Information Security - Update

Well, the argument on the forums concerning the NSA’s ability to crack e-mail encryption seems to have been resolved.

They can.

The agency has fulfilled a decades-long quest to break the encryption of e-mail, online purchases, electronic medical records and other Web activities, the New York Times, the U.K.’s Guardian and ProPublica reported yesterday. The NSA also has been given access to — or found ways to enter — databases of major U.S. Internet companies operating the most popular e-mail and social-media platforms, the news organizations reported.

Image from the Guardian.com

Some members had posted that open source e-mail encryption was unbreakable by the NSA. But today’s revelations (among others, if you’re looking…) show that even those may be toast. Billions of bucks and years of effort have resulted in the NSA getting access to many operating systems via back doors, special access to various programs, direct connections to free mail hosts and blog providers, and the ability to chew through a great deal of the encryption routines commonly in place.

Of course, which routines remain secure is not shared with us.

Applying the Iceberg Principle, which states; “One would be supremely arrogant to assume that he knows all there is to know about a topic. Where the is a tip, there is an iceberg. Always assume that more remains unseen than seen”, we must admit that we don’t know all that they know. What has been revealed iws only a portion of the entire story.

So what about the list of capabilities, and programs the NSA and others use to spy on us? Well, it is incomplete, and will remain so. Whatever you know about them, (unless you are one of them, and maybe not even then), you know only a portion.

I don’t use encryption. I’m not a paranoid prepper worried about what the government is doing. Why? Because there is precious little I can do about it, that’s why. My primary concern regarding information is the HACKER. That guy that lives to break into systems and collect information. That guy who might get an inroad to the guts of the NSA’s core, or even peripheral data-sphere, and find stuff on me and mine. That guy who might steal my identity and what I’ve worked for.

THAT guy. And the NSA just might help him along, especially if he has nation state backing from “friends” like the Chinese and Russians. Makes a guy want to consider life-lock or some other system designed as information assurance and insurance.

Go READ this thing, and come back….

Various articles have suggested, or outright assured us, that major companies are either helping the surveillance effort, or are not doing anything to stop it. Companies like Facebook and Twitter, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Google and their respective mail and communicator services, and basically all version of free e-mail services or stand alone software. More importantly, online banking and medical systems are also on the NSA dinner menu.

Even the cloud, with it so-called secure encryption routines, is seriously suspect. I never trusted it, and still don’t. I certainly WON’T after reading what amounts to a validation of my thinking on this topic.

So. What’s a planning prepper to do? Continue on, as the ant. Keep up your work while you can. Realistically, preppers are not targets, even if certain agencies teach their children that we should be. Thee are real bad guys out there – and we ain’t them. I suggest that, if you desire to have some real secure comms, that you read up on one-time-use pads, and random keys that never see a bit or byte. They require discipline and effort, and take some time to get in place, and anyone in the chain can blow it all to pieces without good security procedures – but as funny as it might seem, the old ways just might be the best ways. Current code breaking of electronic systems are wholly geared toward that. Grandpa might take a look at this security mess and say, “See, I told ya us old folk know better” while tapping a bony finger against the side of his head.

Just for the “S” part of S and giggles, READ this.

“For the past decade, NSA has lead [sic] an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to break widely used internet encryption technologies,” stated a 2010 GCHQ document. “Vast amounts of encrypted internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable.”

An internal agency memo noted that among British analysts shown a presentation on the NSA’s progress: “Those not already briefed were gobsmacked!”

The breakthrough, which was not described in detail in the documents, meant the intelligence agencies were able to monitor “large amounts” of data flowing through the world’s fibre-optic cables and break its encryption, despite assurances from internet company executives that this data was beyond the reach of government.

Their lies to us are as big as their de-cryptographic guns pointed at us….

 

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