US NSA used Facebook to hack into computers

“This just in from the Edward Snowden vault of government secrets: The National Security Agency is breaking into ‘potentially millions of computers worldwide’ and infecting them with malware “implants” as part of an effort that is increasingly relying on automated systems and not human oversight, according to a by First Look Media report published Wednesday,” Dustin Volz reports for National Journal. “And the NSA is pretending to be Facebook to get the job done.”

“‘In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social-media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive,’ First Look reported on Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept channel, citing a classified slide presentation from 2009,” Volz reports. “As part of the ‘industrial-scale exploitation,’ the agency is leveraging Facebook’s global appeal to trick targets into logging in to a doppelganger version of the site, a technique dubbed ‘Quantumhand.’ The agency was able to trick target computers by transmitting ‘malicious data packets’ that disguise it as the real Facebook.”

“Facebook denied any knowledge of the NSA’s malware infection program, and said its site is now protected against such attacks,” Volz reports. “But the company suggested that, if the allegations are true, other social networks could also have been compromised.”

Read more in the full article here.

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29 Comments

  1. The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.

    In addition, the court extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years — and more under special circumstances, according to the documents, which include a recently released 2011 opinion by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, then chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

    What had not been previously acknowledged is that the court in 2008 [DURING THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION] imposed an explicit ban — at the government’s request — on those kinds of searches, that officials in 2011 [DURING THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION] got the court to lift the bar and that the search authority has been used.

    Together the permission to search and to keep data longer expanded the NSA’s authority in significant ways without public debate or any specific authority from Congress. The administration’s assurances rely on legalistic definitions of the term “target” that can be at odds with ordinary English usage. The enlarged authority is part of a fundamental shift in the government’s approach to surveillance: collecting first, and protecting Americans’ privacy later.

    “The government says, ‘We’re not targeting U.S. persons,’ ” said Gregory T. Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “But then they never say, ‘We turn around and deliberately search for Americans’ records in what we took from the wire.’ That, to me, is not so different from targeting Americans at the outset.”

    The court decision allowed the NSA “to query the vast majority” of its e-mail and phone call databases using the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of Americans and legal residents without a warrant, according to Bates’s opinion.

    The queries must be “reasonably likely to yield foreign intelligence information.” And the results are subject to the NSA’s privacy rules.

    The court in 2008 imposed a wholesale ban on such searches at the government’s request, said Alex Joel, civil liberties protection officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The government included this restriction “to remain consistent with NSA policies and procedures that NSA applied to other authorized collection activities,” he said.

    But in 2011, to more rapidly and effectively identify relevant foreign intelligence communications, “we did ask the court” to lift the ban, ODNI general counsel Robert S. Litt said in an interview. “We wanted to be able to do it,” he said, referring to the searching of Americans’ communications without a warrant.

    Joel gave hypothetical examples of why the authority was needed, such as when the NSA learns of a rapidly developing terrorist plot and suspects that a U.S. person may be a conspirator. Searching for communications to, from or about that person can help assess that person’s involvement and whether he is in touch with terrorists who are surveillance targets, he said. Officials would not say how many searches have been conducted.

    The court’s expansion of authority went largely unnoticed when the opinion was released, but it formed the basis for cryptic warnings last year by a pair of Democratic senators, Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Mark Udall (Colo.), that the administration had a “back-door search loophole” that enabled the NSA to scour intercepted communications for those of Americans. They introduced legislation to require a warrant, but they were barred by classification rules from disclosing the court’s authorization or whether the NSA was already conducting such searches.

    “The [surveillance] Court documents declassified recently show that in late 2011 the court authorized the NSA to conduct warrantless searches of individual Americans’ communications using an authority intended to target only foreigners,” Wyden said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Our intelligence agencies need the authority to target the communications of foreigners, but for government agencies to deliberately read the e-mails or listen to the phone calls of individual Americans, the Constitution requires a warrant.”

    Source: The Washington Post, September 07, 2013

    1. ABSOLUTE LIE

      Anyone who can read and use their brain knows perfectly well that all this garbage started with the abuse of the poorly named ‘Patriot Act’, a concoction of THE BUSH LEAGUE, aka The George W. Bush administration, AKA The Neo-Conservatives, AKA PNAC (Project of the New American Century), AKA ‘The Crazies’, as described by President Ronald Reagan.

      We know the bums who started all this government abuse of citizen rights. Obama is MERELY Phase Two.

      To hell with BOTH your deranged and corrupt political parties, Republicans and Democrats alike. Die and never return.

        1. No. You can’t rewrite this history already written, much as you’d like to fool the world with propaganda. Don’t bother trying to shield the W. Bush administration from blame. You’re wasting your precious propagandist time.

          And no, alterna-party fanatics. Don’t bother trying to shield Obama either. They’re two traitors from the same pod. Kinda sick to realize that, isn’t it.

          1. I agree…. but…
            You are (perhaps without realizing) equivocating the wrongs & abuses of the Bush and Obama administrations. (and believe me I was not a Bush supporter, during or now)
            Saying both administrations expanded both federal & executive branch authority (trampling the constitution) while strictly true, is a bit like saying that because OS X and windows both can get “malware” so they are equally secure.

            The abuse and unconstitutional expansion of executive power in the current administration is at least tenfold what it was during the bush years (and at the time I though that was appalling). The current administration has crossed over from “mere” abuse of executive power into tyranny. Frightening times we live in.
            Even those of you who are still completely convinced that Obama has the correct vision, need to realize that this is an extremely dangerous situation, because no matter how much you believe in the current administration, soon enough someone not so good will occupy that office (think Nixon or LBJ) and do you really what someone you don’t agree with (or who even wants to do really bad, evil things) having this kind of power?

            1. @Tessellator. ^^^THIS

              I wasn’t a huge fan of Bush either, mostly because he never vetoed a single spending bill.

              That said, the ghosts of Nixon and LBJ are thanking their lucky stars that Obama came along. The evidence is plain that those guys were boy scouts compared to the abuses of power we see out of the WH now.

              One of the articles of impeachment on Nixon was that he DISCUSSED the idea of using the IRS against his enemies (but never did). Today, Obama fans support Obama’s use of the IRS against his enemies.

              Times, they have changed.

              By the way, do any of you do a little dance for the NSA audience in front of your iSight when you see it turn on unexpectedly?

              Didn’t think so.

            2. Here’s the thing Derek. It does a disservice to history if we lump Obama with Bush. People may not like Bush for whatever reason (the Left seems to always blame him for being Obama-Lite which doesn’t sound well-reasoned to me but whatever) but he didn’t go after his enemies or the public with his agencies.

              Furthermore, Congress passed the Patriot Act and Bush didn’t violate it either in letter or in spirit.

              That is not the case today.

              What is aggravating to witness is that if Bush had used the NSA and the IRS the way Obama now does, the Left would have had a royal cow (and they would be right to do so).

              In this respect, as long as the press leans hard left, we should always aim to have a Republican in the WH because then at least they will act as a watch dog. Right now, they yawn over government spying because they are the guardians of Obama. He apparently can do whatever he pleases.

              There is no one that shouldn’t see this as dangerous.

            3. This attention to detail about what treasonous administration did what is for the courtroom.

              Meanwhile: The problem STARTED with the W. Bush administration, quite deliberately. It then extended into the Obama administration, quite deliberately. Both administrations require being tried for treason. That no one has been impeached will echo through history as a core indicator that our current citizenship is uncaring and incoherent regarding their own liberties and freedoms. The results will be dire. I for one won’t ever shut up about this catastrophe, nor care about what administration was more guilty. What’s the point? Get them all into jail and into the courtroom. Then we’ll persecute acceding to the depths of their crimes. Until then, what’s important is IMPEACHMENT. Let’s get to it.

              [Insert my usual array or quotations from the US Constitution, Benjamin Franklin and Ronald Reagan HERE.]

      1. @Derek

        I agree. No more Republicans nor Democrats! As long as Republicans blame Democrats and Democrats blame Republicans we fall into their trap. It is almost a variation of the Good Cop/Bad Cop. Neither one is on your side.

        It’s time that we ONLY vote for Independents. If we voted Independent site unseen, how much worse can it be. We have the power, let’s use it!

        1. I’ve been encouraging independents of various stripes locally. Some are great, some are loons. The overall idea of course is simple: REPRESENT THE PEOPLE and to hell with everything else. That’s what elected ‘representation’ is all about.

  2. DO YOUR JOB NSA.

    Destroying the US Constitution IS NOT your job NSA.

    No it’s not! infinity plus one!

    It’s time to break up the NSA, and CIA, the REAL terrorists, and start over again according to THE RULES and THE RIGHTS. It’s time for a ‘war’ on government abuse of its citizens, worldwide.

    1. Amen brother.
      But seriously…is there any sane person anywhere, that actually believes the guff they give us. Demo march coming up in London soon…there should be more.

      1. In the vein of how we studied the sheeple of fascist Europe before and during WWII, we’ll be studied in the future for why we passively allowed our own government to destroy our rights and our country. Clearly, maintaining our citizen rights and protections doesn’t register in most people’s distracted minds.

        Pathetic we humans in times such as these. Fake another Pearl Harbor or 9/11 and maybe that really is what it takes to wake up the sleeping masses.

        A big greeting of affection and appreciation to everyone else who’s already awake! (^_^)/

  3. Ever wonder why when so many people are up in arms about NSA spying, nothing happens and the spying continues?

    I suspect it is because the NSA and our other spy agencies have healthy dossiers on every politician and powerful person and these files are bulging with information that might not reflect well on our politicians and big-wigs.

    And for those who live a clean life or don’t give a crap about what is revealed from their past, unfortunate accidents seem to befall them. Michael Hastings, Andrew Breitbart, and the Kennedy boys come to mind.

    But I’m just a tin-foil hat conspiracy theorist, so don’t pay any attention to what I say. Hold on, a black Suburban just pulled up….

  4. one can only hope that ms. feinstein ….. (despite the irony that she never had problems with these organizations snooping on us normal citizens, but is now in high dudgeon about them doing it to her and her bailiwick)….. comes down on these guys like a ton of bricks.

    it is time, madam, for the church commission v 2.0 to be opened and shifted into warp drive. there is nothing less at stake than our democracy. secret government is never good government.

    liberal or conservative – we are all endangered by what is going on in government today.

    looks like the empire is going down and a national security state is the only way for those in power to fend off the collapse a little longer. how thoughtful of them

    some country we got. it is sad beyond words

  5. 1. US of A–Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave.
    2. Britain–Fair Play, and the Mother of Parliaments
    3. Russia–The Workers’ Terrestrial Paradise
    4. North Korea–a People’s Democratic Republic–quite different from all of the contemptible above.

    Which of the above is, in your opinion, untrue?

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