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The Startling Array of Hacking Tools In NSA's Armory 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the pick-your-poison dept.
littlekorea writes "A series of servers produced by Dell, air-gapped Windows XP PCs and switches and routers produced by Cisco, Huawei and Juniper count among the huge list of computing devices compromised by the NSA, according to crypto-expert and digital freedom fighter Jacob Applebaum. Revealing a trove of new NSA documents at his 30c3 address (video), Applebaum spoke about why the NSA's program might lead to broader adoption of open source tools and gave a hot tip on how to know if your machines have been owned."
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The Startling Array of Hacking Tools In NSA's Armory

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  • Re:Open source? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrxak (727974) on Monday December 30, 2013 @03:56PM (#45821279)

    Better check your compiler while you're at it, and your hardware.

  • Re:Open source? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @03:56PM (#45821281)

    What sort of straw man is that? No one has claimed that it is impossible to sabotage open source software. But the fact that the saboteur would at least have to try to hide it, which is not the case with secret source software, puts them at a huge disadvantage.

    Do you leave your front door unlocked because you're not 100% sure that your lock can't be picked?

  • Spy tools (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday December 30, 2013 @03:58PM (#45821301)

    The debate is not whether the spy tools should exist, but how they should be used. The NSA was originally meant to be a support organization that assisted the CIA and other federal agencies in protecting national security interests globally; Hence the name National Security Agency.

    What it has become lately, thanks to the Department of Homeland Security and our idiot congresscritters, are lackies for the FBI. The FBI has a terrible record going all the way back to the Prohibition of doing whatever it wants and generally running rough-shod over civil rights. It has long shown signs of institutional corruption and rot. This is the source of the rot in our judiciary at the federal level... and like Midas, everything the FBI touches turns to sh*t.

  • by mrxak (727974) on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:01PM (#45821339)

    There is some indication that the NSA is a rampant bureaucracy run by geeks with an unlimited budget who do things just to see if they can, but that doesn't mean they haven't gotten useful information or accomplished anything significant. I'd say the destruction of Iranian centrifuges was a master stroke, personally.

    Now, as for their domestic surveillance operations, I'd say it's pretty fair that they've not prevented any terrorist attacks whatsoever. That's the problem with broad collection of data, it's all the harder to sort through for anything useful. It's unfortunate that they're going to keep trying, instead of returning to targeted intelligence gathering.

  • Re:Open source? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TWiTfan (2887093) on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:03PM (#45821365)

    At the end of the day, you have to trust someone either way. Saying "It's open source, and therefore more trustworthy," is bullshit--because unless you or someone you trust has went through it line by line, it's functionally little different than trusting a closed-source binary. It's just a false sense of security most of the time.

    It comes down to who you trust, not whether their software is open or closed source.

  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:04PM (#45821377)

    If they had prevented any terrorist attacks, they'd be shouting it from the rooftops right now in an attempt to win more political support and counter any representatives who question their broad spying progams.

  • Re:Open source? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjbe (173966) on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:10PM (#45821445)

    Open source is no more secure than closed source, for a host of reasons, but at least with closed source, you know where the code came from and can judge it based on that.

    You have absolutely no idea where the code came from with closed source. Could be from anyone. Not much different from open source except for the fact that with open source you can at least theoretically examine the code itself even though in most cases that will never happen.

  • by mrxak (727974) on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:15PM (#45821471)

    I'd go a step further. It shouldn't just be legally inadmissible, it shouldn't be collectable at all. If it's accidentally collected, it should immediately be purged and the responsible parties prosecuted. If the FBI wants to develop their own NSA-like capabilities for domestic law enforcement, they can do so in a targeted fashion with warrants, but the NSA should be focused entirely on overseas operations, just like the CIA, just like the military. Mixing foreign and domestic all up in one agency is a very bad idea, (I hope) for obvious reasons.

  • Re:Open source? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:16PM (#45821487)

    You may know where the binary came from, but you have no idea where the code came from. And for all you know, neither did the person who signed the binary.

  • by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:18PM (#45821515) Homepage Journal
    it is difficult to believe that the NSA is the only one doing this, so who else owns my electronic toys?
  • by gmuslera (3436) on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:24PM (#45821557) Homepage Journal

    You may be not outraged that your country have weapons. But you should be very outraged that they are using them, in all the world to every innocent people (stripping basically every human of a fundamentan human right), in all the country, and in particular, in you.

    If you think that what they are doing is not a crime, try to do the same and get caught, the sun will be a white dwarf by the time you can get out of jail, considering how they are punishing minor ofenses [mmajunkie.com]. If any other country would be doing the same to US, at the same level and deepness, probably a lot of nukes would be flying right now.

  • Re:Open source? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:52PM (#45821847)

    Write it down. Heck, even the USPS or FedEx seems to be less compromised - they record the address info (metadata) but I haven't seen anything to imply they've been opening the letters.

    They do photograph every single letter and parcel, as well as x-ray scan everything that goes through their facility.

    Is that "safe"? I don't know.

    Can they discern written text inside a letter in an envelope, through x-ray scanning? I don't know.

    Are they photographing every letter under extreme bright lights, making the container effectively transparent?

    Not sure, but it's worth exploring every single one of those questions.

  • Half a straw man (Score:3, Insightful)

    by s.petry (762400) on Monday December 30, 2013 @05:27PM (#45822233)

    You see, there is a big flaw in your point. _IF_ the only developers were in the US, you may have a better point. OpenSource is not just coded in the US, and the eyes looking at the code are all over. I think for a while you had a level of trust among OpenSource crowds that everyone was equally altruistic and freedom loving. I am pretty sure that when the leaks came out a few years ago about the NSA jacking encryption that trust evaporated pretty quickly.

    What you may want to believe is that all of these coders are here doing "Merikah!" great favors, or at least looking the other way because.. you know, "Merikah!". Guys in Germany don't have any devotion to that cause, and won't be complicit.

    So now, that level of trust that people had is gone. Not that OpenSource coders are all out trying to screw each other (as we see with 3 letter agencies and closed source companies), but there is a whole lot more scrutiny. As it should be, and like it was 10-15 years ago.

    You can _never_ scrutinize closed source code. That point I agree with, and yes we should all assume that closed source systems ship compromised. As with the paragraph above, we used to assume that not very long ago. This is how we started to catch on to how shitty MS was (remember the ACK wars?).

  • by s.petry (762400) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:47PM (#45823515)

    I'd say the destruction of Iranian centrifuges was a master stroke, personally.

    Why? Because the same people that destroyed their infrastructure told you that Iran is "evil"? Does "Iran = evil" mean that we should act in an evil fashion? Is Iran as evil as people tell you? Personally I no longer believe that line of rhetoric (30 years ago I did). I believe that two wrongs don't make a right. I also believe that we should treat people equally, regardless of Religion, Race, or gender.

    For the duration of my life, which is longer than most people on this site, I have heard about how Iran is "evil" and plans to take over the world. I heard about how they hate Israel, but have never seen them do anything outside of their borders. They yelled a lot when Mossad allegedly destroyed infrastructure, but I have not seen the Republican guard blow shit up in Israel or even be accused. How "bad" or "good" the treatment of their own people is becomes subjective to the people that live there, not my opinion, and that treatment is based on their Religion. The US denounces Iran and their beliefs, yet we have no problem with Talmud Jewish beliefs that much of Israel follows (not to be confused with Rabbinical Jewish beliefs).

    I'm not claiming that Iran does not do wrong things, but as a whole and in comparison to the US it's not even close. We went to war with Iraq on a completely fabricated premise killing millions. We helped a revolt in Libya, Egypt, are helping in Syria. We give arms to some 'terrorists' and launch Hellfire missiles at others. We have soldiers that will tell you stories about how the poppy growth in Afghanistan has boomed under US control, yet under the Taliban it was outlawed and production was virtually stopped. Today world wide heroine use/production/trafficking is killing more people than the Taliban ever did.

    I'm also not claiming that Israel is "bad" because I don't live there so only have 2nd hand knowledge.

    The point is, that the US is not some "justice" force out there righting wrongs and correcting injustice. Quite the contrary, we are causing more harm than helping in numerous countries. We, the intellectuals, really need to challenge handed down propaganda. Instead of accepting it, try to question it.

    Our founding fathers had a mountain of quotes I could refer to, but I won't. We were supposed to be the example for Free Society, Republican Government, and tolerance. We were not supposed to be a thug.

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