Lower Your Risk of Disease and Boost Overall Well-Being With This Incredible Nutrient
To understand perhaps the most important nutrient you can consume — one that dramatically lowers risks of heart disease, osteoporosis, and many other grave conditions — let’s visit a great year, and a great man. Read on...
LFT celebrates one technological advance so compelling (and investable) it could change your life -- and what it means to be human. Read on...
Strap on your seatbelt. You’re about to take an odyssey into the abyss… a voyage into the void… a pilgrimage to perdition… a safari into Sheol… an excursion into the infernal regions of the vast underbelly of the Internet: The Deep Web. Read on…
There have been five mass extinctions in Earth’s history. And many scientists believe we’re on track for the sixth. But it’s not for reasons you might think. Chris Campbell investigates. Read on…
Let’s imagine, for a moment, a perfect world… Chris Campbell asks you what your perfect world looks like, and how to find it in an imperfect one. Read on…
I’m excited about this issue because we’re putting the smackdown on a major health fallacy — one that’s likely causing serious harm.
It centers on calcium.
At estimated 60 percent of American women over age 60 take calcium supplements — often at the urging of their physicians — to keep their bones strong. Read on...
The future is more incredible than you can possibly imagine. To prove it, Chris Campbell dives into three remarkable tech breakthroughs you won’t believe exist. Read on…
Deep in the wandering wilderness of the world there exists a strange creature called a “digital nomad.” Chris Campbell captured one in the wild branches of Thailand. In today’s episode, the digital nomad reveals what he is, where comes from, and how you can be one too. Read on…
What does Katy Perry, “Left Shark,” Martha Stewart, and the “Putin Plug” have to do with the future of technology? Chris Campbell peels back the curtain. Read on…
A mysterious alien race is invading planet Earth. And those “in the know” are splitting into two camps. You might not know it, but you and your health are in danger. Chris Campbell reports. Read on…
Solar Exposure Is Vital… But How Much Vitamin D3 Do You Really Need?
By now, you’re likely aware of the importance of vitamin D to overall health.
But the fact is many Americans aren’t getting enough.
Some experts estimate that up to 40 percent of the general population and nearly 100 percent of seniors are deficient in vitamin D. Read on...
What is a digital nomad? Why is this strange creature guilty of "currency arbitrage"? Why is it awesome? Chris Campbell investigates. Read on...
The adventure begins. Chris Campbell reports in from Bangkok. And you’ll never believe what he’s already gotten himself into. Read on…
Do you know where the expression “blowing smoke” comes from? From an old -- and very strange -- medical device. You won’t believe what else Chris Campbell has unearthed from the olden days of strange medicine. Read on…
Would you leave Earth to help colonize another planet? This might sound like an absurd question, but, according to many leaders of thought, its one we might have to confront sooner than later. Chris Campbell explores our journey from air to space, and ponders where we’re off to next. Read on…
If you’ve ever wanted to expose some heinous crime against humanity, here’s your chance. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell shows you how to make sure the world accesses to your leaks, even if something happens to you. Chris also shares why this is probably a terrible idea. Read on…
Over a century ago, a hidden energy war began. The bad guys won. For 100 years, man has been a slave to the energy monopolies. But now, miraculously, the good guys are throwing a punch -- and they’re inviting you to fight the good fight. Even promising riches if you do. Chris Campbell fills you in on the full story. Read on…
An ancient guide has been in hiding… until now. As it dusts itself off, some early adopters are calling it “the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization and strength.” And, according to Chris Campbell, it could be the only thing you need to thrive in our day-to-day life of modern chaos. Embrace it, and become the hero of your own story. Ignore it, and risk living a whimper of a life on someone else’s terms. Read on…
“What… is… that?!”That’s what one colleague asked when she saw this on my desk…My face, according to 3-D printing“My face,” I said. “What does it look like?”“Uh…”OK, sure. It’s a rough depiction. Eh. It’s pretty choppy…And, as you can see, the glasses didn’t really take well… making for an eerie sunken eye look.Didn’t really turn […]
Bitcoin has been pretty quiet lately. But that doesn’t mean big things aren’t taking place behind-the-scenes for the digital currency. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell pulls back the curtain and shows you how Bitcoin is quietly slipping into the mainstream. He also shows you why now could be the time to buy now, or forever hold your peace. Read on…
In an odd mix of fate, protesters and corporations are holding hands. They both have one common goal: save the Internet from the evil cable companies. We all have a common hate for them. But what if the cable companies aren’t as evil as once thought? What if there’s an even bigger evil lurking behind them? There is. Read on…
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
All over the world, power is dying. The dictators and tyrants of the world are no longer able to wield it like they once used to. And they’re losing it to the “little guy.” Chris Campbell shows you how to be the king of your castle by taking advantage of this fact. Today, you’ll learn how to grab “power gaps” in the market and channel them into your product idea or project. Read on…
Chris Campbell got more than he bargained for during Sunday brunch. In a packed restaurant, he learned about a hidden sex boom that’s taking the world by storm. You won’t believe how much money ordinary Americans are making in this boom. It’s so much…you may even consider cashing in yourself.
Hundreds of pictures of nude celebrities were leaked onto the Internet last week. The mainstream is blaming twenty-something hackers, but according to Chris Campbell, everyone must’ve already forgotten what we learned about the NSA only a year ago. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
U.S. and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.
The files show that the National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have broadly compromised the guarantees that Internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments.
The agencies, the documents reveal, have adopted a battery of methods in their systematic and ongoing assault on what they see as one of the biggest threats to their ability to access huge swathes of Internet traffic — “the use of ubiquitous encryption across the Internet”.
Those methods include covert measures to ensure NSA control over setting of international encryption standards, the use of supercomputers to break encryption with “brute force”, and — the most closely guarded secret of all — collaboration with technology companies and Internet service providers themselves.
Through these covert partnerships, the agencies have inserted secret vulnerabilities — known as backdoors or trapdoors — into commercial encryption software.
The files, from both the NSA and GCHQ, were obtained by the Guardian, and the details are being published today in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica. They reveal:
- A 10-year NSA program against encryption technologies made a breakthrough in 2010 which made “vast amounts” of data collected through Internet cable taps newly “exploitable”.
- The NSA spends $250 million a year on a program which, among other goals, works with technology companies to “covertly influence” their product designs.
- The secrecy of their capabilities against encryption is closely guarded, with analysts warned: “Do not ask about or speculate on sources or methods.”
- The NSA describes strong decryption programs as the “price of admission for the U.S. to maintain unrestricted access to and use of cyberspace”.
- A GCHQ team has been working to develop ways into encrypted traffic on the “big four” service providers, named as Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook.
This network diagram, from a GCHQ pilot program, shows how the agency proposed a system to identify encrypted traffic from its Internet cable-tapping programs and decrypt what it could in near-real time. Photograph: Guardian
The agencies insist that the ability to defeat encryption is vital to their core missions of counter-terrorism and foreign intelligence gathering.
But security experts accused them of attacking the Internet itself and the privacy of all users. “Cryptography forms the basis for trust online,” said Bruce Schneier, an encryption specialist and fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. “By deliberately undermining online security in a short-sighted effort to eavesdrop, the NSA is undermining the very fabric of the Internet.” Classified briefings between the agencies celebrate their success at “defeating network security and privacy”.
“For the past decade, NSA has lead [sic] an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies,” stated a 2010 GCHQ document. “Vast amounts of encrypted Internet data which have up till now been discarded are now exploitable.”
An internal agency memo noted that among British analysts shown a presentation on the NSA’s progress: “Those not already briefed were gobsmacked!”
The breakthrough, which was not described in detail in the documents, meant the intelligence agencies were able to monitor “large amounts” of data flowing through the world’s fibre-optic cables and break its encryption, despite assurances from Internet company executives that this data was beyond the reach of government.
The key component of the NSA’s battle against encryption, its collaboration with technology companies, is detailed in the U.S. intelligence community’s top-secret 2013 budget request under the heading “Sigint [signals intelligence] enabling”.
Classified briefings between the NSA and GCHQ celebrate their success at ‘defeating network security and privacy’. Photograph: Guardian
Funding for the program — $254.9 million for this year — dwarfs that of the Prism program, which operates at a cost of $20 million a year, according to previous NSA documents. Since 2011, the total spending on Sigint enabling has topped $800 million. The program “actively engages U.S. and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products’ designs”, the document states. None of the companies involved in such partnerships are named; these details are guarded by still higher levels of classification.
Among other things, the program is designed to “insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems”. These would be known to the NSA, but to no one else, including ordinary customers, who are tellingly referred to in the document as “adversaries”.
“These design changes make the systems in question exploitable through Sigint collection… with foreknowledge of the modification. To the consumer and other adversaries, however, the systems’ security remains intact.”
The document sets out in clear terms the program’s broad aims, including making commercial encryption software “more tractable” to NSA attacks by “shaping” the worldwide marketplace and continuing efforts to break into the encryption used by the next generation of 4G phones.
Among the specific accomplishments for 2013, the NSA expects the program to obtain access to “data flowing through a hub for a major communications provider” and to a “major Internet peer-to-peer voice and text communications system”.
Technology companies maintain that they work with the intelligence agencies only when legally compelled to do so. The Guardian has previously reported that Microsoft co-operated with the NSA to circumvent encryption on the Outlook.com email and chat services. The company insisted that it was obliged to comply with “existing or future lawful demands” when designing its products.
The documents show that the agency has already achieved another of the goals laid out in the budget request: to influence the international standards upon which encryption systems rely.
Independent security experts have long suspected that the NSA has been introducing weaknesses into security standards, a fact confirmed for the first time by another secret document. It shows the agency worked covertly to get its own version of a draft security standard issued by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology approved for worldwide use in 2006.
“Eventually, NSA became the sole editor,” the document states.
The NSA’s codeword for its decryption program, Bullrun, is taken from a major battle of the American civil war. Its British counterpart, Edgehill, is named after the first major engagement of the English civil war, more than 200 years earlier.
A classification guide for NSA employees and contractors on Bullrun outlines in broad terms its goals.
“Project Bullrun deals with NSA’s abilities to defeat the encryption used in specific network communication technologies. Bullrun involves multiple sources, all of which are extremely sensitive.” The document reveals that the agency has capabilities against widely used online protocols, such as HTTPS, voice-over-IP and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), used to protect online shopping and banking.
The document also shows that the NSA’s Commercial Solutions Center, ostensibly the body through which technology companies can have their security products assessed and presented to prospective government buyers, has another, more clandestine role.
It is used by the NSA to “to leverage sensitive, co-operative relationships with specific industry partners” to insert vulnerabilities into security products. Operatives were warned that this information must be kept top secret “at a minimum”.
A more general NSA classification guide reveals more detail on the agency’s deep partnerships with industry, and its ability to modify products. It cautions analysts that two facts must remain top secret: that NSA makes modifications to commercial encryption software and devices “to make them exploitable”, and that NSA “obtains cryptographic details of commercial cryptographic information security systems through industry relationships”.
The agencies have not yet cracked all encryption technologies, however, the documents suggest. Snowden appeared to confirm this during a live Q&A with Guardian readers in June. “Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on,” he said before warning that NSA can frequently find ways around it as a result of weak security on the computers at either end of the communication.
The documents are scattered with warnings over the importance of maintaining absolute secrecy around decryption capabilities.
A slide showing that the secrecy of the agencies’ capabilities against encryption is closely guarded. Photograph: Guardian (insert as caption)
Strict guidelines were laid down at the GCHQ complex in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on how to discuss projects relating to decryption. Analysts were instructed: “Do not ask about or speculate on sources or methods underpinning Bullrun.” This informaton was so closely guarded, according to one document, that even those with access to aspects of the program were warned: “There will be no ‘need to know’.”
The agencies were supposed to be “selective in which contractors are given exposure to this information”, but it was ultimately seen by Snowden, one of 850,000 people in the U.S. with top-secret clearance. A 2009 GCHQ document spells out the significant potential consequences of any leaks, including “damage to industry relationships”.
“Loss of confidence in our ability to adhere to confidentiality agreements would lead to loss of access to proprietary information that can save time when developing new capability,” intelligence workers were told. Somewhat less important to GCHQ was the public’s trust which was marked as a moderate risk, the document stated.
“Some exploitable products are used by the general public; some exploitable weaknesses are well known eg possibility of recovering poorly chosen passwords,” it said. “Knowledge that GCHQ exploits these products and the scale of our capability would raise public awareness generating unwelcome publicity for us and our political masters.”
The decryption effort is particularly important to GCHQ. Its strategic advantage from its Tempora program — direct taps on transatlantic fibre-optic cables of major telecommunications corporations — was in danger of eroding as more and more big Internet companies encrypted their traffic, responding to customer demands for guaranteed privacy.
Without attention, the 2010 GCHQ document warned, the UK’s “Sigint utility will degrade as information flows changes, new applications are developed (and deployed) at pace and widespread encryption becomes more commonplace.” Documents show that Edgehill’s initial aim was to decode the encrypted traffic certified by three major (unnamed) Internet companies and 30 types of Virtual Private Network (VPN) — used by businesses to provide secure remote access to their systems. By 2015, GCHQ hoped to have cracked the codes used by 15 major Internet companies, and 300 VPNs.
Another program, codenamed Cheesy Name, was aimed at singling out encryption keys, known as “certificates”, that might be vulnerable to being cracked by GCHQ supercomputers.
Analysts on the Edgehill project were working on ways into the networks of major webmail providers as part of the decryption project. A quarterly update from 2012 notes the project’s team “continue to work on understanding” the big four communication providers, named in the document as Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook, adding “work has predominantly been focused this quarter on Google due to new access opportunities being developed”.
To help secure an insider advantage, GCHQ also established a Humint Operations Team (HOT). Humint, short for “human intelligence” refers to information gleaned directly from sources or undercover agents.
This GCHQ team was, according to an internal document, “responsible for identifying, recruiting and running covert agents in the global telecommunications industry.”
“This enables GCHQ to tackle some of its most challenging targets,” the report said. The efforts made by the NSA and GCHQ against encryption technologies may have negative consequences for all Internet users, experts warn.
“Backdoors are fundamentally in conflict with good security,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. “Backdoors expose all users of a backdoored system, not just intelligence agency targets, to heightened risk of data compromise.” This is because the insertion of backdoors in a software product, particularly those that can be used to obtain unencrypted user communications or data, significantly increases the difficulty of designing a secure product.”
This was a view echoed in a recent paper by Stephanie Pell, a former prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice and non-resident fellow at the Center for Internet and Security at Stanford Law School.
“[An] encrypted communications system with a lawful interception back door is far more likely to result in the catastrophic loss of communications confidentiality than a system that never has access to the unencrypted communications of its users,” she states.
Intelligence officials asked The Guardian, New York Times and ProPublica not to publish this article, saying that it might prompt foreign targets to switch to new forms of encryption or communications that would be harder to collect or read.
The three organisations removed some specific facts but decided to publish the story because of the value of a public debate about government actions that weaken the most powerful tools for protecting the privacy of Internet users in the U.S. and worldwide.
— James Ball, Julian Borger, and Glenn Greenwald
Article originally appeared at The Guardian