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Rovio Denies Knowledge of NSA Access, Angry Birds Website Defaced Anyway 71

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bored-teenagers-at-their-finest dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Rovio Entertainment, the software company behind Angry Birds, denies that it knowingly shares data with the NSA, Britain's GCHQ, or any other national intelligence agency. But that didn't stop hackers from briefly defacing the Angry Birds website with an NSA logo and the title 'Spying Birds.' Rovio's troubles began with a New York Times article that suggested the NSA and GCHQ had installed backdoors in popular apps such as Angry Birds, allowing the agencies to siphon up enormous amounts of user data. The Times drew its information from government whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has leaked hundreds of pages of top-secret documents related to NSA activities over the past few months. 'The alleged surveillance may be conducted through third party advertising networks used by millions of commercial web sites and mobile applications across all industries,' Rovio wrote in a statement on its website. 'If advertising networks are indeed targeted, it would appear that no Internet-enabled device that visits ad-enabled web sites or uses ad-enabled applications is immune to such surveillance.' The company pledged to evaluate its relationships with those ad networks. The controversy is unlikely to dampen enthusiasm for the Angry Birds franchise, which has enjoyed hundreds of millions of downloads across a multitude of platforms. It could, however, add momentum to continuing discussions about the NSA's reach into peoples' lives."
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Rovio Denies Knowledge of NSA Access, Angry Birds Website Defaced Anyway

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @01:46PM (#46101535)

    Companies like Google, Microsoft, Rovio Entertainment, Facebook, and others remind me of that Clapper idiot.

    • by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @01:56PM (#46101681)

      Well, there are numerous parties we can blame here. Certainly the NSA, but what about the advertising companies? They build leaky software, and they make their money by harvesting information you don't know you're sending or don't wish to be sending to them anyway.

      Shouldn't these fly by night outfits that serve ads on the internet and trade in your personal information have some responsibility to protect it?

      • by Technician (215283) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @02:15PM (#46101951)

        I think if I read the original news articles correctly, you are spot on. NSA did not compromise Angry Birds. They however did spy on the marketing info the program 3rd party advertising returned. This 3rd party info was intercepted. Block all advertising and this may have been a non issue.

        Free app.. Supported by 3rd party adverts .. Advert demographics information scrapped on the way back through governemtnt internet checkpoints.

        • Can we take it one more step and get a free government supported by ads?
          Don't get me started on how it might give private companies a way in, or somehow make things less efficient to make room for more ads.

      • Well, there are numerous parties we can blame here.

        Agreed, lets not let them just select a fall guy and continue further under something more secret than national security. Might be a good idea to look into the secret TPP deal they appear to be working to fast track. Like they imply, terrorists have something to hide and those are generally referred to as secrets. Reading a bit further into it I can't think of a better way to sequester world power than one world gubberment, all eggs in one basket, then there's only one entity for the mob to infiltrate fo

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The Angry Birds guys are also trying to draw a false equivalence between web ads and mobile ads. Mobile ads have access to a lot more data, like social graph and GPS location history, get overlapping unclearable cookies (serial number, phone number) that can track even a resistant person through their whole life, and are able to awaken themselves at any time if the app author helps them instead of only tracking you while you're browsing/using.

      • Well, there are numerous parties we can blame here. Certainly the NSA, but what about the advertising companies? They build leaky software, and they make their money by harvesting information you don't know you're sending or don't wish to be sending to them anyway.

        People think that the NSA would have to hack into something. But they could open a little office with a few programmers that offers their services writing advertising software. Lots of companies don't create that software in-house. And I bet a small company owned by the NSA can offer really competitive prices. No hacking involved.

        A while ago there was news of a new jailbreak for iOS. Again, what better opportunity for the NSA than to actually take over the people creating the jailbreak and modifying it,

      • by Arker (91948)

        Before I would blame the ad companies I would blame the browser makers.

        Sane browsers would have been inconvenient for ad companies but they could have certainly learned to work with them.

        Instead they are accustomed to assuming the browser will run any arbitrary code thrown at it, which means that sane browsers appear to 'break' when thrown typical code.

        It's this bullshit situation which sets the stage for a compromise on an ad network equating to a compromise of third party computers all across the world.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Seriously, do the advertising networks get the same permissions on iOS and Android devices that the main program gets? For example, Angry Birds on my Android phone gets my approximate location (no idea why it needs that), Network communication (ad serving or leaderboards maybe), Storage (USB storage modification rights, no idea why because every time I reinstall it starts over from the beginning again), Phone Calls (phone status to gracefully silence itself and pause the game, but getting my identity I hav

      • by Uberbah (647458) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @07:28PM (#46105187)

        Certainly the NSA, but what about the advertising companies? They build leaky software, and they make their money by harvesting information you don't know you're sending or don't wish to be sending to them anyway.

        Until Google has a weaponized drone fleet and Microsoft can send you to prison for decades, this corporations-are-as-bad-as-government meme is total horseshit.

        • by Bugamn (1769722)
          Corporations already send people to prison, even if through government. Don't we see at least one article per month about someone punished for piracy?
      • by cwatts (622605)

        " fly by night outfits "

        Like Google?

    • Indeed.
      An old prick who as a youth fancied having a device in the bedroom of the girl he couldn't have
      and struggled all his life to make part of that dream come true, along with some 10.000 (?) other
      retards.
      Child pornography -- and it's abundantly clear who the children are in this case.

  • by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @01:47PM (#46101553) Journal
    So which is it? Do the NSA have my Angry Birds high score or don't they?
    • Never mind your high score. I think we should petition the US government with the Freedom Of Information Act to release Obama's high score.

      The citizens of the US have a right to know how much time he's been spending playing Angry Birds, when he was supposed to be running the country.

      • The citizens of the US have a right to know how much time he's been spending playing Angry Birds, when he was supposed to be running the country.

        Frankly, I'd prefer that he spend more time playing Angry Birds and less time running the country, because he's running it into the ground. Same thing goes for Congress.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      So which is it? Do the NSA have my Angry Birds high score or don't they?

      Nothing Rovio has stated is mutually exclusive with what we know.

      The NSA gets data off leaky apps, say, Angry Birds. Rovio denies working with the NSA.

      Still leaves the possibility that the NSA gets the information from apps like Angry Birds without knowledge of Rovio. Or other app developers for that matter.

      Just like how Apple denies working with the NSA - doesn't mean the NSA doesn't have Apple's data. It could very well be the NSA int

  • Saruman (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @01:54PM (#46101641)

    We already saw Saruman using bird for spying in LOTR, but this warning wasn't enough...

  • Angry Birds: Denial.
    To be followed by
    2.Anger
    3 Bargaining
    4 Depression
    5 Acceptance.

    Can't wait for Angry Birds to Die!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @01:56PM (#46101675)

    It always bothers me when I see comments like "But that didn't stop hackers from briefly defacing the Angry Birds website with an NSA logo and the title 'Spying Birds.' ".

    Did they install the backdoor software knowingly? Does it even have it, or is Snowden's reports wrong? Do they deserve some level of punishment at all? These hackers do not know, but they take some comment from the NYT and use that as justification to target someone for punishment. This is the exact reason we have a legal system and outlaw vigilantism; while our legal system is annoyingly frustrating, this kind of vigilante anarchy is not better.

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @02:44PM (#46102331)

      is Snowden's reports wrong?

      RTFA... Snowden's released [PDF] documents [amazonaws.com] says nothing specific about what apps were targeted. Don't make it sound like he's to blame.

    • by foma84 (2079302)
      The action in itself is highly symbolic. It's not like a brief distruption of service (at the web page) will cause any major or even minor damage to the company. The point is raising awarness in users about all of this spying. Both by the agencies and the industry.
      I actually find the Agencies' technology brilliant: sniffing the traffic of the Industries' spying on you. Genius. Evil Genius, tho.

      Anyway, only here to say that it's sybolical and to raise awarness. I actually didn't have the perception of how
    • by s.petry (762400)

      We find vigilante justice like this because the normal justice system is not working. The US system of justice has been broken for a long time now, so these acts will only grow more common. Show me one official that went to jail over Fast and Furious, starting a war in Iraq based on false premises, one bank CEO that was fired or went to jail for fraud. These things are not new, but are also growing in frequency and getting more notice.

      The story of Robin Hood is not popular because he stole money, it is p

  • It seems that the Angry Birds iPhone covers, air fresheners, chew toys, fruit snacks, T-shirts, and cock rings sold at the local drug store have all been replaced by Duck Dynasty variants of the same. I took that to mean that nobody cared about Angry Birds any more.
    • It seems that the Angry Birds iPhone covers, air fresheners, chew toys, fruit snacks, T-shirts, and cock rings sold at the local drug store have all been replaced by Duck Dynasty variants of the same. I took that to mean that nobody cared about Angry Birds any more.

      Exactly. Which is why Rovio is playing this "The NSA is snooping through Angry Birds/Hackers are defacing the website" false flag. They are just trying to drum up some business.

  • Next we will learn that temple run is a real time simulation of the public running from NSA agents. Just wait till we get to see the real monster hidden in side of the one chasing you when the mask is taken off. Seriously though, this sucks for Rovio. Someone in the media clearly had an agenda in causing bad publicity for them. Couldn't they have just chosen any app at random and accused them of this. I seriously doubt Rovio is conducting meeting with the NSA on what information they will share.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Other news reports are claiming that the hack may have originated from Syria ....

    So perhaps the perpetrators were ..... Angry Kurds

  • 'The alleged surveillance may be conducted through third party advertising networks used by millions of commercial web sites and mobile applications across all industries,'

    So there's a dark side to advertising. Who knew?

  • There's no response that wouldn't cause suspicion.

    They can't confirm it because they're gagged under threat of imprisonment or worse.

    If they deny it, they were forced to do so upon threat of imprisonment or worse.

    If they say nothing, they were gagged under threat of imprisonment or worse.

    They can't even confirm it passively by shutting down service or using a virtual dead man switch, as we've seen with the Lavabit case.

    The feds will find a way to argue and manipulate the process in their favor. There is no

  • Any chance this means that mobile OS and mobile app developers might actually start setting up permissions structures that allow apps to function with the minimum necessary privileges?

    The permissions framework on Android (and iOS) seems like a reasonable start, but when the norm for a flashlight app is to have full network access and full camera access, it becomes painfully obvious that we as users are not leveraging the frameworks to protect ourselves. If more people cared about Facebook asking for write a

    • Rubbish. You could add a "This app may send your credit card info to third parties randomly or may turn on the camera when specific grunting or fapping sounds are detected on the microphone (which is always on)" permission to Android and 80% of the people who installed the app would click "OK".
      • by sparty (63226)

        Rubbish. You could add a "This app may send your credit card info to third parties randomly or may turn on the camera when specific grunting or fapping sounds are detected on the microphone (which is always on)" permission to Android and 80% of the people who installed the app would click "OK".

        That's part of my point—there's no incentive for app or OS developers to be more sensible as long as 80% (and that may be optimistically low) will click "OK, do it" for any permission requested. If people in general suddenly became more aware of the security risks, maybe that number would drop to 50% and there would be some incentive to do things right...

  • Doesn't matter if it's proprietary software or just adware you want to cut back on (or possibly even eliminate almost entirely if using Replicant [replicant.us]), F-droid [f-droid.org] has you covered. It's not that hard to give Google Apps the flick with all the alternative free software out there, if one can be motivated to do so.

  • This is the kind of thing that happens when you trust an application to do what it says on the tin. An OS based on a capability architecture would have made this pretty much impossible.

  • The NSA doesn't need to target an advertising network; they just need to run advertisements. For more control, they could buy up or create an advertising network. At that point, you've got little recourse because you agreed to all of this at installation or during use.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990

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