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Top Secret Document Indicates NSA Knew Of Juniper Vulnerabilities In 2011

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Juniper Networks, a Sunnyvale, Calif-based network hardware manufacturer that last week reported finding an unauthorized code in its firmware making it possible for hackers to access its devices, could have been vulnerable for several years, based on a top-secret document released by Intercept, a website dedicated to transparency in government and corporate institutions. The document, shared by Edward Snowden, indicates the National Security Agency (NSA) was aware of its Juniper’s vulnerabilities since 2011.

Juniper’s admission last week that an unauthorized party added code to its firmware used in its NetScreen devices is a “huge admission” as it could allow attackers to gain access to devices and to decrypt virtual private network (VPN) connections, according to TheNextWeb. Juniper builds network hardware that is used by companies worldwide.

Does Juniper Know When Code Came?

The fact that Juniper either does not know or will not admit when the software was added (or by whom) is concerning, according to TNW. Juniper has released a patch for NetScreen devices, but there is no way to detect an attack.

The document newly released by Intercept indicates that NSA was aware of Juniper vulnerabilities since 2011 and that GCHQ, the U.K. intelligence agency, was able to exploit these flaws.

Compromising the connections that Juniper products protect would yield access to highly-sensitive information, HD Moore, chief research officer at Rapid7, a Boston, Mass.-based IT security provider, told The Verge. The number of devices vulnerable to Juniper’s “backdoors” are estimated at around 26,000.

GCHQ, with the cooperation of the NSA, gained the capability to exploit security vulnerabilities in 13 different models of Juniper firewalls, according to the document, which is dated Feb.3, 2011.

Document Raises Big Questions

Titled “Assessment of Intelligence Opportunity – Juniper,” the six-page document raises questions about whether the intelligence agencies were culpable for creating the security holes disclosed by Juniper last week, according to the Intercept article by Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald.

The document indicates the agencies, unlike the unidentified parties responsible for the hacks, were able to penetrate the NetScreen security products that allow companies to build firewalls for VPNs. It also indicates that GCHQ capabilities clustered around “ScreenOS,” an operating system that only powers a subset of Juniper products such as the NetScreen line.

Juniper’s other products, such as Internet routes, run on JUNOS, a different operating system.

The document does not indicate a specific link between GCHQ, NSA and the Juniper hacks.

But any possible links between the intelligence agencies and the security vulnerabilities are relevant on account of a current debate in the U.K. and the U.S. over government backdoors that enable access to encrypted data.

Did NSA Help Create A Backdoor?

Security researchers and cryptographers have noted that a newly-discovered Juniper vulnerability could have come from a NSA-engineered encryption backdoor and co-opted by someone else.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, are reviewing how the Juniper hacks could impact their own networks, which puts them in a position of trying to protect their own encryption while they criticize others for encryption.

NSA seal

The document’s author, a NSA employee who worked as part of an “Access Strategy Team” with GCHQ, expresses an adversarial position about encryption by referring to Juniper as a “target” and a “threat” as it provides technology to shield data from eavesdropping.

While not suggesting security agencies should help U.K. and U.S. firms fix digital defenses, the document claims the agencies should keep up with Juniper technology to pursue signals intelligence, known as SIGINT.

Why Juniper Matters

The threat, according to the document, comes from Juniper’s emphasis on being a security leader. Juniper is “at the core” of the Internet in many nations, the document notes. As telecom companies move to all IP networks, Juniper will play a bigger role in converged networks.

If the SIGINT community lags, it could take years to regain a Juniper router access capability or firewall if Juniper rapidly grows its security.

The document sheds light on NSA’s secret attempts to make sure it can monitor information flowing through Juniper products, which are used by banks, Internet providers, government agencies and universities. Juniper is a technology at the Internet core in many nations, including some considered having high priority for spying: China, Pakistan and Yemen.

Also read: Is the NSA using zero-day exploits before reporting them?

GCHP And NSA: No Comment

In response to requests for comment by Intercept, GCHP said the agency does not comment on intelligence matters and abides by a strict legal framework.

NSA did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Juniper, for its part, said it operates with the highest ethical standards and is committed to the security, integrity and quality of its products. The company said it does not intentionally have backdoors that can compromise its products or place customers at risk. It further said it does not work with other parties to add vulnerabilities to its products.

Two New Juniper Vulnerabilities

In last week’s announcement, Juniper reported having found “unauthorized code” in ScreenOS that allowed for two vulnerabilities. One vulnerability first emerged in an August 2012 release that can allow access to encrypted data sent over VPNs. The other vulnerability surfaced in a December 2014 release and enables an attacker to administer a firewall remotely, resulting in a full compromise of the device. These vulnerabilities existed in ScreenOS released through October of this year at least.

The first of these vulnerabilities can enable eavesdropping on VPNs, according to Intercept. This vulnerability has resulted in an online discussion among security professionals.

Matthew Green, a Johns Hopkins professor, and Ralf-Philipp Weinmann, a security researcher, said an attacker apparently subverted a backdoor shown from previously-disclosed Snowden documents to have come from NSA. It seems the attacker tampered with a 32-byte value that seeded generation of random numbers that are used to process encrypted ScreenOS data. ScreenOS uses the value as part of a system for Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator, a random number generation.

The default 32-byte value is believed to be generated by NSA.

In the wake of the Snowden revelations on the standard, Juniper said it replaced the 32-byte value with its self-generated basis points. Hence, the attacker would have changed Juniper’s replacement of NSA’s 32-byte value.

2011 Concerns Not Tied To New Ones

The document indicates the 2011 capabilities against Juniper do not connect to the recently-uncovered vulnerabilities, according to Matt Blaze, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Distributed Systems Lab and a cryptographic researcher. The 2011 assessment indicates reverse engineering could be needed depending on firmware revisions that impact targeted NetScreen firewall models.

The exploit capabilities in the 2011 document were consistent with “FEEDTROUGH,” a program revealed in 2007 in a document published next to a Der Spiegel article, Blaze said.

Intelligence agencies used the security holes identified in Juniper devices to penetrate them for surveillance repeatedly, the document notes. Juniper technology shared with NSA improved significantly in 2010 to exploit several targeted networks in which GCHQ had primary access.

A Complication And An Opportunity

Since Juniper is a U.S.-based firm, the assessment notes there is complication and opportunity in targeting the technology. There is potential to leverage a corporate relationship if one exists with NSA, the document states. GCHQ attempts to exploit Juniper have to start with close coordination with NSA, it adds.

GCHQ has an existing exploit capability against 13 Juniper models. All of the models run ScreenOS: ISG2000, ISG1000, SSG140, SSG20, SSG5, NS5000, NS5200, NS208, NS204, NS500, N25, and NS5gt.

The agency was developing another surveillance capability to hack the Juniper M320 routers designed for use by Internet providers.

The ability to exploit Juniper firewalls and servers will pay dividends for years, the document says.

Images from Shutterstock and Wikimedia.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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3.9 stars on average, based on 8 rated postsLester Coleman is a veteran business journalist based in the United States. He has covered the payments industry for several years and is available for writing assignments.




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Alleged FBI Hacker Lauri Love Ordered to US Extradition by UK Home Secretary

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The long-running court saga of Lauri Love, a British hacker and activist accused of compromising and stealing data from the likes of the FBI, NASA and the US Federal Reserve has been ordered by the UK’s home secretary for his extradition to the United States.

31-year-old Love who has Asperger’s syndrome launched a legal challenge to avoid his extradition to the U.S., following a court ruling by a UK judge in September 2016. Love, who suffers from depression and eczema argued against the extradition ruling, claiming it could lead him to a mental breakdown or suicide. Despite his plea, the ruling district judge, Nina Tempia, determined that Love would be cared for by medical facilities in the United States, while accepting that Love suffered “both physical and mental issues.”

On the other side of the pond, Love potentially faces legal proceedings in three different US jurisdictions, reports the Guardian. Meanwhile, the UK home secretary had been given a deadline of November 16, in order to decide if Love was to be extradited or not. A day before the deadline, Rudd signed the order for Love’s extradition to the US. His lawyers believe he faces up to 99 years in prison if convicted of charges related to hacking.

The UK Home Office stated that Rudd had “carefully considered all relevant matters” before ruling:

[Love] has been charged with various computer hacking offences which included targeting US military and federal government agencies.

The case drew parallels to that of Gary McKinnon, a British hacker whose extradition to the US was blocked by Theresa May in 2012, as the home secretary at the time.

Love’s legal battle with the ruling garnered support from The Courage Foundation, whose acting director Sarah Harrison stated:

The US has ruthlessly persecuted hackers and digital activists for years, and nobody expects that to improve under President Trump. Theresa May set a good example by protecting Gary McKinnon back in 2012. For a home secretary in her government now to willingly send a brilliant and vulnerable UK citizen to Donald Trump’s America beggars belief.

Love was bailed earlier this year in June when US prosecutors were already doing plenty to extradite him stateside.

Lori’s alleged hacking endeavors were a part of #Oplastresort, an operation by Anonymous, the global hacktivist collective. This particular operation was in response to the treatment endured by Aaron Swartz a prominent programmer and hacktivist. Swartz faced 35 years In prison, asset forfeiture and a million dollars in fines with two counts of wire fraud. Swartz committed suicide for his alleged computer crimes.

Love’s legal defense is certain to bring up the unfortunate series of events that led to Swartz committing suicide under the threat of persecution. Love has 14 days to appeal against Rudd’s order and will almost certainly do so.

Images from YouTube/AP.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsSamburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.




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WikiLeaks: Podesta Received E-mails On Extraterrestrial Disclosure

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While most fallout from the Podesta emails has been political, there are extraterrestrial implications for some of the e-mails released by whistleblower source WikiLeaks. 

An email on behalf of Apollo astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta turned up in the recent data dumps. The email was sent by Rebecca Wright of the Institute of Exoconsciousness. 

Mitchell requested in an email dated July 29, 2014 to meet with President Barack Obama to discuss extraterrestrial disclosure, but was partially rebuffed.

“Fifty years ago Battelle, Brookings and RAND studies on UFOs convinced the government to remove knowledge of the extraterrestrial presence from the citizens of our country. These organizations advised with their best information. However, today much, if not most, of the extraterrestrial reality they examined is known by our citizens,” the e-mail states. “These organizations’ resultant strategies and policies of 50 years ago no longer hold credibility or benefit.” Mitchell says a well-informed public is important to further disclosure. 

Podesta’s secretary wrote Mitchell saying Mr. Podesta would rather meet alone before arranging a meeting with Obama. A Skype meeting was scheduled for Aug 11, but whether or not the meeting happened is unclear. Mitchell died in February 2016.

According to the leaks, former Blink 182 frontman Tom Delonge emailed John Podesta twice about extraterrestrial beings.

“Things are moving with the project. The novels, films and nonfiction works are blooming and finishing,” DeLonge said in an October 2015 email to Podesta. “I would like to bring two very ‘important’ people out to meet you in DC. I think you will find them very interesting, as they were principal leadership relating to our sensitive topic.” DeLonge emailed again later.

“When Roswell crashed, they shipped it to the laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. General McFasland was in charge of that exact laboratory up to a couple years ago,” DeLonge wrote. “He not only knows what I’m trying to achieve, he helped assemble my advisory team. He’s a very important man.”

Hacked reported in 2015 that DeLonge was working on various ET-related projects, and the former pop-punk superstar, whose 1999 album Enema of the State sold 15 million copies worldwide, has since released books and plans to release a documentary on extra terrestrials.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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5 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsJustin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.




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12 Hacktivists You Should Know About

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Hacktivism, a phenomenon specific to the digital age, represents the subversive use of computers and computer networks. The term was coined by the Cult of the Dead Cow in 1994.

Hacktivists represent a broad range of personalities and goals. They’ve recently played a greater role in the collective conscious as cyber attacks at banks and governments become a more regular occurrence.

1. Edward Snowden

President Obama once said of Edward Snowden: “I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”

Edward Snowden became notorious after blowing the whistle on mass surveillance in the United States and abroad. It’s been estimated that, since the whistleblowing, Snowden is one of the most powerful figures on Twitter.

2. Aaron Swartz

Aaron_Swartz_4_at_Boston_Wikipedia_Meetup,_2009-08-18American hacktivist Aaron Swartz took part in the development of the web feed format RSS, as well as the organization Creative Commons. A partner in Reddit, he ultimately committed suicide while under federal investigation for data-theft.

Arrested by MIT police on January 6, 2011, Swartz faced breaking-and-entering charges due to installing a computer in an Institute closet to download academic journal articles from JSTOR. Federal prosecutors charged him with two counts wire fraud and eleven violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Swartz faced $1 million in fines and 35 years in prison. Swartz declined a plea bargain under which he would have served six months in federal prison. When prosecution rejected his counteroffer, he was found dead by hanging in his Brooklyn apartment two days later. In June 2013, Swartz was posthumously inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame.

3. The Jester

Who The Jester is, nobody knows. He claims responsibility for many, many DoS (Denial of Service) attacks against WikiLeaks, Islamist sites, homophobic sites and the President of Iran. He claims responsibility for developing DoS software, XerXes.

With Wikileaks in the news, almost makes you wonder: Where’s The Jester now?

4. Barrett Brown

Barrett Brown worked closely with Anonymous. The former writer was not a formidable coder or hacker, but he became a marketing figure for the hacking group, including news appearances. Brown has faced numerous charges related to hacking. In January 2015, he was sentenced to 63 months. 

5. Hector Xavier Monsegur (Sabu) 

Sabu co-founded Lulzsec, going onto receiving press attention after a 50-day hacking spurt targeting the likes of the CIA, Fox, Stratfor, and the US Senate and others. Sabu later turned away from hacktivism, becoming an informant for the FBI and working for them for more than ten months. 

6. Jake Davis (Topiary)

This once active member of Anonymous moved onto LulzSec. During a court appearance in 2011, he pleaded guilty to a charge related to a hack on the Serious Organised Crime Agency’s (SOCA) website. Davis ran the LulzSec Twitter account. Details on his computer leaked him to a hack of Sony. 

7. Oxblood Ruffin

Canadian hacker Oxblood Ruffin is the “Foreign Minister” of the Cult of the Dead Cow network, a hacktivist group. Oxblood can often be seen in the media criticizing the actions of Anonymous and LulzSec

8.  Deric Lostutter (KYAnonymous) 

When two members of an Ohio high school football team were charged with the rape of an intoxicated 16-year-old girl, Lostutter helped leak a video of two Ohio high school football players joking about the rape of an intoxicated 16-year-old girl. He faces charges for hacking a fan page of the football team and could face a 10-year prison sentence.

9. Ron Gonggrijp

This Dutch hacker speaks out against surveillance on citizens by governments and the lack of security in public electronic voting systems. He became a well-known teenage hacker and even appeared in the Jan Jacobs’s book Kraken en Computers (Hacking and computers, Veen uitgevers 1985, ISBN 90-204-2651-6) which details the early hacking scene in the Netherlands.  Authorities in the Netherlands and the United States considered him a “major security threat.’

10.  Jacob Appelbaum

Appelbaum, a Cult of the Dead Cow member, is reportedly a key player behind Tor and now an American journalist. He is the co-founder of the San Francisco hackerspace Noisebridge and has worked for kink.com and Greenpeace. Appelbaum was a trusted confidant of NSA’s Edward Snowden and had access to Snowden’s top secret documents during the 2013 global surveillance disclosure. 

11. Gary Mckinnon

Mckinnon is responsible for what’s called the “biggest military computer hack of all time.”  He hacked almost 100 American military and NASA servers in 13 months from 2001 to 2002.  His goal while hacking NASA was to discover evidence of extraterrestrials.

 “A NASA photographic expert said that there was a Building 8 at Johnson Space Center where they regularly airbrushed out images of UFOs from the high-resolution satellite imaging,” he said. “I logged on to NASA and was able to access this department. They had huge, high-resolution images stored in their picture files. They had filtered and unfiltered, or processed and unprocessed, files.” 

12. John McAfee

The 2016 Presidential Candidate, John McAfee, had a run-in with authorities who he claims set him up for murder. He hacked every major computer of Belize government bureaucracies to prove his innocence. He found evidence that implicated officials in corruption, laundering, drug running and murder. He organized his own escape out of Belize to avoid arrest. He recently posted on social media he got into a shootout with police, though this was a joke. 

Featured image from YouTube/The Guardian.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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5 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsJustin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.




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