OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: "Project SPEARGUN underway"

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  • llew40,

    There are assumptions that any NZ data that may have been witnessed by Snowden must have been collected in NZ (or on its way in or out). However, as I understand it, data that travels internationally becomes subject to the legislation of the land through which it travels or where it is hosted (or at least the delivery and hosting mechanisms of that data does). In the same way that international travellers are subjected to the relevant travel security legislation etc of different countries. And plenty of NZ data travels internationally. So it seems to me if that is the case - vested and political interests and spin aside - entirely plausible that most if not all of the parties involved in this may be telling the truth.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Graham Dunster,

    This just in from Germany – http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/snowden-documents-indicate-nsa-has-breached-deutsche-telekom-a-991503.html</q>

    yes the basic assumption here is that they can hack any router (including your home DSL/fibre gateway and your phone company's cell tower) to see the devices located behind it

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2592 posts Report Reply

  • CJM, in reply to AndrewH,

    Yes, seems there are concerted efforts to conflate Speargun and Cortex into one benign, unfinished, unfeasible, untested, underwhelming, uninteresting, business-plan that never happened.
    Move along, nothing to see etc…..

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin McCready,

    Jason Ede is Kathryn Ryan's producer.

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Crawford, in reply to nzlemming,

    I think it's highly likely we'd be be getting mates rates on NSA tech, so I'm prepared to believe setup costs for software side wouldn't be all that insurmountable ( and we might even be comped the first 24 months subscriptions for new malware definitions).

    But the physical breach of our cables, along with ongoing interception and sniffing seems like a mammoth task if we started from scratch. It would require vast amounts of ongoing bandwidth and CPU, especially as Key claims it was to be total.

    The cabinet documents assure us that this is not a big deal and well within existing operational budgets. I think this is a pretty decent hint at what the GCSB operational budget is already being spent on.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • Graham Dunster, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    Seriously?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 184 posts Report Reply

  • CJM, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    Huh?!

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19573 posts Report Reply

  • A S, in reply to Matt Crawford,

    I think it’s highly likely we’d be be getting mates rates on NSA tech, so I’m prepared to believe setup costs for software side wouldn’t be all that insurmountable ( and we might even be comped the first 24 months subscriptions for new malware definitions).

    If the info about the large amounts of $US going into the new GCHQ facilities return for the UK 'pulling its weight' (can't remember where I read that yesterday, but it stuck in my head) is true, then it is entirely likely that everything would be provided to the gcsb gratis, on the proviso that NZ does the same.

    On the rest, I think you nail it nicely.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    His former wife used to work for Radio NZ but that was awhile ago.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3178 posts Report Reply

  • tussock, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    How do you 'probe' an optic cable, without breaking it to insert a splitter or somesuch?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_communications_cable
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_amplifier

    Note that most submarine cables have dual landing cables built in, as the landing is the section most often broken so it acts as backup. There's already a complete copy of all transmitted data landing in a second maintained but "unused" building in most western countries. You don't actually have to physically hack anything at all, just set up a server farm nearby and do some trivial forwarding.


    But if you did want to break them? Physically, for teh sneakies?

    Oceanic optical data cables have powered signal boosters every few kilometres. The optic cable is surrounded by a copper sheath which carries the power for the boosters (amongst many other layers). You've only got to tap into a signal booster to get the entire signal dump with perfect clarity, they already collect, analyse, and resend the optical signal at those points, and have built-in systems for checking that they're working, and they are all physically replaceable.

    So, you know, just replace one of them with one that copies the signal, like they already have at most of the landing points, make your own landing, and that's done.

    Since Nov 2006 • 604 posts Report Reply

  • tussock, in reply to llew40,

    So it seems to me if that is the case - vested and political interests and spin aside - entirely plausible that most if not all of the parties involved in this may be telling the truth.

    The Government here is lying by omission.

    GCSB collects our allies data, our allies collect NZ data, from the same buildings, including in NZ. Then everyone looks at the combined data stored on the same servers from everyone's countries by "asking someone else to do it for them", or just doing it themselves by ticking a box, because it's all run from the same places. No one is technically spying on their own citizens in a way that makes mockery of the language: they're all helping each other spy on all of their own citizens all of the time, and they need almost no excuse to dig through things even if you are a citizen and they care to follow the rules for a change.

    Not just metadata. The NSA is running a rolling copy of all internet traffic for months, years from the millions of people they're "watching" (say, because you read Keith's page about TOR and PGP), and expanding that time as budgets allow. They can read your emails, log on to your facebook, browse your cloud storage, track every search term and website visit, and they routinely do that to pass information to US businesses for economic advantage, and to pet politicians for political advantage. Terrorists found? Approximately zero.

    The GCSB has people from the NSA working in their buildings here, and we know John Key uses their secret squirrel crap for political gain because that's what he's doing right now, by responding to the allegations before they were even made.

    Since Nov 2006 • 604 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to tussock,

    divers players...

    ...and they are all physically replaceable

    Kathryn Ryan is a scuba diver!!
    just sayin' ...

    ˚˚ ˚ ˚˚ ˚˚O- )

    </plumbing new depths for one-liners>

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7776 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    Jason Ede is Kathryn Ryan's producer.

    Sorry Kevin. I'm calling bullshit on that one.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin McCready,

    Kerning
    When I had Top Secret clearance I knew about analysis on the kerning on docs. Thus every page from every printer from every user at every time on any document, number of revisions etc etc. The microchanges in the kerning were placed by the software to show all this data. Has anyone done this for the Key documents released? Who printed and at what time and from whose logon?

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Guy, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Auckland NZ • Since Sep 2014 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Matt Crawford,

    It would require vast amounts of ongoing bandwidth and CPU, especially as Key claims it was to be total.

    that assumes that we actually house the data tho doesn't it? the internet has already decided that breaching the cable is "trivial" (if you have a nuclear sub and the right kit...), and we know from snowden and hager that the 5-eyes routinely share data. snowden also clearly stated last night that the gcsb has been contributing to the development of the overall project to mass surveil. that suggests opex funding to me.

    like stephen clover indicates. it's a govt to govt transfer, probably at cost.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to JonathanM,

    You mean this statement?

    "Mr Key today acknowledged the GCSB had indeed tapped into the cable, but for the purposes of a cybersecurity programme."

    From here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11325069

    I have been wondering if that statement by the Herald is accurate, because David Fisher had earlier reported:

    "John Key categorically ruled out any access of internet cables in New Zealand during questions about a visit from an engineer from the United States' National Security Agency."

    Here:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/david-fisher/news/article.cfm?a_id=191&objectid=11324936

    This seems to be the gotcha Fisher was waiting on, but nothing much has been made of it. What am I missing?

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Steve Parks,

    This seems to be the gotcha Fisher was waiting on, but nothing much has been made of it. What am I missing?

    Does seem a bit odd. It also throws the Southern Cross Cable guy (Briscoe?) under that bus as well.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2912 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Crawford, in reply to Che Tibby,

    Hey Che,

    I'm not sure about if/where data would be stored - if we're taking the version presented in the cabinet papers for Cortex then a couple of things raise their head.

    The first issue is obviously latency - if Cortex is implemented to sniff and block threats in real time this means it has to be fast. To me I think this means it has to be local to our ISPs.

    I'd be really interested to know how hardware intensive Cortex would be. If it were just to filter celebritynudes.exe that sounds almost trivial (and worthless for all but the most mentally enfeebled Spark customers). I think Cortex would go further and deeper into the data - running a hash to match against a list of identified threats? Could generate a lot of work.

    Filtering in Australia for child porn websites was said to result in some sort of performance hit, even though it was implemented at ISP level and just rejected URLs that were on the blacklist.

    Anyway, probably too much attention paid to Key's strawman surveillance apparatus for one day.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 58 posts Report Reply

  • Peter E,

    Same spying troubles, different country.
    Der Spiegel English edition online says Five Eyes illegally accesses communications in Germany
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/snowden-documents-indicate-nsa-has-breached-deutsche-telekom-a-991503.html
    Their journalists verify Snowden's reporting.
    P M John Key denies it happens in New zealand
    Spy claims ''total nonsense'' says Southern Cross Cables CEO Anthony Briscoe.
    It would seem they're either lying, incompetent or moonlighting for someone else.
    Wake up New Zealand, your country is far less yours than you think.
    Peter

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Briscoe from Southern Cross disputes Key's claim that GCSB tapped the cable to collect metadata.

    Mr Key on Monday acknowledged the GCSB had indeed tapped into the cable, but for the purposes of a cybersecurity programme.

    However, Mr Key said concerns the project would be perceived as mass surveillance led to it being scaled back to a much narrower programme.

    But Southern Cross' chief executive Anthony Briscoe told Radio New Zealand he did not believe a test probe was ever put in place.

    He said the idea was crazy and Mr Key should check his facts.

    Get your story straight boys.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • CJM,

    Just listened to Key on RNZ with Ryan talking about mass surveillance. Incredible really, on friday he was apparently unable to specifically mention anything about anything to do with spying. Now, five days later, he’s describing in detail how ‘Speargun’ was implemented to the point of construction and fitting onto the south pacific cable. His analogy was bizarre, describing it like a ‘car muffler’ which the government and the covert surveilers ‘attached’ but just to see if it ‘fit’!
    Yup, that’s what I always do. Buy exhaust mufflers that have been developed and researched and designed and built and marketed then I pay a mechanic to install the muffler. We then stand back and look at it and discuss whether it fitted. If it does I get the mechanic to uninstall it because, you know, actually driving around in the car with the newly installed muffler is just an insane proposition.
    Yes.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to CJM,

    Just listened to Key on RNZ with Ryan talking about mass surveillance.

    I've mentioned this piece from Hunter Thurman before, but it's worth repeating in the context of almost all of Key's interviews.

    Starting your sentences with "so" demonstrates that you’re not as comfortable with your story as you think you are. And there's a good chance that you may be lying.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I will was just thinking, this piece of equipment Key says they test fitted "like a muffler" where is it now? Still at the bottom of the a sea? In the GCSB basement in Wellington? I can't imagine there's much of a market for "only got wet once" cable taps

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2592 posts Report Reply

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