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After Snowden: How vulnerable is the internet?
8 months ago

Looking through a fibre optic cable

The internet was designed to be free and open. Eight months after Edward Snowden's first leaks of classified information, is that still the case?

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The technology pioneers who designed the net's original protocols saw their creation as a way to share information freely across a network of networks.

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Yet Edward Snowden's leaks of classified documents from the US National Security Agency have revealed that American spies - and their British counterparts at GCHQ - now use that very same internet to sweep up vast amounts of data from the digital trail we leave every day.

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It isn't simply that they mine social media updates and the information we already give to companies. The NSA and GCHQ have allegedly tapped into the internet's structure.

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An ever-growing network

The internet in 1994

The internet in 2004

The internet in 2013

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Much like the universe in the aftermath of the Big Bang, the internet is expanding. From humble beginnings as a project within the US Department of Defense, the net has grown with each technological advance.

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This growth has required an ever-expanding physical infrastructure of routers, cables, data centres and other hardware. Between 1994 and 2013 they multiplied many times over.

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Internet backbone

Map showing Google and Amazon, Level 3 and Cogent

The giants of the net are companies and organisations that provide the so-called internet backbone, transferring data around the net over high capacity fibre optic cables.

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This map, made using data from Peer 1's Map of the Internet, shows the relative connectedness of organisations online. The biggest blobs - those with the most connections - are the backbone firms, dwarfing the likes of Google and Amazon.

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How data is transferred

Map of connections

Almost everything we do online passes through a backbone company. If, for example, a student living in London sends an email to a friend in Brazil, the message will hop around the network and will often travel through a backbone firm like Level 3 Communications in the USA, which describes itself as "network provider for much of the world's communications infrastructure".

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So if the cables of firms like Level 3 were intercepted, the security agencies would have access to a huge amount of the world's internet traffic.

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In November 2013, the New York Times reported that the NSA may have accessed Google and Yahoo via Level 3's cables.

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In statement, the firm told the BBC: "We comply with applicable laws in each of the countries where we operate. In many instances, laws forbid us from revealing any details relating to our compliance, and make it a crime for us to discuss any required access to data.

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"Some media sources have incorrectly speculated that we have agreements with governments where we voluntarily provide access to network data even when we are not compelled to do so. That is incorrect.

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Customer privacy is paramount to our business. We do not allow unauthorised access to our network by any entity and will continue to operate our network to protect and secure our customers' data, while adhering to the laws that apply to Level 3 as well as all other telecommunications providers."

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25832341

8 months ago

Tapping cables

Map of submarine cables

Snowden documents published in the Guardian last June indicate that the US and Britain have high-tech spy programmes aimed at "mastering the internet" and this includes tapping the undersea cables through which data - and phone calls - flow.

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The documents claim GCHQ was able to monitor up to 600 million communications every day. The information describing internet and phone use was allegedly stored for up to 30 days in order for it to be sifted and analysed. GCHQ declined to comment on the claims but said its compliance with the law was "scrupulous".

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The future

Protests in Berlin over reports of US spying

The scale of the NSA's data collection is hard to comprehend. And opinions about its legitimacy are divided: some believe it is a vital bulwark against terror attacks while others insist the programmes are dangerous infringements of civil liberties.

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The Snowden revelations may lead to a change in how governments and large organisations use the internet. There has been talk of the internet "breaking up" so that, for example, communications which start and end in Europe only travel along European cables.

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"Data is power, and data is money," security expert Bruce Schneier, who has analysed the Snowden documents for journalist Glenn Greenwald, told the BBC.

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"These discussions about who has control of data are bigger than the NSA, bigger than surveillance, and they are the key questions of the information age."

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But technology experts say this would make business more difficult to carry out online and may make the easy global access to which we have become accustomed a thing of the past.

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"I don't think we know what the internet is going to transform into because of this," Mr Schneier said.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25832341

8 months ago

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US probes banks over ties to shady money lenders - NY Times

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8 months ago

This whole payday lending BS is nothing more than a scam imo. Pure BS. I have always thought that people who get caught up in that whole payday lending thing are getting royally screwed.

8 months ago

Wow!!!!!  There are bugs everywhere. . Thank you Ray

 

How Vulnerable??
8 months ago

For starters, I need to get this song out of my head - It comes back around every time I hear another expression of shock and outrage at the extent of the (any old/new alphabet-soup Agency will do, here, - - -been doing it for many decades, and the names have been changed to obscure the guilty) of the USA
The song is "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again" from Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" album
"Grandpa died last night, and now he's buried in the rocks
And everyone still talks about how badly they were shocked
But me, I expected it to happen, I knew he'd lost control
When he built a fire on Main Street, and shot it full of holes"

That quoted, here's the thing - - -Various spooks have been haunting any and every body,business, and nation - here, there, and everywhere, to the maximum ability of the technologies available at the time - And, when noticed in public, they have ALWAYS screamed "National Security" (my take is that the term TRULY NEEDS a definition - - - "Roll ON Big Business' seems about as close as any) It got a whole BUNCH more overt after 9/11 was used to panic the (terribly spoiled and oblivious) population of the USA into eagerly giving up even the pretense of civil rights - - -
BTW, on that fateful day did anyone ELSE find themselves questioning the origins of that just SO timely "cause" that rallied the USA around a previously very shaky presidency, massacred any pretense of civil rights (not to mention Afghans and others), distracted attention from HUGE problems at home, etc, etc - - -All the detective stories I sometimes distract my self with, find some way to include "Qui Bono" (I THINK that's the Latin?) meaning " Who Benefits"
Weeelll, sorry, but I DO tend to think tangentially - - -

And yes, the beloved Internet IS vulnerable - it is a man-made technology, by definition those ARE vulnerable to man-made assaults, invasions, intrusions, and subversions Right now, it is shortly going to make MUCH less difference to the average user - Seems that "Net Neutrality" has recently been declared defunct by the USA courts (and MOST of the major ISP players headquarter here) What gets on, gets seen, gets transmitted, gets monitored will shortly be determined by the Major International Corps(e) After all, they rather blatantly own the4 USA pols - can't speak for other nations - Seems likely that international manipulation of the Internet communications/data would be in order, eh? I truly cannot imagine that any entity has been so oblivious to the likelihood of Internet spying that "shocked" should apply - - -

NOW would be a good time to post/seek the Avaaz petition(s) and any others you can find - I don't know how to post it here - - - -RAY???

I tried to post a similar response a while ago - Firefox threw it out, somehow = = =Never mind, unless "Net Neutrality" is somehow revived MOST of what I and my ilk have to way will be silenced - - - -

Addendum
8 months ago

Oh, yeah - The massively hush-hush TPP that is being negotiated w/o ANY visibility to Congress (not that I think they would necessarily help) is said to include some provisions that make the Big Comm Corps(e) wholly empowered to manage and "monitor" the Net - - - -

Buh-Bye, free speech

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