Tag: obama

Trump insists that Obama was listening through his microwave

 

Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump is standing by his bizarre claim that former president Barrack Obama was listening into his election conversations through his microwave.

While every other member of the US Senate Intelligence Committee rejected Trump’s bizarre claim that the Obama administration wire-tapped him during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump is sticking to his guns, or rather his nukes.

The top Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, added his voice to a growing chorus of lawmakers saying there was no sign of a wiretap.

But White House spokesman Sean Spicer forcefully defended the president, citing news reports of intelligence collection on possible contacts between Trump associates and Russia in the presidential campaign.

“There is no question that there were surveillance techniques used throughout this,” Spicer said.

The Republican president has accused his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, of wiretapping him near the end of the campaign. An Obama spokesman said that was “simply false”.

“Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016,” Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Senator Mark Warner, the committee’s Democratic vice chairman, said in a statement.

Ryan also said there was no evidence of surveillance.

“The point is, the intelligence committees in their continuing, widening, ongoing investigation of all things Russia, got to the bottom – at least so far – with respect to our intelligence community that – that no such wiretap existed,” the House speaker told reporters.

Pressed at the White House briefing on whether Trump would back down from his wiretap accusations, Spicer said: “He stands by it”.

Spicer also chastised the media for focusing so much attention on comments disparaging Trump’s claim about surveillance. He said reporters had not focused enough on comments from officials denying evidence of any collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

But that might have been because the news is really about Trump’s allegations that his associates had ties to Russian officials and the White House wants that buried. Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, last month after he failed to disclose contacts with Russia’s ambassador before Trump took office on January 20.

An official familiar with the investigations by Congress and intelligence and law enforcement agencies said investigators had looked as aggressively and thoroughly as they could for evidence of any spying on Trump or his associates but had found none.

At least four congressional committees included the startling accusation in their investigations of possible Russian meddling in the election campaign and Russian ties to Trump and his associates.

Chelsea Manning has her sentence shortened

Chelsea_Manning_with_wigPresident Barack Obama has shortened the prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the former US military intelligence analyst who was responsible for a 2010 leak of classified materials to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

Manning has been a focus of a worldwide debate on government secrecy since she provided more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks – a leak for which she was sentenced to serve 35 years in prison. Obama, in one of his final acts before leaving office, reduced her sentence to seven years.

Manning was working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2010 when she gave WikiLeaks a trove of diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts that included a 2007 gunsight video of a US Apache helicopter firing at suspected insurgents in Iraq, killing a dozen people including two Reuters news staff.

Manning was born male but revealed after being convicted of espionage that she identifies as a woman. The White House said her sentence would end on May 17 this year.

Prison has been tough on Manning who has tried to kill herself twice. Obama said that one of the reason that she has been pardoned is that she accepted responsibility for leaking the material.

The official said Obama’s decision was rooted in Manning’s sentence being longer than sentences given to others who had committed comparable crimes. Obama, who leaves office on Friday and is scheduled to give his final news conference on Wednesday, is expected to discuss his decision then.

The move has been welcomed by Amnesty International which has said that Chelsea Manning exposed serious abuses, and her own human rights have been violated by the US government for years.

The Republicans are furious claiming that Manning’s leaks had put US lives in danger. Of course that is not as dangerous as having a president who owes the Russians lots of money.

White House rushes to lock out Russian hackers

Vladimir Putin - Wikimedia CommonsThe White House is rushing to stop Russian hackers from gaming future US elections before Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump takes over and lets them get away with it.

President Obama wants to implement measures to penalise Russia for allegedly interfering in the US presidential elections. In 2015, the White House announced new economic sanctions, which authorised the Obama administration to punish and prevent foreign hackers who attack US national security and economy.

The National Security Council, the sanctions fall short of providing the current administration enough power to punish the biggest and most controversial cyberattack that hit the Democratic National Committee so now it is trying to work out how to tailor the sanctions to punish the Russian election hackers.

According to reports, one way of striking back at the Russian election hackers would be to declare electoral systems as critical infrastructure and what the Russians did actually harmed it,

The White House is seeking to employ measures that not only provide authority to penalise hackers who harm national security, but also prevent such attacks in the future.

US authorities blame Russian state-sponsored hackers for targeting political parties in efforts to interfere in the elections and help Trump secure a victory. The White House’s allegations were bolstered by US intelligence and the FBI’s analysis of the attacks, which also hold Russia responsible for its interference in the elections.

The worry is that if the Russians think “that worked pretty well” they will try to do it every-time the US has an election until they get the sort of government they want. The fear is that when Trump enters the White House he will abandon any moves to shore up the defenses against Russia because he owes them rather a lot of money.  If the rules are in place before he takes over, it might be more difficult for him to bin them.

Telcos likely to have supreme power over Google

animal-memes-how-i-feel-when-i-have-waterproof-phoneAfter all its years being in bed with the Obama administration, the search engine Google might suddenly find itself in a bit of hot water.

Donald “Prince of Orange” Trump look like he is going to reverse Obama administration policies that often favoured the internet giant in the company’s battles with telecoms and cable heavyweights.

Trump looks like he will grab the pussy of the telecom firms and has already asked the US Federal Communications Commission to halt action on regulatory reform measures opposed by companies such as AT&T and CenturyLink.

The commission is now expected to reject FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s high-profile proposal to open the $20 billion market for rented pay-TV set-top boxes.

This would have dealt a big blow to cable companies and created an opening for firms such as Google.

Cable companies have expressed concerns that rivals like Google or Apple could create devices or apps and insert their own content or advertising in cable content.

This could also be bad news for net neutrality. Most Republicans strongly oppose net neutrality, which requires internet service providers to treat all data equally and bars them from obstructing or slowing down consumer access to web content.

Republicans in Congress or at a Republican-controlled FCC under a Trump administration could also pare back new privacy rules adopted in October that subject internet service providers to stricter rules than those faced by Google and other websites.

Obama ditches Blackberry

obama-funny-face-grr-growl-640x397President Barack Obama fought to keep his BlackBerry when he took office, now he is ditching it for an Android.

The President was given a BlackBerry 8830 World Edition with extra crypto—for unclassified calls and e-mail. He liked his Blackberry so much he continued to carry it even though the technology was getting rather elderly and the company has been going down the gurgler.

In an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Barack Obama said he now carries a secure “smartphone” that is so locked down that he compared it to an infant’s toy phone. The phone in question was not an iPhone of course but a “hardened” Samsung Galaxy S4.

The S4 is currently the only device supported under DISA’s DOD Mobility Classified Capability-Secret (DMCC-S) program. In 2014, a number of Samsung devices were the first to win approval from the National Security Agency under its National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) program—largely because of Samsung’s KNOX security technology. And the S4, layered with services managed by DISA, is the first commercial phone to get approval to connect to the Secret classified DOD SIPRNet network.

The DMCC-S handset sacrifices some of the Galaxy’s functionality for security purposes. While it uses biometric authentication, there’s no user-accessible camera. The Android applications on the DMCC-S Galaxy are restricted to a selection from DISA’s Mobile Application Store (MAS).

Obama’s device has even further security restrictions. Obama told Fallon that he cannot place phone calls on it—the phone is likely restricted to secure VoIP functionality, with outside calls controlled from a secure switchboard.

 

 

US planned a major cyber attack on Iran

US Army - Wikimedia CommonsThe United States was planning an extensive cyber-attack on Iran if diplomacy over its nuclear programme failed.

According to the New York Times the attack was code-named Nitro Zeus and would have crippled Iran’s air defences, communications systems and key parts of its electrical power grid.

It was put on hold after a nuclear deal was reached last year.

The plan was set up by the Pentagon to give President Barack Obama that he had alternatives to war if Iran moved against the United States or its regional allies. It involved thousands of US military and intelligence personnel and would have required tens of millions of dollars and putting electronic devices in Iran’s computer networks.

US intelligence agencies at the same time developed a separate plan for a covert cyberattack to disable Iran’s Fordo nuclear enrichment site inside a mountain near the city of Qom.

Obama wants to spend $19 billion on cyber security

obama-funny-face-grr-growl-640x397The US President Barack Obama wants to spend $19 billion to spruce up the Land of the Fee’s cyber security.

In his fiscal 2017 budget proposal, Obama asked for $19 billion for cyber security across the US government, an increase of $5 billion over this year

While the White House’s overall cunning plan faces tough going in the Republican-controlled Congress, increased cyber security funding has bipartisan support.

Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, warned congress that cyber threats “could lead to widespread vulnerabilities in civilian infrastructures and U.S. government systems.”

The Obama initiative calls for a more than one-third increase from the $14 billion appropriated this year and would include $3.1 billion for technology modernisation at various federal agencies.

The US government has suffered a series of high-profile hacks against the government and companies like Sony Pictures and Target.

Those difficulties played out publicly last year when the Office of Personnel Management announced it had fallen victim to a hack that lifted sensitive information on roughly 22 million individuals from its databases.

A government watchdog report last month concluded the government’s cyber defense system, known as Einstein, is ineffective at combating hackers.

The White House set up a presidential commission on cyber security, which would make recommendations for strengthening defenses over the next decade. A new position of federal chief information security officer also would be established.

 

Chinese cyber pact appears flimsy

spyThe US’s cyber pact against spying and hacking with China does not appear to be holding.

Hackers associated with the Chinese government have tried to penetrate at least seven US companies in the three weeks since Washington and Beijing agreed not to spy on each other for commercial reasons.

CrowdStrike said software it placed at five U.S. technology and two pharmaceutical companies had detected and stopped the attacks.

President Barack Obama said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed that neither government would knowingly support cyber theft of corporate secrets to support domestic businesses. The agreement stopped short of restricting spying to obtain government secrets, including those held by private contractors.

CrowdStrike Co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch said in an interview that he believed the hackers who attacked the seven companies were affiliated with the Chinese government based in part on the servers and software they used.

The software included a program known as Derusbi. Derusbi previously turned up in attacks on Virginia defence contractor VAE and health insurer Anthe. Alperovitch said the hackers came from a variety of groups including one that CrowdStrike had previously named Deep Panda.

The intrusion was to facilitate theft of intellectual property and trade secrets, rather than to conduct traditional, national-security-related intelligence collection,” CrowdStrike wrote in its bog.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to comment on CrowdStrike’s findings but said that Obama had “made clear that the United States would judge China not based on its words, not based on any verbal commitments, but based on its actions.”

“You can rest assured that the relevant agencies in the United States government are closely monitoring China’s actions in this regard,” Earnest said on Monday.

Another U.S. cyber security company, FireEye said the state-sponsored Chinese hackers that it monitored were still active but it was too soon to say whether their aims had shifted.

Oi Obama, hands off our encryption!

obama-funny-face-grr-growl-640x397US tech companies have rallied around to ask US President Barrack Obama, in the strongest possible terms, to give up on attempts to weaken sophisticated encryption systems designed to protect consumers’ privacy.

Two industry associations representing major software and hardware companies said: “We are opposed to any policy actions or measures that would undermine encryption as an available and effective tool.”

The Information Technology Industry Council and the Software and Information Industry Association, representing tech giants, including Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft are essentially fighting to keep the government out of smart phones and other digital devices.

Obama administration officials have pushed the companies to find ways to let law enforcement bypass encryption to investigate illegal activities including terrorism threats, but not weaken it in a way that would let criminals and computer hackers penetrate the security wall.

So far no one has actually said how this technology miracle is to be managed, but apparently in the face of all evidence Obama has said “yes we can.”

Last week White House press secretary Josh Earnest dubbed this a “thorny policy challenge.” Particularly as both parties are wanting large sums of money from the tech companies to fund their presidential campaigns.

Earnest said that the companies “would not want to be in a position in which their technology is being deployed to aid and abet somebody who’s planning to carry out an act of violence.”

While this might be true, and if the US government had a policy of targeting the one or two people who might be terrorists there would be no problem. The fact that the government has swept every phone and every device in the country in the random off-chance of picking up terrorists is causing everyone to worry.

Days earlier, the United States enacted legislation that will curtail the government’s ability to scoop up huge volumes of data related to records of Americans’ telephone calls, although few believe that it will stop the US spooks.

The government surveillance was an outgrowth of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and was exposed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The industry groups noted that online commerce has flourished in part because consumers believed their payment information would be secure.

“Consumer trust in digital products and services is an essential component enabling continued economic growth of the online marketplace,” the industry wrote.

“Accordingly, we urge you not to pursue any policy or proposal that would require or encourage companies to weaken these technologies, including the weakening of encryption or creating encryption ‘work-around’.”

US House of Representatives try to stop mass data collection

US house of repsThe US House of Representatives is gearing up for a huge spat with US Law Enforcement as a bill to end spy agencies’ bulk collection of Americans’ telephone data advanced.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 25-2 to approve the “USA Freedom Act,” seeking to tighten control of a program publicly exposed two years ago by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The bill would bar the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act and other intelligence authorities, and it would increase transparency and accountability in surveillance programmes.

A similar bill has been introduced in the US Senate.

Both bills are supported by privacy groups but will run into opposition in Congress and at the White House.

Democratic President Barack Obama and many lawmakers want to retain the mass data-collection programme as a national security tool.

Of course, others see it as a mass surveillance of ordinary people who have not done anything or something which might not have been punished if the Land of the Free had not been looking for people blowing up its landmarks.