Newly Released Snowden Documents Related to New Zealand

March 4th, 2015

We know more of the operational names and technical details than in past years, but Hager let the world know this was happening back in 1996: Secret Power.

Via: New Zealand Herald:

New Zealand is “selling out” its close relations with the Pacific nations to be close with the United States, author Nicky Hager has said.

Hager, in conjunction with the New Zealand Herald and the Intercept news site, revealed today how New Zealand’s spies are targeting the entire email, phone and social media communications of the country’s closest, friendliest and most vulnerable neighbours.

The revelations, based on documents supplied by United States fugitive and whistleblower Edward Snowden, expose a heavy focus on “full-take collection” from the Pacific with nearly two dozen countries around the world targeted by our Government Communications Security Bureau.

The Snowden documents show that information from across the Pacific is collected by New Zealand’s GCSB but sent on to the United States’ National Security Agency to plug holes in its global spying network.

“Lab Mishap” Infects Macaques with “Potential Bioterror Bacteria”

March 4th, 2015

See: Dr. Mary’s Monkey by Edward T. Haslam

Via: USA Today:

Tests indicate a fifth monkey had been exposed to deadly bacteria that was somehow released from a high-security lab at the Tulane National Primate Research Center near New Orleans, according to an e-mail circulated among federal and state investigators. The monkey, like the others before it, was not part of an experiment. How the dangerous pathogen got out of its lab remains a mystery.

Preliminary tests on a sample taken from the monkey, a rhesus macaque known as IL88, indicates a possible infection with Burkholderia pseudomallei, the potential bioterror bacteria that was being used in vaccine development research elsewhere on the primate center’s 500-acre campus in Covington, La.

A confirmation test is being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Results are expected later this week or early next week, Tulane spokesman Michael Strecker said Tuesday evening.

Strecker said this fifth macaque, like the others that were confirmed as testing positive in recent weeks, had been in the facility’s veterinary hospital around the same time late last year. The hospital is the leading suspect for where the primates were exposed to the bacteria — which was supposed to be securely contained inside a laboratory located in another building on the sprawling campus.

Federal and state officials from multiple health, environmental, agriculture and homeland security agencies have spent weeks trying to determine how the bacteria got out of that secure biosafety level 3 lab – but have not yet determined what happened. Research with the bacteria has been halted as the investigation continues. The CDC has said there is no evidence of a public health threat. The bacteria can cause a potentially fatal disease called melioidosis in humans and animals, with a wide range of non-specific symptoms such as fever, headache and joint pain.

.Mil’s Next Massive Boondoggle: Long Range Strike Bomber

March 4th, 2015

Via: Washington Post:

With so little known about it, there is growing concern about the system’s cost. And given the Pentagon’s vast history of cost overruns on major weapons systems, experts worry that even though a contract has yet to be awarded, it is already facing the same troubling problems that have plagued other programs.

The Air Force has estimated each new bomber will cost $550 million apiece, but that figure was set in 2010 without counting for inflation and is already five years outdated. It’s also significantly less than the cost of its predecessor, the B-2 bomber, and not that much more than some high-end commercial jets. Coming in at such a low price will be difficult, if not impossible, analysts said.

Government Plan for Increasing Adult Vaccinations

March 4th, 2015

Via: Jon Rappoport:

It’s happening under the leadership of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS): “The Adult Immunization Plan.”

(See National Adult Immunization Plan National Vaccine Program Office DRAFT: National Vaccine Program Office February 5, 2015 and also Solicitation of Written Comments on the Draft National Adult Immunization Plan (HHS, 02/06/2015))

The HHS is a cabinet agency under the President.

The goal of the Plan? To vastly increase the number of adults in the US who are vaccinated against diseases in accordance with the CDC schedule of vaccines.

Here are key quotes from the Plan:

“The HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities includes a measure to increase the percentage of the minority population who receive the seasonal influenza vaccination.”

Translation: The government cares about minorities, and to prove it these persons will be injected with a variety of germs and toxic chemicals.

“Increase the use of electronic health records (EHRs) and immunization information systems (IIS) to collect and track adult immunization data.”

Translation: expose confidential patient medical records to many doctors and government agencies, in order to discover all adults who aren’t up to speed on their vaccinations—and therefore must get the shots. Goodbye, privacy. Goodbye, unencumbered free choice.

“Educate and encourage other groups (e.g., community-
and faith-based groups) to promote the importance of adult immunization…A variety of networks can be leveraged, including faith-based and community organizations and individual trusted leaders.”

Translation: Step up government-initiated propaganda at all levels of society, in order to convince adults to come forward and receive their injections.

“All healthcare professionals must ensure that adult patients are fully immunized.”

Translation: During every office visit, doctors must check the vaccination status of their adult patients and pressure them to take their injections.

Report of Shots Fired Near NSA Headquarters, Building Damaged

March 3rd, 2015

Via: NBC:

U.S. Park Police are investigating a report of shots fired near the National Security Agency’s headquarters Tuesday evening.

A spokesperson for the police said the NSA is investigating damage to one of its buildings that appeared to be from gunshots.

‘FREAK’ Flaw Undermined Security for Apple and Google Users for Over a Decade

March 3rd, 2015

Via: Washington Post:

Technology companies are scrambling to fix a major security flaw that for more than a decade left users of Apple and Google devices vulnerable to hacking when they visited millions of supposedly secure Web sites, including, and

The flaw resulted from a former U.S. government policy that forbade the export of strong encryption and required that weaker “export-grade” products be shipped to customers in other countries, say the researchers who discovered the problem. These restrictions were lifted in the late 1990s, but the weaker encryption got baked into widely used software that proliferated around the world and back into the United States, apparently unnoticed until this year.

Researchers discovered in recent weeks that they could force browsers to use the weaker encryption, then crack it over the course of just a few hours. Once cracked, hackers could steal passwords and other personal information and potentially launch a broader attack on the Web sites themselves by taking over elements on a page, such as a Facebook “Like” button.

The problem illuminates the danger of unintended security consequences at a time when top U.S. officials, frustrated by increasingly strong forms of encryption on smartphones, have called for technology companies to provide “doors” into systems to protect the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to conduct surveillance.

Polio-Like Paralysis in Children Is Perplexing Parents — and Researchers

March 3rd, 2015

Via: Washington Post:

For most of the children who fell ill last year during an outbreak of enterovirus, the symptoms were relatively mild — fever, runny nose, coughing and sneezing.

But then there was this mystery: More than 100 kids suffered an unexplained, polio-like paralysis that struck quickly but even now continues to stump researchers and upend the lives of the families across the country.

For Priya Duggal and her colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University, the biggest puzzle is why those children became paralyzed while their brothers and sisters, who also were exposed to the virus, escaped largely unscathed.

Enphase Promotes STEM Careers for Women

March 2nd, 2015

Disclosure: I sell solar power systems that include Enphase products in New Zealand.

This is far off topic, but I thought I’d share this for people with young daughters, or for any young women who happen to be reading.

The media is saturated with stories about women leaving tech jobs because of entrenched nonsense.

Let’s look another possibility.

Companies that want to change the world for the better need women to help them do it.

Via: Enphase Energy:

Cryptogon Readers Send Donations in February

March 2nd, 2015

Thank you.

AM $10
DS $25
KL $5
KH $15
TG $5
DE $10
Eileen $45
AD $5
JH $5

Are Your Devices Hardwired For Betrayal?

March 2nd, 2015

Via: EFF:

How Do We Fix It?

Hardware manufacturers must take steps to address this problem before more firmware disasters comes to pass. In the past, hardware manufacturers have been more worried about physical and side-channel attacks. Manufacturers therefore focused mainly on making their hardware and firmware opaque and tamper-proof in hopes that, if no one could reverse engineer the firmware, then no one would be able to attack it. Unfortunately this defense has proven ineffective. This should serve as a stark reminder of the old adage: “Security through obscurity is no security at all.” We we need to take back transparency and verifiability in our hardware.

Although this is a daunting problem, it is solvable. To avert this disaster there are three things that must happen right away:

Firmware must be properly audited. Hardware manufacturers need to hire security professionals to audit their firmware and publish the results. Preferably, hardware companies should hire full time security staff to make sure that their code is audited before it ever gets installed. Hardware manufacturers could also release the source code for their device’s firmware, allowing independent security researchers and laypersons to review the code as well—and perhaps even improve it. People have a right to inspect the code that is running on their computers.
Firmware updates must be signed. Firmware updates should be signed by the manufacturers so that we can be sure we are installing trusted code when we upgrade our firmware. Additionally, manufacturers should ensure that there is an easy mechanism for the average user to check the signature and upgrade their firmware. Ideally users would not have to rely on the broken certificate authority system to verify these signatures.
We need a mechanism for verifying the integrity of installed firmware. Of course, even if we have signed updates to firmware, some piece of malware could reprogram the firmware already on the device and have a good long life, before it eventually gets updated (if ever). Because of this, we need a way to verify the code on our hardware devices at boot time or run time in a way that can’t be subverted by malicious firmware already on the device. 2

None of these things are inherently difficult from a technological standpoint. The hard problems to overcome will be inertia, complacency, politics, incentives, and costs on the part of the hardware companies.

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