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+ - XKEYSCORE: NSA'S Google for the World's Private Communications->

Advocatus Diaboli writes: "The NSA’s ability to piggyback off of private companies’ tracking of their own users is a vital instrument that allows the agency to trace the data it collects to individual users. It makes no difference if visitors switch to public Wi-Fi networks or connect to VPNs to change their IP addresses: the tracking cookie will follow them around as long as they are using the same web browser and fail to clear their cookies. Apps that run on tablets and smartphones also use analytics services that uniquely track users. Almost every time a user sees an advertisement (in an app or in a web browser), the ad network is tracking users in the same way. A secret GCHQ and CSE program called BADASS, which is similar to XKEYSCORE but with a much narrower scope, mines as much valuable information from leaky smartphone apps as possible, including unique tracking identifiers that app developers use to track their own users."


"Other information gained via XKEYSCORE facilitates the remote exploitation of target computers. By extracting browser fingerprint and operating system versions from Internet traffic, the system allows analysts to quickly assess the exploitability of a target. Brossard, the security researcher, said that “NSA has built an impressively complete set of automated hacking tools for their analysts to use.” Given the breadth of information collected by XKEYSCORE, accessing and exploiting a target’s online activity is a matter of a few mouse clicks. Brossard explains: “The amount of work an analyst has to perform to actually break into remote computers over the Internet seems ridiculously reduced — we are talking minutes, if not seconds. Simple. As easy as typing a few words in Google.”

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Bank admits error? (Score 5, Insightful) 96 96

Maybe you should switch banks. I can't speak for the UK, but it never ceases to astound me how many people whine about banking in the United States when there are thousands of small community banks you could be doing business with. It's a tough industry and the little guys are facing setbacks on a daily basis, but they're still there if people are willing to look for and do business with them.

In the day and age of remote deposit there's no reason to do business with a large national bank. I get waived ATM fees worldwide, no account fees of any sort, and competitive loan and deposit rates, all from a little regional bank that you've probably never heard of unless you're from my small hometown.

For the life of me I don't understand why Chase, Capital One, or Bank of America have any retail customers at all. They bend people over on fees, structure your transactions to obtain yet more fees, and generally do all sorts of nefarious things while offering no real advantage over their smaller competitors.

Comment: Re:Welcome to Fascist America! (Score 1) 413 413

You're implying that people of the same ethnicity find it easier to agree politically. Reality suggests that's far from the truth. The Finns fought a pretty nasty Civil War, even by Civil War standards, within living memory.

The reason the Finnish system works on consensus has to do with the structure of their political system and the rules in their Parliament. I suggest reading Finland: Myth and Reality; it's a bit dated, most of the foreign policy stuff lost relevance after the Cold War ended, but the domestic discussions are still applicable.

Comment: Re:Welcome to Fascist America! (Score 1) 413 413

Finland has never had a "homogeneous" culture; it only appears that they do from the outside. Read the history of the Swedish speaking minority or of their civil war sometime when you're bored. The concept of Finland as a nation-state didn't even exist until the late 1800s and probably would never have evolved if the Russians had been a little bit more tactful. That's without even getting into the outside pressures and obstacles that they had to overcome.

What they have is trust in their institutions, a willingness to admit mistakes and try something new, and a political system that operates on consensus rather than a 50%+1 majority trying to ram its agenda down the throats of the opposition.

Comment: Re:Welcome to Fascist America! (Score 3, Insightful) 413 413

That may be a valid point, but it's worth mentioning that the welfare state doesn't have to be run at the national level. Much of Kela is run and funded by municipalities, not the national Government. Finland leads the world in education yet has no standardized tests or national curriculum mandates. Intuitive at the local level is encouraged, not stifled.

Of course it still won't happen here, even if we got over our love affair with top-down control. Our mistrust of institutions doesn't begin or end with the Federal Government. I do find these conversations interesting though; people on the American left talk a big game about how awesome the Nordic countries are but very few of them actually know anything about them. Finland has no concept of tuition -- even foreigners can go study there for free (with only one barrier to entry, it's called "Finnish") -- but they also have universal conscription.

Think there are many people on the American left that would support universal conscription? Not bloody likely. Which is too bad, because it would actually make interventionism less likely, not more. Anyhow, I digress.....

Comment: Re:Welcome to Fascist America! (Score 5, Interesting) 413 413

he nordic countries and canada have more government than us and far less corruption. the people are happier, more socially mobile, and pay far less for healthcare and education

The important difference there is that the people of the Nordic countries (at least Sweden and Finland, where I visited and lived) still have faith in their institutions. Americans haven't had faith in our institutions since Watergate. It's not just the Government either; in increasing numbers Americans don't trust business, academia, religion, or any other reasonably sized institution.

The reasons for this are varied -- you could write an entire thesis on the subject -- but at the end of the day it's the reality of the situation, and a Nordic style welfare state is a non-starter in the United States.

Comment: Re:Real banner week for the TSA... (Score 5, Insightful) 166 166

It's not like the private companies that they replaced were any better. A buddy of mine is the Operations Manager for our little regional airport; in the pre 9/11 days he watched the private outfit miss firearms as they scrolled past on the x-ray machine. In the post 9/11 days it's still a joke; he can get me into the secured area with a simple, "He's with me." statement to the TSA flunkies. Not even a metal detector. That's the gaping hole in airport security, incidentally, insiders. Just buy one off or blackmail them and you're set to do whatever nefarious deed you have in mind. Once you're through the secured area at one airport you're into all of them.

The bigger problem is that our body politic is incapable of having an adult conversation about risk. We live in a society that won't let kids use playgrounds where they might scrape a knee. Good luck having a conversation about the proper balance between security and liberty in that environment.

Comment: Re:End mandatory insurance (Score 1) 389 389

You can claim that there is cartel parasitism in the lack of choices for insurance

You can claim that but it would be bogus. The Insurance Agency that I work for writes auto policies with 11 different carriers. I can name another five or six direct carriers (i.e., those that don't use independent agents) off the top of my head that are available where I live. Auto insurance is one of the most competitive marketplaces out there, with genuine differences in price between providers, and the provider that's best for Person A may be the most expensive for Person B, depending on their individual circumstances.

Comment: Re:Stucturing (Score 4, Insightful) 510 510

Then he should have told the FBI the truth when they asked what the money was for. Or simply said, "I choose not to give a statement." Lying to the Feds is beyond fucking stupid. That's their "gotcha" card and it baffles me that so many seemingly intelligent people fall into such an easily avoidable trap.

There's a right to remain silent. I suggest using it....

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer