Snowden and the OPM Government Hack, Does 1+1 = Traitor?

snowden and putin

I have talked to several current and former government employees and this has been on my mind a lot today, so I thought I would throw it out there. Could Snowden’s intelligence files cracked by China and Russia be directly related to the OPM government hack?

Though many see Snowden as a privacy rights hero, in my mind he is firmly in the traitor column. Granted he exposed the depth of NSA spying on American citizens, but is that enough to ignore everything else he has done? Has there been any other time in the history of the US that a member of an intelligence agency fled to (China and then) Russia for asylum, taking with them almost 2 million secret documents, leaked other classified information that put US & allied tactics at risk and not been considered a traitor?

The encrypted files that Snowden took with him that he arrogantly considered “uncrackable” have, according to the Sunday Times, been cracked by both the Russians and Chinese. And the information in these files have forced the British MI6 to “pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries”.

But the issues isn’t that they just needed to remove agents from countries. According to BBC political correspondent Chris Mason, “the problem for UK authorities was not only the direct consequence that agents had been moved, but also the opportunity cost of those agents no longer being in locations where they were doing useful work“.

Basically these agents were “outed”. Their lives could have been at risk and it may even be hard to get replacement agents back into certain positions to restore the human intelligence links that were destroyed by Snowden’s “indiscretion”.

What has the effect of this been on the US? I wonder how the Chinese know to hack Anthem earlier this year that provided health insurance for many Federal Employees? And how is it that reportedly the exact same Chinese group hacked the OPM and recovered millions of government employees records including the very sensitive SF-86 security clearance forms?

Granted the OPM systems should have been better secured, as they monitored the Anthem hack earlier this year. An agency spokesman told Nextgov,OPM is closely monitoring the situation. Anthem informed OPM that it shut down the network in question and is working to ensure the security of its systems as it investigates the extent of the breach.”

Is Snowden to blame? As all the documents are classified we may never know. But if the Anthem and OPM hack can be traced back to the files stolen by Snowden, hopefully then the general public will see him as his actions seem to portray him.

 

Snowden Continues to Expose Allied Cyber Tactics

Russian Espionage

NSA whistleblower and Putin poster boy Edward Snowden apparently released yet another document, this one exposing UK cyber spying techniques allegedly used by the GCHQ.

The document, according to The Intercept lists multiple tools that the UK intelligence agency used to spy on social media accounts, interrupt or modify communication and even modify online polls.

Tools like:

  • UNDERPASS – Change outcome of online polls
  • SILVERLORD – Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content
  • ANGRY PIRATE – Permanently disables a target’s account on a computer
  • PREDATORS FACE – Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers
  • And several others.

The release again leaves me scratching my head.

From ancient times countries spied on each other, even their allies. Only the most naive would assume this practice has magically stopped in the online age. I do love how shocked governments appeared in the media when they found out that the NSA was snooping on them, what a joke.

And in this case, several of these tools listed sound like they are more geared towards fighting or countering online use of enemy communications possibly by Islamic militants.

One would have to ask, does this release from Snowden make the people of the UK or the US safer from government snooping, or more likely would it tell enemy nations exactly what tools have been and will be used against them?

Again with Snowden one would have to ask, is he a champion of internet privacy or simply just a traitor to the US and her allies, exposing tools and techniques used against foreign nations and in the war on terror?

With Snowden pushing for an extension of his stay in Russia, it would seem the later would be correct.

New NSA Director Rogers Speaks on NSA Spying, Snowden

Last week a host of government and industry security experts met at the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit in Washington. During the summit NSA Director and CyberCommand Commander Admiral Rogers shared his views on NSA privacy issues, Snowden and the threats we face today.

Director Rogers, the new head of the NSA, inherits a mess. American citizen trust in the NSA and other government intelligence organizations hit an all time low after Edward Snowden “blew the whistle” on questionable practices at the agency.

Rogers will not only have to try to restore public faith in the NSA, he will have to deal with the fallout.

“They’re changing the way they communicate,” Admiral Rogers said concerning NSA targets. Foreign nations, terror groups and others targeted by the NSA have taken direct measures to protect themselves from current American collection techniques.

And while many see Snowden as a hero, they neglect to see that his actions go far beyond bringing attention to NSA spying and US citizen privacy.

“Mr. Snowden stole from the United States government and national security a large amount of very classified information, a small portion of which is germane to his apparent central argument regarding NSA and privacy issues. The great majority of which has zero to do with those viewpoints,” Director Rogers said.

“I would characterize it as … a broad range about NSA capabilities against a range of traditional military targets, issues of concern to the nation,” Rogers added. “Nothing to do with privacy rights or actions that NSA does or does not take involving citizens of the United States.”

Snowden then took this classified information and ended up seeking asylum in Russia, of all places…

Director Rogers has a full plate in front of him – leading US CyberCommand, and not only directing but fixing the public image of the NSA. And, honestly I could not think of a better man for the job.

When watching news about government spying in the ’70s with his family, Rogers turned to his father and said, “Dad, what kind of nation would we ever want to be that would allow something like this to happen?

What kind of nation indeed.

Rogers is highly regarded in both the military and the intelligence community. He also seems to be a man of integrity and a great leader. If anyone can right the ship, my money is on him.

Secure E-Mails Services Going Offline – NSA replacing Snowdens with Machines

Looks like the privacy war continues to heat up. Though the NSA claims that they are not reading everyone’s mail, two secure online e-mail providers just shutdown citing pressure from the US government. Also Gen. Keith Alexander wants to replace NSA system administrators (like Snowden) with machines!

First Snowden’s e-mail provider Lavabit closed it’s doors:

 

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.

What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

Sincerely,
Ladar Levison
Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC

And now Silent Circle has announced that they too are shutting down:

However, we have reconsidered this position. We’ve been thinking about this for some time, whether it was a good idea at all. Today, another secure email provider, Lavabit, shut down their system lest they “be complicit in crimes against the American people.” We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now. We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.

Crazy stuff and the news just keep getting better. This morning, Foxnews announced that in an effort to reduce leaks, NSA Chief Gen. Keith Alexander wants to replace up to 90% of it’s systems administrators with… Machines.

We trust people with data. At the end of the day it’s all about trust. If they misuse that trust, they can cause huge damage,” He said.

Misusing trust? Umm… Yeah, it’s like that…