Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – November 4, 2015

5 Ways to Stay Safe Online, Facebook Security Expert;  Signal secure messaging lands on Android, endorsed by Snowden;  Avast’s 2016 security solutions pack in the free features;  Microsoft drops unlimited OneDrive storage;  The top 10 apps that companies hate;  Turn nearly any laptop into a Chromebook for free;  7 Things Not to Buy Before Black Friday;  Chatty app from Facebook helps the sight-impaired ‘see’;  Google Inbox will reply to e-mails for you with machine learning;  Firefox 42 Launches With Tracking Protection In Private Browsing Mode;  Hackers use anti-adblocking service to deliver nasty malware attack;  Video: How to destroy hard drives;  JSocket: Android malware that hijacks legitimate apps;  MPAA Takes Down Pirating Group And Popcorn Time Fork;  Best mobile games of October 2015 (pictures);  How to block the Windows 10 upgrade;  Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free;  20 things you don’t actually need to keep in the fridge;  This Is the New Apple TV’s Single Best Feature.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

5 Ways to Stay Safe Online, According to a Facebook Security Expert – “Because people interact with Facebook so often, we’re spending a lot of time thinking about how we can play a role in helping increase security literacy overall across the internet,” Facebook security product manager Melissa Luu-Van tells Business Insider. Luu-Van — who says that Facebook is trying to spread the gospel that good security is proactive versus reactive — outlined five things principals that internet users should be thinking about whenever they sign up for a new internet service:

Signal secure messaging lands on Android, endorsed by Snowden – When it comes to staying away from the prying eyes and eavesdropping ears of spies and hackers, perhaps no one knows better than Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who has spilled it all and is now also trying to stay away from said people’s reach. So when he openly endorses on Twitter (yes, he is on Twitter, of all places) WhisperSystem’s Signal app, now on Android, then you know, with a bit of confidence but perhaps also a grain of salt, that your text messages and voice calls will be secure and private.

Avast’s 2016 security solutions pack in the free features – PC users who don’t want to pay for a security solution have become used to stitching together various parts: antivirus here, antispyware there, and so on. Avast 2016 combines many of those into a single, free package. And, if that’s not enough, Avast’s Avast Mobile Security has also taken many of its formerly premium features and made them free.


The new password manager scans your passwords for vulnerabilities.

Pointing up     Currently running this edition on 3 home machines.

The top 10 apps that companies hate – Companies are wary about what employees are doing on their smartphones. Be it losing data or wasting time, a growing number of employers are actively stopping staff from using certain apps on company-controlled devices. After surveying the roughly 6,000 companies that uses its mobile security management software, MobileIron determined the top 10 consumer apps that are most often blocked or blacklisted at companies:

7 Things Not to Buy Before Black Friday – Year after year, the holidays arrive a little earlier, and 2015 is no exception, with some already offering “Black Friday” savings. But perhaps you don’t buy into the hype. “How much can I really save?” you wonder. Truth is, you’ll need to keep tabs on opening times and lightning rounds, but deals can be had. As a result, there are a number of gadgets you shouldn’t buy before Black Friday. Check them out in the slideshow.

Microsoft drops unlimited OneDrive storage after people use it for unlimited storage – A little over a year ago, Microsoft announced that paid Office 365 Home and Personal subscribers would get, as part of their subscription, unlimited cloud storage on its OneDrive service. Yesterday, the company announced that it wasn’t going to do that after all. It turns out that if you offer unlimited storage to people, a few of them actually take you at your word and trust that you are truly offering unlimited storage, and then they start using it. Explaining the backtracking, the new blog post complains that a small number of paying customers were using OneDrive to store backups of multiple PCs and large collections of movies and TV shows. Some of these outliers used more than 75TB of space, which Microsoft says is 14,000 times the average (putting the average OneDrive user at about 5.5GB).

Turn nearly any laptop into a Chromebook for free – If you want to try a Chromebook without spending any money, a free method from Neverware makes this easy.


Snapchat: Your Snaps Are Still Private – The social network reiterated that it is not, and never has been, stockpiling private images and text.

Chatty app from Facebook helps the sight-impaired ‘see’ – Facebook could soon tell you what you’re looking at. The social network has developed an app that invites those with impaired vision to ask questions about photos and have the answers read to them. When presented with a picture of a friend’s baby, for instance, you might ask, “Where is the baby?” or “What is the baby doing?” The app would then announce aloud that the baby is in the kitchen, say, or that she’s eating cereal. Here’s the demo video of the app, which is still in development:


Twitter replaces stars with hearts, Favs are now Likes – Twitter has finally done it. They’ve made the change that many have been expecting for some now. The star icon for favoriting something is out, and now the social network is all about hearts. Because hearts are in. To really emphasize the change, the action is not even called “favorites” anymore, but is instead the universal “likes” from now on. In a blog post, Twitter says the change is going into effect from today on both Twitter and Vine.


Google Inbox will reply to e-mails for you with machine learning – Google Inbox, Google’s new-age e-mail client that lives alongside Gmail, can now respond to messages for you. The feature is called “Smart Reply,” and for e-mails that only need a quick response, Inbox will generate three short replies you can pick from and send. The feature is a lot like the canned quick replies found on some messaging apps, but it’s also a lot smarter than those systems. The three possible replies are generated by a deep neural network geared for natural language processing—basically a high-tech chatbot powered by the Google Cloud.


Smart Reply” generates three responses and sticks them at the bottom of the screen.

Slack wants to hire a cab or check the weather for you – Slack, the social messaging app that is becoming the go-to chatroom for workplace communication, announced a new service Tuesday called Slash Commands to merge outside companies like Lyft, Foursquare, and Poncho into its platform. The update builds on the app’s “Add to Slack” feature announced last August and factors into the company’s larger plans to convince its users to completely eschew email and other messaging services for its platform.

MakerBot Desktop 3.8 brings 30% faster printing – MakerBot has announced an update to its desktop software, MakerBot Desktop 3.8. This new version brings with it a few changes and improvements, not the least of which is 30-percent faster printing over previous editions. In addition to the faster speeds, the new version also boasts the ability to print with “stronger structural support,” something facilitated by a new Brilliant Cut Diamond infill pattern.


Chrome user share swells to record 31% – Chrome last month reached another major milestone in user share as Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox again shed fans at ruinous rates. Meanwhile, use of Microsoft’s Edge, the intended replacement for IE, continued to sink among those running Windows 10. The latest data published Sunday by California-based Net Applications portrayed the browser battle in October as another victory for Google and its Chrome, and signaled that the looming deadline facing almost half of all IE users has not been taken seriously.

Fedora 23 lands with GNOME 3.18, Wayland progress, and a new upgrade system – Rejoice, Linux lovers: Fedora 23 is scheduled to launch on Tuesday after week-long delay to fix some last minute bugs. The latest release includes quite a few improvements thanks to GNOME and other upstream projects. Fedora’s developers are also on the cusp of switching to the new Wayland graphical server by default, with a stable, optional Wayland session available in Fedora 23 today.


Microsoft gives OEMs a deadline: one year, then no more new Windows 7 PCs – Want to buy a new Windows 7 PC? Better get busy, because there are only 364 shopping days left. As promised, Microsoft is providing one year’s notice to PC makers on Windows 7’s end of life. The clock starts now.

Vivaldi beta browser’s trick to lure in power users: Mashing Chrome and Opera together – Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera all render the Web, but each has gone its own way in terms of its interface, plugin strategy, performance, and more. Now a new browser targeting power users has blurred the lines: Vivaldi, which puts a feature-packed, Opera-like interface on top of Chromium’s open-source platform. Vivaldi has been available for some time as a technical preview, and the company claims that 2 million people or so have downloaded it. On Tuesday, the Vivaldi browser was released as a beta—still lacking some features, but with enough spit and polish for anyone to use.


How to block the Windows 10 upgrade – It’s nice of Microsoft to offer all of us a free upgrade to Windows 10. But it’s not so nice when they insist upon it.


Firefox 42 Launches With Tracking Protection In Private Browsing Mode – After a short beta period, Mozilla today graduated its new Tracking Protection feature for Firefox’s Private Browsing mode into its release channel with the launch of Firefox 42. While Private Browsing (which is Firefox’s counterpart to Chrome’s Incognito mode) ensures that none of your browsing history and cookies for this private session are saved locally, some of your data can still leak out to third-party sites. The new tracking protection ensures that third-party trackers, including those from social networks and analytics companies, can’t receive any data from your browsing session.

Hacking tool swipes encrypted credentials from password manager – Using a password manager is one of the biggest ways that average computer users can keep their online accounts secure, but their protection is pretty much meaningless when an end user’s computer is compromised. Underscoring this often ignored truism is a recently released hacking tool that silently decrypts all user names, passwords, and notes stored by the KeePass password manager and writes them to a file. KeeFarce, as the tool has been dubbed, targets KeePass, but there’s little stopping developers from designing similar apps that target virtually every other password manager available today. Hackers and professional penetration testers can run it on computers that they have already taken control of. When it runs on a computer where a logged in user has the KeePass database unlocked, KeeFarce decrypts the entire database and writes it to a file that the hacker can easily access.

Hackers use anti-adblocking service to deliver nasty malware attack – More than 500 websites that used a free analytics service inadvertently exposed their visitors to a nasty malware attack made possible by a hack of PageFair, the anti-adblocking company that provided the analytics. The compromise started in the last few minutes of Halloween with a spearphishing e-mail that ultimately gave the attackers access to PageFair’s content distribution network account. The attacker then reset the password and replaced the JavaScript code PageFair normally had execute on subscriber websites. For almost 90 minutes after that, people who visited 501 unnamed sites received popup windows telling them their version of Adobe Flash was out-of-date and prompting them to install malware disguised as an official update.

Don’t throw out that old phone — turn it into a privacy device – The core of this idea is that old smartphones that are no longer tied to a cellular network can use Wi-Fi (preferably someone else’s, to ensure non-traceability); a number-assigning service to send text messages or even place calls; and a VPN to encrypt the texts and anonymize location. Lifehacker focused on the usefulness of such privacy devices for law-abiding individuals. But I think enterprises could benefit too.


Video: How to destroy hard drives – Normally when making sure no one can recover the data off of a hard drive you use one of the three traditional approaches (a software eraser, hardware eraser, or make use whole disk encryption). But how do you prevent data from being recovered from dead or dying hard drives? In this video I show you the method I use, and try a couple of methods I’ve been told have worked for others in the past. Some of the methods worked, and others weren’t so successful.


vBulletin password hack fuels fears of serious Internet-wide 0-day attacks – Developers of the vBulletin software package for website forums released a security patch Monday night, just hours after reports surfaced that a hack on the developers’ site leaked password data and other sensitive information belonging to almost 480,000 subscribers. vBulletin officials have put in place a mandatory password reset for all users after discovering it was subjected to a hack attack. They went on to warn that the attacker “may have accessed customer IDs and encrypted passwords on our system.” A separate post on the vBulletin site makes reference to a security patch for versions 5.1.4 through 5.1.9 of the vBulletin Connect software package.

JSocket: Android malware that hijacks legitimate apps – First discovered in June this year, JSocket — most recently known as AlienSpy — is described by Fidelis in a new report as a “reincarnation” of previous malware. Not only can Java-based JSocket control Linux, Mac and Windows PC systems remotely, but the malicious code is also able to affect mobile devices. As an example, JSocket is able to take existing mobile apps and embed malware so victims can remain infected all the while using otherwise fully functional and legitimate software on their Android mobile devices.

Baidu app component puts 100 million Android devices at risk – A software development kit created by Chinese Internet services company Baidu and used by thousands of Android applications contains a feature that gives attackers backdoor-like access to users’ devices.

Company News:

Intel Puts $22M In 10 Startups, With A Stake In FreedomPop To Launch A Rival To Google’s Project Fi – Intel Capital, the venture arm of the tech giant, today announced $22 million in new investments across 10 startups. The news was delivered at the company’s annual global summit, where it also said that it would invest half a billion dollars in total this year. This is both a rise and fall of sorts. As a point of comparison, during the same event last year, Intel announced $67 million of investments in 16 startups, but said that 2014 investments totaled $359 million.

FreedomPop, Intel’s Wi-Fi first smartphone takes on Google Fi – Google’s Project Fi was more than the MVNO that people have been expecting, at least based on earlier rumors. Instead of a simple, directly mobile service that would compete with carriers, Project Fi made a tempting proposition: a service that automatically switched back and forth between paid cellular connection and free Wi-Fi depending on the latter’s availability. That is the new paradigm that FreedomPop and Intel are chasing after in a partnership that will see not only a new service to compete with Project Fi but a new smartphone as well.


Samsung retains top spot in India’s increasingly important smartphone market – The South Korean electronics giant has strengthened its grip on India’s smartphone market, keeping its top position in quarter three of 2015

Google is giving $2.35 million in grants to groups fighting racism – Google’s philanthropic arm,, is giving millions to groups in the Bay Area fighting systemic racism. According to USA Today, the company has set aside $2.35 million to support #BlackLivesMatter activism as well as groups addressing income inequality, the criminal justice system, and other issues. The move represents a particular outsized statement from the tech giant, especially when tech companies continue to face scrutiny concerning the presence of women and people of color in their ranks. An official announcement will reportedly take place tonight at San Francisco’s famous Castro Theatre during a screening of 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets, a documentary about the shooting death of Jordan Davis, an unarmed black 17-year-old shot outside of a Florida gas station in 2012.

Avast CEO talks new products, China ban, and the Snowden effect – The Prague-based company has about one-third of the global consumer antivirus market, and yet one of its biggest revenue drivers is a free product.

Tesla Misses In Q3 Earnings, With Adjusted Revenue Of $1.24 Billion And A Drop $.058 In EPS – Tesla missed the street in its reported Q3 earnings today, including non-GAAP revenue of $1.24 billion and non-GAAP loss per share of $0.58. Analysts expected a non-GAAP loss per share of $0.50. The company’s non-GAAP revenue also missed analyst estimates of $1.26 billion. But the real story here is on the amount of cars delivered this year. Tesla produced a total of 13,091 and delivered 11,603 cars in Q3 2015. The company originally planned to sell 50,000 to 55,000 cars this year, which would be a 70 percent increase in cars sold in 2014. However, that estimate was lowered after Tesla reported its preliminary Q3 delivery figure of 11,580, just above guidance.

Etsy Meets Expectations In Q3, Stock Drops 8% After Hours – Following trading today, Etsy reported its Q3 financial performance, including revenue of $66 million, and earnings loss per share of $0.06. The Street expected Etsy to lose $0.06 per share, off revenue of around $66.17 million. So that’s a “met expectations.” The company reported 1.5 million active sellers and 22.6 million active buyers. The company was up 3.18 percent today, trading at just over $11 at market close. When the company went public this year, it sat pretty at a mean $30 per share. That has trailed off considerably as shares of Etsy are down around an alarming 8% in after-hours trading.

Activision Blizzard Acquires Candy Crush Maker King Digital Entertainment For $5.9 Billion – Well here’s a blockbuster acquisition for you. Gaming mothership Activision Blizzard has entered into an agreement to acquire, maker of the wildly popular game Candy Crush and probably other games that I have nor ever will play. Mobile. Games. It’s all of the hot things. Oh, and King says it had 474 million monthly active users in the third quarter this year. So there’s that. King went public in 2014.

Games and Entertainment:

This Is the New Apple TV’s Single Best Feature – While all of those developments are welcome additions, there’s one Apple TV feature that truly makes the viewing experience a lot easier and more convenient. If you’ve missed a piece of dialogue, you can hold down the Siri button on the remote control and ask, “What did he/she say?” Siri will then rewind your TV show or movie by 15 seconds, turning on closed captioning until the show or film has reached the point where you initially asked the question. It’s a clever and useful feature.

MPAA Takes Down Pirating Group And Popcorn Time Fork – There are corks popping around the MPAA offices today. The American trade organization is claiming responsibility for shutting down several pirating services including a popular version of Popcorn Time, you know, the Netflix for pirates. This comes after the MPAA obtained an injunction in a Canadian against three operators of, which forced the site and service offline. The MPAA also won an interim injunction in a New Zealand court against the operator of YTS, which it claimed was the home of the pirating group YIFY. The torrent site came online in 2010, and according to report by TorrentFreak, the pirating group was responsible for releasing some 6,000 titles.


Best mobile games of October 2015 (pictures) – Looking for a new game to play on your mobile device? Here’s our pick of the best released in October 2015.

PlayStation Now adds 105 games to its subscription streaming service – Sony today announced more than 100 new titles have been added to its streaming game service PlayStation Now. Capcom provides the biggest contribution with 21 new titles — highlights include Resident Evil 4, 6, and Code Veronica X (RE5 was already part of the service); four Street Fighter titles; three Lost Planets; and Dead Rising 2. With today’s update, the PlayStation Now subscription library has grown to over 250 titles for subscription (and many more via its pricey à la carte rental library).


PS4 gets in-ear stereo headphones with noise canceling tech – While the PlayStation 4 ships with a single, mono-audio earbud, the only premium headphones for the console from Sony have been the over-ear type. Now there will finally be another option to choose from, as Sony has just announced the In-ear Stereo Headset for PS4. The earbuds plug directly into the headphone jack on the DualShock 4 controller, and they even feature AudioShield technology, which filters out unwanted background noise to let players focus on the game’s audio.


CBS Will Launch A New “Star Trek” TV Series On Its Streaming Service, Not Network TV – CBS’s own over-the-top streaming service aimed at cord cutters has largely flown under the radar in comparison with more popular competitors like Netflix and Hulu. But now the network is hoping to change that, with the announcement that it will launch a brand-new “Star Trek” TV show exclusively on CBS All Access, the company’s on-demand streaming service. The show’s episodes, outside of a special preview broadcast, will not be available on CBS’s television network, the company says. Instead, only those who pay for CBS All Access will be able to watch the new series, here in the U.S.

AMD kills Catalyst, replaces it with a mini OS called Radeon Software Crimson – In September, AMD turned its graphics unit into a standalone business. Now, the Radeon Technologies Group is getting ready to release the first version of its software. They’re calling it a graphics mini-operating system. Radeon Software is due to arrive before the end of this year, and they’re pretty excited about what’s going to ship. Some of the improvements you’ll see include faster start times, more intuitive navigation throughout the app, a new game manager, an overhauled Overdrive for simplified overclocking, and enhancements to AMD’s six display-capable Eyefinity.


Jon Stewart Is Coming To HBO In Four-Year Deal Focused On Short-Form Digital Content – HBO, which launched its first over-the-top streaming service this year with the debut of HBO NOW, has just scored a notable new deal with former Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, who will be tasked with creating “timely short-form digital content” for HBO NOW, HBO GO and other platforms, the network announced today. The exclusive four-year production pact will begin with a project involving Stewart creating content focused on current events that will be refreshed on HBO NOW multiple times per day. Other projects may follow, but have yet to be announced. The deal also includes a first-look option for other film and TV ventures, HBO says. Stewart and team will be using technology from the cloud graphics company OTOY Inc. in order to develop the content, which HBO describes as Stewart’s view of current events “through his unique prism.”

Vice’s cable channel, Viceland, will launch February 2016 – Most of the big media news these days is about the unbundling of cable television into pieces you can pay to access with just an internet connection. But Vice Media, which started as a government-subsidized paper-and-ink magazine and has since become a surging player in the digital media space, is making a move into traditional linear television. The New York Times is reporting that it plans to launch its channel, Viceland, in February of 2016, part of a partnership with its investor, A&E.

Off Topic (Sort of):

20 things you don’t actually need to keep in the fridge – There is probably a bunch of things in your fridge that doesn’t need to be there. Removing these items from your fridge can free up space and improve the taste and quality of items that should be stored at room temperature. Take a look at this list and then go rummage through your fridge.

OS/2: Blue Lion to be the next distro of the 28-year-old OS – The WarpStock convention — the annual gathering of users, developers, and enthusiasts of IBM OS/2 — was held in Wichita, KS on October 23 – 25, 2015. For an operating system whose principal development stopped in 1996, it may be surprising that the OS/2 community is vibrant enough to warrant a convention — and likely even more surprising that it has two, as WarpStock Europe will be held in Cologne, Germany in May 2016. This year’s event, however, may well be the most consequential in several years, as it marks the return of OS/2.


Various windows open in the Workplace Manager. Image: Screenshot by James Sanders/TechRepublic

This Incredible 4K Video of the Sun Took NASA 300 Hours to Make – The latest video to come out of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is the most detailed yet, and it’s completely mesmerizing. The 30-minute film features a soundtrack from German composer Lars Leonhard titled ‘Deep Venture,’ and, as NASA puts it “presents the nuclear fire of our life-giving star in intimate detail, offering new perspective into our own relationships with grand forces of the solar system.” So sit back and enjoy the most detailed video yet of the giant ball of energy at the center of our solar system.


SprayPainter turns you into a graffiti artist – If you like the idea of painting graffiti style art in your home or office, but lack the artistic skills to make that happen on your own the SprayPainter is for you. SprayPainter is an accessory that clips to a can of spray paint and makes it sort of like a dot matrix printer from back in the day. Using dots of spray, the device is able to create any work of art you want.


Vast, uncharted viral world discovered on human skin – In the microbial metropolises that thrive in and on the human body, underground networks of viruses loom large. A closer look at human skin has found that it’s teeming with viruses, most of which don’t target us but infect the microbes that live there. Almost 95 percent of those skin-dwelling virus communities are unclassified, researchers report in mBio. Those unknown viruses may prune, manipulate, and hide out in the skin’s bacterial communities, which in turn can make the difference between human health and disease. The finding highlights how much scientists still have to learn about the microscopic affairs that steer human welfare.

Something to think about:

“Be master of your petty annoyances and conserve your energies for the big, worthwhile things. It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out – it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.”

–      Robert Service     (1874 – 1958)


Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free – Popular software programs contain millions of lines of code. Bad guys exploit flaws (vulnerabilities) in the code to deliver malware. Except when they can’t. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit wraps four layers of security around popular browsers, preventing exploits from compromising vulnerable code. Not an antivirus, but compatible with most antivirus, Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit is a small, specialized shield designed to protect you against one of the most dangerous forms of malware attacks. And it’s free.


Shields browsers and browsers add-ons (including Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and others)

Shields Java

Operating Systems:

Windows 10® (32-bit, 64-bit)

Windows 8.1® (32-bit, 64-bit)

Windows 8® (32-bit, 64-bit)

Windows 7® (32-bit, 64-bit)

Windows Vista® (32-bit, 64-bit)

Windows XP® (32-bit, 64-bit)


Screenshot from a personal system.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Why Avast won’t show source code to the government, but others do – Ask a chief executive of any security company what the crown jewel of their business is, and they’ll tell you it’s the source code.

In a day and age of government spying, hackers, and backdoors, there’s a great deal of mistrust and paranoia in the tech industry.

Governments particularly are on edge that other states are using tech firms to get access to their most critical systems and data, including the US government, which has been shown to conduct industrial espionage (despite its claims that it doesn’t).

It’s no surprise that this air of deception has led some countries, like Russia as far back as 2003, and more recently China, to seek access to source code in order to approve or certify products in their countries.

“No, we refuse to hand over source code,” said Vince Steckler, chief executive of Avast, in an hour-long conversation in our New York newsroom late last month.

Operation KKK leaks: Will Anonymous yank KKK hoods off of politicians, cops, feds? – Anonymous has promised to make this Fifth of November memorable by leaking the personal details of alleged KKK members — some of whom are supposedly cops, feds, mayors, senators and even a pastor. Buckle up for #OpKKK and #Hoodsoff cyber-fireworks as lists are already being leaked and Anonymous claims it will expose up to 1,000 alleged KKK members.

Snowden inspires New Zealand ‘protected disclosure’ regime – The smallest member of the Five Eyes spying alliance is rolling out a “protected disclosures” policy to enable would-be Edward Snowdens to safely blow the whistle on suspected wrongdoing by security agencies.

New Zealand’s Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, said a formal internal policy for handling protected disclosures, or “whistleblowing”, has been developed by her office in liaison with security agencies.

“The Edward Snowden disclosures demonstrate how critical it is to have a clear path, with appropriate protections, for disclosing information about suspected wrongdoing within an intelligence and security agency,” she said.

Edward Snowden has consistently said it was impossible for him to make internal disclosures about what he believed was wrongdoing due to the lack of whistleblower protections he faced in the USA.

The Inspector-General, who released her second annual report (PDF) today, is independent from the intelligence and security agencies and is not subject to direction by Government ministers.

Why the NSA may not need backdoors – James Bamford’s 2012 WIRED article The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) is a fascinating read about the NSA’s monster data center near Bluffdale, Utah and what it might be used for. Here’s an excerpt:

“Breaking into those complex mathematical shells like the AES is one of the key reasons for the construction going on in Bluffdale,” explains Bamford. “That kind of cryptanalysis requires two major ingredients: super-fast computers to conduct brute-force attacks on encrypted messages and a massive number of those messages for the computers to analyze. The more messages from a given target, the more likely it is for the computers to detect telltale patterns, and Bluffdale will be able to hold a great many messages.”

Bamford then suggests the super-fast computers are part of the High Productivity Computing Systems program located in Oakridge, Tenn. (of Manhattan Project fame), specifically in Building 5300 according to a former senior intelligence official involved in the project interviewed by Bamford.

The official mentions that security intensified in a big way when the Building 5300 team made a huge breakthrough, adding, “They were thinking that this computing breakthrough was going to give them the ability to crack current public encryption.”

Fierce battle ahead for new web surveillance law – The UK government is preparing a major overhaul of legislation relating to internet surveillance.

The new legislation — the Investigatory Powers Bill — due to be unveiled tomorrow, is likely to require communications companies to retain data on customers’ web surfing for up to a year, while there have been suggestions that the government will also look again at how to gain access to encrypted communications – a new and increasing difficult area for law enforcement. It may also provide more clarity around the powers of intelligence agencies to hack into computers.

But the new legislation will be published against a complicated background, with intelligence agencies calling for stronger powers to cope with changing internet technologies, while privacy campaigners argue that too much unnecessary surveillance is already taking place without enough proper oversight.



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2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Net News – Wednesday – November 4, 2015

  1. very informative 🙂 tnx