National Security Agency Broke Privacy Rules, Audit Finds

The National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on Americans. The agency was given broad powers in 2008 and has been accused of overstepping its authority thousands of times. Edward Snowden leaked information that told the world about the agency’s spy programs including the interception of e-mails and data collection of phone calls.

Snowden recently leaked documents to The Washington Post showing that the NSA has repeatedly exceeded its legal powers and broken privacy rules every years since it was granted broad new powers. The internal audit shows violations ranging from unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States to the “unintended interception” of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

The documents provided to the Washington Post showed that Congress wasn’t even aware of some of the details that the NSA was pulling from its programs. One document instructed agency personnel to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports that went to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Another document showcased the “unintended  surveillance” of Americans. The Washington Post reports, “A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a ‘large number’ of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused the U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a ‘quality assurance’ review that was not distributed to the NSA’s oversight staff.”

The once-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was also kept in the dark about some of the NSA’s spy programs and the information being gathered. The court did not learn of new collections methods until months after it had been in use. When it did find out about the new collection method it ruled it unconstitutional.

The Obama administration has attempted to remain quiet about the NSA.  The first excuse was that Continue reading National Security Agency Broke Privacy Rules, Audit Finds

Dove’s Trojan Horse Shaming Potential Body-Shamers

Consider this whole new form of a Trojan Horse as it attempts to do good.

Dove is waging a war against the unrealistic depictions of women in advertisements. The company has been using its long-running “Real Beauty” campaign to fight the false images portrayed in ads and commercials. One of the latest methods Dove is using to fight the war on body-shaming is one that body-shamers already use –Photoshop.

Dove is fighting fire with fire by using photoshop to “hit perpetrators of such ads right at the source –their computers.” Dove Canada’s latest endeavor is a Photoshop creation by Ogilvy Toronto called “Beautify”. It is a downloadable file that Continue reading Dove’s Trojan Horse Shaming Potential Body-Shamers

Bradley Manning Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy

Bradley Manning was found not guilty of “aiding the enemy” by a military judge on Tuesday, July 29. Private Manning became notable for his release of hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents. Manning released the documents to WikiLeaks for publication in 2009 and 2010.

Manning was arrested in May 2010. He was charged with 1 count of aiding the enemy, 9 counts of failure to obey a lawful order or regulation, and 24 counts of violating the General article of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The last 24 charges included violations of the Espionage Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and Embezzlement and Theft of Public Money, Property or Records.

The total number of counts that Manning was charged with was 34. If he had been found guilty of “aiding the enemy” he could have potentially faced the death penalty.

While the court-martial judge, Col. Denise R. Lind,  ruled that Continue reading Bradley Manning Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy

Cyberattacks at Universities are on the Rise

Cyberattacks are becoming a common problem on college campuses. America’s research universities are often the targets. These universities are at the hub of information exchanges through out the world. Most of the attacks are thought to come from China. NY Times is reporting that millions of hacking attempts happen weekly.

The campuses targeted are being forced to tighten security which is preventing them from their normal open exchange of information and causing them to take time to find out what information was stolen. Officials have stated that some of the hacking attempts have succeeded and those that have succeeded are often not known about until well after the breach occurred. The universities are remaining silent on the specific nature of the breaches except for those that have involved the theft of personal data. Personal data includes social security numbers, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, etc.

Related content:  Going Back to School: Don’t get Scammed

Rodney J. Petersen, head of the cybersecurity program at Educause, a nonprofit alliance of school and tech companies, told NY Times, “The attacks are increasing exponentially, and so is the sophistication, and I think it’s outpaced our ability to respond. So everyone’s investing a lot more resources in detecting this, so we learn of even more incidents we wouldn’t have know about before.”

The problem that the universities are facing with cyber attacks is that it puts the research work at critical risk. Patents for prescription drugs, computer chips, fuel cells, medical devices and many other products and services that could be stolen for commercial, political or national security value.

The numbers of cyberattacks are doubling every few years putting universities on edge trying to figure out the source of the attacks and what has been stolen. The schools are also on edge because it appears that every time they fix a breach, a new hack occurs with more sophisticated technology.

Related content: 7 Tips to Protect College Students from Identity Theft

Bill Mellon, associate dean for research policy at University of Wisconsin, said of the increased cyberattacks, “We get 90,000 to 100,000 attempts per day, from China alone, to penetrate our system. There are also a lot from Russia, and recently a lot from Vietnam, but it’s primarily China.”

The schools that have noticed the most attempts coming from China have not figured out whether the hackers are private or governmental.