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Old 05-30-2014, 09:28 PM   #61
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I COMPLETLY agree with you ERD50. Well said. I also agree that there will always be false positives, but you deal with them as best you can.

We were victims of a false positive 30 years ago, returning from our honeymoon. On I-95 near Miami, there used to be a "dead end" area, where the finished road did not have a connection or exit. Perfect landing strips for drug planes, then the waiting car to unload and speed up I-95.

So long story short, two cops pull us over, guns drawn, 10:00 at night. One takes me to the back of the car, and the other takes my young bride down into the grassy area. Then the cop tells me to open my trunk, then my suit case, and searches the contents. Finally after they are convinced there is no issue, they let us go. They explained that the type of shocks I had on my car were common for drug dealers.

You can't avoid false positives. Given 9/11 and what might be next, I will allow them to search my underwear or emails. I have nothing to hide.

I think that your example is one of bad cops.... getting pulled over for a type of shock on a car is just wrong... searching your car etc. is also wrong... just because you have nothing to hide does not make it right...
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Old 05-30-2014, 09:35 PM   #62
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I think he's a low level IT guy with a puffed up view of himself.

I wouldn't have a beer with him.
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Old 05-30-2014, 09:40 PM   #63
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Given the population of 300,000,000 then we will detect 29,697 of the 300 "terrorists". As 29,397 folks will attest, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, eh? Sucks to be them.
I think that should be 3M false positives (given a 1% fp rate) and not 30k. So the situation is even worse.

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Sure, I have no way of determining whether analyzing all this data is effective or efficient or best use of resources. I'd like to think that the powers that be have made that determination in some reasonable way. That may be wildly optimistic, but I'm not sure what we can do, since we are several arms lengths away from this.
Given the number of news articles we have about some poor teen who makes a joke on twitter and then gets detained and anally probed, I don't think they are doing are this in a reasonable way (or at least some in the government are doing it wrong). We also have all those cases of people on the no-fly list who pose no threat.


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I COMPLETLY agree with you ERD50. Well said. I also agree that there will always be false positives, but you deal with them as best you can.
Yes they will always be false positives. The key is to minimize them and using a blind dragnet won't be effective and will actually detract from security through wasted resources. We can get a rough idea as to the false discovery rate using Bayes rule as per MPaquette's example and it's *terrible*. But the math guys at the NSA/CIA/whatever should know this as it is basic stats. So I suspect they (the smart ones) are using the data in a more targeted manner and just want access to the capability without delays or review.
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Old 05-30-2014, 09:45 PM   #64
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Just some random thoughts on other posts... not quoting as it would take too long...


Snowden was not a 'clerk'... you do not get paid in the six figures as a clerk... I think some of the powers that be are trying to make him seem like a crackpot so they do not look as bad...


Also, if he is only a clerk.... then how was he able to get his hands on so much classified information I mean, can any clerk out there get a hold of the same info he has Seems that if it is true that he is such a low level employee it is an even worse state we are in than if he is at a level he says...


I also think that when anything is done with secret courts without anybody on the other side, that in itself is an abuse of power... I do not care if it is being done 'for the good of the country'.... it just should not be done... Once it is started, then there is creep... then at some point in time someone will get in power who is not as concerned with the people's rights... if your read what Hoover was doing back when there were none of the current methods now.... what do you think he would have done with today's technology....

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.

The big question in all of this is what is unreasonable.... I think that anything that monitors all communication in any way is unreasonable...


BTW, I also think that Google keeping track of everything that I do online is also unreasonable.... but there is no law protecting me against them... the difference is that they cannot come and break down my door and haul me away to prison....
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Old 05-30-2014, 10:19 PM   #65
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Also, if he is only a clerk.... then how was he able to get his hands on so much classified information
Do you have IT people where you work? If so, you know they have access to a lot of data. Snowden's job in Hawaii was to move a bunch of data from one server to another, and to perform backups/various other data integrity tasks. That's why there were no questions raised when he accessed (and stole) a lot of data from across a large number of areas. He knows/knew very little about analysis and certainly lacks/lacked the "big picture". He was a modern clerk, and a well paid clerk because IT people with high-level clearances are hard to find.

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I also think that when anything is done with secret courts without anybody on the other side, that in itself is an abuse of power.. .
The FISA court functions like a judge that issues a search warrant. There's no opposing side because that would defeat the entire purpose of the exercise ("Mr Terrorist, the police have asked to search your apartment for anthrax next Thursday. Do you object? Present your case."). I'm sure you see why it has to be done this way. The "secret courts" don't and can't convict anyone of anything. To do that, (in a case involving a noncombatant US civilian) requires that the defendant be accorded all the normal rights--to confront witnesses, to a defense, etc.

Is Snowden an admirable character? One perspective from that well known reactionary screed and favorite of law-and-order types, the New Republic. The author does a good job of addressing the points, one-by-one, that Snowden raised in his recent interview. And it concludes with:
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And this brings us to Snowden’s ultimate arrogance, the thing that makes his calm certainty finally more infuriating than anything else: He believes he is above the law. He believes he should get to decide what stays secret and what does not. He believes that he should get to decide what laws he can and cannot be tried under. He believes he gets to decide what rules should govern spying. And he not only believes he should get credit for civil disobedience without being willing to face the legal consequences of his actions, he believes he should get credit for courage as though he had done so as well.
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Old 05-30-2014, 11:30 PM   #66
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Any internal device that is physically connected to the computer can be turned on and enabled. Some users put black tape over the camera.
But that does not disable the microphone, if the camera can be turned on the mike can also.
One might want to be sure that there is a firewall both in the machine, and between the home network and the internet. (Of course this makes home remote control much more difficult, and if you open ports for home remote control the door is no longer locked. But you can turn off remote admin for windows machines, so that if you turn the camera and mike off in windows you have to log onto the machine to turn them on. (Assuming one has admin privileges on the machine). Further if you turn the machine off when not in use, or just turn the wireless off, it can not be turned on.
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Old 05-31-2014, 05:44 AM   #67
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But that does not disable the microphone, if the camera can be turned on the mike can also.
One might want to be sure that there is a firewall both in the machine, and between the home network and the internet. (Of course this makes home remote control much more difficult, and if you open ports for home remote control the door is no longer locked. But you can turn off remote admin for windows machines, so that if you turn the camera and mike off in windows you have to log onto the machine to turn them on. (Assuming one has admin privileges on the machine). Further if you turn the machine off when not in use, or just turn the wireless off, it can not be turned on.
Yes, I just wanted to mention that there is an ability to access devices at the firmware level, and this has been done. Some of the chatter I was reading about this was quite funny. One person opened the system in order to jam something in the lens, behind the case. Others use black tape over the lens.

This article notes the microphone hack also.
How to Keep the NSA From Spying Through Your Webcam | Threat Level | WIRED

You can research the program names to learn more.
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Old 05-31-2014, 05:56 AM   #68
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And by the way, I think Snowden is an idiot.
You watched the interview and concluded that he was idiot? I can see how people could conclude he is a traitor, but an idiot... He seemed like smart articulate man to me.
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Old 05-31-2014, 07:10 AM   #69
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I was very impressed with Snowden. He seems to be articulate and principled. We can argue about those principles forever. But the people that claim he chose Russia are liars. He happened to be in Moscow when his US passport was revoked. So on whose authority was he deemed a threat without due process?

This I why I sympathize with him. Would he be treated fairly in the US? Not bloody likely!

They try to denigrate him as a clerk! Who are they trying to kid? This is a ham-handed attempt at cover-up of the worst odour.

I have no skin in this game because I am law-abiding generally. But this whole episode makes my skin crawl, especially Secretary of State making such false and misleading statements.
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Old 05-31-2014, 08:51 AM   #70
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But the people that claim he chose Russia are liars. He happened to be in Moscow when his US passport was revoked.
Untrue. His passport was revoked when he was in Hong Kong. He traveled to Russia to better his situation. His "ask the State Department why I'm here" is typical of his disingenuous responses.


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This I why I sympathize with him.
You've picked a losing horse. He's wailing long and loud about the pureness of his cause, he is being portrayed as a hero by those with something to gain (who knew Glenn Greenwald before this?). Obviously, the vast majority of those on the "other side" who know what happened can't go public in a similar way.

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They try to denigrate him as a clerk! Who are they trying to kid? This is a ham-handed attempt at cover-up of the worst odour.
There's nothing "denigrating" about saying someone is a clerk. IT experts, "clerks", etc all make valuable contributions in their organizations. But it is well known that intelligence services target "clerks", IT personnel, and those with access to cryptographic material because they can provide a lot of information. If they can find one who feels unappreciated and wants to be "famous", well, that's quite a win for them, isn't it? So much the better if he self-recruits and comes to them.

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I have no skin in this game because I am law-abiding generally.
You have skin in this game if you travel by air or like to go out in public without being blown up.
Or, if you want to communicate without fear of government intrusion.
We ain't playing tiddlywinks here, and it's more than an interesting academic exercise in Constitutional protections.

I'm a "small government" fan and predisposed to be sympathetic to someone wanting to tame the big machine and safeguard individual liberties. But Snowden is a very poor poster boy for this cause (whatever people may think after seeing his performance on TV).
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Old 05-31-2014, 09:16 AM   #71
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...
Yes they will always be false positives. The key is to minimize them and using a blind dragnet won't be effective and will actually detract from security through wasted resources. We can get a rough idea as to the false discovery rate using Bayes rule as per MPaquette's example and it's *terrible*.
That number was just picked out of the air to demonstrate the principle. We have no idea what the actual false positive rate is, it isn't a universal constant like the speed of light, or the number 42.

And as I said before, there could be many levels of analysis applied to each trigger to further weed out false positives, some could be automatic, with no human intervention. Just like with medical tests - they might do a cheap, quick & dirty test to screen for a condition, knowing there is a fairly high rate of false positives. They then use the more definitive, but more expensive, time-consuming, and/or more invasive test only on the positives, Overall, this makes perfectly good sense.

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But the math guys at the NSA/CIA/whatever should know this as it is basic stats. So I suspect they (the smart ones) are using the data in a more targeted manner ...
Right. I would hope that if the false positive rate is so high that it makes this exercise pointless, they wouldn't be doing it. OTOH, someone could be making outrageous claims about it just to do some empire building. Or maybe this is considered a 'work in progress', maybe today's technologies don't get us there, but they will in a few years, and they need to start working through the issues now. A little like google's free service where you could call a number with a dumb phone, make a voice request and it would pull up search results, and make the phone call for you to any business. They did it just to collect voice patterns to improve their voice recognition, and dropped it when they had enough data. So we could still be in the testing phase, and maybe they know other countries are already working on this?

-ERD50
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Old 05-31-2014, 09:20 AM   #72
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........Once it is started, then there is creep... then at some point in time someone will get in power who is not as concerned with the people's rights... if you read what Hoover was doing back when there were none of the current methods now.... what do you think he would have done with today's technology...............
Snowden aside, I immediately thought of what Hoover accomplished, too, with limited technology. Eventually some of this data will be used for political purposes, if it isn't being used already.
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Old 05-31-2014, 09:50 AM   #73
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Do you have IT people where you work? If so, you know they have access to a lot of data. Snowden's job in Hawaii was to move a bunch of data from one server to another, and to perform backups/various other data integrity tasks. That's why there were no questions raised when he accessed (and stole) a lot of data from across a large number of areas. He knows/knew very little about analysis and certainly lacks/lacked the "big picture". He was a modern clerk, and a well paid clerk because IT people with high-level clearances are hard to find.
I was a senior IT manager in my career and for a while worked with the mergers and acquisitions team. The information they collect is very sensitive and has to be kept secret, even from the IT guys. We (IT) would deploy a database from a standard template, and I would show the owner of the database (a member of the M&A team) how to create a private encryption key and how to send it to other members (and how to ensure that they could not forward the key to others). IT could copy the database, back it up etc, but there was no way anyone without the key could read any data. I was also involved in the "due diligence" portion on a number of acquisitions where I would visit the target company, assess both their IT systems and the process control systems of their manufacturing site(s). The report I would write and all e-mail was encrypted with keys that only I and the M&A team had so that no IT person, no matter how many admin privileges they had could no not read those e-mails.

If Snowden was a low level IT guy then it is scary that he had access to so much, I assume unencrypted, sensitive data. Knowledge is power and regardless of the legalities of the data collection and retention, it gives me little faith that the government can properly protect and be good stewards of this data, and that there are no "bad eggs" in the NSA who would use knowledge gained from this data to make financial gains, even if it is only to sell data to interested parties. The NSA did not even know Snowden had stolen all the data until he passed it onto the news media.
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Old 05-31-2014, 10:00 AM   #74
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Snowden aside, I immediately thought of what Hoover accomplished, too, with limited technology. Eventually some of this data will be used for political purposes, if it isn't being used already.
That's a very real risk, we've been down that road already in the 1970s (and before). And we should recognize that whenever there is a failure in security, the safeguards to individual privacy/liberty are reduced at least temporarily to help prevent another one. So, preventing attacks also helps preserve liberty (by preventing these periodic "crackdowns."
Options:
1) Don't collect any data that may be from a US person. When an attack occurs, start from scratch to determine everything. Keep doing that while more attacks occur. Prepare to wait a long time at the airport and to have your checked bags inspected by hand (nothing intrusive about that!)
2) Collect data, keep it in a big pile, don't analyze it if it comes from a US person (you, me, Tsarnaev, Timothy McVeigh), but have it available for use and analysis if properly approved by a court.

If we go with Option 2 and an IT guy on the inside (maybe unfamiliar with the protections) makes it public, the press reports will likely scream "Huge government program is collecting on innocent Americans". True, but misleading. And, I imagine the bad guys will start communicating using other methods. So, we'll prevent fewer attacks.
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Old 05-31-2014, 10:14 AM   #75
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If Snowden was a low level IT guy then it is scary that he had access to so much, I assume unencrypted, sensitive data. Knowledge is power and regardless of the legalities of the data collection and retention, it gives me little faith that the government can properly protect and be good stewards of this data, and that there are no "bad eggs" in the NSA who would use knowledge gained from this data to make financial gains, even if it is only to sell data to interested parties. The NSA did not even know Snowden had stolen all the data until he passed it onto the news media.
Based on publicly available info on the security breach, there were clearly problems with data security procedures in some areas. I'm pretty sure heads are rolling.

Some will probably recall that after 9/11, the intelligence community was roundly beaten for failing to "connect the dots" to provide warning of the plot. Maybe a CIA analyst didn't see an FBI report or the FAA records of flight training of a person who had overstayed his visa. Now, in the real world these patterns are clearly identifiable in retrospect and almost impossible to discern without benefit of hindsight, but there were many news reports about data stovepipes and the need for more sharing between analysts and agencies. As we can all probably see, more sharing means more people have access to more information that isn't in their "normal" area, and somebody with ill intent could steal more information. Snowden's violation of his oath and the trust that was placed in him will likely build some new walls, make the work of many people much harder, and put the "dots" farther apart. We'll all pay for his 15 minutes of fame.
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Old 05-31-2014, 10:47 AM   #76
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Snowden aside, I immediately thought of what Hoover accomplished, too, with limited technology. Eventually some of this data will be used for political purposes, if it isn't being used already.
Exactly. Abuse of the database has already happened. Google LOVEINT, the NSA's internal name for folks using the databases to spy on love interests.

Bloomberg report: NSA employees have deliberately "abused" their power.

Declassified files detail blatant violations, abuse of NSA domestic spying program ? RT USA

NSA Surveillance Documents Released By Officials Show Misuse Of Domestic Spying Program

They're also building profiles on individuals which can be used for reputation attacks. Could be handy for election campaigns.

Top-Secret Document Reveals NSA Spied On Porn Habits As Part Of Plan To Discredit 'Radicalizers'

NSA SEXINT is the Abuse You’ve All Been Waiting For | Just Security

Of course, nobody HERE is in a group that could ever make them a person of interest, right? I'm sure that nobody in the government would ever target members of specific organizations or groups.
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Old 05-31-2014, 11:48 AM   #77
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Based on publicly available info on the security breach, there were clearly problems with data security procedures in some areas. I'm pretty sure heads are rolling.

Some will probably recall that after 9/11, the intelligence community was roundly beaten for failing to "connect the dots" to provide warning of the plot. Maybe a CIA analyst didn't see an FBI report or the FAA records of flight training of a person who had overstayed his visa. Now, in the real world these patterns are clearly identifiable in retrospect and almost impossible to discern without benefit of hindsight, but there were many news reports about data stovepipes and the need for more sharing between analysts and agencies. As we can all probably see, more sharing means more people have access to more information that isn't in their "normal" area, and somebody with ill intent could steal more information. Snowden's violation of his oath and the trust that was placed in him will likely build some new walls, make the work of many people much harder, and put the "dots" farther apart. We'll all pay for his 15 minutes of fame.

The interesting point here is that looking back, then determined they already had enough data on the people that carried out 9/11... collecting more data would not have changed anything....


Also, there are very few terrorist attacks in other developed countries that are not doing this invasive data collection.... I doubt that there are many terrorist attacks that have been stopped BECAUSE of this data... I am sure there have been some plots stopped, but the reporting indicates there was some other method that law enforcement used to stop it...


Finally, the chance of someone dying due to a terrorist attack is almost zero... even if you add up all that have died over the last 30 years, it barely is a couple of months of people who die in car accidents... that includes the only big number from 9/11...


We all live in a violent society.... there is nothing that can be done to prevent this kind of violence... just like the airport screening has been show to be of little value, I think this is of little value... so we give up a lot of our rights to feel safe.... but we are not any safer... don't get me started on the dollar cost of this....
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Old 05-31-2014, 11:58 AM   #78
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They're also building profiles on individuals which can be used for reputation attacks. Could be handy for election campaigns.

Top-Secret Document Reveals NSA Spied On Porn Habits As Part Of Plan To Discredit 'Radicalizers'
Again, according to the available reports, (including those cited) all the traditional protections for US persons remain in place. If there is an abuse, then it should be followed with punishment (as they have been in the past).

I think it's a good policy to decrease the influence of foreign terrorist leaders, to show them to be hypocrites and reduce their ability to recruit suicide bombers to kill our citizens. The safeguards in place protect US persons (and that's a category that goes beyond US citizens).
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Old 05-31-2014, 12:11 PM   #79
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The interesting point here is that looking back, then determined they already had enough data on the people that carried out 9/11... collecting more data would not have changed anything....
The data was spread all over and, as I said, made a pattern only in retrospect. As far as "more data would not have made a difference"--clearly that's wrong. For example: If the "more data" was a conversation between Bad Guy 1 and his leaders in another country about next month's plan for 19 named people to buy tickets on several airlines and fly the planes into the WTC, the Pentagon, etc, it is clear that this "more data" would have been pretty useful in putting all the pieces together. Right? Collecting (and analyzing) more data might have made all the difference.

As far as number of attacks prevented, etc: Obviously, this is a hard one to know, and very few people are even in a position to have the information and none of them are blabbing about it. But this is about more than preventing individual attacks--it is also about capturing or killing some very bad people who want to kill you and me. I've seen credible reports in the papers that indicate some of these people have been apprehended or killed. Maybe that's just due to random traffic stops. But whatever is causing it, I hope it continues. We can't win an ideological/cultural campaign by this means, and sometimes it might even be counterproductive to other needed steps. But sometimes it is a tool in the toolbox that needs to be used.
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Old 05-31-2014, 03:47 PM   #80
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You watched the interview and concluded that he was idiot? I can see how people could conclude he is a traitor, but an idiot... He seemed like smart articulate man to me.
Actually did not watch the interview, so I am only making that comment based on the fact that I don't like what he did.
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