The NSA is not the only government agency asking tech companies for help in cracking technology to access user data. Sources say the FBI has a history of requesting digital backdoors, which are generally understood as a hidden vulnerability in a program that would, in theory, let the agency peek into suspects' computers and communications. In 2005, when Microsoft was about to launch BitLocker , its Windows software to encrypt and lock hard drives, the company approached the NSA, its British counterpart the GCHQ and the FBI, among other government and law-enforcement agencies. Microsoft's goal was twofold: get feedback from the agencies, and sell BitLocker to them. See also: Is It the Dawn of the Encryption App? But the FBI, concerned about its ability to fight crime — specifically, child pornography — apparently repeatedly asked Microsoft to put a backdoor in the software. A backdoor — or trapdoor — is a secret vulnerability that can be exploited to break or … [Read more...] about Did the FBI Lean On Microsoft for Access to Its Encryption Software?
Security experts have long suspected that iMessage is not as safe and impenetrable as Apple claims. But a group of researchers says it has proof that Apple can indeed eavesdrop on your iMessages — and the NSA can, too. The researchers, through a careful and thorough study of the iMessage protocol, conclude that Apple has the ability to intercept and decrypt iMessages. Even though the messages are encrypted end-to-end, Apple manages the keys needed to encrypt and exchange the messages, the researchers found. "Yes, there is end-to-end encryption as Apple claims, but the weakness is in the key infrastructure as it is controlled by Apple: They can change a key anytime they want, thus read the content of our iMessages," reads a blog post published on Thursday by Cyril Cattiaux, an iOS jailbreak hacker known as "pod2g," and "gg" (who doesn't want to reveal his full name), two security researchers who exclusively shared the post in advance with Mashable . UPDATE — Oct. 18, … [Read more...] about Experts: Yes, Apple and the NSA Can Read Your iMessages
To distance itself from allegations of collaborating with the secret surveillance program PRISM , Apple issued a statement on Sunday night that denies it granted the National Security Agency direct access to its servers. The company went one step further: Apple claimed it couldn't turn over certain data to the U.S. government, even if it wanted to. "Conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them," the statement reads . "Apple cannot decrypt that data." SEE ALSO: Wickr: Can the Snapchat for Grown-Ups Save You From Spies? Apple's announcement comes on the heels of denials from Google , Facebook , Microsoft and Yahoo . But Apple was more specific, stating that iMessages are encrypted; only the two iMessage participants can read any given conversation. If this is true, are iMessages beyond the grasp of the NSA and the FBI? In the past, security … [Read more...] about Are Your Apple iMessages Really Safe From Prying Eyes?
In August, Ladar Levison, the founder of Lavabit — the email service provider allegedly used by Edward Snowden — decided to shut down the entire company rather than comply with a broad surveillance request . A few hours later, spooked by Levison's extreme move, private communications startup Silent Circle abruptly and preemptively shut down its own email service, too. See also: Did the FBI Lean On Microsoft for Access to Its Encryption Software? Now, almost three months later, Lavabit and Silent Circle will announce their plans to join forces and launch Dark Mail, a new secure, encrypted and peer-to-peer email system more resistant to government surveillance. They're calling it the "Dark Mail Alliance." "It's time to build a new email protocol that is secure by default, because we can't trust the Internet anymore, we can't trust governments anymore ," said Levison in an interview with Mashable . "So we need to build a new system that is resilient to that kind of … [Read more...] about Email Providers Build Service to Protect Your Inbox From the NSA
Facebook , Google and seven other major Internet companies are allowing the National Security Agency direct access to a wealth of users' data, according to a report. Called PRISM, the program involves the NSA accessing the emails, documents, photographs and other sensitive data of users from all nine involved companies, according to a PowerPoint presentation obtained by The Washington Post and The Guardian . The PowerPoint was provided by a whistleblower in the intelligence services. Microsoft, Yahoo, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple are also party to the program, the report alleges. Dropbox is reportedly "coming soon," while the PowerPoint document reveals that Apple held out for five years before finally relenting. A Google spokesperson told both newspapers that "Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data," but did admit that the company discloses "user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such … [Read more...] about NSA Leak: Internet Giants Let Government Tap Your Data