July 07, 2015

David Cameron's proposed encryption ban would 'destroy the internet'

A highly respected cryptographer and security expert is warning that David Cameron's proposed ban on strong encryption threatens to "destroy the internet."
Last week, the British Prime Minister told Parliament that he wants to "ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate."
Strong encryption refers to the act of scrambling data in such a way that it cannot be understood by anyone without the correct key or password — even law enforcement with a warrant, or the software manufacturer itself. It's used in some of the most popular tech products in the world, including the iPhone, WhatsApp messenger, and Facebook.
But amid heightened terror fears, Cameron says "we must look at all the new media being produced and ensure that, in every case, we are able, in extremis and on the signature of a warrant, to get to the bottom of what is going on."
The Prime Minister first indicated that he would try and clamp down on secure communications that could not be decrypted by law enforcement even with a warrant back in January, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris. His comments sparked an immediate flurry of condemnation from privacy and security activists, but his recent statements show he's not backing down. (Number 10 has not responded to requests for clarification about Cameron's comments.)
Business Insider reached out to Bruce Schneier to discuss the feasibility of Cameron' proposed ban on "safe spaces" online. Schneier is a widely respected crypography and security expert and fellow at the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, serves on the board of digital liberties pressure group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and writes frequently on encryption and security. He didn't hold back.

The FBI, DEA, and the U.S. Army have all bought controversial software that allows users to take remote control of suspects’ computers, recording their calls, emails, keystrokes, and even activating their cameras, according to documents leaked from the "Hacking Team"

The FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Army have all bought controversial software that allows users to take remote control of suspects’ computers, recording their calls, emails, keystrokes and even activating their cameras, according to internal documents hacked from the software’s Italian manufacturer.
The company, Hacking Team, has also been aggressively marketing the software to other U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, demonstrating their products to district attorneys in New York, San Bernardino, California, and Maricopa, Arizona; and multi-agency task forces like the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation in Florida and California’sRegional Enforcement Allied Computer Team. (We do not use this product nor are we currently considering a proposal from the vendor/manufacturer to purchase it,” Jerry Cobb, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said.)
The company was also in conversation with various other agencies, including the CIA, the Pentagon’s Criminal Investigative Service, the New York Police Department, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
The revelations come from hundreds of gigabytes of company information, including emails and financial records, which were released online Sunday night and analyzed by The Intercept. Milan-based Hacking Team is one of a handful of companies that sell off-the-shelf spyware for hundreds of thousands of euros — a price point accessible to smaller countries and large police forces. Hacking Team has drawn fire from human rights and privacy activists who contend that the company’s aggressive malware, known as Remote Control System, or RCS, is being sold to countries that deploy it against activists, political opponents and journalists.
Even in the U.S., where the software would presumably be used only with a judge’s approval, the tactic is still controversial. Just last month, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote to the director of the FBI asking for “more specific information about the FBI’s current use of spyware,” in order for the Senate Judiciary Committee to evaluate “serious privacy concerns.”
The leaked emails show that the FBI has been using Hacking Team’s software since 2011, apparently for the secretive Remote Operations Unit. It’s long been reported that the FBI has deployed malware in investigations, but details on the agency’s efforts are thin, with the tactic only surfacing rarely in court cases — such as one instance last year when the FBI spoofedan Associated Press article to get a target to click on a link. The FBIreportedly develops its own malware and also buys pre-packaged products, but the relationship with Hacking Team has not been previously confirmed.
Hacking Team’s spokesperson, Eric Rabe, said in a statement that “we do not disclose the names or locations of our clients” and “we cannot comment on the validity of documents purportedly from our company.”
The director of the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation in Florida told The Intercept that it “does not have plans to purchase any product from Hacking Team.” The Manhattan District Attorney’s office said, “It would be an overstatement to say that our office is planning to purchase this type of software. This company is one of several in the industry whom we’ve requested meetings with in order to keep pace with rapid technological advancements in the private sector.”
The CIA declined to comment, and ICE said it “does not discuss law enforcement tools and techniques.” (The Intercept will update this story if other agencies named in the documents respond to requests for comment.)
The leaked emails show that U.S. agencies worried about the legality and perception of Hacking Team’s tools.
Hacking Team refers to its U.S. clients by code names. The FBI unit is “Phoebe” (initially “f-client,” but one employee complained “it sounds like an antivirus),” the DEA is “Katie,” and the CIA, which appears to havesampled, but not bought Remote Control System, is “Marianne.”
In 2011, a representative of the DEA’s Office of Investigative Technology told Hacking Team that its budget request for Remote Control System had been denied because it was considered “too controversial,” according to anemail. “We are working on the foreign angle,” the DEA said, according to Hacking Team’s U.S. account manager.
“I imagine Katie [DEA] is referring to the fact that they as the DEA could buy RCS for other countries (Colombia) where it’s less problematic to use it,” an employee replied in Italian.
The purchase did go through in 2012, and it appears to have been used mainly in conjunction with Colombian law enforcement. As one emailexplained, “Katie will be administrator of the system, while the locals will be collecting the data.  They are saying if this works out, they will bring it to other countries around the world.  Already they are speaking of El Salvador and Chile.”
Robotec, a company that manages Hacking Team’s sales to several Latin American countries, also mentions clients in Colombia using DEA funding.
Local police in the U.S. also had their worries. Florida law enforcement told Hacking Team this year that the software could create legal problemswithout the ability to have “‘minimization’ of the calls and messages — (ie. deleting portions which are not relevant to the search.)”
In 2013, San Bernardino’s district attorney wanted to go to a judge to obtain a warrant targeting a “known bad guy” even for a trial run of the software. “If the systems [sic] proves itself in this live trial, and the judge is convinced of both its value and proper protection of privacy, they would then move into the purchase phase,” one of Hacking Team’s U.S. business partners, from the security giant SS8, explained.
“One of the concerns of this segment is that the HT product is ‘too powerful,’” Fred D’Alessio, who sits on the board of SS8 and is identified on LinkedIn as a senior advisor to Hacking Team, wrote about local agencies. “They have also said, their biggest challenge is ‘getting the lawyers and the District Attorneys to agree on what they can do legally.”
Christopher Lee, a spokesperson for the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office wrote in an email to The Intercept that the office had “never purchased the Cicom software described in the article. Nor have we ever had a relationship with the company listed in the documents or any other company providing these services.”
Hacking Team’s FBI contacts worried that the spread of Hacking Team software around the country could cause word to get out (as has happened with technology like Stingrays, the devices that police use to track cell phone location.) “If San Bernardino gets exposed, they might also expose Phoebe,” Hacking Team’s U.S. point man, Alex Velasco, wrote in September 2013.
The FBI’s use of Hacking Team’s software also informs the public debate about the growing use of encryption to protect Internet communications. FBI and other top U.S. law enforcement officials have been calling for a lawthat would provide for a “backdoor” into commercial encryption technologies — something privacy advocates and many cybersecurity researchers see as a undermining Internet security.
Hacking Team claims that its software offers a way around encryption, obviating the need for a backdoor. Vincenzetti regularly sends out articles about the encryption debate to his email list with a plug for Remote Control System. Last February, he wrote that law enforcement and security agencies could use “technologies to ACCESS THE DATA they need IN CLEARTEXT, BEFORE it gets encrypted by the device and sent to the network and AFTER it is received from the network and decrypted by the device itself. Actually THIS IS precisely WHAT WE DO.”
The Buyers
The push into the local district attorney market, for which the companyconsidered San Bernardino a pilot, appears to have been facilitated by SS8, a massive California-based security company that markets to law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad. (Rabe denied that SS8 is working with Hacking Team, despite emails between the companies.) The local market could be lucrative: a budget for the district attorney in New York that Hacking Team proposed in April totaled $760,000 in upfront license fees, and another $382,000 in services and maintenance.
“As with so many other surveillance technologies that were originally created for the military and intelligence community, they eventually trickle down to local law enforcement who start using them without seeking the approval of legislators — and, in many cases, keeping the courts in the dark too,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The DEA, FBI and Army bought Hacking Team’s software through a company called Cicom, which for several years served as a middleman for Hacking Team’s U.S. business. The DEA and Army contracts to buy Remote Control System through Cicom were first revealed by the advocacy group Privacy International this spring. Reporters noted that Cicom shared the same corporate address in the United States as Hacking Team, but when asked about the connection by Ars Technica, Hacking Team’s U.S. spokesperson Eric Rabe said, “I cannot confirm any relationship between the company Cicom and Hacking Team.”
Alex Velasco, Cicom’s general manager, has in fact been a consultant under contract to represent Hacking Team to clients in North America since 2012, company emails show. The relationship ended in March, after Hacking Team accused Velasco of scheming to market competing products, according to an internal investigation commissioned by Hacking Team. Velasco declined to comment to The Intercept on the allegations, because he is in legal proceedings with Hacking Team.
Hacking Team was also in talks in 2014 with the FBI’s National Domestic Communications Assistance Center, a secretive unit formed in 2012 and focused on interception technologies. Velasco claims in an email that the group came to them after Citizen Lab, a research group at the University of Toronto focused on Internet technology and human rights, published a highly critical report on Hacking Team’s global sales. “If anything good came out of the Citizen lab articles is that it brought them to contact us to see if it was true,” he wrote. “Thank you Citizen Lab!!”
It’s not clear from Hacking Team emails what Army component bought an RCS system in 2011, but it was based at Fort Meade and apparently sat unused for years. According to a 2013 email from Velasco, “they purchased a system right before they got their budget cut…They were never given permission to pull an internet line to their office to install the system. (ridiculous but true!)”
Hacking Team was in the midst of negotiations for a new FBI contract from Cicom after Velasco’s firing, but the agency decided to go with another vendor due to budget timing issues, according to an email from Phillipe Vinci, Hacking Team’s vice president for business development. Besides, the product was “seen as a ‘nice to have’ by FBI,” but “they confessed they were using it for low level types of investigations. For critical operations, they were using another platform,” wrote Vinci. He said the FBI wanted more ability to go after users of Tor, the anonymizing web browser; those users accounted for 60 percent of its targets.
But Hacking Team appeared determined to continue its conquest of the U.S. market.
“There will be a process to have ‘HT Usa Inc.’ accredited,” wrote operations manager Daniele Milan. He pledged to stay in touch with the FBI, marketing new features, and identifying problems “to resolve for them (in exchange for $$$).”

It is one of the biggest social and health problems facing Japan - about 1 million people, mostly men, have locked themselves in their bedrooms and will not come out.

It is one of the biggest social and health problems facing Japan - about 1 million people, mostly men, have locked themselves in their bedrooms and will not come out.
Japanese health professionals are now scrambling to stop the next generation from suffering the same fate.
Not only is the condition shattering families, it is also threatening the country's economy.
For nearly three years, Yuto Onishi's world was his small bedroom in Tokyo. 
He slept during the day and lived at night, trawling the internet and reading manga - Japanese comics.
Mr Onishi, now 18, refused all contact with friends and family, sneaking out only in the dead of night to eat. 
The Japanese call the condition hikikomori.
"Once you experience it, you lose reality," Mr Onishi told 7.30.
"I knew it was abnormal but I didn't want to change.
"It felt safe here."

School pressure led to social withdrawal

In junior high school, Mr Onishi failed as a class leader and to cope with the shame and judgment of others, he withdrew. 
For Mr Onishi and the estimated million Japanese like him, the pressure from families and society is too much to bear.
Dr Takahiro Kato is one of the few hikikomori experts in Japan.
"In Western societies, if one stays indoors, they're told to go outside," Dr Kato said.
"In Japan they're not.
"Our play has changed, it's all on screens and not real-life situations anymore.
"There are cultural reasons also, a strong sense of embarrassment and an emotional dependence on the mother."

The longer a person stays in a room, the harder it is to come out

The causes and treatment are little understood, but Dr Kato is determined to stop the next generation of Japanese boys locking themselves in.
He is leading a team at Kyushu University to decipher the condition. 
"Most case studies have only focused on the psychological aspect, but hikikomori is not just about mental illness," he said.
"We're working on the social and biological aspects as well and want to be the first to provide a multi-dimensional diagnosis."
The road to recovery from hikikomori can be a long one and the longer a person stays in their room, the less likely they are to make it out.
One of Dr Kato's patients, a 23-year-old, has been in therapy for a year.
He said a domineering mother and pressure to perform at school caused him to drop out and barricade himself in his room.
"I just wanted to suppress everything, put a lid on everything," he said.
"I didn't want to think... I didn't want to feel."

Rebuilding communication and trust key to opening the door

Dr Kato said recovery can only be successful if the dynamics of family interactions change, and that means the whole family has to be involved in counselling. 
The first steps are to rebuild communication and trust.
Yuto has been out of his room for six months now.
The dream of travelling and working overseas forced him out. Early intervention worked.

Hawaii Becomes First State in The Nation to Ban Plastic Bags

In the past couple of years, cities and towns across the nation have started to ban plastic bags. Less than one percent of plastic bags are recycled, and it costs more to recycle a plastic bag that create a new one. That’s why Oahu, the most populated Hawaiian island, decided to join the other Hawaiian islands and officially ban plastic and other non-compostable bags from their stores. Beginning Wednesday, Hawaii will become the first state in the nation to ban plastic bags
According to Mashable, the ban contains several important exemptions worth examining. Bags will still be allowed to wrap fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and take-out home deliveries. Still, retailers caught violating the ban face heavy penalties: anywhere $100 to $1,000 dollars a day, per violation. The island is encouraging businesses to offer alternative bags, including reusable totes, 100% recyclable paper bags, and compostable plastic bags.
Over 100 billion plastic bags are handed out in the United States every year. Chicago just banned plastic bags, and California is considering a similar ban. It remains to be seen whether Hawaii’s ban will trend nationwide, but either way, it’s a lovely blow to the highly profitable plastics industry, and a big step forward.  

July 06, 2015

Touting progress, Barack Obama says Islamic State militants losing ground

President Barack Obama portrayed the US-led coalition Monday as gaining ground against the Islamic State amid an expanded US effort and ample signs of progress, but conceded more difficulties lay ahead in fighting what he described as a nimble and opportunistic enemy.
"We're starting to see some progress," the president said during a rare visit to the Pentagon, ticking off a list of towns in Iraq and Syria he said had been wrested from IS control in recent weeks.
Flanked by top military commanders, Obama also warned of the Islamic State's efforts to recruit and inspire vulnerable people in the United States, and called on the American Muslim community to "step up in terms of pushing back as hard as they can." He said that while the US is now better prepared to thwart large-scale terrorist attacks like 9/11, the threat from individual "lone wolves" or small terrorist cells has increased.
"We're going to have to pick up our game to prevent these attacks," Obama said.
The Pentagon visit followed a wave of weekend airstrikes by the US-led coalition in eastern Syria, including the de facto IS capital of Raqqa, in one of the most sustained aerial operations carried out in Syria to date. Obama pointed to those and other airstrikes as proof of an intensified US effort to undermine the militant group's base of operations and cut off their sources of funding.
Obama's afternoon visit to the Pentagon offered a public display of presidential support for the military one day before Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey were expected to be grilled on Capitol Hill. Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain has sharply criticized Obama for not doing more militarily to defeat IS, and said Monday that the US is losing the battle as the extremist group continues to gain territory in Iraq and Syria.
"President Obama's comments today reveal the disturbing degree of self-delusion that characterizes the administration's campaign against ISIL," McCain said, using another acronym for the group.
Although the president said there were "no current plans" to send more US troops to Iraq, he did not rule out that possibility in the future. Obama has vowed to keep American service members out of direct combat, but has sent more than 3,000 US troops to advise and assist the beleaguered Iraqi military — including the deployment of 450 additional service members announced last month.
Efforts to train local forces in Iraq and Syria, however, have been slow to take shape. Last month, Obama acknowledged that the US lacks a "complete strategy" for training Iraqi troops to carry out ground missions. And in Syria, fewer than 100 rebels are being trained by the US, far fewer than the goal of producing 5,400 fighters a year.
At the Pentagon, Obama also walked a fine line on whether he'll sign a massive defense policy bill favored by Republicans. The White House has threatened to veto the bill, arguing that it uses gimmickry to increase defense spending without increasing domestic spending by an equal amount, as Obama has insisted. Some Republicans have questioned, however, whether Obama would really veto the bill should it come to his desk.
"Our men and women are going to get paid," Obama said, noting that US service members haven't missed a paycheck since he took office. Yet he also insisted he wouldn't accept a bill that shortchanges long-term investments in technology, education and the economy. "We're not going to eat our seed corn by devoting too much money on things we don't need now and robbing ourselves of the capacity to make sure that we're prepared for future threats."

6 Investing Lessons From The Richest Man In The World- Warren Buffett

Warren Buffet, also known as the oracle of Omaha, is no stranger to the world of investing. There’s a lot to learn from the most successful (and did we also mention, the richest) man in the world of investing.
Here are six lessons from Warren Buffett that you can use to invest better.
#1: “If you buy things you don’t need, you will soon sell things you need.”
You can make more money not only by investing or taking up a second job, but also by resisting the temptation to go out and just splurge. As the saying goes – a penny saved is a penny earned.
Key Takeaway: To be a successful investor, you need to use due diligence. Spending wisely is not about being miserly, but about being smart. Invest in assets that give you good returns over the long term- one that helps you secure your financial future.
#2: “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
Most of us know this- the money we pay for something and the value we get out of it, most of the time, does not have a correlation. You could possibly buy a posh apartment for 1 crore rupees. But staying in the apartment does not guarantee a high quality of life- does it?
When it comes to investing, especially the stock markets, the price of a stock is mostly governed by market sentiments and not necessarily by the profitability or value of the company itself. Warren buffet suggests to buy stocks when the price you have to pay for the stock is less than the intrinsic value of it. He says, “Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”
Key takeaway: Instead of trying to time the market and extract every rupee profit you can possibly get out of your investment, invest in assets that will generate inflation-beating long term returns and hold on it for a long time (In buffet terms, forever).
#3: “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”
Warren Buffet recommends investing in undervalued stock with great potential and holding on to them forever. In-line with this philosophy (which undoubtedly worked so well, and still continues to work), buying shares of a wonderful company at a fair price is much better than buying a mediocre company at a cheap/bargain price.
Buffet notes that over the long term, mediocre companies gives much lesser returns compared to wonderful companies, so much so that the bargain price for which you bought the mediocre company stock does not seem like a bargain anymore.
Key takeaway: Don’t try and time the market or buy into NFO mutual funds because the NAV is low. Invest whenever you have the money and hold it for as long as possible.
#4: Be loss-averse
Majority of investor’s measure performance solely based on return. Buffett advices that you should not strive to make every dollar a potential profit which involves too much risk. Instead you should be loss-averse. Preserving your capital should be your top goal. By avoiding losses you’ll naturally be inclined towards investments with assured returns.
As Warren Buffet puts it, “Rule #1, never lose money. Rule #2, never forget Rule #1.”
The takeaway: While Buffet talks about safety of capital, he’s referring to stock investing where you don’t become greedy and go after too-good-to-be-true stocks. Instead, you focus on stocks that are undervalued and are of companies that you understand and has long-term potential.
Many investors misunderstand this as a recommendation for investing only in Bank FDs or equivalent assets which are mostly considered safe. Investing in Bank FDs is almost always guaranteed to be a losing proposition over the long term since after-tax, the returns you get annualized are below inflation rate.
#5: Be tax savvy
Like all billionaires, Buffett too is tax savvy.
Be knowledgeable about tax laws and use them to your advantage. Before you invest, make sure you understand the tax implications of your investment.
For e.g. while investing in Bank FDs might give you 9% returns, the interest is actually taxable as per your tax-bracket. The real return, if you are in the 30% tax-bracket, will fall to just a little above 6%. Now, that’s below inflation rate and you are effectively losing money the longer you invest in it.
The takeaway: Understand the tax implications of your investment fully before making a choice.
#6: Limit what you borrow
More is not always good- case in point, loans and credit card debt.
With daily offers from ecommerce companies, it might be tempting to buy that latest mobile phone on an EM. Considering the fact that the phone you bought for EMI (plus the processing fee which is in-directly the interest you pay for the EMI facility), and it loses its value over time (most cases, the moment you buy it), it is best if you limit your borrowing.
The takeaway: Borrow only when it’s absolutely necessary. When borrowing, make sure you understand all the fees associated with it. Sometimes, the real cost of bowing money will be hidden as miscellaneous charges like processing fee.
Investing is easier than you think. Take control of your money and start investing like a professional. Create a free Scripbox account and join 1000s of other investors who have automated their investments.

Man gets eight years in prison for shooting DEA agent during surprise raid on his house. No drugs were found during the raid.

An Orangeburg County man who shot and wounded a DEA agent during a surprise pre-dawn drug raid outside his home last fall was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday.
Just before U.S. Judge Michelle Childs passed sentence on Joel Robinson, 33, the agent Robinson shot told the judge there was no excuse for Robinson’s shooting him and that he almost lost his life.
“Two inches higher, it would have been a head shot. Two inches lower, it could have gone under my (bulletproof) vest,” said agent Barry Wilson, a 17-year law enforcement veteran.
Some nine months after Robinson shot him in the arm, breaking his elbow and forearm, Wilson has racked up $82,158 in medical bills, has nerve damage and might need another operation. The total is apparently covered by government medical and disability insurance, but Robinson has been ordered to repay that amount to the insurer as restitution.
Robinson had no reason to shoot at the agents, who were wearing reflective vests marked police and yelling “Police!” when he dashed naked out the back door shooting a .45 caliber handgun, Wilson said.
“Mr. Robinson didn’t ask who we were,” Wilson said. “He simply launched an assault.”
If Robinson truly believed he was the subject of a home invasion, he should have called 911, Wilson said.
Although the agent said he was glad Robinson stopped shooting at him after firing two shots, it was probably that he was running out of bullets and saw so many law officers in his back yard.
“That’s when he decided to surrender,” Wilson said. “I can forgive Mr. Robinson. That doesn’t mean there are not consequences that should come from this.”
One Robinson lawyer, Jim Griffin, said his client had been using marijuana just before the shooting and his mind “may very well have been clouded.”
Another Robinson lawyer, Dick Harpootlian, said Robinson is not only sorry for shooting the agent but grateful the law officers surrounding his house didn’t gun him down after he shot Wilson. Only after shooting Wilson did Robinson realize the people outside his house were law officers and put his gun down, Harpootlian said.
“They had a perfect right to shoot him and they didn’t do that,” Harpootlian said. The lawyer termed the incident regrettable but excusable. “It was dark. He was scared. He has never shot anyone in his life.”
Robinson could have gotten 30 years to life if a jury had found him guilty. But in a deal, federal prosecutors agreed to drop most charges against Robinson, including manufacturing and distributing illegal drugs, if he would plead guilty to shooting Wilson. At Monday’s hearing, a prosecutor told the judge that evidence against Robinson now indicates he played “a limited role” in any drug scheme, just using his property to store illegal chemicals.
No drugs were found in Robinson’s house.
The formal charge to which Robinson pleaded guilty to is assaulting a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon while the officer is in the performance of his duties. Although Robinson contended he didn’t know Wilson was a law officer, it is still a crime to shoot a federal law officer who is performing his official duties.

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