The U.SNational Security Agency hacked more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide last year, infecting them with malware used to conduct sophisticated spy operations, according to a top-secret slide leaked by Edward Snowden.
Modern software developers move quickly. They push out the door what they call “minimum viable products,” revising as needed, based on their users’ experiences. They often use “open source” software -- code that’s more stable because it’s free and therefore tested more widely by more users.
The company executives who employ these software makers are themselves knowledgeable about technology, and they track the progress of their own products and others’ as well. They deploy elaborate quality-assurance testing and strong project management to make sure new software never cripples their businesses. When’s the last time you saw LinkedIn stop working when it rolled out a new product?
The embarrassing rollout of HealthCare.gov shows how differently the government operates. It should also be taken as an unparalleled opportunity for public actors at all levels -- local, state and federal -- to fix the government’s relationship with technology.
This isn’t just about getting access to better software programs -- after all, the National Security Agency seems to have access to whatever it wants. The problem underlying the HealthCare.gov debacle is more cultural than technical.
Civil servants trained in policy know little about digital technology; as a result, they can’t ask hard questions or pitch in to help. Many are risk-averse, too, and complacent when it comes to large technology projects. Government technologists, for their part, may have no experience with modern project management and design methods. They usually aren’t at the policy-making table; instead, they’re brought in after decisions have been made and left to interpret the shifting demands of the tech-blind lawyers and economists.
This is why, when faced with a big technology project, fear of failure and inadequate internal talent drive government agencies to call in giant contractors. These vendors may not be the best at managing software development, but they are the best at handling government contracts. They’ll operate using antiquated models of project management that involve detailed, fully baked project designs rather than minimum viable products. And they’ll use mainstream technologies because that’s what they know decision makers will trust. Government policy managers, by and large, leave vendors such as CGI Federal, the contractor behind HealthCare.gov, alone to do the work, not knowing what questions to ask.
This is a shame, because if government could use technology responsively, it would increase public trust.
Tensions between the U.S. government and its allies continued to flare amid reports that the National Security Agency monitored phone calls of 35 world leaders -- this after Germany's government summoned the U.S.
Google appears to have caught the French finance ministry spying on its workers’ internet traffic by spoofing Google security certificates, judging from an episode that took place last week.
The web firm said in a blog post on Saturday that, on the preceding Tuesday, it had become aware of “unauthorized digital certificates for several Google domains.” It tracked the provenance of these certificates back to ANSSI, the French state information security agency, which in turn pointed to the Treasury as the culprit.
Browsers use such certificates to verify that a web service is what it says it is, and creating a fake certificate can allow an attacker to impersonate a service like Google, duping the user into handing over personal information. This is known as a man-in-the-middle attack – it’s been used by the NSA, and is probably that agency’s chief weapon in circumventing industry-standard TLS/SSL web encryption.
Certificates are issued by certificate authorities (CAs), which naturally need to demonstrate their trustworthiness. Highly trustworthy CAs are known as “root CAs” – ANSSI in this case – and there are also lower-grade “intermediate CAs” that are verified by root CAs so that the browser will accept their certificates.
Last week, Google spotted certificates purporting to belong to itself, but in reality issued to someone else by an intermediate CA. It immediately updated its Chrome browser to block that intermediate CA, then followed the chain of trust to identify the root CA, ANSSI. It informed ANSSI of what it had found, and also warned other browser vendors to block the intermediate CA.
Drivers were randomly stopped Tuesday at a police roadblock in Fort Worth, Texas, herded into a parking lot and asked to take DNA tests — to give blood samples, have their cheeks swabbed, and take Breathalyzer tests.
In the coming year, it will likely become significantly easier to receive and live with a pacemaker.
Developed by Silicon Valley startup Nanostim, a device about the size of a AAA battery, or one-tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker, was recently approved for use in Europe. It is installed through a catheter in the femoral vein in a minimally invasive procedure. Then, for about 10 years it sits inside the ventricle of the heart and delivers its regulatory electrical pulses wirelessly.
Sun News Network 12 Year Old Admits Hacking Government Websites As Part Of Anonymous TechWeekEurope UK A 12-year old Canadian boy from Montreal has pleaded guilty to hacking websites of local police, the Quebec Institute of Public Health, the...
The furor provoked by revelations that the American government has for years monitored the private communications of its allies showed no signs of abating this week as European leaders issued harsh condemnations while demanding a full explanation.
“Spying is not acceptable,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters on Thursday as she arrived in Brussels for a European Union summit. “Allies are supposed to trust one another. It’s not a problem just for me, but for all citizens.”
Beyond the immediate substance of the reports -- the notion that American power has been applied to peer into the activities of its closest allies -- reactions suggest an almost visceral sense of violation: European leaders have expressed profound feelings of betrayal, a sentiment that suggests the potential for lasting damage in their dealings with the Obama administration.
This breach has opened at a time in which the United States and its European allies are facing particularly nettlesome problems that would seem to require fruitful collaboration, from the international effort to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons capability to negotiations with Iran aimed at preventing that country from developing nuclear weapons.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault pronounced himself “shocked” by revelations published earlier this week in Le Monde detailing an American spying program that reportedly went by the code name Genie. The National Security Agency implanted surveillance devices on French computers overseas, including at its embassies.
“It is unbelievable that an ally country such as the United-States is capable to go as far as to spy on private conversations that have no strategic rationale and no impact on the national defense,” the prime minister told reporters in Copenhagen on Monday.
Ayrault demanded that the United States “give clear answers, to justify the reasons that led to such practices, and to put in place a system of transparency,” adding, “It’s the basis for a trustworthy relationship between our countries.”
The Guardian How to Stop the Government From Putting Another Lavabit Out of Business American Civil Liberties Union News and Information (blog) In the case, law enforcement agents conducting a criminal investigation of one of Lavabit's customers...
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