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  NHS ransom shows GCHQ putting us at risk...

Government snoops prove unable to keep their backdoor access tools safe from hackers


Link Here 14th May 2017

open rights group 2016 logo The NHS ransom shows the problems with GCHQ's approach to hacking and vulnerabilities, and this must be made clear to MPs who have given them sweeping powers in the IP Act that could result in the same problems recurring in the future.

Here are four points that stand out to us. These issues of oversight relating to hacking capabilities are barely examined in the Investigatory Powers Act , which concentrates oversight and warrantry on the balance to be struck in targeting a particular person or group, rather than the risks surrounding the capabilities being developed.

GCHQ and the NSA knew about the problem years ago

Vulnerabilities, as we know from the Snowden documents, are shared between the NSA and GCHQ, as are the tools built that exploit them. These tools are then used to hack into computer equipment, as a stepping stone to getting to other data. These break ins are at all kinds of companies, sites and groups, who may be entirely innocent, but useful to the security agencies to get closer to their actual targets.

In this case, the exploit, called ETERNALBLUE was leaked after a break in this April. It affects Windows XP. It has now been exploited by criminals to ransom organisations still running this software.

While GCHQ cannot be blamed for the NHS's reliance on out of date software, the decision that the NSA and GCHQ have made in keeping this vulnerability secret, rather than trying to get it fixed, means they have a significant share of the blame for the current NHS ransom.

GCHQ are in charge of hacking us and protecting us from hackers

GCHQ are normally responsible for 'offensive' operations, or hacking and breaking into other networks. They also have a 'defensive' role, at the National Cyber Security Centre , which is meant to help organisations like the NHS keep their systems safe from these kinds of breakdown.

GCHQ are therefore forced to trade off their use of secret hacking exploits against the risks these exploits pose to organisations like the NHS.

They have a tremendous conflict of interest, which in ORG's view, ought to be resolved by moving the UK defensive role out of GCHQ's hands.

Government also needs to have a robust means of assessing the risks that GCHQ's use of vulnerabilities might pose to the rest of us. At the moment, ministers can only turn to GCHQ to ask about the risks, and we assume the same is true in practice of oversight bodies and future Surveillance Commissioners. The obvious way to improve this and get more independent advice is to split National Cyber Security Centre from GCHQ.

GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre had no back up plan

We also need to condemn the lack of action from NCSC and others once the exploit was known to be "lost" this April. Hoarding vulnerabilities is of course inherently dangerous, but then apparently not having a plan to execute when they are lost is inexcusable. This is especially true given that this vulnerability is obviously capable of being used by self-spreading malware.

GCHQ are not getting the balance between offence and defence right

The bulk of GCHQ's resources go into offensive capabilities, including hoarding data, analytics and developing hacking methods. There needs to be serious analysis to see whether this is really producing the right results. This imbalance is likely to remain the case while GCHQ is in charge of both offence and defence, who will always prioritise offence. Offence has also been emphasised by politicians who feel pressure to defend against terrorism, whatever the cost. Defence--such as ensuring critical national infrastructure like the NHS is protected -- is the poor relation of offensive capabilities. Perhaps the NHS ransom is the result.

 

 Offsite Article: Best Avoid Best Buy...


Link Here 11th March 2017
best buy geek squad logo Are Online Porn Watchers In Danger From Geek Squad? US computer repairers get over enthusiastic with a deep scan of PCs looking for possible suggestions of child porn

See article from avn.com

 

 Update: America's listening...

Wikileaks reveals a new set of leaked information detailing CIA snooping and hacking technology


Link Here 8th March 2017  full story: Internet Snooping in the US...Prism and secret internet snooping
cia logoWikiLeaks has begun a new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named Vault 7 by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

The first full part of the series, Year Zero , comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election .

Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized zero day exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

Year Zero introduces the scope and direction of the CIA's global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of zero day weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.

Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force 204 its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency's hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA's hacking capacities.

By the end of 2016, the CIA's hacking division, which formally falls under the agency's Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other weaponized malware. Such is the scale of the CIA's undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its own NSA with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA's hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

Once a single cyber weapon is loose it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that:

There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber 'weapons'. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such 'weapons', which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of Year Zero goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.

Wikileaks has carefully reviewed the Year Zero disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of armed cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA's program and how such weapons should analyzed, disarmed and published.

Wikileaks has also decided to redact and anonymise some identifying information in Year Zero for in depth analysis. These redactions include ten of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States. While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and note that the quantity of published pages in Vault 7 part one ( Year Zero ) already eclipses the total number of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.