 @11:34PM (#43254479)

    I still don't trust the government. If this was to track malware, botnets, or attempts to attack vital parts of our infrastructure, I'd be all for it. However I also know this will be used to clandestinely monitor everyone's communication. While I fall into the "nothing to hide" category, the definition of "nothing to hide" is flexible and ever changing. The truth is, in a way, I do hide. A lot. I don't mouth off on social media sites. I don't put my political opinions into forums. I limit confrontation to in-person or via telephone communication. We already live in an age of online surveillance. This new level of government surveillance is just the next step.

    I look forward to the rise of the DarkNets!

    • by Shavano (2541114)
      Yes, ALeader71. You DO mouth of on social media sites. This one, for instance.
      • by Seumas (6865)

        Hm. . . This isn't a social media site any more than FIDOnet, Usenet, or any discussion forum since the beginning of the web has been a "social media site".

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday March 22, 2013 @11:44PM (#43254529)

      They're already here. They are just not globally announced and touted as the next best thing because "people who know" got wary after what happened to "their" Internet. Once the unwashed masses got in, things went downhill. For reference, see file sharing. You know, in the good ol' days, nobody gave a damn. Sure, the RIAA wasn't too excited about it, but the damage was low, so why bother? More and more people came and once it became trivially easy, the lobbying started and we have the mess we have today.

      Can you imagine what an issue blueboxing would have been if it wasn't limited to a handful of phreaking enthusiasts? AT&T would have wanted their heads. And we're certainly not talking about the probation sentence Draper got, this would have reached insane heights akin to what we see today with punishments for copyright infringement. So, it was ... well, basically just a little nuisance.

      Can you imagine what happens if Darknets go the way of torrents? Everyone using them, essentially rendering the whole shiny surveillance technology a matter for the recycle bin? If you think then we'd win, think again and ponder who your "enemy" is in this game. Hint: He makes the rules.

      • by ALeader71 (687693)

        One big difference between torrents and a Darknet -- torrents, like social media, are meant to be open and easily shared. Darknets are designed to deny by default, allow only if invited. The total opposite of the open Internet we have today. So no, I'd not worry if I primarily operated on a properly run and maintained Darknet.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday March 22, 2013 @11:36PM (#43254499)

    Employers already have the right to scan everything coming in and leaving, and AFAIK defense contractors count as employers.

    I don't particularly see this as a loss of Internet privacy since I don't expect any at a place of employment.

  • by russotto (537200) on Friday March 22, 2013 @11:42PM (#43254521) Journal

    After the AT&T revelation, why would you believe they aren't ALREADY scanning pretty much everything they can?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dear Mr.Obama,

    Just because you move the shady / possibly-abuse-filled surveillance project to another department does not make us "like" the program anymore.

    Also if you think the whole issue was the department handling the program, you have no clue why people are upset and outraged. That or you are intenionally ignoring the real reason.

    Please take the critical systems off the public internet if you are that worried about a "cyber" attack against public infastructure.

    Signed,
    - The People of the USA

  • Hasn't signature based scanning been debunked as a successful method for detecting modern malware?

    • Hello, Actually, it's one of the few technologies which was adapted and worked quite well over the past couple of decades. Regards, Aryeh Goretsky
    • Only against the very best, the APT-class attackers, who have the skill and the time to write and test their own tools. Against your common script kiddie or for-profit botnet operator, it'll still work fine.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is not their job, please get busy and get a balanced budget out! Then maybe think about things you shouldn't be doing.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not only do we need to encrypt everything going over the network we need to develop systems which defeat infererence of useful envelope information by adding noise in space and time and via the use of indirect reflections.

    Aggregation of power into the hands of the government regardless of the justification will only incite internal corruption and bring out the same human failings that lead to oppression. Technology will corrupt our society if we don't take steps to prevent it.

  • by PPH (736903) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @12:03AM (#43254631)

    My power company won't even trim the stinkin' trees. When the lights go out, how will we differentiate between an attack and normal operations?

    • Maybe if you put a wifi antenna on those branches they'ed be more willing to get out and tend to them!
      • by PPH (736903)
        More likely if the tree was a nesting site for an endangered species.
    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      You are lucky, the power company butchered my pecan trees which were not even close to causing issues due to some "possible interference any time in the next 10 years" rule they have.

    • If you call them and actually get to speak with a human being, it was probably an attack.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @12:20AM (#43254711) Homepage

    Finally something progressives and conservatives can team up to fight.

    The last briefing I heard there were something like 200 Chinese front companies operating in the U.S. gathering data on Americans, particularly those with security clearances.

    Maybe we stop the obvious stuff and the cloud databases being stored all over the world before we go all 1984 on our own citizens.

    In the same briefing I found out the French are also spying on our defense related industries. And the Israelis. Some allies we have. The ones not spying on us think we're idiots.

    • Finally something progressives and conservatives can team up to fight.

      I wish... Based on recent years, the political reaction will be more like:
      -- Most of the party that's clearly not in charge will condemn the latest overreach, declare that this sort of thing wouldn't happen on their watch, and that if given power again they'll be certain to reverse it.
      -- Most of the party in power will either remain silent or make vague supportive comments about doing what we must for security. The rare over-enthusiastic sort will say it's a great step forward blah blah blah.
      -- A few from

    • Allies have always spied on each other - we do it, too.
  • by Macdude (23507) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @12:32AM (#43254757)

    "By using DHS as the middleman, the Obama administration hopes to bring the formidable overseas intelligence-gathering of the NSA closer to ordinary U.S. residents without triggering an outcry from privacy advocates who have long been leery of the spy agency's eavesdropping."

    Translation: People don't fear the DHS as much as they fear the NSA, this should fix that.

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @12:58AM (#43254849)
    Erode away rights, waste away privacy. You will succumb to the second law of thermodynamics like everything else.
  • You know it occurs to me...

    All the major telecommunications carriers are defense contractors, as are the people running MAE East and MAE West.

    So what exactly isn't going to be scanned under this proposal?

  • This is Slashdot. We're a bunch of nerds. So let us do what it is that nerds do: Find a technological solution. Let us get every website using HTTPS, every email and IM conversation encrypted. It doesn't have to be perfectly secure against an attacker who can plant their own certificates on client devices, it just has to make interception difficult enough to prevent governmental fishing expeditions.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Let us get every website using HTTPS, every email and IM conversation encrypted.

      What makes you so certain the NSA hasn't cracked SSL? Because I'm reasonably certain that if they had broken SSL, they wouldn't tell anyone about that capability.

      • Of course they have - or rather, they wouldn't need to. I'm in no doubt at all that the NSA has access to a few root certs. Even so, it limits interception targets only to those the NSA considers enough of a concern to risk revealing their capabilities over: No more trawling billions of emails to build profiles or so anyone who jokes about blowing up the whitehouse can be flagged as a potential terrorist, and no more private-sector monitors at the ISP sneakily monitoring web traffic to better target adverti

  • by XB-70 (812342) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @06:52AM (#43255789)
    The DHS deserves to ... because they've done such a fine job scanning us at airports.
  • NSA doesn't have any cops.

  • If the banks request it, good.

    If they don't, bad. As in Hitler bad.

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