IS plotting cyber attacks

635603107198861220-homeland-securityUK chancellor George Osborne said today that jihadists of Islamic State are planning cyber warfare in the UK, targeting hospitals, utilities and air traffic control.

But he also said that the UK is planning counter cyber war against IS, which will take down its its web sites and communications.

Speaking at security agency GCHQ, Osborne said that it will defend the UK, but will also take the fight to the jihadists.

He said the IS had not yet used cyber warfare to kill people but that the UK government knew that they are building their capabilities up.

The government will double spending on cyber security to close to £2 billion.

He said if electricity, air traffic control or hospitals were attacked online, the damage would not be limited to economic loss, but lives would be lost.

The government will base the team at GCHQ in Cheltenham.

GCHQ recorded the browsing habits of everyone

903163The UK spooks know exactly what you were browsing in 2007 and 2008 had have built a profile on you.

Dubbed Karma Police, the project was launched in 2009, without telling Parliament or the great unwashed.

According to documents published by The Intercept, the explicit intention of correlating “every user visible to passive SIGINT with every website they visit, hence providing either (a) a web browsing profile for every visible user on the Internet, or (b) a user profile for every visible website on the Internet”.

You should be especially worked up if you visited Cryptome.org or pornography site RedTube as its users were flagged for special attention.

The spooks also had another project called Blazing Saddles which targeted listeners of “any one particular radio station … to understand any trends or behaviours”.

The aim of the programmes was to test a wealth of data mining techniques could be applied on small closed groups of individuals, to look for potential covert communications channels for hostile intelligence agencies running agents in allied countries, terrorist cells, or serious crime targets.


American-Israeli researchers build better Tor

TorLogo-v2-onion1A team of American and Israeli academics has come up with a flavour of Tor which is tougher for the NSA or GCHQ to hack.

Dubbed Astoria, the software reduces the number of vulnerable circuits from 58 percent to 5.8 percent. It is the first designed to beat even the asymmetric correlation attacks on Tor which have made it vulnerable.

According to a research paper Astoria differs most significantly from Tor’s default client in how it selects the circuits that connect a user to the network and then to the outside Internet. It is basically an algorithm designed to more accurately predict attacks and then securely select relays that mitigate timing attack opportunities for top-tier adversaries.

Astoria works out how circuits should, according to the researchers, be made “when there are no safe possibilities it can do this even while the Tor users is being watched by the spooks.

.The only thing the spooks have left is the fact that defeating timing attacks against Tor completely isn’t possible because of how Tor is built.  However Astoria makes attacks more costly and less likely to succeed.

By choosing relays based on lowering the threat of eavesdropping by autonomous systems and then choosing randomly if no safe passage is possible, Astoria aims to minimize the information gained by an adversary watching an entire circuit.

Astoria is a good network citizen and works to ensure that the all circuits created by it are load-balanced across the volunteer driven Tor network.”


Privacy International sues British spooks

Human rights group Privacy International has filed a legal complaint against GCHQ.

The group says that the British spooks installed malware on millions of devices without their owners’ permission.

The complaint, filed Tuesday by Privacy International, accused the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) of surveillance techniques that were “incompatible with democratic principles and human rights standards.”

The privacy watchdog was miffed that GCHQ installed hacking programs such as Nosey Smurf, Tracker Smurf, and Foggybottom on computers, mobile phones, and webcams to secretly record users’ doings.

“In allowing GCHQ to extract a huge amount of information (current and historical), much of which an individual may never have chosen to share with anybody, and to turn a user’s own devices against him by coopting them as instruments of video and audio surveillance, it is at least as intrusive as searching a person’s house and installing bugs so as to enable continued monitoring,” the complaint states.

The complaint adds that the actions of GCHQ were more intrusive because of the amount of information generated and stored by computers and mobile devices.

The complaint follows documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In its 21-page complaint the UK-based watchdog, Privacy International claims the techniques allegedly used by the UK’s counterpart to the NSA violate European human rights law and requested that the alleged practice be stopped.

Eric King, Privacy International’s deputy director, said in a statement that the hacking programs being undertaken by GCHQ were the same as a government entering your house, rummaging through your filing cabinets, diaries, journals and correspondence, before planting bugs in every room you enter. 

Cameron’s censorship mentor faces paedophile charges

The bloke who encouraged Prime Minister David Cameron to censor the internet to protect kids from evil paedophiles has been arrested on child pornography charges.

Patrick Rock has been closely involved in drawing up Government policy on internet porn filters. It seems that while he was filling David’s head with the terrors of paedophiles he was at the centre of a police probe over images of child abuse.

Detectives from the National Crime Agency even searched No 10 and examined IT systems and offices used by Rock who was the deputy director of the Downing Street policy unit.

According to the Daily Mail,  Rock was a protégé of Margaret Thatcher and has held a series of senior posts in the Conservative Party and was described as Cameron’s ‘policy fixer’. He was about to be rewarded with a Conservative peerage.

It is not the first time that Rock has been in trouble. He was also been the subject of a sexual harassment complaint from a civil servant working in Downing Street. That particular complaint was buried by Cameron’s advisors which miffed the rest of the staff at Number 10.

Cameron’s time with Rock goes back to the Home Office, where they both worked under Michael Howard in the 1990s. When Cameron brought him back into Downing Street in 2011, that move welcomed by critics as heralding the return of a ‘grown up’ to the centre of government.

Although Rock is innocent until proved guilty, his arrest has made Cameron’s crusade against internet porn look more than a little stupid. There is a psychological theory which states that those who complain most about some something usually have something dark to hide about it. The thought that an anti-child porn law might have been drawn up by the very person it was designed to catch leads many to wonder if it was really designed to create a semblance of a law while never actually arresting real paedophiles. Rock was arrested under the old laws, which seemed to be working rather well. 

David Cameron has been watching too many cop shows

Prime Minister David Cameron is attempting to get his snooper’s charter back online again after being killed off by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg for being too expensive.

Cameron now  wants to further legalise the government’s ability to spy on pretty much all communications because of what he sees in the fictional cop shows on television.

According to the BBC, Cameron told a parliamentary committee that gathering communications data was “politically contentious” but vital to keep citizens safe.

He said that in the most serious crimes shows, such as child abduction cases, communications data is vital.

“I love watching, as I probably should stop telling people, crime dramas on the television. There’s hardly a crime drama where a crime is solved without using the data of a mobile communications device,” he said.

Cameron said that the government had to explain to people that… “if we don’t modernise the practice and the law, over time we will have the communications data to solve these horrible crimes on a shrinking proportion of the total use of devices and that is a real problem for keeping people safe”.

In other words, because fictional characters on crime drama TV shows make use of data, that is somehow proof that it is necessary. What is interesting is that Cameron is clearly selective in his viewing. If he watched Enemy of the State it would show how government can abuse such information, or maybe that is the idea.

That is right. Because Cameron has seen shows on TV where criminal cases are solved because of technology, he thinks that it is vital that the country should give up its right to privacy. It is just as well he does not watch much science fiction or he would be spending many tax dollars looking for alien technology and monitoring police phone boxes. Sheesh even Thatcher did not get that mad and she was completely barking.

Next he will be calling for a public inquiry into why so many serial killers have hit the town of Bradfield in West Yorkshire over the last decade.

Cameron’s porn filter is a massive fail

David Cameron’s attempt to keep children safe from the evil internet when they have been abandoned in a pub appears to be failing on many different levels.

The filter designed to catch porn and adult content inadvertently blocked a game update which contained the letters ‘s-e-x’

The League of Legends strategy game mistakenly caught by UK porn filter because an update of an online video game due which unintentionally included the letters “s-e-x” in its web address.

As a result the block resulted in the update failing with “file not found” errors, which are usually created by missing files or broken updates on the part of the developers.

The problem was first noted on social news site Reddit by LolBoopje showing that files named VarusExpirationTimer.luaobj and XerathMageChainsExtended.luaobj were enough to trigger a block at the internet service provider level.

But the filter, which already causes more trouble than it is worth, is also being rendered useless because people are opting out of it.

The Guardian said that that the filters are only used by a minority of people: those that have ordered a new service since the law came into effect, and who said “yes” to filtering when they signed up. Most are not doing so.

All it seems Cameron’s filter did was show that Brits hate being told what they can’t read online and will ignore it when they can. 

Cameron’s internet filter a disaster

UK Prime Minister David Cameron must be pleased that his anti-porn filter programme was launched while most of the world was on holiday.

This is because it is turning out that his attempts to impose an anti-porn filter has proven to be an unmitigated disaster.

Leaving aside the fact that it is easy for a child to get around, it blocks access to leading charity sites including ChildLine, the NSPCC and the Samaritans.

Ironically this means that in the name of protecting children, Cameron has managed to cut them off from their life-lines and will allow them to be sexual abused or commit suicide because they can’t get the help they need.

It puts the fact that they might see a woman’s boobs in perspective.

They have also been banned from seeing women’s charities, the British Library and the National Library of Scotland. The last could be the first stop for kids wanting to do their homework.

The filter blocks access to the Parliament and Government websites and the sites of politicians. If any politically aware kids wanted to complain about it to their MP,  they can’t. Fortunately, it also blocks access to Claire Perry, the MP who has campaigned prominently for the introduction of filters, so there is a God after all.

Harry Clapham, whose website offers guitar lessons, complained on Twitter that he was being censored by the filter. “So a parent who opts in is safe from guitar lessons giving their kids bad dreams,” he tweeted. Another Twitter user complained “it appears ‘parental control’ is O2’s term for ‘switch the whole internet off’.”

O2 told The Independent on Monday that it was changing its parental control filters to allow access to some of the charities that had been blocked. 

Cameron’s porn filter blocks tech sites

It is just as we predicted, David Cameron’s wonderful “save the children” porn filter is just another attempt by the Tories to prevent people finding out information.

The first person to notice that Cameron had stopped people reading his site was tech writer Peter Hansteen from Norway. For no other reason that Hansteen could think of, Cameron had declared bsdly.net out of bounds.

The only reason he could find was that once he wrote a story which refered to a picture of “a blonde chick with a cute pussy”. It turned out that the picture in question in fact was of baby poultry and cats.

The site is mainly tech content, with some resources such as the hourly updated list of greytrapped spam senders.

The national Norwegian Unix Users’ group web site www.nuug.no was blocked, and we assume that Cameron does not want people finding out about that nasty communist Open Sauce.

Www.usenix.org, the main site for USENIX, the US-based but actually quite international Unix user group has also turned out to be apparently blocked in the parental control regime.

Basically Cameron finds Unix and Linux immoral and something children should not be allowed to see.

Of course Cameron has blocked the Electronic Frontier Foundation – after all the last thing you want is your kids to find out that he is taking their liberties away like an evil Santa.

Also gone is amnesty.org.uk. Yep, Cameron was dumb enough to censor Amnesty International, because it disagreed with Teresa May’s decisions on extradition.

Apparently slashdot.org is blocked by the Parental Control regime, along with linuxtoday.com and blogspot.com. Arstechnica is also gone, and the www.openbsd.org and its rival the www.freebsd.org, which is the home site of FreeBSD. Gone is www.geekculture.com. www.linux.com.

We would have thought that these bodies and groups would have a case for suing the government. After all it is interfering with free trade for absolutely no reason. As it is kids of today are ignorant and self-absorbed and now it seems that Cameron wants to keep them that way. 

Cameron started his purge on the net today

Because parents do not monitor their children’s internet porn habits, Prime minster David Cameron has started censoring the internet for the whole of the country.

This morning, millions of BT customers woke up to an internet censored from all those things that Cameron does not like – well almost. BT said it now has the filter working.

New customers will have to make a choice on whether or not to activate the parental controls when setting up their internet connection for the first time. Of course, it will mean that you will have to explain why you are opting out to BT and there is a good probability that your IP address will be flagged to be closely watched by GCHQ.

Existing BT customers will be contacted during the course of 2014, and asked if they want to activate the controls and have a government department decide what they can access.

Those who opt to switch on the parental controls will have to choose between three set filter levels – strict, moderate and light. All three filters cover pornography, ‘obscene and tasteless’ content, and hate and self-harm, drugs, alcohol and tobacco and dating sites.

Moderate and strict also block sites featuring nudity, weapons and violence, gambling and social networking; strict also blocks fashion and beauty sites, file-sharing, games and media streaming. Additional websites can be added to the list manually to be allowed or blocked.

To complicate things more, the  filter can be turned off at specific times, for example to act as a “watershed”, and it can also be set to an additional level during “homework time”, for extra peace of mind when children are doing their homework.

Pete Oliver, MD consumer commercial marketing and digital at BT said in a statement that BT takes the question of online child protection extremely seriously and he is  very pleased to be able to launch the whole home filter to help parents keep their families safe online.

A recent report by Ofcom revealed that only 43 percent of parents with children aged five to 15 have any filters in place on the family PC or laptop, with 13 percent admitting they either do not know how to install controls or did not know it was possible.  Cameron’s answer is because the guys either do not want to, or cannot install basic software then those who do not have kids will have to suffer. 

Cameron knows all about looking after children. He famously abandoned his kid in a pub when he went out to dinner with his missus. What a pity there is not a way of outsourcing that responsibly too.  Oh, yeah that is called a public education system and Cameron does not want to put taxpayer money into that.