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December 27, 2013

NSA surveillance has stopped no terror attacks at all

A White House panel revealed that the NSA's extensive, probably illegal, spying efforts have successfully stopped exactly zero terror attacks. NSA surveillance stopped no terror attacks, says White House panel member | Pandagon
A member of the White House review panel on NSA surveillance said he was “absolutely” surprised when he discovered the agency’s lack of evidence that the bulk collection of telephone call records had thwarted any terrorist attacks, said Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor, in an interview with NBC News. “The results were very thin.” While Stone said the mass collection of telephone call records was a “logical program” from the NSA’s perspective, one question the White House panel was seeking to answer was whether it had actually stopped “any [terror attacks] that might have been really big.” “We found none,” said Stone. Under the NSA program, first revealed by ex-contractor Edward Snowden, the agency collects en-masse the records of the time and duration of phone calls made by persons inside (and sometimes outside) the United States. Stone was one of five members of the White House review panel – and the only one without any intelligence community experience – that this week produced a sweeping report recommending that the NSA’s collection of phone call records be terminated to protect Americans’ privacy rights. The panel made that recommendation after concluding that the program was “not essential in preventing attacks.” “That was stunning. That was the ballgame,” said one congressional intelligence official, who asked not to be publicly identified. “It flies in the face of everything that they have tossed at us.” . . .

November 12, 2013

Is China planting spam-broadcasting chips in home appliances?

Russian hackers claim they are. China is planting spying microchips in Electric Iron and kettles that can scan Wi-Fi devices to serve malware - The Hacker News
We have discussed many times in our stories the network of Intelligent devices, their capabilities and the possibilities that cyber criminals could exploit them for illegal activities.

Hidden chips are used by cyber criminals and state-sponsored hackers to infiltrate company networks and organizations for various purposes, to send out spam or for cyber espionage.

November 03, 2013

Smartphones are the reason crime is skyrocketing in Oakland, San Francisco and NYC

If cell manufacturers would include a kill switch, it could end phone theft as we know it. What's Driving Oakland's Robbery Epidemic? | Feature | Oakland, Berkeley & Bay Area News & Arts Coverage
The robbery surge has not only deepened Oakland's reputation for being a crime-ridden city, but it also has put longtime residents on edge. A recent poll commissioned by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce found that 55 percent of respondents said they now feel "less safe." In fact, several neighborhoods throughout the city have decided in recent weeks to hire private security companies to patrol their areas in an effort to stop the robbery epidemic from spreading. "Every robbery requires an element of force or fear — there's an overwhelming sense of vulnerability that comes with the crime," noted Oakland police Lieutenant Chris Bolton, who works in the department's geographic Area 2, which includes the city's Temescal district. "People are feeling victimized in their own neighborhoods. These types of crimes are toxic to the feeling of safety." According to law enforcement experts, the driving force behind the robbery outbreak nationwide is the expanding global market for stolen electronics — including cellphones, tablets, and laptops. Oakland police officials say that some criminal street gangs have gone so far as to abandon the illegal drug trade in favor of the more lucrative stolen electronics market. According to OPD estimates, 75 percent of street robberies in Oakland now involve a cellphone. In San Francisco, nearly 50 percent of all robberies include a smartphone. And in New York City, smartphone thefts now account for more than 40 percent of all robberies (a 40 percent increase from 2011), inspiring the police force to coin the term "apple picking" to refer to iPhone theft. Consumer Reports estimated that 1.6 million Americans were victims of cellphone robbery last year.