(Greek: κρυπτεία / krupteía, from κρυπτός / kruptós, “hidden, secret things”)

Archive for January 23rd, 2009

Russell Tice: Warrantless Wiretaps and The Total Information Awareness Program

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In a way I feel we are back in the 70’s with Nixon all over again. Russell Tice, former NSA analyst, has come forth with more information post W leaving office. His revelation of merit is that one of the targeted groups were and are (as the programs are still running) is that Journalists were a target group.

I am sure that there were enemies lists, but I think that this ranges far further than the journalists. Tice makes it clear in a vague way, that TIA’s data mining program that was “officially” killed (meaning that it went black instead and changed names) is being used to data mine to put metadata to individuals and create virtual dossiers and behavioral profiles vis a vis their phone/bank/web search/email data.

It has been pretty much proven out that the use of data mining is somewhat dubious in the war on terror. Many of the “terrorists” are not using the internet to order their pizza’s from the local “terror hut” So, really, who’s records are they getting? Ours. Yours, mine, anyone on the internet doing their Googling. Anyone making calls perhaps to persons of interest that the computer spit out because of some arcane percieved connection via TIA. Or, those who were directly targeted like the journalists.

I am sure that more will come out of these programs as people begin to get their sense of right and wrong back, but, remember this. The world of SIGINT/ELINT/INTEL is a world of grey areas. Sure there is the intent of guarding the people and the constitution, but, many times the lines are a bit more subtle once you are on the inside. So people may be misled by their peers, or, they may take that light grey line and traverse across it in the idea that it’s for the “greater good”

What we have found though, is that in this case the events of 9/11, shocking us all, allowed for all of us to let someone like W and Cheney take that grey line and just erase it altogether. They obliterated it with the use of their own form of terror. The terrorist boogey man of color coded threatcons. They used these and other perceived threats to play upon all of our memories of that day and the days after to manipulate us into complacency. A complacency that we as a people were really just too stunned and afraid to do anything else but let “daddy” take care of us… And that is what they were claiming to be doing. Perhaps they were thinking at first that they were protecting us, but it soon becomes apparent that they were doing much more and in a methodical and deliberate manner. Acts of self interest.

All too soon the methods of protection have become methods of control. Control of information, control of “The People” and most of us were ill equipped to understand or recognize that it was happening. Truly, in many ways this last president became the embodiment of “Big Brother” than any who came before. This is mainly because of the technology at his and their disposal. Technology mind you, that we all as citizens LOVE to have and play with but, few truly understand the capabilities of.

As an information security professional, I understand many of these possibilities and still I too can find myself doing things at times that maybe I should not. Perhaps even this journal and its predecessor on LJ might have been a bad idea because I am willing to make my mind known in an unfiltered fasion on the internet. How many lists must I be on, even though I work within the system and am known to certain entities? Perhaps more because of that… Who knows without a FOIA request huh? Which, BTW thank you Big O for already making it easier to get a FOIA request done. Perhaps there will be finally some more transparency in our government? It would be nice.

To conclude, don’t get me wrong, I still believe that the only security that you, I, any one of us, has is that which we make for ourselves. Using encryption, writing letters by hand, speaking in soft language, are the only way to truly engage in “private” conversation unless you are in front of that other person in the cone of silence somewhere. The technology, no matter the administration, has outstripped the ability of the good guys stopping its use for ill intent. We now live in the surveillance world… Whether it is the government, foreign or domestic, or non state actors, we all can and likely will be “surveilled” from here on in.

It’s just a matter of what we choose to let them see….

Written by Krypt3ia

2009/01/23 at 12:29

M$ Lay’s off 5K Employees… Blames sagging PC sales *cough*

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Decline in PC Orders Leads to Microsoft Layoffs

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Spooked by a rapid decline in orders for personal computers, Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, initiated the first broad layoffs in the company’s history on Thursday and warned of waning technology spending in the months and even years to come.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., plans to lay off 5,000 of its 94,000 employees over the next 18 months, including 1,400 people on Thursday. The company disclosed the cuts as it released second-quarter results, which reflected an 11 percent drop in net income, to $4.17 billion, from $4.71 billion in the period a year ago. A sharp drop in sales of its Windows operating system that took hold in December led to the lackluster results, which missed analysts’ expectations.

Revenue for the quarter rose 2 percent, to $16.63 billion. Earnings of 47 cents in the quarter missed the forecast from Thomson Reuters by 2 cents.

“We are certainly in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime set of economic conditions,” Microsoft’s chief executive, Steven A. Ballmer, said during a conference call. “The economy is resetting to a lower level of business and consumer spending.”

Microsoft’s shares dropped $2.27, or close to 11.7 percent, to $17.11 during Thursday’s trading.

The falling sales of PC software dovetailed with broader problems across the computer industry. Earlier this week, Intel, the world’s largest chip maker, said it would lay off at least 5,000 people and close some test and manufacturing plants to deal with vanishing demand for its products. The hard-drive maker Seagate and the chip makers Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia have watched sales dry up as well, while also going through layoffs. And Sony, the electronics equipment maker, will also lay off about 5,000.

Microsoft has survived past downturns because of its dominant position, high margins and near relentless growth in the PC industry, but it is now bracing for a different set of circumstances.

“Our model is not for a quick rebound,” Mr. Ballmer said, during the call. “Our basic view is that things go down and stay down for awhile — a year or two years, I don’t know what it will be — and then start building back again.”

The layoffs will affect workers in several Microsoft businesses, and the company is considering the dismissal of more than 5,000 contractors. Still, Microsoft intends to hire in some parts of its business.

“Even as we take out 5,000 jobs, we will also add a few thousand jobs back into areas like search where we continue to see incredible opportunity to do good work,” Mr. Ballmer said.

Some analysts questioned whether Microsoft took quick enough and broad enough actions to deal with such a severe decline in technology spending. In addition, Wall Street continued to push Microsoft to address its trailing position in the search market dominated by Google. The company remains open to a search partnership with Yahoo, Mr. Ballmer said.

The direct impact of falling personal computer sales were evident in Microsoft’s second-quarter results, as sales of its PC operating-system software dove 8 percent, to $3.98 billion, from $4.33 billion last year.

A recent survey conducted by the research firm Forrester revealed that half of the consumers in the United States who intended to buy new PCs would put off their purchases, and many of those that did buy new machines intended to spend less.

In addition to falling PC sales, Microsoft blamed the rise of netbooks — increasingly popular cheap, compact laptops — for flagging Windows operating system revenue. Microsoft offers the lower-priced Windows XP rather than Vista for use on netbooks.

There were a couple of bright spots for Microsoft in the second quarter, including a 3 percent rise in its entertainment business, which includes the Xbox gaming console. Microsoft sold a record six million Xbox systems during the quarter, which included the holiday shopping season.

Microsoft also remained bullish about its business software group, although it noted that layoffs and lower capital spending could hurt its long-term sales.

Over the next year, Microsoft said it intended to keep trying to cut costs and would keep a tighter hold on its cash. The company looks to moderate its share repurchase program. In addition, it will remain more tentative toward acquisitions, in the belief that valuations of potential targets will be lowered even further in the months to come.

“I don’t think the market has yet to lower its expectations to the levels we are talking about,” Christopher P. Liddell, the company’s chief financial officer, said during the call.

Blaming economic uncertainty, Microsoft declined to provide a revenue or earnings forecast for the coming quarter or year.

Still, Mr. Ballmer tried to issue an optimistic long-term view for the technology industry.

“I don’t think there is any stopping the forward march of this industry or of Microsoft,” Mr. Ballmer said. “It is a pause, and there will be renewed strong growth in the technology industry over all and certainly at Microsoft.”

Ok, one thing I don’t really see mentioned here is how much of the market is now being taken by OpenSource like Ubuntu as well as what is taken by Mac OSX. Sure, the economy sucks and netbooks are the rage, but is that really it? I personally think it’s because people finally have a viable choice in operating systems other than Microflaccid. M$ is just finally realizing that they are a dead carcas that has begun to decompose.

Or perhaps they should also take a look at their price models and how they treat their customers?

Or maybe we should just say the word “hubris”
Yeah, that’s it… Hubris.

I am sure they will still be around though, putting out more security lacking, multi patching, blue screening, crap.

Written by Krypt3ia

2009/01/23 at 01:33

Posted in Cyber, Economy, Hacking, Infosec