Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 30th Dec 2013 18:48 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption

Jacob Applebaum's detailed technical 30c3 talk about the NSA's tools. Just watch this. Naming and shaming of just about every major technology company. This will blow your mind.

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What I find most incredible in all this is the implication that some of that stuff actually works somewhat reliably.

Just imagine the challenge of combining everything Facebook, Google, Yahoo and others know about you (or think they know about you). Unless they co-operate fully and implement NSA defined APIs, the NSA must write its own interpreters for what ever data formats these companies use in communication between their data centers. Presumably its trivial for NSA to get internal secret documentation for everything, but keeping that massive collection system from producing mountains of complete data garbage is till a huge engineering challenge in it self. Then there's the fact that some of that precious data is complete BS to begin with. For example, Google+ apparently thinks that everybody you have ever send an email has some meaningful connection to you.

The hardware exploit stuff is even more incredible. Major product lines of big companies for sure, but what about all the cheapo laptops/phones/tablets gobbled together from the cheapest parts of the week with what ever firmware and driver versions compile and sort of work together? I'm not a hardware person, but remotely exploiting a random collection of hardware running any OS sounds like nonsense on the level of destroying an alien space ship with a computer virus like in movie 'Independence day'.

If half of this stuff works half as well as claimed, the NSA must have come up with the proverbial silver bullet of computer science.

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