Frontline’s United States of Secrets
Last night was part two of the PBS Frontline program called United States of Secrets. It was one of the best, most thorough overviews of what is going on with the NSA’s vacuum surveillance that I’ve ever seen.
You owe it to yourself, and the future of our children, to be aware of what’s going on.
NSA Finally In The Light
I’ve been deeply concerned about the massive, sweeping surveillance going on for over TEN YEARS! Whenever I bring up this topic (and online security in general) too many of my family and friends just shrug and say, “Oh well.” Frankly, I just don’t understand why most people don’t seem all that concerned about our fundamental erosion of liberty caused by the NSA’s mass surveillance.
Thankfully the Edward Snowden whistleblowing finally shined a light on what I intrinsically knew was going on shortly after 9/11 (see Snowden’s revelations and the overall controversy at The Guardian’s NSA Files website section). Yes, I feel vindicated for my paranoia but that attestation is not something I longed for…instead I hoped the government’s drive to classify their constitutional violations and illegal activities as “keeping America safe from terrorism” would stop.
Unfortunately that whistleblowing has made it increasingly hard for companies who sell their technology outside of the United States. For example, the NSA was inserting hardware in Cisco routers which caused CEO John Chambers to write a letter to President Obama asking for it to cease…now.
We’ve only seen the beginning of the backlash and erosion of our competitiveness around the world since no one trusts us anymore.
Your Computer/Phone/Tablet’s Digital Fingerprint Revealed
So you’re protecting yourself with a virtual private network (VPN) or using TOR to remain anonymous? What if any steps you take don’t matter since your device is telling the NSA who you are?
Here are two things to consider:
- The Trusted Computing initiative could track you in ways that haven’t been revealed in full yet. This initiative has bothered me since it was first announced in 1999. A way of placing a permanent private key embedded directly in the computer’s CPU—and the public key held in trust on a server in the cloud—it has been minimally adopted. Or has it?
- Trusted Computing – built-in backdoor in Windows 8 for NSA Leaked documents from the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) indicate that the organization has become suspicious of Trusted Platform Module (TPM) technology built into an increasing number of Windows 8 PCs and tablets. “Trusted Computing”, the backdoor in question, would allow Microsoft to control the computer remotely.
- Forbes published this article: Trusted Computing Must Repudiate The NSA
- The NSA has location capability for both cell towers and Wifi. So even if you’re in that coffee shop using your VPN—and inadvertently use email or login to some site—they’ve got you. Read security expert Bruce Schneier’s article Everything We Know About How the NSA Tracks People’s Physical Location to get even more paranoid!
In this post I haven’t even touched on drones, commercial companies gathering data like crazy (make sure you watch Part 2 of the Frontline United States of Secrets) and other things we don’t know about yet.
I sure hope the next (or the one after) president-elect isn’t a closet fascist who is already rubbing his-or-her hands together with glee over what will be available once they seize power.
Here are a handful of old posts that showed the world I was either paranoid, deranged, or maybe on to something:
- January 2006: Are you hiding something?
- April 2006: Vacuum-cleaner Surveillance
- October 2006: Massive, sweeping surveillance on *all* you do
- November 2007: Where’s the Outrage?
- October 2008: Skype. How big *is* the back door?
- June 2013: UNREASONABLE Search & Seizure: Why *Don’t* You Care?
About Steve Borsch
Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.
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