How the NSA (Sorta) Won the (Last) Iraq War | The Daily Beast

Bob Stasio never planned to become a cyber warrior. After he graduated high school, Stasio enrolled at the University at Buffalo and entered the ROTC program. He majored in mathematical physics, studying mind-bending theories of quantum mechanics and partial differential equations. The university, eager to graduate students steeped in the hard sciences, waived the major components of his core curriculum requirements, including English. Stasio never wrote a paper in his entire college career.

Stasio arrived at Fort Lewis, Washington, in 2004, when he was 22 years old. His new brigade intelligence officer took one look at the second lieutenant’s résumé, saw the background in math and physics, and told Stasio, “You’re going to the SIGINT platoon.” [Read more]

Berlin’s digital exiles: where tech activists go to escape the NSA | The Guardian

It’s the not knowing that’s the hardest thing, Laura Poitras tells me. “Not knowing whether I’m in a private place or not.” Not knowing if someone’s watching or not. Though she’s under surveillance, she knows that. It makes working as a journalist “hard but not impossible”. It’s on a personal level that it’s harder to process. “I try not to let it get inside my head, but… I still am not sure that my home is private. And if I really want to make sure I’m having a private conversation or something, I’ll go outside.”

Poitras’s documentary about Edward Snowden, Citizenfour, has just been released in cinemas. She was, for a time, the only person in the world who was in contact with Snowden, the only one who knew of his existence. Before she got Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian on board, it was just her – talking, electronically, to the man she knew only as “Citizenfour”. Even months on, when I ask her if the memory of that time lives with her still, she hesitates and takes a deep breath: “It was really very scary for a number of months. I was very aware that the risks were really high and that something bad could happen. I had this kind of responsibility to not fuck up, in terms of source protection, communication, security and all those things, I really had to be super careful in all sorts of ways.” [Read more]

Tech, social media, drones threaten privacy | az central

During a conference on privacy last week, Kevin Ashton flashed a map on a giant screen showing the addresses where dozens of cats live with their owners in north Scottsdale, within a few miles of the posh resort where the conference was taking place.

The point: to illustrate how much information — some benign, some highly sensitive — is floating around the Internet or contained in databases to which parties from aggressive marketers to outright criminals have access.

Ashton zeroed in on a photo of a black, white and orange feline living in the 10000 block of East Mirasol Circle. [Read more]

Yes, Isis exploits technology. But that’s no reason to compromise our privacy | The Guardian

A headline caught my eye last Tuesday morning. “Privacy not an absolute right, says GCHQ chief”, it read. Given that GCHQ bosses are normally sensibly taciturn types, it looked puzzling. But it turns out that Sir Iain Lobban has retired from GCHQ to spend more time with his pension, to be followed no doubt, after a discreet interval, with some lucrative non-exec directorships. His successor is a Foreign Office smoothie, name of Robert Hannigan, who obviously decided that the best form of defence against the Snowden revelations is attack, which he mounted via an op-ed piece in the Financial Times, in the course of which he wrote some very puzzling things.

Much of his piece is a rehearsal of how good Isis has become at exploiting social media. Its members “use messaging and social media services such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, and a language their peers understand. The videos they post of themselves attacking towns, firing weapons or detonating explosives have a self-conscious online gaming quality. Their use of the World Cup and Ebola hashtags to insert the Isis message into a wider news feed, and their ability to send 40,000 tweets a day during the advance on Mosul without triggering spam controls, illustrates their ease with new media. There is no need for today’s would-be jihadis to seek out restricted websites with secret passwords: they can follow other young people posting their adventures in Syria as they would anywhere else.” [Read more]

Social media security: Is our online privacy officially dead? |

A FEW months ago on a Sunday morning, I was in my car at a set of traffic lights in Sydney’s Potts Point, when Biggest Loser trainer Michelle Bridges and her on/off boyfriend, Steve ‘Commando’ Willis, came out of a cafe with a group of friends. They were holding hands and looked like any normal couple going about their day.

What made the event remarkable was that not more than 10 metres away was a paparazzo with a digital SLR and a zoom lens the size of a large delicatessen salami, snapping off a succession of shots. Surely Bridges and Willis were entitled to have a Sunday breakfast with friends without appearing in a tabloid magazine? It wasn’t like they were getting up from a meal with the Beckhams. For a fleeting moment, I felt sorry for them. [Read more]

UD student’s 9-foot Edward Snowden statue at DCCA | Washington Times

When Business Insider wrote about University of Delaware graduate student Jim Dessicino’s statue of Edward Snowden appearing in New York’s Union Square Park last month, the reporter noted that none of the dozen passers-by they talked to could identify who the statue depicted.

For Dessicino, a 29-year-old Atlantic City, New Jersey, native, it could have been a blow to his confidence as an artist, having spent months creating the 9-foot, 220-pound figure out of gypsum cement, clay, steel and foam. [Read more]

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