#AceWorldNews – UNITED STATES – July 17 – NRA – Truth About Gun Owners.
#AceNewsServices UNITED STATES – April 21 – A New York Times columnist has said US President Barack Obama has “a manhood problem” when it comes to foreign policy, especially with regards to the Middle East.
David Brooks made the remarks on Sunday in an interview with NBC News’ Meet the Press as he discussed the recent crisis in Ukraine and Washington’s response to it.
“And let’s face it, Obama, whether deservedly or not, does have a — I’ll say it crudely — but a manhood problem in the Middle East.
Is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad or somebody like Russian President Vladimir Putin?
I think a lot of the rap is unfair but certainly in the Middle East there is an assumption that he’s not tough enough,” said Brooks.
The Obama administration has been severely criticized by conservative Republicans and right-wing radicals for failing to invade Syria and taking a tougher stance against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.
During his speech at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last month, John McCain, the hawkish Republican senator from Arizona, described the Obama administration’s foreign policy as “feckless,” saying “nobody believes in America’s strength any-more.”
Ace Related News:
1. Interview with Obama – http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2012/12/david-gregory-to-interview-obama-on-meet-the-press-152956.html
3 . Contributions from PressTV.
#AceSecurityNews – After investing $1 billion in behaviour detection techniques and training since 2007, the Transportation Security Administration has little to show for its efforts, the New York Times stated in a new report.
According to the newspaper, critics of the TSA’s attempt to read body language claim there’s no evidence to suggest the agency has been able to link chosen passengers to anything beyond carrying drugs or holding undeclared currency, much less a terrorist attack. In fact, a review of numerous studies seems to suggest that even those trained to look for various tactics are no more capable of identifying liars than normal individuals.
“The common-sense notion that liars betray themselves through body language appears to be little more than a cultural fiction,” Maria Hartwig, a psychologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, told the Times in their report – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/25/science/in-airport-screening-body-language-is-faulted-as-behavior-sleuth.html?
The TSA’s body language program has also been critiqued by the Government Accountability Office, which found it to be ineffective and recommended cutting its funding going forward.
As RT – http://on.rt.com/4v1fsr reported last year, its conclusion was that human ability to read body language was “the same as or slightly better than chance.”
#AceWorldNews – JAPAN – March 24 – Japan agreed to transfer a share of its highly enriched uranium and weapons grade plutonium stockpiles to the US as part of the global effort to secure nuclear materials.
Other nations are also urged to deposit excess nuclear materials in the US.
On the eve of the two-day Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague, US and Japanese leaders arranged a deal on “final disposition” in the US of well over 300 kilograms of weapons grade plutonium and an unspecified quantity of Highly-Enriched-Uranium (HEU) that will be “sent to a secure facility and fully converted into less sensitive forms.”
This quantity of Plutonium is enough to produce 40-50 warheads.
The total quantity of HEU currently stocked in Japan is estimated at approximately 1.2 tons.
According to The New York Times, some 200 kilograms of HEU is currently designated for the US.
#AceSecurityNews – NSA – 23 March – The US National Security Agency (NSA) has spied on Chinese leaders and businesses, new Snowden docs indicate.
Yet it seems that China’s telecom giant, Huawei, was the core target for the NSA campaign in China.
The new portion of revelations from the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, published by Der Spiegel http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/nsa-spied-on-chinese-government-and-networking-firm-huawei-a-960199.html and The New York Times – http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/03/23/world/asia/23nsa-docs.html?, has exposed the great interest of the US secret service in obtaining data from China.
It has been revealed that America’s NSA has multiple targets in the world’s second largest economy, among them the Chinese Trade Ministry, national banks, leading telecommunications companies and the country’s top officials, like former Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Related News: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/world/asia/nsa-breached-chinese-servers-seen-as-spy-peril.html
#AceFinanceNews says that the man behind a popular Twitter account that appeared to provide a rare insider look at Goldman Sachs has lost his book deal after revelations the former banker never actually worked at the firm.
Banker John Lefevre gained Internet fame through his @GSElevator account, where he posted dialogue he claimed to have overheard in the elevators of the top global investment firm, angering many at Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street executives.
Lefevre, formerly of Citibank, had remained anonymous for three years, until The New York Times revealed his identity last week.
“In light of information that has recently come to our attention since acquiring John Lefevre’s ‘Straight to Hell,’ Touchstone has decided to cancel its publication of this work,” the division of Simon & Schuster said in a statement.
Goldman responded to the news with some humour. “Guess elevators go up and down,” it posted on its Twitter account.
With help from the Australians, the NSA has gathered private communications of US lawyers with their clients in the Indonesian government involved in a trade dispute with Washington, a secret document obtained by the New York Times reveals.
The document provided by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposes NSA activity in monitoring an American law firm at a time when it was representing the Indonesian government during its trade talks with counterparts from the US.
Titled “SUSLOC (Special US Liaison Office Canberra) Facilitates Sensitive DSD Reporting on Trade Talks” the document did not specify which trade case was being monitored by Australian intelligence through the so-called Five Eyes network that includes, Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.
The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) offered to share with the NSA the information about monitored communications between Indonesian government officials and the unnamed US law firm, according to the February 2013 document.
“I always wonder if someone is listening, because you would have to be an idiot not to wonder in this day and age,” Duane Layton, a Mayer Brown lawyer involved in the trade talks told NYT “But I’ve never really thought I was being spied on.”
US intelligence officials have repeatedly claimed the NSA is not targeting American citizens and businesses without a warrant and not using its Five Eyes international network as a loophole.
But the new leak confirms that US firms providing services to foreign clients can never be sure they aren’t being spied on. Last year, the US States Supreme court dismissed such fears as “speculative theory” of “hypothetical future harm,” refusing to let Americans challenge a provision in a foreign intelligence law that lets the NSA conduct secret warrantless surveillance on any US citizen as long as they are suspected of conversing with any foreigner.
According to 2009 procedural guidelines for the NSA, when a US citizen becomes an intelligence target, the agency is required to adhere to rules to protect the target’s privacy, for instance removing the identity of the American or data that does not add to the intelligence probe before sharing it with other agencies.
Australians have been long cooperating with the NSA, focusing on the Asia region, mainly China and Indonesia. Last November is was revealed that they worked side by side on a large-scale joint surveillance operation on Indonesia during the 2007 UN climate change conference in Bali.
The intelligence report Australia offered to share could contain “information covered by attorney-client privilege,”the spying agency warned the NSA liaison office in Canberra. Upon receiving guidance from NSA general counsel’s office, the Australian agency has been encouraged to continue their surveillance of the talks “providing highly useful intelligence for interested US customers.”
It remains unclear who those “interested customers” might be.
The new documents reveal that Australia obtained almost 2 million encrypted master keys from the Indinesian Telkomsel mobile network, and colleagues from NSA have helped ASD decrypt them.
The Australian Defense Force public affairs office maintains that all intelligence is collected under strict legal guidance and is vital for supporting national interests, echoing the US officials’ narrative.
p style=”text-align:center;”>Meanwhile, the NSA when reached by the New York times about the new leaks “declined to answer questions.”
#AceNewsServices says if you’ve been following the news, watching late night TV, or even reading The Onion, you probably know that millionaires are now the new normal in Congress.
News organizations from The New York Times to BBC, and comedians from Jon Stewart to Jay Leno weighed in on our story, and the reaction was huge.
Extract Courtesy of: CRP
AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden used “inexpensive” and “widely available” software to gain access to at least 1.7 million secret files, The New York Times reported, quoting senior intelligence officials investigating the breach.
The collection process was “quite automated,” a senior intelligence official revealed. Snowden used “web crawler” software to “search, index and back up” files. The program just kept running, as Snowden went about his daily routine.
“We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a machine and downloading this much material in sequence,” the official said.
Investigators concluded that Snowden’s attack was not highly sophisticated and should have been easily detected by special monitors. The web crawler can be programmed to go from website to website, via embedded links in each document, copying everything it comes across.
The whistle-blower managed to set the right algorithm for the web crawler, indicating subjects and how far to follow the links, according to the report. At the end of the day, Snowden was able to access 1.7 million files including documents on internal NSA networks and internal “wiki” materials, used by analysts to share information across the world.
Reportedly, Snowden had full access to the NSA’s files, as part of his job as the technology contractor in Hawaii, managing computer systems in a faraway outpost that focused on China and North Korea.
Officials added that the files were accessible because the Hawaii outpost was not upgraded with the latest security measures.
The web crawler used by Snowden was similar to, but not as advanced as the Googlebot crawler, used by Google and its search engine to access billions of websites and download their contents for fast search results.
The whistle-blower did raise some flags while working in Hawaii, prompting questions about his work, but he was able to ward off criticism successfully.
“In at least one instance when he was questioned, Mr. Snowden provided what were later described to investigators as legitimate-sounding explanations for his activities: As a systems administrator he was responsible for conducting routine network maintenance. That could include backing up the computer systems and moving information to local servers, investigators were told,” according to the report.
Snowden admitted in June to taking an undisclosed number of documents, which in the last half-year have been regularly relied on by the international media for a number of high-profile reports about the US National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ. He was then granted political asylum by Russia and now resides in Moscow.
The leaks have unveiled a number of previously unreported NSA operations, including those involving dragnet surveillance programs that put the digital lives of millions, if not billions, of individuals across the world into the possession of the US government.
The hackers first claimed to subvert Facebook.com in a tweet published at approximately 6:30 EST. A cursory search of the WHOIS domain registrar indicated that the email address tied to Facebook had indeed been changed to a Syrian Gmail account.
— SyrianElectronicArmy (@Official_SEA16) February 5, 2014
The SEA claimed it can change Facebook’s servers but the process had to be abandoned because it was “taking too much time.” The alleged hack did not impact Facebook’s operations.
Half an hour after the SEA tweet, the domain name returned to firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating that Facebook and MarkMonitor – a domain management firm – had rectified the error and prevented any serious impact.
— SyrianElectronicArmy (@Official_SEA16) February 5, 2014
In August 2013, amid US consideration that it would join the ongoing Syrian civil war and attempt to remove Assad from power, the SEA hacked The Huffington Post, The New York Times, and other news entities the hackers perceived to be hostile towards Assad.
Snowden will make up his mind very soon, his legal representative in Russia, Anatoly Kucherena, told Kommersant newspaper.
Meanwhile, a top Russian lawmaker has indicated that Russia will most likely extend Snowden’s asylum. “He will not be sent out of Russia,” Aleksey Pushkov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s lower house of Parliament, said Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “It will be up to Snowden,” The New York Times quoted him as saying.
Kucherena did not rule out that Snowden will apply for an extension of his asylum and maybe even seek Russian citizenship in the future.
In an article published by The New Yorker earlier this week, Snowden dismissed as “absurd”accusations from US lawmakers that he might have spied on behalf of Russia when taking troves of classified US government documents. Snowden insisted that he “clearly and unambiguously acted alone, with no assistance from anyone, much less a government.”
Snowden asked why he would have initially fled to Hong Kong and why was he “stuck in the airport forever” – in reference to the forty days he spent stranded in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport – if he was a spy. “Spies get treated better than that,” he said.
Snowden’s statement follows accusations made by the chairs of both the House and Senate intelligence committees last Sunday, which insinuated that he might have collaborated with Russia’s special services.
Speaking to RT earlier this week, Kucherena dismissed any accusations against his client, stressing that he has spent a lot of time with Snowden since June of last year and would have been aware if he had cooperated with the Russian government.
“But I assure everyone that all day-to-day issues, housing rental etc. – all these questions he resolves himself or with my help.”
The lawyer reminded that Snowden recently obtained a job after spending nearly all of his savings.
“So in this case I cannot say that there is any government involvement, because there is none. His life is modest.”
#AceWorldNews says BERLIN – US President Barack Obama told Germans and their leader on Saturday he would not let intelligence work damage relations, and differences of opinion between the two countries was no reason to wiretap.
In a rare interview on German TV, Obama set out to mend ties frayed last year by media reports citing leaked intelligence documents that Washington was spying on European Union citizens and had bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
“I must and cannot damage this relationship through surveillance measures that obstruct our trusting communication,” Obama told ZDF public TV, according to a German translation of his comments.
“As long as I am the President of the United States, the German Chancellor need not worry about that,” he added.
The interview came a day after Obama banned US eavesdropping on the leaders of close allies, among a series of reforms triggered by the revelations of former US security contractor #Edward-Snowden.
Obama’s comments on Saturday were his clearest indication that Germany was included in that list of allies.
Merkel and he “may not always be of the same opinion on issues of foreign policy, but that is no reason to Wire-Tap,” he told ZDF.
The German leader accused the United States of an unacceptable breach of trust after the allegations about her mobile in October and phoned Obama to tell him any bugging was unacceptable. Berlin has since been pushing for a sweeping “no-spy” agreement with Washington.
Obama stopped short of apologising over the allegations on Saturday and defended the importance of US intelligence work for international security.
The capabilities of the US services went “beyond the abilities of many other states,” he said, and that meant a “special responsibility for the United States”.
“Why would we need intelligence services if they only found out things you can read in Spiegel (magazine) or the New York Times,” he asked.
#AceBreakingNews this according to the “New York Times” Report and Recommendations of the Presidents Review Committee and the 308 page report to download at this link: http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/world/nsa-review-boards-report/674/
or full article and recommendations by WP at this link http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-shouldnt-keep-phone-database-review-board-recommends/2013/12/18/f44fe7c0-67fd-11e3-a0b9-249bbb34602c_story.html
#AceSecurityNews says according to the latest news “The National Security Agency” has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyber-attacks.
While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials.
The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.
The N.S.A. calls its efforts more an act of “active-defence” against foreign cyber attacks than a tool to go on the offensive. But when Chinese attackers place similar software on the computer systems of American companies or government agencies, American officials have protested, often at the presidential level.
Among the most frequent targets of the N.S.A. and its Pentagon partner,United States Cyber Command, have been units of the Chinese Army, which the United States has accused of launching regular-digital probes and attacks on American industrial and military targets, usually to steal secrets or intellectual property. But the program, code-named Quantum, has also been successful in inserting software into Russian military networks and systems used by the Mexican police and drug cartels, trade institutions inside the European Union, and sometime partners against terrorism like Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan, according to officials and an N.S.A. map that indicates sites of what the agency calls “computer network exploitation.”
More soon ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Stay Safe and Alert!
#AceWorldNews says The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) announced today that as it continues to gain access to besieged areas, the number of people killed in the current round of fighting in the world’s youngest country “must be much higher” than the 1,000 figure given earlier in the conflict, which erupted nearly a month ago and continues to grind on.
In a news release from Juba, UNMISS notes fresh media reports, including in the New York Times, estimating that up to 10,000 people may have been killed since the conflict started on 15 December 2013, after President Salva Kiir said soldiers loyal to former vice-president Reik Machar, dismissed from office in July, launched an attempted coup.
On 26 December, 10 days into the crisis, the Mission estimated that 1,000 people may have been killed in the fighting. “This was based on UNMISS’ initial monitoring and investigations in Juba and other relatively more stable locations where its Human Rights Officers and other staff were able to access, investigate and document the unfolding developments,” the Mission said today.
Yet, after two weeks of subsequent violence, characterized by sometimes intense fighting with heavy weapons, there are now clear indications that the casualty count must be much higher, says UNMISS, adding that while it has continues to closely monitor the human rights situation, interviewing witnesses, and following leads, it “is not at this stage in a position to establish and verify the exact numbers of casualties.”
The Mission recalls that on 9 January, Hervé Ladsous, the head of UN Peacekeeping Operations, speaking to reporters in New York following a three hour briefing to the Security Council on the situation in South Sudan, said: “We are not able to provide final figures. We know it will be very substantially in excess of the 1,000 figure”.
Meanwhile the Mission says that despite serious security constraints due to the fighting in Bor and Bentiu, which has restricted access by its Human Rights Officers, during the course of last week, UNMISS began interviewing victims and eyewitnesses among displaced people from Bor who have arrived in Juba and Awerial County in neighbouring Lakes State. UNMISS Human Rights Officers have also been able to return to Bor on 9 January.
“Preliminary indications from these interviews and investigations in Bentiu and Malakal contain horrific allegations of atrocities by anti-Government forces against civilians and surrendering soldiers, including summary executions, torture, sexual violence and ethnically targeted killing,” the Mission says in the news releases, deploring these horrendous acts of violence and utter disregard for human life and dignity.
UNMISS chief Hilde Johnson called on all parties to cease hostilities immediately, and respect and protect civilians. “She reiterates Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon’s] reminder that those who commit such heinous acts will be held accountable,” the news release adds.
UNMISS vowed to continue investigating and documenting atrocities committed by both sides, in all affected areas and called on the Government and the anti-Government forces to cooperate with “these important investigations and to facilitate unhindered access by the Mission’s Human Rights Officers to all affected areas.”
In addition, this past Friday, Mr. Ban that announced that he would dispatch UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, to South Sudan this weekend to look into cases of violations believed to have been committed during the conflict, which has displaced some 230,000 people, more than a quarter of whom are seeking refuge on UN bases.
#AceWorldNews says this was received in last few minutes to our news-desk about Chen Guangbiao is an audacious man, and not just because he wants to buy the New York Times for $1 billion (or $2 billion or $3 billion).
One of China’s top 400 richest people, he was estimated to have a personal fortune of worth $740 million in 2012, but how he’s really made his name is by high-profile charity donations — something he brands "flashy philanthropy."
One interesting insight into Chen’s mindset might be to look at his English-language business card, one of a number of promotional materials he gives out to U.S. journalists. We’re not sure quite how Chen got all those titles on the right, but it’s incredible anyway:
This transmission is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may contain sensitive or protectively marked material up to RESTRICTED and should be handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it to anyone else. If you have received this transmission in error please notify the sender immediately.
#AceWorldNews says it was only a matter of time before the “Chinese Climbed on the Media Bandwagon” as they now need to use the Press as a platform to spread news about “Chinese Prosperity” before the changes take place with their currency, then this becomes the #RightYuan thus reinstating the ” People’s Republic of China”
First he handed out cash to victims of China’s 2008 earthquake. Then he sold “canned fresh air” to residents of smog-ridden Beijing.
Now Chen Guangbiao, listed as one of China’s 400 richest people and a man known as much for his publicity stunts as his wealth, claims he is in talks to buy the New York Times.
“Soon, I will go to America to do three things,” Chen told a crowd Monday night at a news media award reception in the southern Chinese boom town of Shenzhen, according to the semi-official China News Service.
The first, he said, “is to go discuss the acquisition of the New York Times”.
View original post 210 more words
#AceSecurityNews says according to SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with #RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry, Reuters has learned.
Documents leaked by former #NSA contractor #Edward-Snowden show that the #NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a “back door” in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that #RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.
Undisclosed until now was that #RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the #NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at #RSA had taken in during the entire previous year, securities filings show.
The earlier disclosures of #RSA’s entanglement with the #NSA already had shocked some in the close-knit world of computer security experts. The company had a long history of championing privacy and security, and it played a leading role in blocking a 1990’s effort by the #NSA to require a special chip to enable spying on a wide range of computer and communications products.
#RSA, now a subsidiary of computer storage giant EMC Corp, urged customers to stop using the NSA formula after the Snowden disclosures revealed its weakness.
#RSA and EMC declined to answer questions for this story, but #RSA said in a statement: “#RSA always acts in the best interest of its customers and under no circumstances does RSA design or enable any back doors in our products. Decisions about the features and functionality of #RSA products are our own.”
The NSA declined to comment.
The #RSA deal shows one way the #NSA carried out what#Snowden’s documents describe as a key strategy for enhancing surveillance: the systematic erosion of security tools. #NSA documents released in recent months called for using “commercial relationships” to advance that goal, but did not name any security companies as collaborators.
The NSA came under attack this week in a landmark report from a White House panel appointed to review U.S. surveillance policy. The panel noted that “encryption is an essential basis for trust on the Internet,” and called for a halt to any #NSA efforts to undermine it.
Most of the dozen current and former #RSA employees interviewed said that the company erred in agreeing to such a contract, and many cited RSA’s corporate evolution away from pure cryptography products as one of the reasons it occurred.
But several said that RSA also was misled by government officials, who portrayed the formula as a secure technological advance.
“They did not show their true hand,” one person briefed on the deal said of the #NSA, asserting that government officials did not let on that they knew how to break the encryption.
Started by MIT professors in the 1970’s and led for years by ex-Marine Jim Bidzos, RSA and its core algorithm were both named for the last initials of the three founders, who revolutionized cryptography. Little known to the public, RSA’s encryption tools have been licensed by most large technology companies, which in turn use them to protect computers used by hundreds of millions of people.
At the core of RSA’s products was a technology known as public key cryptography. Instead of using the same key for encoding and then decoding a message, there are two keys related to each other mathematically. The first, publicly available key is used to encode a message for someone, who then uses a second, private key to reveal it.
From RSA’s earliest days, the U.S. intelligence establishment worried it would not be able to crack well-engineered public key cryptography. Martin Hellman, a former Stanford researcher who led the team that first invented the technique, said NSA experts tried to talk him and others into believing that the keys did not have to be as large as they planned.
The stakes rose when more technology companies adopted RSA’s methods and Internet use began to soar. The Clinton administration embraced the Clipper Chip, envisioned as a mandatory component in phones and computers to enable officials to overcome encryption with a warrant.
RSA led a fierce public campaign against the effort, distributing posters with a foundering sailing ship and the words “Sink Clipper!”
A key argument against the chip was that overseas buyers would shun U.S. technology products if they were ready-made for spying. Some companies say that is just what has happened in the wake of the Snowden disclosures.
The White House abandoned the Clipper Chip and instead relied on export controls to prevent the best cryptography from crossing U.S. borders. RSA once again rallied the industry, and it set up an Australian division that could ship what it wanted.
“We became the tip of the spear, so to speak, in this fight against government efforts,” Bidzos recalled in an oral history.
RSA and others claimed victory when export restrictions relaxed.
But the NSA was determined to read what it wanted, and the quest gained urgency after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
#RSA, meanwhile, was changing. Bidzos stepped down as CEO in 1999 to concentrate on VeriSign, a security certificate company that had been spun out of RSA. The elite lab Bidzos had founded in Silicon Valley moved east to Massachusetts, and many top engineers left the company, several former employees said.
And the BSafe toolkit was becoming a much smaller part of the company. By 2005, BSafe and other tools for developers brought in just $27.5 million of RSA’s revenue, less than 9% of the $310 million total.
“When I joined there were 10 people in the labs, and we were fighting the NSA,” said Victor Chan, who rose to lead engineering and the Australian operation before he left in 2005. “It became a very different company later on.”
By the first half of 2006, #RSA was among the many technology companies seeing the U.S. government as a partner against overseas hackers.
New RSA Chief Executive Art Coviello and his team still wanted to be seen as part of the technological vanguard, former employees say, and the NSA had just the right pitch. Coviello declined an interview request.
An algorithm called Dual Elliptic Curve, developed inside the agency, was on the road to approval by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology as one of four acceptable methods for generating random numbers. NIST’s blessing is required for many products sold to the government and often sets a broader de facto standard.
RSA adopted the algorithm even before NIST approved it. The NSA then cited the early use of Dual Elliptic Curve inside the government to argue successfully for NIST approval, according to an official familiar with the proceedings.
RSA’s contract made Dual Elliptic Curve the default option for producing random numbers in the RSA toolkit. No alarms were raised, former employees said, because the deal was handled by business leaders rather than pure technologists.
“The labs group had played a very intricate role at BSafe, and they were basically gone,” said labs veteran Michael Wenocur, who left in 1999.
Within a year, major questions were raised about Dual Elliptic Curve. Cryptography authority Bruce Schneier wrote that the weaknesses in the formula “can only be described as a back door.”
After reports of the back door in September, RSA urged its customers to stop using the Dual Elliptic Curve number generator.
But unlike the Clipper Chip fight two decades ago, the company is saying little in public, and it declined to discuss how the NSA entanglements have affected its relationships with customers.
The White House, meanwhile, says it will consider this week’s panel recommendation that any efforts to subvert cryptography be abandoned.
Courtesy of the (Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Grant McCool)
#AceWorldNews says according to BEIRUT (AP) — Major international news organizations sent a letter to the leadership of the armed opposition in Syria Wednesday, calling for urgent action against rebel groups increasingly targeting journalists for kidnappings.
The letter, signed by 13 news organizations including The Associated Press, is in response to a sharp rise in the kidnapping of journalists while on assignment in opposition-held areas in northern Syria.
The widespread seizure of journalists is unprecedented and has so far been largely under-reported by news organizations in the hope that keeping the kidnappings out of public view may help with negotiating the captives’ release. The scale of the abductions — more than 30 are believed to be currently held — and the lack of response to individual mediation efforts have encouraged some families and employers to speak out.
Most kidnappings since the summer have taken place in rebel-held territories, particularly in chaotic northern and eastern Syria, where militant al-Qaida-linked groups hold influence. Among the most dangerous places are the northeastern city of Raqqa, which was taken over by al-Qaida militants shortly after it became the first city to fall entirely into rebel hands; the eastern Deir el-Zour province; the border town of Azaz; and the corridor leading to Aleppo, once a main route for journalists going into Syria.
“As long as kidnappings are permitted to continue unabated, journalists will not be willing to undertake assignments inside Syria, and they will no longer be able to serve as witnesses to the events taking place within Syria’s borders,” the letter said.
Signatories to the letter are the AP, Agence France Presse, Reuters, BBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Media, The Economist, Getty Images, The Guardian, the Los Angeles Times and The Telegraph.
The open letter is being sent to the leadership of the Western-backed mainstream Free Syrian Army and to individual armed groups including the Islamic Front, an umbrella organization of six of the most powerful brigades in Syria.
Syria’s rebels are a disparate group of brigades and battalions, increasingly dominated by Islamic extremists, including al-Qaida-linked groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Jabhat al-Nusra.
The closest thing to a central command is the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, headed by Gen. Salim Idris, a secular-minded moderate. But he holds limited sway over the myriad groups inside Syria, some of which have broken away from the Free Syrian Army, announcing that the group did not represent them. Infighting between the extremists and moderates is on the rise, undermining their fight against President Bashar Assad.
While jihadi groups are believed responsible for most kidnappings since the summer, government-backed militias, criminal gangs and rebels affiliated with the Free Syrian Army also have been involved. Their motives have ranged from ransom to prisoner exchanges.
The Syrian National Coalition, Syria’s main opposition group in exile considered to be the political arm of the Free Syrian Army, condemned the kidnapping of journalists in a statement issued Wednesday.
“The Syrian Coalition and the General Staff of the Free Syrian Army reiterate their commitment to exerting all efforts necessary to secure the release of all kidnapped persons and provide protection to journalists and human rights activists operating in Syria,” the statement said.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says approximately 30 foreign and Syrian journalists are missing and 55 have been killed since Syria’s civil war began in early 2011. CPJ also has documented at least 26 other journalists who disappeared this year but are now safe.
Many of the abduction cases go unreported at the request of the families or employers. News organizations on a case-by-case basis are inclined to respect such requests, regardless of the identity of the person abducted, if they are convinced that publication would increase the danger for the victim.
On Tuesday, the families of two Spanish journalists abducted nearly three months ago appealed publicly for their release, after failing to make contact with the captors via intermediaries. Javier Espinosa, Middle East bureau chief of El Mundo newspaper, and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, a freelance photographer who was traveling with him, were taken captive Sept. 16 by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant at a checkpoint in the northeastern Raqqa province, the families said.
In the letter, the 13 news organizations said it was “imperative” for the leadership of the armed opposition to commit itself to assuring that journalists can work within Syria, secure from the threat of kidnapping.
“Among other things, we ask the leadership to assist in identifying those groups currently holding journalists and take the steps necessary to bring about their release,” the statement said.