WikiLeaks Julian Assange Warns about the Creation of Digital Armies

Havana Times.org

HAVANA TIMES — The founder of Wikileaks (an international non-profit organization that leaks secret information), Julian Assange, warned us on Thursday about the creation of digital armies in the world, which are a threat to society and don’t only come from Nations but from private enterprises too, reported dpa news.

“The ability to create digital armies is a very serious threat. This is the result of the efforts of powerful companies, large corporations and Governments who control online data and information,” Assange said in a video-conference that was broadcast in Quito, at a commemorative event which marked his five-year anniversary in refuge at the Embassy of Ecuador in London.

The expert warned that people no longer warn of information gathering plans that are being implemented and that, just as in chess, you have to plan 10 moves in advance.

He set an example with corporations such as Google and Apple who are changing their strategies “in order to get to know their users better” and said that the CIA is a dangerous organization which “is nothing more than a fleet of IT pirates” who have a complex in Germany.

“These espionage organizations such as Apple or Google are trying to become digital “super-states,” trying to become States within their States,” warned the Wikileaks’ founder.

“If we don’t do anything, the time will come when we human beings won’t be able to stand up and do anything to these companies,” Assange warned.

With regard to his personal situation, he complained that the United States and the United Kingdom have used “many resources” to stop him from being able to leave the Ecuadorian embassy.

He said he felt alone at the embassy. “I am completely cut off from the world, I don’t exist in London, in Quito…, just at this embassy.” he claimed.

He noted that the first thing he will do when he leaves the embassy, if he wins his case, will be to watch the sun, the cars, birds. “I want to see my family and bring them to Ecuador,” he added.

After his speech, a dialogue began with attendees at Quito’s media research center (CIESPAL), where the “Day of Reflection, Julian Assange, five years of freedom denied” took place.

Lawyer Baltasar Garzon, the head of the Wikileaks founder’s legal defense team, attended this event, who announced that he would take his defendant’s case to the United Nations, more specifically to UNHCR and the Committee against Torture.

“These actions answer to the fact that Assange, who has been in asylum at the Embassy of Ecuador in London for five years, finds himself in a legal limbo and that there aren’t any arrest warrants against him, however, they still want to arrest him,” Garzon pointed out to journalists.

The lawyer also announced that the case will be put forward to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR).

He also went on to say that the defense team is asking the United States to indicate “whether there is any legal warrant against Assange” which hasn’t been communicated to the defense team on the record.

Assange asked Ecuador for political asylum in London five years ago and he has remained inside its diplomatic offices throughout this time.

His request was due to the fear of Sweden, a country which was after him over alleged sexual abuse crimes, could extradite him to the United States, after he disclosed information about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Charges against Assange have already been dropped by the Swedish Attorney General, but the United Kingdom has yet to announce that it will withdraw its home arrest warrant and extradition to Sweden.

Chelsea Manning: Wikileaks source freed from prison

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US soldier Chelsea Manning has been released from prison after serving seven years for leaking hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and military files to Wikileaks.

A US Army spokesperson confirmed to the BBC that she had left Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas.

Most of what remained of her 35-year sentence was commuted by then-US President Barack Obama in January.

Her lawyer earlier said she was excited but likely to be “anxious”.

“She’s ready to finally be able to live as the woman that she is,” Nancy Hollander told the BBC. The 29-year-old soldier was born Bradley Manning.

A day after she was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013, Manning said she had felt female since childhood and wanted to live as a woman called Chelsea.

“For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she said in a statement last week ahead of her release. “I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world.”

‘Back to Maryland’

Manning was convicted of 20 charges in connection with the leaks, including espionage. She was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy.

She defended the leaking by saying she had wanted to spark a public debate in the US about the role of the military and US foreign policy, but later apologised for “hurting the US”, saying she had mistakenly believed she could “change the world for the better”.

In January she tweeted that she wanted to move to Maryland after being released, a state where she previously lived.

On Monday she tweeted: “Two more days until the freedom of civilian life ^_^ Now hunting for private #healthcare like millions of Americans =P”.

Manning will remain on active army duty while her military court conviction remains under appeal. She will have healthcare benefits but will be unpaid, the army says.

If the appeal is denied, she could be dishonourably discharged from the army, US media say.

A view of a portion of the United States Disciplinary Barracks complex, where Private Chelsea Manning is being held, is seen at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, U.S. May 16, 2017

Manning was deployed to Iraq as an intelligence analyst when she leaked hundreds of thousands of files to Wikileaks.

Included in those files was video footage of an Apache helicopter killing 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007, and many sensitive messages between US diplomats.

President Obama’s decision to commute her sentence drew criticism from leading Republicans, including Senator John McCain, who called it a “a grave mistake”.

Manning twice attempted suicide last year at Fort Leavenworth, a male military prison.

She also went on a hunger strike last year, which she ended after the military agreed to provide her with gender transition treatment.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39947602

Image Source: https://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.xtKpUEyGIA91xvJUPDatZwFUC3&pid=15.1

Edited for mb3-org.com

As U.S. Preps Arrest Warrant for Assange, Glenn Greenwald Says Prosecuting WikiLeaks Threatens Press Freedom for All

AMY GOODMAN: CNN is reporting the Trump administration has prepared an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

via As U.S. Preps Arrest Warrant for Assange, Glenn Greenwald Says Prosecuting WikiLeaks Threatens Press Freedom for All — Rise Up Times

How the CIA Can Hack Your Phone, PC, and TV (Says WikiLeaks)

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THE NSA, IT seems, isn’t the only American spy agency hacking the world. Judging by a new, nearly 9,000-page trove of secrets from WikiLeaks, the CIA has developed its own surprisingly wide array of intrusion tools, too.

On Tuesday morning, WikiLeaks released what it’s calling Vault 7, an unprecedented collection of internal CIA files—what appear to be a kind of web-based Wiki—that catalog the agency’s apparent hacking techniques. And while the hoards of security researchers poring through the documents have yet to find any actual code among its spilled secrets, it details surprising capabilities, from dozens of exploits targeting Android and iOS to advanced PC-compromise techniques and detailed attempts to hack Samsung smart TVs, turning them into silent listening devices.

“It certainly seems that in the CIA toolkit there were more zero-day exploits than we’d estimated,” says Jason Healey, a director at the Atlantic Council think tank, who has focused on tracking how many of those “zero-days”—undisclosed, unpatched hacking techniques—the US government has stockpiled. Healey says that he had previously estimated American government agencies might have held onto less than a hundred of those secret exploits. “It looks like CIA might have that number just by itself.”

Mobile Targets

The leak hints at hacking capabilities that range from routers and desktop operating systems to internet-of-things devices, including one passing reference to research on hacking cars. But it seems to most thoroughly detail the CIA’s work to penetrate smartphones: One chart describes more than 25 Android hacking techniques, while another shows 14 iOS attacks.

Given the CIA’s counterterrorism work—and the ability of a phone exploit to keep tabs on a target’s location—that focus on mobile makes sense, Healey says. “If you’re going to be trying to figure where Bin Laden is, mobile phones are going to be more important.”

The smartphone exploits listed, it’s important to note, are largely old. Researchers date the leak to sometime between late 2015 and early 2016, suggesting that many of the hacking techniques that may have once been zero days are now likely patched. The leak makes no mention of iOS 10, for instance. Google and Apple have yet to weigh in on the leak and whether it points to vulnerabilities that still persist in their mobile operating systems. Android security researcher John Sawyer says he has combed the Android attacks for new vulnerabilities and found “nothing that’s scary.”

He also notes, though, that the leak still hints at CIA hacking tools that have no doubt continued to evolve in the years since. “I’m quite sure they have far newer capabilities than what’s listed,” Sawyer says.

Targeting Android, for instance, the leak references eight remote-access exploits—meaning they require no physical contact with the device—including two that target Samsung Galaxy and Nexus phones and Samsung Tab tablets. Those attacks would offer hackers an initial foothold on target devices: In three cases, the exploit descriptions reference browsers like Chrome, Opera, and Samsung’s own mobile browser, suggesting that they could be launched from maliciously crafted or infected web pages. Another 15 tools are marked “priv,” suggesting they’re “privilege escalation” attacks that expand a hacker’s access from that initial foothold to gain deeper access, in many cases the “root” privileges that suggest total control of the device. That means access to any onboard files but also the microphone, camera, and more.

The iOS vulnerabilities offer more piecemeal components of a hacker tool. While one exploit offers a remote compromise of a target iPhone, the WikiLeaks documents describe the others as techniques to defeat individual layers of the iPhone’s defense. That includes the sandbox that limits applications’ access to the operating system and the security feature that randomizes where a program runs in memory to make it harder to corrupt adjacent software.

“Definitely with these exploits chained together [the CIA] could take full control of an iPhone,” says Marcello Salvati, a researcher and penetration tester at security firm Coalfire. “This is the first public evidence that’s the case.”

The leak sheds some limited light on the CIA’s sources of those exploits, too. While some of the attacks are attributed to public releases by iOS researchers, and the Chinese hacker Pangu, who has developed techniques to jailbreak the iPhone to allow the installation of unauthorized apps, others are attributed to partner agencies or contractors under codenames. The remote iOS exploit is listed as “Purchased by NSA” and “Shared with CIA.” The CIA apparently purchased two other iOS tools from a contractor listed as “Baitshop,” while the Android tools are attributed to sellers codenamed Fangtooth and Anglerfish.

In a tweet, NSA leaker Edward Snowden pointed to those references as “the first public evidence [the US government] is paying to keep US software unsafe.”

Internet of Spies

While the leak doesn’t detail the CIA’s attack techniques for desktop software like Windows and MacOS as explicitly, it does reference a “framework” for Windows attacks that seems to act as a kind of easy interface for hacking desktop machines, with “libraries” of vulnerabilities that attackers can swap in and out. It lists attacks that bypass and even exploit a long list of antivirus software to gain access to target desktop machines. And for MacOS, the document references an attack on computers’ BIOS, the software that boots before the rest of the operating system. Compromising that can lead to a particularly dangerous and deep-rooted malware infection.

“This is something we already know that can be done, but we haven’t seen it in the wild,” says Alfredo Ortega, a researcher for security firm Avast. “And by a government, no less.”

The most surprising and detailed hack described in the CIA leak, however, targets neither smartphones nor PCs, but televisions. A program called Weeping Angel details work in 2014 to turn Samsung’s smart TVs into stealthy listening devices. The research notes include references to a “Fake Off” mode that disables the television’s LEDs to make it look convincingly powered down while still capturing audio. Under a “to-do” list of potential future work, it lists capturing video, too, as well as using the television’s Wi-Fi capability in that Fake Off mode, potentially to transmit captured eavesdropping files to a remote hacker.

A tool called TinyShell appears to allow the CIA hackers full remote control of an infected television, including the ability to run code and offload files, says Matt Suiche, a security researcher and founder of the UAE-based security firm Comae Technologies. “I would assume that, by now, they would definitely have exploits for Samsung TVs,” Suiche says. “This shows that they’re interested. If you’re doing the research, you’re going to find vulnerabilities.” Samsung did not respond to WIRED’s request for comment.

The fact that the CIA mixes this sort of digital espionage with its more traditional human intelligence shouldn’t come as a surprise, says the Atlantic Council’s Healey. But he says the sheer volume of the CIA’s hacking capabilities described in the WikiLeaks release took him aback nonetheless. And that volume calls into question supposed limitations on the US government’s use of zero-day exploits, like the so-called Vulnerabilities Equities Process—a White House initiative created under President Obama to ensure that security vulnerabilities found by US agencies were disclosed and patched, where possible.

If Vault 7 is any indication, that initiative has taken a back seat to assembling a formidable array of hacking tools. “If the CIA has this many,” Healey says, “we would expect the NSA to have several times more.”

Source:https://www.wired.com/2017/03/cia-can-hack-phone-pc-tv-says-wikileaks/

Trump names new FCC chairman: Ajit Pai, who wants to take a ‘weed whacker’ to net neutrality

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President Trump on Monday  designated Ajit Pai, a Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission and an outspoken opponent of new net neutrality rules, to be the agency’s new chairman.

Pai, 44, would take over for Tom Wheeler, a Democrat who stepped down on Friday. Wheeler’s term had not expired but Trump gets to designate a new chairman as Republicans gain the FCC majority.

“I look forward to working with the new administration, my colleagues at the commission, members of Congress, and the American public to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans,” Pai said.

A telecommunications lawyer who has served on the FCC since May 2012, Pai is a free-market advocate who has been sharply critical of new regulations adopted by Democrats in recent years.

He takes the chairman’s office amid reports that Trump’s advisors want to scale back the FCC’s authority.

“We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation and job creation,” Pai said in a speech last month looking ahead to Republican control of the FCC.

Pai, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from India, was associate general counsel of Verizon Communications Inc. from 2001-03 before working as a staffer at the U.S. Senate, the Justice Department and the FCC.

He sprinkles his speeches with pop-culture references and is adept at social media. During the net neutrality debate, he tweeted a photo of himself with the 332-page proposal and lamented that FCC rules didn’t allow him to make it public. Pai has pushed for FCC proposals to be released before commissioners vote on them.

Andrew Jay Schwartzman, a Georgetown University law professor and longtime consumer advocate, said Pai would be a “formidable opponent” for public interest groups.

“He is not only an outspoken detractor from many of the important advances we obtained under Chairman Wheeler, but he is also extremely smart and knowledgeable,” Schwartzman said.

Chief among Pai’s targets will be the net neutrality online traffic rules the FCC adopted on a partisan 3-2 vote in 2015.

The regulations are designed to ensure the free flow of online data by barring Internet service providers from discriminating against legal content flowing through their networks. To do that, the FCC imposed utility-like oversight of broadband providers.

Former President Obama, his fellow Democrats and consumer activists pushed for the tough regulations. But the move was strongly opposed by Pai and the FCC’s other Republican, Michael O’Rielly, as well as GOP lawmakers and broadband providers.

Trump also spoke out against the rules, tweeting in November 2014, “Obama’s attack on the Internet is another top-down power grab.”

A federal appeals court upheld the rules last year after a legal challenge from  AT&T Inc., other telecom companies and industry trade groups. But in a Dec. 7 speech to the Free State Foundation, a free-market think tank, Pai said he was “more confident than ever” that the “days are numbered” for the net neutrality regulations.

Craig Aaron, president of Free Press, a digital rights group, said Pai “looks out for the corporate interests he used to represent in the private sector.”

“Millions of Americans from across the political spectrum have looked to the FCC to protect their rights to connect and communicate and cheered decisions like the historic net neutrality ruling, and Pai threatens to undo all of that important work,” Aaron said. “Those millions will rise up again to oppose his reactionary agenda.”

Removing the net neutrality regulations could take a while as the FCC probably would have to go through a formal rule-making process.

“We made a decision on the record. The court supported that decision rather convincingly,” Wheeler said in an interview this week. “I think it’s going to be difficult to just waltz in and say, ‘We’re going to overturn everything.’”

Trump met with Pai at Trump Tower last week, fueling speculation that the new president would choose him to lead the agency.

The five-member commission has two vacancies after the departures of Wheeler and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-pai-fcc-chairman-20170123-story.html

Russia Extends Residency Permit For Edward Snowden

Russia is extending the residency permit of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked evidence of the NSA’s bulk data collection program.

“Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, posted on her Facebook page late Tuesday night.

“She ridiculed former deputy CIA chief Michael Morell for suggesting that returning Snowden to the US would be Russia’s perfect gift to President-elect Donald Trump.

” ‘The funniest thing,’ Zakharova said, ‘is that Morell doesn’t know that Snowden’s residence permit was just extended by a couple of years.’ ”

Snowden, who is under indictment in the U.S., is living in Russia under a grant of asylum, NPR’s Carrie Johnson reports. He has been in Moscow since 2013.

“Snowden hasn’t formally applied for clemency, though his supporters have called for it. Yet the White House drew a distinction between the unapologetic Snowden and Manning. Manning, officials noted, has expressed remorse and served several years already for her crime.”

Lucian notes that last month, a report by the House of Representatives was declassified and made available to the public. It concluded that Snowden has had contact with Russia’s intelligence surveys.

Several human rights groups have asked Obama to pardon Snowden, and report they have delivered a petition signed by 1.1 million people calling for such a pardon. They note that Snowden’s revelations exposed violations of the law, triggering reform.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/18/510436650/russia-extends-residency-permit-for-edward-snowden