Rachel Maddow Says Forged NSA Document Being Shopped … – HuffPost

MSNBCs Rachel Maddow said she had a strange scoop to share with audiences Thursday night after receiving what she believes is a meticulously forged document sent over her tip line with the intention to discredit her.

I feel like I need to send this up like a flare for other news organizations in particular, Maddow said. Thats part of what Im intending to do here with this story tonight.

Over the next 20 minutes, the MSNBC host discussed how her show received a document, purportedly from the National Security Agency,labeled as classified and filled with such bombshells about Russia that Maddow said if it were authentic, it would be a gun still firing proverbial bullets. But after careful examination, which she describes in great detail, her show deemed the document a forgery.

We believe now that the real story we have stumbled upon here is that somebody out there is shopping carefully forged documents to try to discredit news agencies reporting on the Russian attack on our election, and specifically on the possibility that the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians in mounting that attack, she said.

The MSNBC host pointed to a recent report that led CNN to retract a story on Russia and ledthree top stafferswho worked on the story to resign, as well as Vice News retraction of two Trump-related stories just last week.

This is news because why is someone shopping a forged document of this kind to news organizations covering the Trump-Russia affair? Maddow asked.

The MSNBC host and her staff compared the document they received with the the leaked NSA document The Intercept published in early June, which led to the arrest of federal contractor Reality Leigh Winner.

Maddow and her staff believe the document they received was created by copying and pasting aspects of the document The Intercept published. There were additional elements that also raised red flags, Maddow said.

Watch the full MSNBC segment in the video above.

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Rachel Maddow Says Forged NSA Document Being Shopped ... - HuffPost

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Tribune Editorial: Lawsuit should get to the truth about NSA spying in Utah – Salt Lake Tribune

Drake continued, "The new mantra to intercepting intelligence was 'just get it' regardless of the law."


It is becoming clear that such a lack of candor from our government officials has become a feature of our post-9/11 surveillance state, and not a bug. Perhaps the infringements of our freedoms necessitate an end to the entire post-9/11 project. But with the billion dollar Utah Data Center sitting right-smack in Salt Lake County, it's doubtful we could successfully kill the beast that is the surveillance industry.

Perhaps we, too, like Jonathan Swift, need "A Modest Proposal." It would be a shame to let the texts, emails, phone records and Google searches of Utah's most popular citizens go to waste. We paid for these records, let's make them public.

Just think, no one would need private investigators to catch husbands texting old girlfriends. You could easily recover your mom's old meatloaf recipe she emailed years ago.

And all those public officials who, when under investigation, manage to lose thousands of emails, as one-time IRS official Lois Lerner did. And former Utah Attorney General John Swallow, who just happened to leave his tablets on airplanes. Call up the NSA. Problem solved!

Think of the money newspapers and community watchdogs would save in GRAMA / FOIA requests. And how would life be different if police, prosecutors, legislators and other government officials knew their communications would be discoverable?

Deception begets deception, poison begets poison. The Fourth Amendment means what it says, and the government should not have power to spy on Americans without a warrant. In this current case, U.S. Department of Justice officials have until March to disclose relevant documents. Let's hope they can do so honestly.

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Tribune Editorial: Lawsuit should get to the truth about NSA spying in Utah - Salt Lake Tribune

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Mother of accused NSA leaker defends daughter – KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi – KRIS Corpus Christi News


The mother of a Kingsville native accused of leaking government information continues to stand up for her daughter. 25 year old Reality Winner remains in jail as she awaits her trial in federal court. She's charged with giving out information important to national security.

Billie Winner-Davis, her mother, wants people to wait for an outcome in that trial before judging her daughter.

"People, you know, just want to lock her up, throw away the key, or even hang her not knowing whether or not she did this, not knowing if she's guilty. She hasn't had a trial yet," Winner-Davis says.

Reality Winner is accused of sending classified information about Russian election meddling to a news outlet while she worked as a National Security Agency contractor in Georgia. The FBI says Winner admitted to leaking the information and prosecutors allege she said, "Mom, those documents. I screwed up.", in a recorded jail phone call.

"I really don't recall her saying those words to me. She could have, you know, maybe I've forgotten, you know?" Winner-Davis says.

Winner-Davis says she doesn't know if her daughter did it, adding she wants to ask but hasn't been able to, since all conversations between them have been recorded.

"I don't know if she would risk her entire life, if she would risk her new job that she just got, her future, her entire life for something like this," Winner-Davis says.

Winner-Davis calls her daughter a patriot. She references her daughter's time in the Air Force and some shirts paid for by supporters. One of the shirts has hash tags on it that say #TRUEPATRIOT and #ISTANDWITHREALITY.

"I'm afraid that she won't get a fair trial in this. I'm afraid that they're going to try to make an example out of her and I want the American people to be watching," Winner-Davis says.

Winner-Davis says that mainly because of President Trump's vow to crack down on leakers.

Reality Winner's trial is set for late October in Georgia. Her mom returned from there a few weeks ago and plans on going back in August. Billie Winner-Davis says she plans on staying through the end of her daughter's trial.

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Mother of accused NSA leaker defends daughter - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi - KRIS Corpus Christi News

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Another View: NSA needs to secure its files and techniques more tightly – Press Herald

The phenomenon of a recent widespread cyberattack, using weapons developed by the U.S. National Security Agency to disrupt major computer operations all over the globe, is not surprising, but it does call for urgent action on the federal governments part.

Weapons proliferation grew much more lethal when the United States developed the atomic bomb, intended to end World War II more rapidly. The technology then got handed to the Soviet Union. Nuclear weapons eventually ended up in the hands of China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States.

More recently, Americas and others cyberweapons creatively have been used to mess up Irans nuclear enrichment program, using the computer worm known as Stuxnet. It also appears that U.S. cyberaction has been used to gum up North Koreas rocket launches.

The problem now is that some of the clever procedures that NSA developed have leaked out, or have been developed independently by people in basements and elsewhere in Kiev, Moscow and Pyongyang, and are being used as they were last week from Ukraine to sabotage important systems, as well as to try to shake down computer system users across the world.

The NSA witness contractor-defector Edward J. Snowden is showing itself to be leaky. Its having difficulty protecting what it knows and preventing unintended use of the skills it develops.

The NSA must button up its files and techniques much more tightly. And whatever cyberweapons we have, we must also stay ahead in that game in our capacity to protect our own cyber infrastructure.

The penalty for falling behind in that development is chaos and danger in our society and country, incredibly high stakes given our vulnerability.

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Another View: NSA needs to secure its files and techniques more tightly - Press Herald

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DROPLEX [DROP] secure NSA bulletproof blockchain ICO – newsBTC

Droplex Platform Financial instruments are digitize as apermissioned blockchain,here is a possibility to rapidly createtrading venues with astablevalue. And after that reduce operational overhead.Digital solutionsFull system run as a digital exchange, with fully-hosted optionsavailable. Custom deployments may be launched in less than a fewweeks.ExchangeAutomated market-making tool has got more than just one-party liquidity pool. We are honored that we can give you briliantthird-party liquidity sources. Supports multiple source exchanges and smart routing, with automated account management.Quantum defenderFeel safety with a quantum defender ! Weve already set up ameeting with D-wave company. Why ? Because Were going to beoneof the first platforms which soon tests the security systemagainstthe quantum pc. The quantum defender, is not just focused on theidea of being a wall against quantum computing attacks, but it isinpreparation to become a network of options for safe and trustedplace. We believe that blockchain needs to be involved in long-termassets and transactions, it has to think long-term. Long-term includes thinking about quantum computing and dealing with thattricks and threats.

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DROPLEX [DROP] secure NSA bulletproof blockchain ICO - newsBTC

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NSA Property Holdings Acquires Tri-State Self Storage in Castle County, DE – Inside Self-Storage

NSA Property Holdings LLC, an affiliate of real estate investment trust National Storage Affiliates Trust (NSAT), has acquired a three-property Tri-State Self Storage portfolio in Castle County, Del., from Tri-State Realty Associates L.P. The facilities sit on approximately 28.3 acres of land, according to a press release from SkyView Advisors, the investment-sales and advisory firm that brokered the deal.

Overall, the properties comprise 264,237 rentable square feet of storage space in 2,428 units, 568 of are climate-controlled. They also contain 109 parking spaces and miscellaneous units, the release stated.

Its not often that a portfolio of this size becomes available in this region of the country, and it garnered multiple bids from national self-storage buyers, said Ryan Clark, director of investment sales for SkyView Advisors and a broker in the transaction.

Last month, NSA Property Holdingsacquired Stor-N-More Self Storage in Tampa, Fla., for $19 million. The property comprises 117,655 net rentable square feet in 1,105 units.

SkyView is a boutique firm specializing in self-storage acquisition, development, facility expansion and renovation, refinancing, and sales. Based in Tampa, the firm also has offices in Cleveland and Milwaukee.

Headquartered in Greenwood, Colo., NSAT is a self-administered and -managed REIT focused on the acquisition, operation and ownership of self-storage properties within the top 100 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas throughout the United States. The company has ownership interest in 456 storage facilities in 23 states. Its portfolio comprises approximately 28 million net rentable square feet. It's owned by its affiliate operators, who are contributing their interests in their self-storage assets over the next few years as their current mortgage debt matures.

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Obamas NSA rebuked for snooping on Americans; journo says it …

The secret court that oversees government snooping took the Obama administration to task late last year, suggesting it created "a very serious Fourth Amendment issue" by violating rules the government itself had implemented regarding the surveillance of Americans.

According to top-secret documentsmade public by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court often referred to as the FISA court the government admitted that, just days before the 2016 election, NSA analysts were violating surveillance rules on a regular basis. This pattern of overreach, coupled with the timing of the governments disclosure, resulted in an unusually harsh rebuke of the administrations practices and principles.

A former CBS journalist suing the federal government for allegedly spying on her said the documents prove the illegal snooping was pervasive and widely abused.


"Sources of mine have indicated that political players have increasingly devised premises to gather intel on political targets by wrapping them up in 'incidental' collection of foreigners, as if by accident," Sharyl Attkisson, who is pursuing a federal lawsuit the Department of Justice has tried to dismiss, told the Fox News Investigative Unit.

According to the FISA Court opinion, it was on September 26, 2016 that the government submitted an undisclosed number of "certifications" for the court to review. The review process was supposed to be completed within 30 days, or by October 26, 2016.

Just two days before that review was to be completed and less than two weeks before the 2016 election the government informed the court that NSA analysts had been violating rules, established in 2011, designed to protect the internet communications of Americans.

The NSA has suggested these were inadvertent compliance lapses, and points out that the agency "self-reported" these problems, meaning they were the ones to bring this issue to the attention of the court.

There was just one problem.

The violations that the government disclosed on October 24, 2016, were based on a report from the NSA's Inspector General that had been released 10 months earlier, in January 2016. This means that when the government submitted its certifications for review in September, they were likely aware of that IG report but failed to mention the malpractice going on at the NSA.

The Court at the time blamed an institutional lack of candor" for the government's failure to disclose that information weeks earlier, and gave the government until April 28, 2017, to come up with a solution. After failing to come to an agreement, the NSA announced that it was stopping the type of surveillance in question.

The so-called lapses among NSA staffers had to do with Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the upstream surveillance of what the intelligence community refers to as about communications.


According to the NSA, Section 702 "allows the intelligence community to conduct surveillance on only specific foreign targets located outside the United States to collect foreign intelligence, including intelligence needed in the fight against international terrorism and cyber threats."

Upstream surveillance, according to the ACLU, was first disclosed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, and involves the NSAs bulk interception and searching of Americans international internet communications including emails, chats, and web-browsing traffic.

This Thursday, June 6, 2013, file photo, shows a sign outside the National Security Administration (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. (AP Photo)

Until the NSA stopped it, the upstream snooping program notified them directly if someone inside the U.S. composed an email that contained the email address of a foreign intelligence agent who was being monitored. According to an NSA declaration reportedly made during the Bush administration, these communications did not have to be to or from the foreign agent, they simply had to mention the email address.

According to the FISA Court documents just made public, the notifications sent to the NSA often led to the unmasking of American citizens caught up in monitoring. And as the court pointed out, many of the requests being made to unmask the Americans taking part in these communications were in direct violation of safeguards established by the Obama administration.

According to the FISA Court documents, so-called minimization procedures adopted in 2011 to curb unlawful surveillance have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collections under Section 702.

And, according to the governments October 26, 2016 admission, NSA analysts had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed.

The suspended surveillance program has been a target of fierce criticism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, as well as journalists and even Snowden.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, told Fox & Friends on Wednesday that the terrible program was basically a back doorway to sort of get at Americans' privacy without using a warrant.

When the NSA announced it was stopping certain Section 702 activities, Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said he had raised concerns for years that this amounted to an end run around the Fourth Amendment.

Snowden tweeted that the NSAs actions represented the most substantive of the post-2013 NSA reforms, if the principle is applied to all other programs.

Attkisson, who sued to determine who had access to a government IP address that she says was discovered on her CBS work computer during a forensics exam, said shes concerned the truth will never come out.

"I'm told by sources that it should only take a day or a week, at most, for the intel community to provide [lawmakers with] the details of which Americans, journalists and public officials were 'incidentally' surveilled, which ones were unmasked, who requested the unmaskings, when, and for what supposed purpose," Attkisson said. "Yet months have gone by. Im afraid that as time passes, any evidence becomes less likely to persist."

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Obamas NSA rebuked for snooping on Americans; journo says it ...

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Snowden Leak Reveals NSA Traffic Shaping Tech That Diverts US Internet Routing For Spying – Hot Hardware

Geopolitical borders have softened in various ways thanks to the prevalence of the Internet. An email sent by an American could cross multiple international borders before being received by another American. A recent study by the Century Foundation revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly utilizes various traffic shaping techniques to survey and store American communications.

Internet traffic does not travel along the shortest route, but instead favors the fastest, least congested, or least expensive course. Data from various countries is backed up in data centers around the world. Sharon Goldberg of the Century Foundation noted, An email sent from San Jose to New York may be routed through Internet devices located in Frankfurt, or be backed up on computers located in Ireland. The NSA could potentially reroute Internet communications to gather information.

The NSA is responsible for monitoring and processing data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes. American citizens are generally protected by the 4th Amendment and the rules of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court. Executive Order 12333, however, allows the collection, retention, and dissemination of information, obtained in the course of a lawful foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, international narcotics or international terrorism investigation or incidentally obtained information that may indicate involvement in activities that may violate federal, state, local or foreign laws.

It is important to note that this study was largely speculation. An NSA spokesperson remarked, We do not comment on speculation about foreign intelligence activities; however, as we have said before, the National Security Agency does not undertake any foreign intelligence activity that would circumvent US laws or privacy protections.

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Snowden Leak Reveals NSA Traffic Shaping Tech That Diverts US Internet Routing For Spying - Hot Hardware

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The NSA’s inadvertent role in Petya, the cyberattack on Ukraine. – Slate Magazine

Should the NSA stop hacking computers out of concern that bad guys could steal its tools and use them for their own nefarious purposes?

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Theres a moment in Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubricks dark Cold War comic masterpiece, when President Merkin Muffley (played by Peter Sellers) learns that an insane general has exploited a loophole in the militarys command-control system and launched a nuclear attack on Russia. Muffley turns angrily to Air Force Gen. Buck Turgidson (played by George C. Scott) and says, When you instituted the human reliability tests, you assured me there was no possibility of such a thing ever occurring. Turgidson gulps and replies, I dont think its quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up.

The National Security Agency currently finds itself in a similar situation.

One of the NSAs beyondtop secret hacking tools has been stolen. And while the ensuing damage falls far short of an unauthorized nuclear strike, the thieves have wreaked cybermayhem around the world.

The mayhem was committed by a group called the Shadow Brokers, which in April announced that it had acquired the NSA tool (known as Eternal Blue) and published its exploit code online for any and all hackers to copy.* In May, some entitywidely believed to be North Koreansused the the exploit code to develop some malware, which became known as WannaCry, and launched a massive ransomware attack, which shut down 200,000 computers, including those of many hospitals and other critical facilities.

Then on June 27 came this latest attack, which was launched by the Shadow Brokers themselves. This struck some security analysts as odd, for two reasons. First, the Shadow Brokers are believed to be members ofor criminal hackers affiliated witha Russian intelligence agency, and Russians tend not to hack for mere cash. Second, the attack was slipshod: The ransoms were to be paid to a single email address, which security experts shut down in short order. If the Russians had decided to indulge in this mischief for money, it was a shock that they did it so poorly.

Now, however, several cybersecurity analysts are convinced that the ransomware was a brief ploy to distract attention from a devastating cyberattack on the infrastructure of Ukraine, through a prominent but vulnerable financial server.

Jake Williams, founder of Rendition InfoSec LLC (and a former NSA analyst), told me on Thursday, two days after the attack, The ransomware was a cover for disrupting Ukraine; we have very high confidence of that. This disruptive attack shut down computers running Ukrainian banks, metro systems, and government ministries. The virus then spread to factories, ports, and other facilities in 60 countriesthough Williams says its unclear whether this rippling effect was deliberate. (Because computers are connected to overlapping networks, malware sometimes infects systems far beyond a hackers intended targets.)

By the way, the attack left the ransomware victims, marginal as they were, completely screwed. Once the email address was disconnected, those who wanted to pay ransom had no place to send their bitcoins. Their computers remain frozen. Unless they had back-up drives, their files and data are irretrievable.

Its not yet clear how the Shadow Brokers obtained the hacking tool. One cybersecurity specialist involved in the probe told me that, at first, he and others figured that the theft had to be an inside job, committed by a second Snowden, but the forensics showed otherwise. One possibility, he now speculates, is that an unnamed NSA contractor, who was arrested last year for taking home files, either passed them onto the Russians or was hacked by the Russians himself. The other possibility is that the Russians hacked into classified NSA files. Its a toss-up which theory is more disturbing; the upshot of both is, it could happen again.

So should the NSA stop hacking computers out of concern that bad guys could steal its tools and use them for their own nefarious purposes? This remedy is probably unreasonable. After all, spy agencies spy, and the NSA spies by intercepting communications, including digital communications, and some of that involves hacking. In other words, the cyber equivalent of Gen. Turgidson would have a point if he told an angry superior its unfair to condemn a whole program for a single slip-up.

It may be time to view surfing the internet on computers as similar to the way we view driving cars on the highway.

Besides, the NSA doesnt do very many hacks of the sort that the Shadow Brokers stolehacks that involve zero-day exploits, the discovery and use of vulnerabilities (in software, hardware, servers, networks, and so forth) that no one has previously discovered. Zero-day exploits were once the crown jewels of the NSAs signals-intelligence shops. But theyre harder to come by now. Software companies continually test their products for security gaps and patch them right away. Hundreds of firms, many created by former intelligence analysts, specialize in finding zero-day vulnerabilities in commercial productsthen alerting the companies for handsome fees. Often, by the time the NSA develops an exploit for a zero-day vulnerability, someone in the private sector has also found it and already developed a patch.

More and more, in recent years, the NSA chooses to tell companies about a problem and even help them fix it. This trend accelerated in December 2013, when a five-member commission, appointed by President Obama in the wake of the Snowden revelations, wrote a 300-page report proposing 46 reforms for U.S. intelligence agencies. One proposal was to bar the government from doing anything to subvert, undermine, weaken, or make vulnerable generally available commercial software. Specifically, if NSA analysts found a zero-day exploit, they should be required to patch the hole at once, except in rare instances when the government could briefly authorize the exploit for high-priority intelligence collection, though, even then, only after approval not by the NSA directorwho, in the past, made such decisionsbut rather in a senior interagency review involving all appropriate departments.

Obama approved this recommendation, and as a result his White House cybersecurity chief, Michael Daniel, drafted a list of questions that this senior review panel must ask before letting the NSA exploit, rather than patch, the zero-day discovery. The questions: Would this vulnerability, if left unpatched, pose risks to our own societys infrastructure? If adversaries or crime groups knew about the vulnerability, how much harm could they inflict? How badly do we need the intelligence that the exploit would provide? Are there other ways to get this intelligence? Could we exploit the vulnerability for just a short period of time, then disclose and patch it?

A 2016 article in Bloomberg News reported that, due in part to this new review process, the NSA keepsand exploits for offensive purposesonly about two of the roughly 100 zero-day vulnerabilities it finds in the course of a year.

The vulnerability exploited in the May ransomware attack was one of those zero-days that the NSA kept for a while. (It is not known for how long or what adversaries it allowed us to hack.) The vulnerability was in a Microsoft operating system. In March, the government notified Microsoft of the security gap. Microsoft quickly devised a patch and alerted users to install the software upgrade. Some users did; others didnt. The North Koreans were able to hack into the systems of those who didnt. Thats how the vast majority of hacks happenthrough carelessness.

It may be time to view surfing the internet on computers as similar to the way we view driving cars on the highway. Both are necessary for modern life, and both advance freedoms, but they also carry responsibilities and can do great harm if misused. It would be excessive to require the equivalent of drivers licenses to go online; a government that can take away such licenses for poor digital hygiene could also take them away for impertinent political speech. But its not outrageous to impose regulations on product liability, holding vendors responsible for malware-infected devices, just as car companies are for malfunctioning brakes. Its not outrageous to force government agencies and companies engaged in critical infrastructure (transportation, energy, finance, and so forth) to meet minimal cybersecurity standards or to hit them with heavy fines if they dont. Its not outrageous to require companies to program their computers or software to shut down if users dont change or randomize their passwords or if they dont install software upgrades after a certain amount of time. Or if this goes too far, the government could require companies to program their computers or software to emit a loud noise or flash a bright light on the screen until the users take these precautionsin much the same way that drivers hear ding-ding-ding until they fasten their seatbelts.

Some of these ideas have been kicking around for decades, a few at high levels of government, but theyve been crushed by lobbyists and sometimes by senior economic advisers who warned that regulations would impede technical progress and harm the competitive status of American industries. Resistance came easy because many of these measures were expensive and the dangers they were meant to prevent seemed theoretical. They are no longer theoretical. The cyberattack scenarios laid out in government reports decades ago, dismissed by many as alarmist and science fiction, are now the stuff of front-page news stories.

Cyberthreats will never disappear; cybervulnerabilities will never be solved. They are embedded in the technology, as its developed in the 50 years since the invention of the internet. But the problems can be managed and mitigated. Either we take serious steps now, through a mix of regulations and market-driven incentivesor we wait until a cybercatastrophe, after which far more brutal solutions will be slammed down our throats at far greater cost by every measure.

*Correction, June 30, 2017: This article originally misstated that the NSA tool stolen by the Shadow Brokers was called WannaCry. It was called Eternal Blue, and its code was used to create WannaCry. (Return.)

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The NSA's inadvertent role in Petya, the cyberattack on Ukraine. - Slate Magazine

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John W. Whitehead column: A dangerous proposition: Making the NSA’s powers permanent – Richmond.com

The Trump administration wants to make some of the National Security Agencys vast spying powers permanent. Thats a dangerous proposition, and Ill tell you why.

Since 9/11, Americans have been asked to sacrifice their freedoms on the altar of national security. Weve had our phone calls monitored, our emails read, our movements tracked, and our transactions documented.

Every second of every day, the American people are being spied on by the U.S. governments vast network of digital Peeping Toms, electronic eavesdroppers and robotic snoops.

These government snoops are constantly combing through and harvesting vast quantities of our communications.

They are conducting this mass surveillance without a warrant, thus violating the core principles of the Fourth Amendment which protects the privacy of all Americans.

PRISM and Upstream, two of the spying programs conducted under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, are set to expire at the end of this year.

Heres why they should be allowed to expire.

PRISM lets the NSA access emails, video chats, instant messages, and other content sent via Facebook, Google, Apple, and others.

Upstream lets the NSA worm its way into the internet backbone the cables and switches owned by private corporations like AT&T that make the internet into a global network and scan traffic for the communications of tens of thousands of individuals labeled targets.

Ask the NSA why its carrying out this warrantless surveillance on American citizens, and youll get the same Orwellian answer the government has been trotting out since 9/11 to justify its assaults on our civil liberties: to keep America safe.

Yet warrantless mass surveillance by the government and its corporate cohorts hasnt made America any safer. And it certainly isnt helping to preserve our freedoms.

Frankly, America will never be safe as long as the U.S. government is allowed to shred the Constitution.

Now the government wants us to believe that we have nothing to fear from its mass spying program because theyre only looking to get the bad guys who are overseas.

Dont believe it.

The governments definition of a bad guy is extraordinarily broad, and it results in the warrantless surveillance of innocent, law-abiding Americans on a staggering scale.

Under Section 702, the government collects and analyzes over 250 million internet communications every year. There are estimates that at least half of these contain information about U.S. residents, many of whom have done nothing wrong.

The government claims its spying on Americans is simply incidental, as though it were an accident but it fully intends to collect this information.

Indeed, this sensitive data is not destroyed after the NSA vacuums it up. Rather, the government has written its own internal rules called minimization procedures that allow spy agencies such as the NSA to retain Americans private communications for years.

Far from minimizing any invasion of privacy, the rules expressly allow government officials to read our emails and listen to our phone calls without a warrant the very kinds of violations that the Fourth Amendment was written to prohibit.

Finally, once this information collected illegally and without any probable cause is ingested into NSA servers, other government agencies can often search through the databases to make criminal cases against Americans that have nothing to do with terrorism or anything national security-related. One Justice Department lawyer called the database the FBIs Google.

In other words, the NSA, an unaccountable institution filled with unelected bureaucrats, operates a massive database that contains the intimate and personal communications of countless Americans.

Warrantless mass surveillance of American citizens is wrong, un-American, and unconstitutional.

Its time to let Section 702 expire or reform the law to ensure that millions and millions of Americans are not being victimized by a government that no longer respects its constitutional limits.

Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People, is the president of The Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties and human rights organization that is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Upstream surveillance under Section 702. Contact Whitehead at johnw@rutherford.org.

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John W. Whitehead column: A dangerous proposition: Making the NSA's powers permanent - Richmond.com

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NotPetya developers may have obtained NSA exploits weeks before their public leak [Updated] – Ars Technica

Enlarge / A computer screen displaying Eternalromance, one of the NSA exploits used in Tuesday's NotPetya outbreak.

Update:This post was revised throughout to reflect changes F-Secure made to Thursday's blog post. The company now says that the NotPetya component was probably completed in February, and assuming that timeline is correct, it didn't have any definitive bearing on when the NSA exploits were obtained. F-Secure Security Advisor Sean Sullivan tells Ars that the component weaves in the NSA exploits so well that it's likely the developers had access to the NSA code. "It strongly hints at this possibility," he said. "We feel strongly that this is the best theory to debunk." This post has been revised to make clear that the early access is currently an unproven theory.

Original Story:The people behind Tuesday's massive malware outbreak might have had access to two National Security Agency-developed exploits several weeks before they were published on the Internet, according to clues researchers from antivirus F-Secure found in some of its code.

On Thursday, F-Secure researchers said that unconfirmed timestamps left in some of the NotPetya malware code suggested that the developers may have had access to EternalBlue and EternalRomance as early as February, when they finished work on the malware component that interacted with the stolen NSA exploits. The potential timeline is all the more significant considering the quality of the component, which proved surprisingly adept in spreading the malware from computer to computer inside infected networks. The elegance lay in the way the component combined the NSA exploits with three off-the-shelf tools including Mimikatz, PSExec, and WMIC. The result: NotPetya could infect both patched and unpatched computers quickly. Code that complex and effective likely required weeks of development and testing prior to completion.

"February is many weeks before the exploits EternalBlue and EternalRomance (both of which this module utilizes) were released to the public (in April) by the Shadow Brokers," F-Secure researcher Andy Patel wrote in a blog post. "And those exploits fit this component like a glove."

Whereas the two other main components of NotPetyaan encryption component and a component for attacking a computer's master boot recordwere "pretty shoddy and seem kinda cobbled together," Patel said the spreading component seems "very sophisticated and well-tested." It remains possible that the February timestamps found in some of the code was falsified. Assuming the stampsare correct, they suggest that developers may have had access, or at least knowledge of, the NSA exploits by then. By contrast, Patel added:

WannaCry clearly picked [the NSA] exploits up after the Shadow Brokers dumped them into the public domain in April. Also WannaCry didn't do the best job at implementing these exploits correctly.

By comparison, this "Petya" looks well-implemented, and seems to have seen plenty of testing. It's fully-baked.

The weeks leading up to the possible February completion of the NotPetya spreader was a particularly critical time for computer security. A month earlier, the Shadow Brokers advertised an auction that revealed some of the names of the exploits they had, including EternalBlue. NSA officials responded by warning Microsoft of the theft so that the company could patch the underlying vulnerabilities. In February, Microsoft abruptly canceled that month's Patch Tuesday. The unprecedented move was all the more odd because exploit code for an unpatched Windows 10 flaw was already in the wild, and Microsoft gave no explanation for the cancellation.

"Meanwhile, 'friends of the Shadow Brokers' were busy finishing up development of a rather nifty network propagation component, utilizing these exploits," Patel wrote.

When Patch Tuesday resumed in March, Microsoft released a critical security update that fixed EternalBlue. As the WCry outbreak would later demonstrate, large numbers of computersmainly running Windows 7failed to install the updates, allowing the worm to spread widely.

If the timeline is correct, it might mean the NotPetya developers had some sort of tie to the Shadow Brokers, possibly as customers, colleagues, acquaintances, or friends. It might also make NotPetya the first piece of in-the-wild malware that had known early access to the NSA exploits. Patel didn't speculate how the NotPetya developers might have gotten hold of EternalBlue and EternalRomance prior to their public release in April.

Early speculation was that Shadow Brokers members acquired a small number of hacking tools that NSA personnel stored on one or more staging servers used to carry out operations. The volume and sensitivity of the exploits and documents released over the next several months slowly painted a much grimmer picture. It's now clear that the group has capitalized on what is likely the worst breach in NSA history. There's no indication that the agency has identified how it lost control of such a large collection of advanced tools or that it knows much at all about the Shadow Brokers' membership. The group, meanwhile, continues to publish blog posts written in deliberately broken English, with the most recent one appearing on Wednesday.

The F-Secure theory adds a new, unsettling entry tothe Shadow Brokers' resume. The world already knew the group presided over a breach of unprecedented scope and leaked exploits to the world. Now, we know it also provided crucial private assistance in developing one of the most virulent worms in recent memory.

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NotPetya developers may have obtained NSA exploits weeks before their public leak [Updated] - Ars Technica

Posted in NSA

In aftermath of Petya, congressman asks NSA to stop the attack if it knows how – TechCrunch

Today Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California wrote to the NSA in an appeal for the agency to do anything in its power to stop the spread of the globalransomware (or potentially just disguised as ransomware) attack that began yesterday.

Lieu seeks to hold the NSA accountable for its leaked exploit, known as EternalBlue, which appears to have facilitated the malwares spread. Last month, the ransomware known as WannaCry also leveraged EternalBlue in order to spread between networked machines that have not been updated to protect them from the vulnerability, which Microsoft issued a patch for back in March (MS17-010).

Based on various reports, it appears these two global ransomware attacks likely occurred because the NSAs hacking tools were released to the public by an organization called the ShadowBrokers, Lieu wrote.

My first and urgent request is that if the NSA knows how to stop this global malware attack, or has information that can help stop the attack, then NSA should immediately disclose it. If the NSA has a kill switch for this new malware attack, the NSA should deploy it now.

Lieu went on to implore the spy agency to communicate more openly with major tech companies about the vulnerabilities that it discovers in their systems. In the case of EternalBlue, the NSA is believed to have known about the exploit for years. Naturally that makes one wonder what other massive exploits the agency has up its sleeve and how easily those could be exposed in a new Shadow Brokers leak.

Given the ongoing threat, I urge NSA to continue actively working with companies like Microsoft to notify them of software vulnerabilities of which the Agency is aware, Lieu said.I also urge the NSA to disclose to Microsoft and other entities what it knows that can help prevent future attacks based on malware created by the NSA.

Some things about yesterdays ransomware attack make it even nastier than its predecessor WannaCry. As IEEE Senior Member and Ulster University Cybersecurity Professor Kevin Curran explained to TechCrunch: One key difference from WannaCry is that Petya does not simply encrypt disk files but rather locks the entire disk so nothing can be executed. It does it by encrypting the filesystems master file table so the operating system cannot retrieve files.

The other big difference: WannaCry had a kill switch, even if it wasserendipitous.

It does seem to have the same deadly replication feature of WannaCry which enables it to spread quickly across an internal network infecting other machines, Curran said. It seems to also be finding passwords on each infected computer and using those to spread as well. There seems to be no kill switch on this occasion.

We reached out to the NSA with questions about its ability to stop the spread of the current ransomware and its perceived responsibility moving forward. You can read Lieus full letter, embedded below.

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In aftermath of Petya, congressman asks NSA to stop the attack if it knows how - TechCrunch

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Recode Daily: Trump’s ‘travel ban’ goes into effect, and can the NSA control the cyber weapons it creates? – Recode

A pared-down version of President Trumps travel ban took effect Thursday night, barring immigrants and refugees from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States unless they can prove a relationship with a U.S. citizen or entity; late adjustments to the administrations rules included fiancs but not grandparents and other extended family. In an emergency filing, the state of Hawaii asked a federal court to clarify the scope of the ban, saying the governments latest restrictions go further than the Supreme Court allowed. [Tony Romm / Recode]

This weeks international malware attack has raised concerns that the National Security Agency has rushed to create digital weapons that it cannot keep safe or disable. [The New York Times]

Airbnb is launching a new service for luxury vacation rentals at mega-homes, mansions and penthouses. Airbnb Lux will begin testing in some markets at the end of the year. [Bloomberg]

Meal-kit delivery company Blue Apron raised $300 million in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, opening at about $10 a share. The five-year-old New York City-based company slashed its IPO price amid questions about the long-term feasibility of its model. [Jason Del Rey / Recode]

Blue Apron CEO Matt Salzberg will join Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn and Williams-Sonoma CEO Laura Alber at Septembers Code Commerce event in New York City, where retail and commerce industry leaders will explore the convergence of digital and physical in the realm of buying and selling stuff. [Jason Del Rey / Recode]

No single device will have as much impact as the iPhone in the next 10 years. Heres a look at which products in the market today might have a comparable effect over the next decade. [Jan Dawson / Recode]

A former Binary Capital employee is suing Justin Caldbeck and the VC firm.

Ann Lai alleges defamation and other claims.

Facebooks internet-beaming drone completed its second test flight and landed perfectly.

Its first Aquila flight ended in a crash landing.

A new drone route is now open in Malawi.

Drones can soar over roads in the flood-prone region to help deliver supplies to remote areas.

This new movie about an Instagram stalker looks both hilarious and terrifying.

Remember: People can see your public social media posts.

Google is still mostly white and male.

Thats according to the latest diversity report.

Kids these days.

On the latest Too Embarassed to Ask, Kara Swisher and Lauren Goode talk with The Verges Casey Newton and Karas older son, Louie Swisher, about how teens are using (or not using) apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Musical.ly and more.

Nice day for a Crunchwrap Supreme wedding

This lucky couple won a glamorous, all-expenses-paid wedding at Taco Bells chic Las Vegas Cantina location, catered with Doubledillas, Gorditas and a hot-sauce-packet bouquet. They werent the first; the fast-food company is now offering anyone the chance to get married at the Vegas franchise for $600. [Eric Vilas-Boas / Thrillist]

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Recode Daily: Trump's 'travel ban' goes into effect, and can the NSA control the cyber weapons it creates? - Recode

Posted in NSA

The NSA Confronts a Problem of Its Own Making – The Atlantic

It is hard to imagine more fitting names for code-gone-bad than WannaCry and Eternal Blue. Those are just some of the computer coding vulnerabilities pilfered from the National Security Agencys super-secret stockpile that have been used in two separate global cyber attacks in recent weeks. An attack on Tuesday featuring Eternal Blue was the second of these to use stolen NSA cyber toolsdisrupting everything from radiation monitoring at Chernobyl to shipping operations in India. Fort Meades trove of coding weaknesses is designed to give the NSA an edge. Instead, its giving the NSA heartburn. And its not going away any time soon.

As with most intelligence headlines, the story is complicated, filled with good intentions and unintended consequences. Home to the nations codebreakers and cyber spies, the NSA is paid to intercept communications of foreign adversaries. One way is by hunting for hidden vulnerabilities in the computer code powering Microsoft Windows and and all sorts of other products and services that connect us to the digital world. Its a rich hunting ground. The rule of thumb is that one vulnerability can be found in about every 2,500 lines of code. Given that an Android phone uses 12 million lines of code, were talking a lot of vulnerabilities. Some are easy to find. Others are really hard. Companies are so worried about vulnerabilities that manyincluding Facebook and Microsoftpay bug bounties to anyone who finds one and tells the company about it before alerting the world. Bug bounties can stretch into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Writing the Rules of Cyberwar

The NSA, which employs more mathematicians than any organization on Earth, has been collecting these vulnerabilities. The agency often shares the weaknesses they find with American manufacturers so they can be patched. But not always. As NSA Director Mike Rogers told a Stanford audience in 2014,the default setting is if we become aware of a vulnerability, we share it, but then added, There are some instances where we are not going to do that. Critics contend thats tantamount to saying, In most cases we administer our special snake bite anti-venom that saves the patient. But not always.

In this case, a shadowy group called the Shadow Brokers (really, you cant make these names up) posted part of the NSAs collection online, and now its O.K. Corral time in cyberspace. Tuesdays attacks are just the beginning. Once bad code is in the wild, it never really goes away. Generally speaking, the best approach is patching. But most of us are terrible about clicking on those updates, which means there are always victimslots of themfor cyber bad guys to shoot at.

WannaCry and Eternal Blue must be how folks inside the NSA are feeling these days. Americas secret-keepers are struggling to keep their secrets. For the National Security Agency, this new reality must hit especially hard. For years, the agency was so cloaked in secrecy, officials refused to acknowledge its existence. People inside the Beltway joked that NSA stood for No Such Agency. When I visited NSA headquarters shortly after the Snowden revelations, one public-affairs officer said the job used to entail watching the phones ring and not commenting to reporters.

Now, the NSA finds itself confronting two wicked problemsone technical, the other human. The technical problem boils down to this: Is it ever possible to design technologies to be secure against everyone who wants to breach them except the good guys? Many government officials say yes, or at least no, but In this view, weakening security just a smidge to give law-enforcement and intelligence officials an edge is worth it. Thats the basic idea behind the NSAs vulnerability collection: If we found a vulnerability, and we alone can use it, we get the advantage. Sounds good, except for the part about we alone can use it, which turns out to be, well, dead wrong.

Thats essentially what the FBI argued when it tried to force Apple to design a new way to breach its own products so that special agents could access the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, the terrorist who, along with his wife, killed 14 people in San Bernardino. Law-enforcement and intelligence agencies always want an edge, and there is a public interest in letting them have it.

As former FBI Director James Comey put it, There will come a dayand it comes every day in this businesswhere it will matter a great deal to innocent people that we in law enforcement cant access certain types of data or information, even with legal authorization.

Many leading cryptographers (the geniuses who design secure communications systems) and some senior intelligence officials say that a technical backdoor for one is a backdoor for all. If theres a weakness in the security of a device or system, anyone can eventually exploit it. It may be hard, it may take time, it may take a team of crack hackers, but the math doesnt lie. Its nice to imagine that the FBI and NSA are the only ones who can exploit coding vulnerabilities for the good of the nation. Its also nice to imagine that Im the only person my teenage kids listen to. Nice isnt the same thing as true. Former NSA Director Mike Hayden publicly broke with many of his former colleagues last year. I disagree with Jim Comey, Hayden said. I know encryption represents a particular challenge for the FBI. ... But on balance, I actually think it creates greater security for the American nation than the alternative: a backdoor.

Hayden and others argue that digital security is good for everyone. If people dont trust their devices and systems, they just wont use them. And for all the talk that security improvements will lock out U.S. intelligence agencies, that hasnt happened in the 40 years of this raging debate. Thats right. 40 years. Back in 1976, during the first crypto war, one of my Stanford colleagues, Martin Hellman, nearly went to jail over this dispute. His crime: publishing his academic research that became the foundational technology used to protect electronic communications. Back then, some NSA officials feared that securing communications would make it harder for them to penetrate adversaries systems. They were right, of courseit did get harder. But instead of going dark, U.S. intelligence officials have been going smart, finding new ways to gather information about the capabilities and intentions of bad guys through electronic means.

The NSAs second wicked problem is humans. All the best security clearance procedures in the world cannot eliminate the risk of an insider threat. The digital era has supersized the damage that one person can inflict. Pre-internet, traitors had to sneak into files, snap pictures with hidden mini-cameras, and smuggle documents out of secure buildings in their pant legs or a tissue box. Edward Snowden could download millions of pages onto a thumb drive with some clicks and clever social engineering, all from the comfort of his own desktop.

There are no easy solutions to either the technical or human challenge the NSA now faces. Tuesdays global cyber attack is a sneak preview of the movie known as our lives forever after.

Talk about WannaCry.

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The NSA Confronts a Problem of Its Own Making - The Atlantic

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Utah judge orders NSA to provide documents and data on 2002 … – Salt Lake Tribune

In January, Shelby rejected an attempt by the Department of Justice to dismiss the case.

In late May, a declaration by former NSA official Thomas A. Drake, affirming the allegations, was forwarded by Anderson to Justice Department attorneys.

Drake's statement contradicted assertions by Michael Hayden, the former director of the NSA, that said neither the President's Surveillance Program (PSP) nor any other NSA intelligence-gathering activity was involved in indiscriminate and wholesale surveillance in Salt Lake City or other Olympic venues during the 2002 Winter Games.

"I have reviewed the declaration of Michael V. Hayden dated March 8, 2017," Drake's statement said. "As a result of personal knowledge I gained as a long-time contractor and then senior executive (1989-2008) of the NSA, I know the statements made by Hayden in that declaration are false or, if not literally false, substantially misleading."

The NSA has the capability to seize and store electronic communications passing through U.S. intercept centers, according to the statement from Drake.

After Sept. 11, 2001, "the NSA's new approach was that the president had the authority to override the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Bill of Rights, and the NSA worked under the authority of the president," Drake said. "The new mantra to intercepting intelligence was 'just get it' regardless of the law."

Additional information on the NSA's intelligence-gathering came to light in 2013 when Edward Snowden, a contractor working for the agency, revealed to the Guardian newspaper the scope of U.S. and British global surveillance programs.


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Utah judge orders NSA to provide documents and data on 2002 ... - Salt Lake Tribune

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NSA director frustrated Trump won’t accept Russia interfered in election: report – The Hill

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Mike Rogers is frustrated that he has not yet convincedPresident Trump thatU.S. intelligence indicatesRussia interferedin the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported Wednesday.

Rogers vented frustration over his fruitlessefforts to lawmakers during a recent closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill,a congressional source familiar with the meeting told the news network.

The intelligence community continues to brief the president on new informationon Russia's election involvementas itcomes to light.

An intelligence official told CNN that while Trump does not seem less engaged when being briefed on the matter, he has expressed frustration outside of the briefings that too much attention is being paid to the ongoing probe into Russia's interference in the election.

Russia, as well as other countries such as China, Iran and North Korea are consideredpotential threats by U.S. intelligence.

CNN reported that other top administration officials have also tried to emphasize the importance of a foreign nation attempting to meddle in the U.S. elections.

The president has taken to social mediato criticize formerPresident Barack ObamaBarack ObamaOvernight Energy: Trump vows to bring American energy dominance Fox News anchor rips RNC chair for defending Trump attack on Brzezinski CBO: Debt ceiling will be hit in October MORE after a bombshell report by The Washington Post revealed his predecessor was briefed about Russia's activities in August 2016 and was slow to respond.

"I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it," Trump told Fox News in an interview that aired Sunday. "To me -- in other words -- the question is, if he had the information, why didn't he do something about it? He should have done something about it."

Trump has also repeatedly called the ongoing probe into Russia and possible ties between the Kremlin and hiscampaign a "witch hunt."

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NSA director frustrated Trump won't accept Russia interfered in election: report - The Hill

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NSA Warrantless Surveillance Aided Turks After Attack, Officials Say – New York Times

But the witnesses sidestepped Mr. Grahams question, saying only that they were working on his request. That provoked an angry intervention from the committee chairman, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who banged his gavel and told Mr. Graham, his voice rising, I want you to proceed until you get an answer.

Mr. Graham eventually ended his questioning without getting one. But later in the hearing, Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, suggested that the senators emotion at the thought that their government could invade their privacy and use the information against them was just part of the bigger picture.

What about the privacy of the Americans who are not in this room? he asked.

The warrantless surveillance program traces back to President George W. Bushs Stellarwind program, introduced after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Stellarwind permitted the National Security Agency to wiretap Americans international phone calls without the court orders required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, of 1978.

After it came to light, Congress legalized a form of the program in 2008 with the FISA Amendments Act. It permits the government to collect, from American internet or phone providers and without warrants, the communications of foreigners abroad who have been targeted for any foreign intelligence purpose even when they are talking to Americans.

Privacy advocates want Congress, as part of any bill extending the law, to require warrants before officials may use Americans identifiers, like their email addresses, to search the repository of messages previously collected by the program. But Stuart J. Evans, a top intelligence official at the Justice Department, testified on Tuesday that imposing such a limit would grind the entire FISA process to a halt because investigators need to quickly search a large volume of such queries to process leads, and because such queries are typically undertaken at an early stage, when investigators have not yet found evidence to establish probable cause of wrongdoing.

Several lawmakers also pressed the officials about a decision by Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, to shelve an N.S.A. effort to estimate how much incidental collection of Americans information the program sweeps up. Bradley Brooker, the acting general counsel to Mr. Coats, said that systematically determining who is using email accounts that are not of foreign intelligence interest would invade peoples privacy and divert resources.

To underscore their message that the program is too valuable to curtail, Mr. Brooker and other officials disclosed several additional examples where the program had been useful. They included detecting an unidentified country that was smuggling goods in violation of sanctions, and finding someone in Western Europe who was talking to a member of the Islamic State about purchasing material to build a suicide belt.

Mr. Ghattas said the government had used the program to investigate Shawn Parson, a Trinidadian social media propagandist for the Islamic State whose network distributed prolific amounts of English-language recruiting pitches and calls for attacks before he was killed in Syria in August 2015.

The F.B.I. had been investigating Mr. Parson since October 2013 based on his online postings, Mr. Ghattas said, and information it shared from that collection with unspecified allies had helped them identify other Islamic State supporters and had potentially prevented attacks in those countries.

Follow Charlie Savage on Twitter @charlie_savage.

A version of this article appears in print on June 28, 2017, on Page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: Up-and-Down Hearing On Surveillance Program.

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NSA Warrantless Surveillance Aided Turks After Attack, Officials Say - New York Times

Posted in NSA

Alleged NSA Leaker Reality Winner Appears in Federal Court, Trial … – NBCNews.com

Lawyers gather in court for the NSA contractor accused in top secret leak, Reality Winner, on June 27. Richard Miller

Attorney Titus Nichols told reporters outside court Tuesday afternoon that the discussion over the order centered on both sides knowing the rules of engagement regarding any potentially classified information.

That way if there is any type of information that is classified at any level, that everyone knows what the rules of engagement will be, so there is not going to be a risk of accidental release of information and definitely not going to be any intentional release of information thats classified, he said.

Prosecutor Jennifer Solari said during the hearing that a note pad with handwriting in Farsi was being reviewed and translated. Nichols told reporters after the hearing that the defense had not seen the notebook and thus was not able to discuss anything about it at the time.

Prosecutors are also examining two computers, hard drives, a tablet and four phones seized from Winner. They agreed to have all evidence discovery filed by August 25.

Nichols added that Winner was maintaining pretty well and that every conversation he had had with her has been positive, as his client remains in jail awaiting her trial.

Earlier this month,

Terry Pickard reported from Augusta, Georgia, and Daniella Silva reported from New York.

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Alleged NSA Leaker Reality Winner Appears in Federal Court, Trial ... - NBCNews.com

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NSA-linked tools help power second global ransomware outbreak – Politico

The seals of the U.S. Cyber Command, the National Security Agency and the Central Security Service are pictured outside the campus the three organizations share in Fort Meade, Maryland. | Getty

By Eric Geller

06/27/2017 12:16 PM EDT

Updated 06/27/2017 05:49 PM EDT

A potent ransomware attack has gripped organizations around the world for the second time in less than two months.

And like the first outbreak in mid-May which claimed hundreds of thousands victims in a game-changing cyberattack Tuesday's outburst is spreading via a Microsoft flaw originally exposed in a leak of apparent NSA hacking tools.

Story Continued Below

The latest malicious software battered companies in Russia, Ukraine and many other countries in Europe, according to cybersecurity researchers, sending law enforcement officials scrambling and sparking fears about how the world would contain the outbreak of the malware, which locks up computer systems and demands ransom payments.

While the U.S. has been largely unscathed to this point, major multinational energy, shipping, banking, pharmaceutical and law firms, as well as government agencies, have confirmed they are fighting off cyberattacks.

Security firm Kaspersky Lab estimated it had seen 2,000 victims, and counting, throughout the day. While the estimate is significantly lower than the massive numbers tied to May's attack which relied on malware dubbed WannaCry some researchers noted technical details of the new malware that might make it harder to kill.

Researchers have also not yet linked the latest attack to any specific hacking group or nation-state, unlike May's digital ambush, which technical specialists and reportedly intelligence officials in the U.S. and U.K. traced to North Korean-backed hackers.

But security specialists have been warning for weeks that the recent WannaCry ransomware virus was only the beginning of these fast-spreading digital sieges.

WannaCry was powered by a variant of apparent NSA cyber weapons that were dumped online, raising questions about whether the secretive hacking agency should sit on such powerful tools instead of alerting companies like Microsoft to the deficiencies in their software.

Experts say hackers have likely been working to tweak the WannaCry malware, potentially allowing new versions to skirt the digital defenses that helped stall the first global assault.

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Indeed, the virus that proliferated Tuesday shares many similarities with WannaCry, but contains some striking differences.

For starters, Tuesday's virus proliferated using the same Microsoft Windows flaw as WannaCry, according to digital security firms Symantec and Bitdefender Labs. But researchers noted the malware is also capable of hopping around using multiple Microsoft flaws, not just the most famous one exposed in the online dump of the purported NSA cyber weapons.

Additionally, like WannaCry, this new malware demands that victims pay a ransom using the digital currency Bitcoin before their files can be unlocked. As of Tuesday evening, 32 victims had paid a ransom, with the number steadily climbing.

Unlike WannaCry, however, the rapidly spreading malware does not merely encrypt files as part of its ransom scheme. Rather, it changes critical system files so that the computer becomes unresponsive, according to John Miller, a senior manager for analysis at the security firm FireEye, which reviewed the malware.

Some researchers identified the infection as a novel variation of the so-called Petya malware, which has been around since 2016. But researchers at Kaspersky believe it is a totally new strain they are dubbing ExPetr.

A sample of the malware initially went undetected by nearly all antivirus software.

The digital weapon cloaks itself as a file that Microsoft has already approved as safe, helping it avoid detection, Costin Raiu, director of global research efforts at Kaspersky, said on Twitter.

The malware was written on June 18, according to a sample that Kaspersky has analyzed.

Most of the infections on Tuesday were in Ukraine, with Russia the next hardest hit, according to Kasperskys analysis. Russia was also a major victim during the WannaCry outbreak. Raiu told POLITICO that Belarus, Brazil, Estonia, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United States were also affected, but that those countries accounted for less than 1 percent of all victims.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesman said the agency was "monitoring reports" of the ransomware campaign and coordinating with international authorities.

Researchers suspect that Ukraine became the nexus of the outburst after companies using a popular tax program unknowingly downloaded an update that contained the ransomware. From there, the virus could have spread beyond those companies using various flaws in Windows.

The ransomware eruption may be responsible for several major cyber incidents that began Tuesday.

The global shipping and logistics firm Maersk which is based in Denmark confirmed that it was dealing with a intrusion affecting "multiple sites and business units." And the Russian oil company Rosneft said it was responding to "a massive hacker attack."

Ukraine's central bank and its capital city's main airport also said they were dealing with cyberattacks. The virus appeared to be hitting the country's government computers as well.

The cyberattack also forced the Ukraine-based Chernobyl nuclear power plant to revert to manual radiation monitoring, according to a Ukrainian journalist citing the country's state news service.

Elsewhere, the German pharmaceutical giant Merck said its network was compromised in the outbreak and that it was still investigating the incident.

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But the U.S. has been largely spared so far.

The American Gas Association said in a statement that no U.S. natural gas utilities have reported infections.

However, in Pennsylvania, the Heritage Valley Health System which operates two hospitals and 60 physician offices said it was grappling with a cyberattack. The incident is widespread and is affecting the entire health system, said spokeswoman Suzanne Sakson.

Multinational law firm DLA Piper was also experiencing computer and phone outages in multiple offices, including in Washington, D.C. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

But a photo shared with POLITICO showed a sign outside the firm's Washington office that read, "All network services are down, do not turn on your computers! Please remove all laptops from docking stations and keep turned off. No exceptions."

DLA Pipers secure document storage system for clients also went down, though the firm may have done that as a precaution. A bit stressed at moment as I am unsure if our docs there are safe, one client told POLITICO.

Tim Starks contributed to this report.

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NSA-linked tools help power second global ransomware outbreak - Politico

Posted in NSA

Purdue, sheriffs association launch next phase of naloxone initiative – The Advocate

Photo: Michael Cummo / Hearst Connecticut Media

Purdue Pharma is headquartered at 201 Tresser Blvd., in downtown Stamford, Conn.

Purdue Pharma is headquartered at 201 Tresser Blvd., in downtown Stamford, Conn.

Purdue, sheriffs association launch next phase of naloxone initiative

STAMFORD Purdue Pharma and the National Sheriffs Association announced this week the second round of a partnership that gives officers across the country overdose kits and training for the naloxone drug, which can reverse opioid overdoses.

NSA officials credit the Purdue-funded initiative with helping to save some 120 lives since its late 2015 pilot-phase launch. In the first stage, NSA officers distributed 500 naloxone kits to 12 local law enforcement agencies in several states.

The program has also allowed NSA to reach more than 600 deputies and officers through on-site training at nine law enforcement agencies across the country.

Purdue remains committed to combating opioid abuse and equipping our communities with the tools and resources they need to do so, Gail Cawkwell, Purdues chief medical officer, said in a statement. We are motivated by the results weve seen since the launch of the pilot program and are proud to continue our partnership with NSA.

Purdue, whose drugs include the opioid OxyContin, has contributed $850,000 so far to the initiative and $500,000 will support the next phase. The NSA plans to provide during the next year the Narcan nasal spray brand of naloxone and training to at least 50 law enforcement agencies across the country.

Law enforcement officers know firsthand the impact that the right tools can have in saving lives within our communities, Sheriff Keith Cain, NSA board member and chairman of the NSAs Drug Enforcement Committee, said in a statement. NSA has identified naloxone as one of the most effective weapons in our arsenal for combatting opioid overdose, and we are continuing our work to train law enforcement and implement effective solutions on a national scale.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also endorsed naloxone.

Since 1999, the national rate of overdose deaths involving opioids including prescription drugs and heroin nearly quadrupled, and more than 165,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses, according to an HHS factsheet.

In a May report on the initiative, the NSA pointed to the need for a comprehensive strategy for tackling the opioid epidemic that includes raising awareness about its impact and solutions that help those affected by the crisis.

We need to have a pointed discussion that regularly and openly identifies what works, what doesn't, and where communities can go for solutions, NSA officials wrote in the report. Right now, we need to come together as a country to figure out what is already working and what we can do to implement these solutions on a national scale.

While NSA praised Purdue for its support of the naloxone program, the Stamford-based pharmaceutical company also faces a wave of litigation alleging it made false claims about OxyContin that fueled the opioid crisis. During the past month, Ohios attorney general and a group of district attorneys general in Tennessee have filed such complaints. Purdue has denied those lawsuits allegations.

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott

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Purdue, sheriffs association launch next phase of naloxone initiative - The Advocate

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