Category Archives: Security

US Government’s “Defense Industrial Base” Takeover of US Tech Firms Behind “Equation Group” Revelations

Yesterday’s revelations by antivirus vendor Kaspersky Labs  that all Western Digital, Seagate and Toshiba hard drives have been implanted with spyware by the United States’ National Security Agency has set the world on its collective ass.

What we wish to alert the world to is the fact that the US Government has been going around taking over all kinds of companies under the pretense that these corporations are producing products that are so critical to the national security infrastructure of the USA that they can not be allowed to be run by their civilian leadership, but must be run in close cooperation with the US Department of Homeland Security – or else.

Every US corporation – and, as we now know from the inclusion of Toshiba in the list of  international companies involved in the “Equation Group” operation being run by the US National Security Agency – that produces software or hardware deemed by the secret government in the USA to be critically important infrastructure necessary for the maintenance of the US capitalist class position as the #1 capitalist class in the world has been secretly taken over by the US government, which has declared it to be part of something called the “Defense Industrial Base” – a broad selection of corporations producing elements of the communications and defense-related infrastructure the US military will rely upon in the event of World War Three taking place.  Those organizations deemed by the secret government running the USA to be part of the critically important “Defense Industrial Base” – like AT&T, Apple, Google, Boeing and now Western Digital, Seagate and Toshiba – have been ordered to turn over the security keys to their products so that the CIA, NSA and other US espionage agencies can have free rein to attack anyone who uses those products to threaten the continued domination of the world economy by the capitalist class of the United States.

To understand what the “Defense Industrial Base” consists of you need to take a look at these three documents, published by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS):

IT Sector Specific Plan 2010

nipp-ssp-communications-2010

nipp-ssp-defense-industrial-base-2010

These documents explain – not very straightforwardly but well enough – how the DIB works.  When the DHS determines that any company is producing a product that they want to control, they declare that company to be part of the Defense Industrial Base – at which time the CEO is presented with a legal document which asserts that his or her corporation is engaged in an economic sector that is critical to the “security of the Homeland” and that the CEO must turn over the keys to their kingdom to the DHS.  The legal papers served to the CEO are declared to be national security secrets, so he or she is enjoined to keep their mouths shut or be subjected to the penalties of the draconian espionage provisions of the Patriot Act and other legislation that protects and serves the secret government.

We have seen this US secret government operation in action against the CEO of  Lavabit, Lavar Levison, the heroic CEO who refused to allow his company to be transformed into a spying apparatus for the US government back in 2013.

We assert – based solely on our own analysis of the long-running series of revelations of how the US secret government works – that the new “Equation Group” revelations that allegedly show the involvement of Western Digital, Seagate and Toshiba – makers of over 90% of the hard drives in use on this planet – in the US Government’s Defense Industrial Base takeover of the world’s major communications vendors and Internet service providers.

Those who run companies that are declared to be part of the US “Defense Industrial Base” can not discuss the fact that their companies have been so enjoined with anyone who does not possess the top-level security clearance necessary for such a discussion – which rules out almost everyone in the world, including US Senators, members of Congress and even their own corporate lawyers!

For more information on the revelations  check out these links from Kaspersky Labs:

Equation group: questions and answers

Equation Group: The Crown Creator of Cyber-Espionage

Equation: The Death Star of Malware Galaxy

Workers of the World, Unite!

 

IWPCHI

 

 

New Surveillance Device Being Tested in Chicago Suburbs? What IS This Thing?

A correspondent sent us the following report and accompanying photographs of what appears to be a prototype of a new mobile surveillance device which is apparently being tested in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

It was photographed at a storage facility in Morton Grove, IL, where it was being operated by one man who was part of a team of as many as 5 men who were accompanying or escorting the main vehicle with the prototype surveillance device.

Here is our correspondents’ report:

“A friend and I were at his storage space in Morton Grove chilling out and drinking a few beers on Aug 31 when my friend noticed what he said was a car with a bunch of cameras on the roof.  I thought he’d been in the sun too long; I could see that there was a weird looking thing on the car’s roof but I’m couldn’t see it clearly because I’d left my glasses at home.  My buddy walked past the vehicle on his way to the bathroom and when he came back he said he’d never seen anything like it and they must be some kind of cops or something.  So I walked over and took a look.  As soon as I got near the vehicle with the cameras, I could see it was something really strange and so I whipped out my cell and started shooting pictures of the thing. 

Unidentified surveillance device spotted in Morton Grove, IL on August 31, 2014. "Test engineer" is sitting in the passenger seat.

Unidentified surveillance device spotted in Morton Grove, IL on August 31, 2014. “Test engineer” is sitting in the passenger seat.

“There was a guy sitting in the passenger’s seat with what looked like a laptop computer closed up in his lap; the driver was somewhere else.  I asked the guy “What is this thing?”  He said that “it’s for surveying roads”.  Not satisfied with that answer I asked him: “for who?”.  He said he didn’t know who the customer was and that he was just helping to test the device to make sure it was working well. 

“I started to examine it more closely to see if it had a manufacturer’s name tag on it somewhere and went around to the opposite side of the vehicle to take pics of the other side.  So far as I could see there were no decals identifying the manufacturer of the device.  It wasn’t a drone; it had no propellers or fuel tank that I could see.  It was apparently designed to sit on the roof of the car.  As I got ready to take the picture, a man got out of the passenger’s side of a second vehicle parked beside the test vehicle and told me that I should stop taking pictures of the device.  He said “it’s not a public space”.  I immediately took another picture and told him that that was nonsense because it was certainly in a public place and anyone had a right to take pictures of it. I asked him what it was and he said “that doesn’t matter” or something like that.

Unidentified surveillance device spotted in Morton Grove, IL on August 31, 2014.

Unidentified surveillance device spotted in Morton Grove, IL on August 31, 2014.

He made no attempt to physically prevent me from photographing and just went back to his car.  The driver got out at the same time but just stood there and said nothing and made no attempt to stop me from taking photos.  They were mildly intimidating though, so when they got back in their car I turned around and took a photo of their car so I could get their license plate.

Escort vehicle accompanying unidentified surveillance device spotted in Morton Grove, IL on August 31, 2014.

Escort vehicle accompanying unidentified surveillance device spotted in Morton Grove, IL on August 31, 2014.

“I then walked to the bathroom and noticed another guy walking towards me from the bathroom as I headed in that direction.  He must have been the driver of the test vehicle.  He said nothing and just walked past me.

“I have seen these guys back at the same location; they appear to be storing the device in that storage facility and have been driving it around for the past several days at least.”

This could very well be an innocuous surveyor’s vehicle or even a test bed for some kind of scientific instrument of some kind; or it could be a “Google Street View”-type surveillance device – who knows?  If any of our readers have any insights into what this thing is, leave a comment and we’ll try to figure it out.

Full sized image - left front of device

Full sized image – left front of device

 

Full-sized image; right rear side of device

Full-sized image; right rear side of device

IWPCHI

 

Full Report of Presidential Advisory Commission for N.S.A.: “Liberty and Security in a Changing World”

Once again we have to just slam this up here without having time to read it all – all 337 pages of it!  They really laid it on thick this time.  We did read the summary and we have to say it all sounds so very clever.  Why didn’t the great lawgivers who slapped together the monstrous Patriot Act think of this?  Why did it take the courage of one man, Edward Snowden, to initiate such profound soul-searching in Washington?

The fact is that this too is a snow job.  This 337-page tome was pulled out of the ass of a group of people hand-picked by the Obama Administration not in order to destroy the NSA’s vast spy operations, but to save them.  Out of all the recommendations this blue-ribbon bunny of a commission has made, we’re absolutely sure that several of them will DEFINITELY by implemented, tout de suite: the ones outlining the tightening of security inside the “U.S. Intelligence community” in order to make sure that there will be no future possibility of another Snowdengate.  Life as an N.S.A. analyst is about to get very unpleasant if these recommendations are put into action; it’ll be much more like the working conditions that Winston Smith “enjoyed” while working for Big Brother at the Ministry of Truth.

The rest of it is all a big fancy red herring made to look like a sieve so fine that only after the NSA shape-shifts through a thousand keyhole-sized legal loopholes will they be able to get to use any of their precious telephone metadata.  In fact, there are apertures in this new legal sieve large enough for a blue whale to scoot through without his sides even touching.

We also wonder: what massive exposes remain untold as yet by Glenn Greenwald & Co. that made the rapid production and mass dissemination of this ream of lies necessary in the eyes of the reprehensible Obama regime?  Can we look forward to finding even more appalling revelations about US spy ops coming down our chimneys this holiday season and beyond?  We hope so!

We doubt if even 100 American workers outside of the Beltway will ever bother to read even the summary of this document, let alone the whole thing.  But in the interests of keeping our handful of readers as informed as possible, here it is.  Enjoy?

IWPCHI

Summary_ Full_ Text_LibertyandSecurityinaChangingWorld_

 

 

UPDATED: Full Text of Opinion in Klayman vs. Obama – NSA Domestic Phone Data Collection Declared “Likely” Unconstitutional

[UPDATED 17 DEC 2013; Original text of this post:]

The full .pdf version of the just-released opinion of Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia in Klayman vs. Obama, challenging the NSA’s “right” to collect telephone metadata from all US phone companies on all US citizens without a search warrant.  We just received this document and haven’t yet had the chance to read it; we had a tough time finding it on the US District Court’s website today so we thought you might find this to be helpful.  Enjoy!

IWPCHI

191885863-Klayman-v-Obama-NSA-Metadata-Opinion

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UPDATE, 17 December, 2013.

The announcement yesterday of the opinion of US District Court Judge Richard Leon is quickly becoming one of the latest examples of capitalist press misrepresentation of a very partial legal victory against the NSA’s vast U.S. domestic spying operations as one of the greatest legal victories since Brown v. Board of Education.  As anyone knows who has actually read the opinion, it is anything but that. As usual, the bourgeois press corps is tripping over each other to trumpet the tepid legal opinion only partially in favor of the plaintiffs as “proof that the system works”.  We know from the long, difficult history of working class struggle in the United States that the system definitely DOES NOT work for the working class; and this latest legal opinion issued by a Bush-appointed conservative judge does nothing to alter this fact.

The plaintiffs – Larry Klayman (who, according to this Wikipedia article, is ” a politically conservative American public interest lawyer [who] is the founder and the former chairman of Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, as well as Freedom Watch, a conservative political advocacy group”, Charles and Mary Ann Strange and two others (Matthew Garrison and Michael Ferrari) – have initiated two separate motions for preliminary injunctions against the US Government and its spy agency, the NSA, asserting that, by ordering Verizon Communications (in 13-851, “Klayman I”) and AT&T and Sprint (13-881, “Klayman II”) to collect all of their phone call metadata without any evidence that any of the plaintiffs had committed a crime, the US Government has violated the plaintiffs’ rights under the first, fourth and fifth amendments to the US Constitution; the plaintiffs also seek $3.0 billion in compensation for damages resulting from the violations of their Constitutional rights.  They have indicated their intent to pursue this as a class action case, but according to Judge Leon, “[the p]laintiffs have not yet […] moved to certify a class in either case and in fact have moved for extensions of time to file a motion for class certification four times in each case.” [Leon, footnote 3, Opinion, 16 December 2013, p. 2]  One might conclude from this that the lawyers working this very important civil rights case are perhaps a bit out of their depth here.  As right-wing conservatives opposed to “liberal” “activist” (in other words, “pro-civil rights”) judges, they also find themselves in the (for them) uncharted waters of litigating IN FAVOR OF civil rights for perhaps the very first time.  That would make anyone’s head swim, no?

Just to clarify the Constitutional issues, especially for the benefit of our non-US readers let’s recapitulate  the relevant sections of the Bill of Rights:

First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Fifth Amendment: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

[The meaning of these articles are pretty much “self-evident”.  If you’d like more info check out  this Wikipedia article on the Bill of Rights.]

Judge Leon rules, in fact, quite narrowly and only very partially in favor of the plaintiffs in this case.  He rules in favor of the plaintiffs in “Klayman I” since they are, by their own admission, actual customers of a telephone company and not an “Internet Service Provider”, as the plaintiffs in “Klayman II” solely claim to be.  Leon is saying that since it is only the telephone metadata that is at issue in this case, any complaints raised by those who are not specifically telephone service subscribers but who merely subscribe to an Internet service provided by a telephone company are not relevant.  As if there is any real difference between the two.  Many clever pundits in the bourgeois press are yukking it up over Leon’s use of a Beatles analogy to ridicule the Government’s case; but in fact it seems to us that it is Leon who is actually employing the “Ringo Defense” to deny the issues raised by “Klayman II” a hearing in his courtroom.

[To Be Continued – IWPCHI]

Get your copy of the Secret Service’s Censored Report on their Aaron Swartz Investigation

We are presenting to our readers…

aaron-swartz-usss-first-release-08-12-13

…the just-released and heavily censored U.S. Secret Service report of their “investigation” of Aaron Swartz.

Aaron Swartz, as many of you know, was the M.I.T. hacktivist who took his own life last year while under threat of  facing decades in jail for the “crime” – in the eyes of “lesser evil” Democrat Barack Obama’s Justice Dept. – of attempting to provide to the world paywall-free access to JSTOR’s scientific journals.

This series of documents has not yet been reviewed by us and so we can’t tell you much about it except to say that it is censored in that charming manner we’ve seen so often before by the guardians of the US capitalist class’ “national interest”.  In other words, they don’t want the workers of the world – and particularly the workers in the US itself –  to see how “our” secret government police and spy agencies work.

Liberals decry the “need” for secrecy in this “post-911 world”; but the capitalist classes of the world have always kept their crimes secret from the eyes of “their” working classes.  The capitalist class of the US, representing far less than 1% of the national population, own more than 50% of the national wealth.  This disturbing fact is just one of the millions of “national security secrets” that the tiny gang of bloodthirsty greedheads who actually own and operate the US Government for their own benefit must keep hidden from the American working class  – and from the workers of the world. To further that conspiracy against the working class, the US capitalist class’ Government has always sought to assert its “right” to protect its’ “national security secrets” by crushing anyone who dares to expose their “national security secrets”; from the persecution and state murders of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the attacks on Daniel Ellsberg and even John Lennon – to today’s assaults upon Anonymous, Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown, Glenn Greenwald, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Lynne StewartAssata Shakur, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks (to name but a few) – the tiny US capitalist class government, terrified of being exposed to the world as the world’s number one terrorist state – which it is! – will stop at nothing to silence those who dare to speak out against the crimes of the US capitalst class.  They have even gone so far as to assert their “right” to assassinate US citizens for writing articles in “terrorist magazines”!

Amazingly, in spite of all we know about the vast criminality of the US capitalst class – from the slave trade upon which the “great American fortunes” were amassed to Vietnam; from the genocide of the Native Americans to the torture camps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – WikiLeaks, Occupy Wall St. and other liberal reformist organizations dull-wittedly continue to assert that the only thing wrong with the capitalist system is that it “lacks transparency”, and that if only the inner workings of the capitalist system were made more transparent, then the world would become a much better place for us all to live in.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  The capitalist class and its state NEEDS secrecy like plants need water to survive – their battle-cry is “DEATH TO TRANSPARENCY!”  World capitalism is based on nation-states: competing economic and political units that are struggling between themselves for access to the world’s limited natural and human resources and markets.  This struggle – even in so-called “peacetime” – entails the unleashing of teams of spies and  assassins and the launching of military air, sea and land operations to “protect” the overseas investments of these endlessly warring greedheads.  The true nature of capitalist class rule – which is entirely founded on the brutal economic exploitation of all the working people around the world – MUST be kept hidden from the eyes of those very same working people.  To this end, the capitalists deploy government-run overseas and domestic disinformation campaigns (via what they cynically call the “free press”) intended to cloak their mass murder campaigns under the hypocritical cover story of “bringing democracy to the world”.  This was the fraud perpetrated upon the world by the US Government – the world’s most despotic government in history – in its war against the Iraqi workers, in which the reality of mass murder of over a million people was presented to the workers in the US by the lying US capitalist press as “freeing the Iraqis” from the clutches of the Saddam Hussein regime – a cabal that the US had helped force upon the Iraqi people for nearly half a century.  Through the capitalist class’ wholly owned US Government and news media’s international campaign of lies about Iraq, the US government was able to commit mass torture of Iraqi workers in hellhole prisons like Abu Ghraib and on US military bases around the country, all the while committing mass murder in cities and towns all over Iraq – most notoriously in Fallujah.  Only through the heroic efforts of whistleblowers like Bradley Manning did the truth come out about what was really going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Transparency!  To paraphrase the late, great George Carlin: “If transparency was forced upon the US government, the whole system would collapse!”

Organizations like WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall St. do not want that to happen: they want to help reform the capitalst system and make it “work” for everyone.  But that is nothing more than a naive pipe dream.  Capitalism can NEVER be made to work in the interests of the vast majority of the people on the planet – the working class, whose labor power creates the profits that the capitalist class greedily hoards to itself, systematically robbing the workers and relegating hundreds of millions of workers to abject poverty and starvation, year after year.

Unless and until the working class – internationally – unites and overthrows their “own” capitalst classes and replaces the greed-based system of capitalism with an egalitarian, democratically and rationally planned world socialist system, the antagonisms between these capitalist nation-states will grow until the entire planet is engulfed in yet another World War.  THAT is something we workers can NOT afford to allow to happen!  We must act now to build revolutionary workers parties all over the world so we can rip the weapons out of the blood-stained hands of “our” national capitalsts and seize power in the name of OUR class – the working class!  Only after this is done will the advance of human civilization be placed on a firm political and economic footing, and only then will real “transparency” in the workings of government be no longer a hindrance to, but be made an inherent, vital and welcome component of the machinery of the political and economic relationships governing the world, for the benefit of all of the human race.

Workers of the World, Unite!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

Lies and Damned Lies: The US Government IS Collecting the FULL Content Every Email and Phone Call in the US and Abroad

The capitalist press of the entire world has been on a full-court press to spread the lie that the latest revelations about the US Government’s spy programs are NOT collecting every bit of information from every Internet and telephone communication made within the US and from the US to foreign countries.  The fact is that the NSA has been collecting all this information for YEARS and is, in fact, able to collect not just “metadata” – which would be bad enough – but every bit of every communication sent and received by US citizens.  This vast, police-state operation makes the East German Stasi’s unnecessary and overbearing domestic spying operation look like a joke.

The US Government, which had savagely attacked the USSR for running domestic surveillance operations against their citizens, has been shown to have been running a far more extensive spy operation in the US.  Make no mistake: you can take all the phony reassurances from the Democratic- and Republican-party scumbags who have signed off on these domestic spying operations over and over again under the pretense that they are only directed against “terrorists” – these vast spying operations are actually now – and will continue to be in the future – directed against “the usual suspects”: the workers movement inside the US and around the world.  The tiny US capitalist class, hated for its brutal repression of the workers movement all over the world, sees its number one enemy to be those workers who dare to organize unions and revolutionary parties dedicated to the overthrow of the capitalist wage-slavery system.  To further its “sole superpower” status, this microscopic minority of filthy-rich billionaires – something less than 450 individuals who own more than 50% of the wealth of the US – think that they have the right to run the entire planet.  To further their self-aggrandizing plans – which they dare to call by the names of “freedom” and “democracy”, this tiny cabal of greedheads has bribed its wholly-owned Democratic and Republican Senators and Representatives to conspire to turn the United States into a mechanism to allow the capitalist government of the US to spy on everyone on planet Earth who owns a phone.  This is, in fact the only way that such a tiny minority as the US capitalist class can hope to maintain its savage class rule over the working classes of the world, who outnumber them by billions.  This vast spying operation, whose exposure has torn the phony “human rights” mask off the US ruling class – thanks to a mere handful of courageous whistleblowers WHO MUST BE DEFENDED BY THE INTERNATIONAL WORKERS MOVEMENT BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY! – shows how scared the US capitalist class is, and how tenuous their hold on “power” is as they continue to drive the standard of living of the US working class down to the level of mere subsistence, just as Karl Marx predicted would happen in the Communist Manifesto!

This “newly-revealed” NSA spying operation has been known by those who pay attention to these things – i.e. the .001% of the US population in the various socialist workers parties and the hacker community – for several years.  In 2006 a former AT&T technician named  Mark Klein revealed the existence of a probable NSA spy operation in a mysterious locked room in an AT&T facility in San Francisco dubbed “Room 614A”.

Klein courageously exposed the fact that in this facility, a high-tech splitter had been installed on the primary fiber-optic cables carrying all the data – phone and internet – running through AT&T.  This splitter – analogous to a prism used for manipulating beams of light – was dividing the fiber optic traffic in the form of light pulses into two streams; one was being sent on its way to users of AT&T’s networks and the other was being fed into “Room 614A”.   Several experts on the NSA’s operations assumed at the time of Klein’s revelations that “Room 614A” was most likely an NSA spying operation of some kind.  Investigative reporter  Kim Zetter  wrote a series of excellent articles for Salon in which she interviewed Klein and, later, learned of the existence of other, similar operations being run at AT&T facilities around the United States.  All of this historical fact has been swept under the rug by the bourgeois press news reports of these latest revelations of the US Government’s vast domestic and international spying ops.

Last year, several news reports described the NSA’s plans to build enormous  data storage facilities around the US.  The number of these huge facilities and the number and types of supercomputers believed to be installed in them are clearly not designed merely to collect “metadata”, as the bourgeois press would have us believe.  These vast assemblies of supercomputers are designed to collect, store and analyze EVERY BIT OF DATA perused, sent and received by every citizen of this planet.  The US Government is creating an Orwellian monster designed to intercept every communication of every worker who dares to oppose the capitalist class of the US and its wholly-owned US Government.

And is this really so surprising, after all?  How else can a tiny percentage of the US population continue to lord it over 300 million American citizens and the world’s 7 billion people without creating a vast police state apparatus to monitor dissent worldwide?  They are well aware just how tenuous their hold on power is; and so they spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on their global military and intelligence apparatus in the desperate, futile hope that through the sheer weight of their brutal military and police state operations they can somehow remain “the world’s sole superpower”!  What incredible arrogance!  And then to turn around and pose as the champions of human rights, as the US State Department does every day, including this week, when they hypocritically chastised their ally Turkey for brutalizing protesters in Istanbul!

This is why we call for workers revolution in the US to overthrow the capitalist class and their brutal system of exploitation and thievery.  The longer the working class allows this gang of thieves to run the United States as their own private plantation, the more of our brothers and sisters around the world will be murdered by the US military in defense of the foreign investments of the US capitalist class.  The chickens are coming home to roost right here in the US, where the attacks on the US workers’ standard of living are being carried out on a daily basis.  There is simply NO FUTURE for the workers of the world under capitalism – other than a future of declining standards of living and imperialist wars, leading up to the next “big one”: World War Three.  Is this the future you want to bequeath to your children and grandchildren?  It is high time that the US working class create its own workers parties to overthrow the rule of the insatiably greedy US capitalist class.  Every day we wait to do this is causing death and destruction for our sisters and brothers around the world – and sets us all here in the United States up for the same.

Workers of the World, Unite!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago

Is your “secure” password 8 characters or less? You have less than 6 hours to change it or kiss your “security” goodbye

The bourgeois press and the police agencies constantly regale us with sad tales of so-called “identity theft” – workers’ lives being turned inside-out by evil computer hackers stealing passwords and then using that stolen information to access bank accounts and personal data, turning the lives of their victims upside-down.

The truth is, most major password security breaches have been made possible by sloppy security practices at major US and international banks, government institutions and popular websites.  On top of that, lazy password selection by people in all walks of life leave them with a false sense of security.  Hundreds of thousands of American workers use worthless, easy-to-guess passwords like “12345” or “password”.  Until recently, so-called “best-practices” at major US corporations demanded that their users devise passwords of a combination of 8 characters – letters, numbers and symbols – in order to prevent hackers from easily”cracking” their passwords using simple processes, like using tables of common dictionary words to determine the vast majority of all passwords in a given set.

However, modern password-hacking technology well within the financial means of your moderately-affluent hacker has become available in the past couple of years.  Now, for just a few thousand dollars, the geek next door can build a computer capable of parsing the “secure” 8-character passwords at the rate of BILLIONS of guesses per SECOND – something which was only possible using supercomputers up until very recently.  How do they do it?  They are building home supercomputers using clusters of graphics acceleration boards that are normally used to run modern video game applications, which are capable of much faster computations per second than typical dual or quad-core processors.

project-erebus-v2-51

“This $12,000 computer… contains eight AMD Radeon HD7970 GPU cards. Running version 0.10 of oclHashcat-lite, it requires just 12 hours to brute force the entire keyspace for any eight-character password containing upper- or lower-case letters, digits or symbols. ”  By adding more Radeon cards password cracking setups can cut that time in half.  [Photo credit: d3adone; from Ars Technica website]

Workers who do not wish the government and their  employers – not to mention the smart-ass amateur computer expert next door – to steal all their passwords in an afternoon need to take a couple of hours to research these new developments and to take action to create more secure passwords for all their most important online transactions – or get pwn3d.

We’ve found some very interesting articles describing the modern hacking techniques that have rendered all your 8-character-or-less passwords as useless as a screen door on a submarine.  These articles will also explain what you can do to vastly improve your password security arrangements as well.  Check them out!

Ars Technica: Why passwords have never been weaker – and crackers have never been stronger

Ars Technica: 25-GPU cluster cracks every standard Windows password in under 6 hours

GRC – Security Now!: “The Death of Clever”

[Sources: Ars Technica, GRC/ Security Now!]

IWPCHI