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…

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CyberArms Intelligence Report: Top Cyber Security News for February 19, 2012

Some of the top Cyber Security and computer news from around the web:

McCain: Cybersecurity Bill Ineffective Without NSA Monitoring the Net

The bill neglects to give authority “to the only institutions currently capable of [protecting the homeland], U.S. Cybercommand and the National Security Agency (NSA),” McCain said in a written statement presented at the hearing. “According to [General Keith Alexander, the Commander of U.S. Cybercommand and the Director of the NSA] in order to stop a cyber attack you have to see it in real time, and you have to have those authorities…. This legislation does nothing to address this significant concern and I question why we have yet to have a serious discussion about who is best suited to protect our country from this threat we all agree is very real and growing.”

Senators renew push for cybersecurity bill, absent ‘kill switch’

Senators are taking another crack at pushing a broad cybersecurity bill three years in the making, once again stripping a controversial Internet “kill switch” and making other concessions in a bid to find an elusive bipartisan majority in an election year.

NSA’s whitelisting approach economically blocks computer viruses

Military computers soon will be configured to execute only administrator-approved software applications in certain areas of a computer, Pentagon officials told Nextgov. The Defense Department’s unique version of the “application whitelisting” approach focuses on where downloads are allowed to launch in a system. It is intended to be a relatively inexpensive protection against downloads that antivirus programs fail to flag as threats.

FBI seeks developers for app to track suspicious social media posts, sparking privacy concerns

According to the ACLU, who reviewed the FBI documents for Fox News, information pulled from sites like Facebook, Twitter and blogs could be cross referenced with other databases to identify potential threats. Mike German, a former FBI agent who runs the National Security section of the civil liberties group, says the data could be used to increase video surveillance in a neighborhood. German argues fundamental issues are not being addressed.

Hacker Boasts of Intel Corporation Network Breach

A hacker who goes by the handles “WeedGrower” and “X-pOSed” is claiming to have breached the networks of tech giant Intel. The attacker boasts of having gained access to an Intel.com subscriber database that contains sensitive information including passwords, social security and credit card numbers.

U.S. Not Afraid To Say It: China’s The Cyber Bad Guy

American officials have long complained about countries that systematically hack into U.S. computer networks to steal valuable data, but until recently they did not name names. In the last few months, that has changed. China is now officially one of the cyber bad guys and probably the worst.

INTERPOL Set To Open Global Cybercrime Center In 2014

Michael Moran, director of cybersecurity and cybercrime for INTERPOL, says the planned opening of the INTERPOL Global Complex in Singapore in 2014 is crucial to improving global cooperation among law enforcement. Moran says the organization is working on putting in place a secure online presence for police worldwide to work together on cybercrime cases, which often crisscross multiple regions and geographic jurisdictions.

US Strategic Command on Defending Cyberspace

The DoD operates approximately 15,000 networks. These networks are comprised of about seven million computers at bases and outposts around the globe; in submarines and research facilities that patrol and monitor the oceans; in manned and unmanned aircraft that control the skies; in satellites that relay vast quantities of data around the earth in seconds and coordinate our efforts.

Middle East Cyberjihad Timeline

If you have a look to the Middle East nations involved in the cyber conflict which made attacks or suffered attacks (depicted in the map below that does not include U.S. victim of the latest Credit Card leak and France whose Council of Jewish Institutions was hacked earlier in June), you may easily notice that the virtual geopolitics reflect nearly exactly the real ones (the dotted arrow from Iran indicates the uncertainty of the nationality of OxOmar).

Selected Readings in Cyberwar

Large selection of cyberwar and cybersecurity articles and books.

Military News:

Navy Puts More Bang Into Unmanned Fleet

The special warfare branch of the Navy’s expeditionary warfare division is eying plans to arm its small fleet of unmanned boats with an long-range missile, branch chief Capt. Evin Thompson said. The missile — known as the Spike — is built by Israeli defense firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Thompson said during this week’s Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International-sponsored symposium in Washington.

Pentagon calls for ‘urgent’ upgrade of massive bunker-busting bombs, as Iranian threat looms

The military’s so-called Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 30,000-pound bunker buster bomb, requires an “urgent” upgrade, according to Pentagon officials who are trying to ensure that 20 of the bombs are battle-ready — possibly for use against Iran, though officials have been tight-lipped on potential targets.

China’s Minesweeping Drones

Amid all the recent talk about the need for U.S. Navy minesweepers in the Persian Gulf in case Iran attempts to close the strait of Hormuz with sea mines, I noticed an interesting fact about China’s minesweeping plans. They involve drones. Not sleek, purpose-built, sea-going drones, but vessels originally designed to carry people that have been quickly converted to be remotely operated from an anti-mining mothership.

Other Interesting News Stories:

Chinese thieves stole 1,700 US-bound iPhones

Five suspected Chinese thieves were arrested after allegedly stealing 1,700 iPhone 4S that were bound for the US and swapping them with plastic replicas, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported Friday.

Stunning Footage from Space

Time lapse sequences of photographs taken by the crew of expeditions 28 & 29 onboard the International Space Station from August to October, 2011.