by Tom Simonite
July 27, 2012

from TechnologyReview Website



The Internet should be adapted to allow for oversight by the National Security Agency, the organization's boss says.

The U.S. Internet's infrastructure needs to be redesigned to allow the NSA to know instantly when overseas hackers might be attacking public or private infrastructure and computer networks, the agency's leader, General Keith Alexander, said today.

Alexander spoke at the annual DefCon computer hacking conference in Las Vegas. It was a symbolic appearance that he said was motivated by a need to interest the hacker community in helping to make the Internet more secure.

Alexander, who is also commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, described the Internet as,

"at great risk from exploitation, disruption, and destruction."

In recent years, many Internet users have become familiar with the idea that websites can be knocked offline by denial of service attacks, such as those employed by online activist groups such as Anonymous.

"My concern is that it's going to flow into destructive attacks that could have consequences for our critical national infrastructure and the Internet itself," said Alexander.

The decentralized nature of the Internet, and the fact that the global network is built from a thicket of independent public and private networks, is limiting efforts to protect against such attacks, said Alexander, because it doesn't allow the NSA or law enforcement to easily track Internet activity.

"We do not sit around our country and look in; we have no idea if Wall Street is about to be attacked," said Alexander.

The NSA is already running a trial with 17 U.S. defense companies intended to demonstrate technology that could be deployed to change that.


Under the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Cyber Pilot, Lockheed Martin and other companies set up their computer security systems to automatically alert the agency when the alarm is tripped.


They automatically pass a summary of what was detected and the IP address associated with the event to the NSA over the Internet.

"All you need to pass is the fact of a signature and IP address in real time, and we can take it from there," said Alexander.

Alexander suggested that the NSA should be given a wider checkpoint role across the Internet to protect core infrastructure and all vital systems connected to it, drawing an analogy with an automatic road toll system.

"What we need for cybersecurity is something analogous to that," he said. "Think of us as the EZ Pass on the highway."

Alexander dismissed possible concerns about giving the NSA too much oversight into how the Internet is being used.

"When you go down the highway, and you go down the EZ Pass lane, what you're doing is sending that code. That system is not looking in your car, reading the e-mail, or intercepting anything, it's just getting that code."

Alexander also suggested rolling back the decentralization of computer networks by saying that "thin client" computing should be considered by large organizations.


Long out of fashion, the thin client approach gives individual users relatively simple computers that access computing resources that are controlled centrally. That could help large organizations such as the U.S. Department of Defense, which currently has some 15,000 separately configured and operated sections of its network, said Alexander, offering too many potential areas of attack.

Speaking about the fact that some DefCon attendees are leery of the NSA interest in their event, a hacker known as Dead Addict, who has helped organize the DefCon event since the first conference 20 years ago, said he was pleased that Alexander wanted to engage with the hacker community.

"Many of us fear their surveillance and offensive capabilities, but many of us share an interest in that [offense] as well," he said.

He pointed out that the activities of all hackers at DefCon rely on the Internet to be resilient and trustworthy.

"Our interests overlap."

Alexander claimed that taking such steps could also be lucrative for the U.S., and foster new areas of business.

"This could help us with our economic growth. Look at what fuels our economy," he said. "We're the ones that helped develop, and helped build the Internet; we ought to be the first to secure it."











NSA Wants...

“EZ Pass” Control for Internet
by Kurt Nimmo
July 30, 2012
from Infowars Website



General Keith Alexander, the NSA boss,

wants the government to centralize the internet

and force users to use a system analogous to EZ Pass.

EZ Pass is an RFID transponder system used for toll collection on roads, bridges, and tunnels in the United States.

“What we need for cybersecurity is something analogous to that,” Alexander told the annual Def Con computer hacking conference in Las Vegas.. “Think of us as the EZ Pass on the highway.”

“When you go down the highway, and you go down the EZ Pass lane, what you’re doing is sending that code. That system is not looking in your car, reading the e-mail, or intercepting anything, it’s just getting that code,” he said.

In other words, the government should vet all users with a checkpoint.

“All you need to pass is the fact of a signature and IP address in real time, and we can take it from there,” said Alexander.

The super secret cryptologic intelligence agency wouldn’t track and scrutinize your behavior on the internet, according to Alexander.


The EZ Pass,

“system is not looking in your car, reading the e-mail, or intercepting anything, it’s just getting that code,” he insisted.

EZ Pass, however, does not simply “get the code” and allow access to the highway.


It trades “a bit of privacy for a load of convenience,” the New York Times pointed out in 2005.

The NSA’s latest scheme to track and trace the online behavior of Americans - despite Alexander’s assertions to the contrary - is part of a long history of poking into the private affairs of Americans.

Following Truman’s executive order creating the super-secret intelligence agency in 1952 as an instrument of the national security state, the NSA launched Operation Shamrock.


The secret operation illegally intercepted the telegrams of Americans without a search warrant and the telecoms of the day fully cooperated, according to L. Britt Snider, a congressional investigator who uncovered Shamrock.

A few months after the 9/11 attacks, then president Bush,

“secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials,” the New York Times reported in 2005.

NSA officialdom attempted to portray the warrantless searches as “a sea change” and new territory for the agency - insisting that all previous searches were conducted on overseas communications - despite Operation Shamrock and the distinct possibility the agency has engaged in likewise activity over its 60 year history:



Operation Shamrock

by Catherine Rentz Pernot
May 2007


After World War I, NSA's predecessor, a civilian code-breaking agency known as the Black Chamber, working on behalf of the government, would pick up telegrams every day from the telegraph companies in violation of secrecy protections of the 1912 Radio Communications Act.


Eventually exposed and shut down, the relationships regenerated after World War II, this time with the NSA, which was formed secretly by an executive order by President Truman in 1952.

As the NSA quietly grew into the world's biggest intelligence agency, the telecoms similarly expanded in strength and breadth with new technologies and increased communications coverage.


One NSA operation, code-named "Shamrock," would become known as the largest intercept affair in U.S. history.

"For almost 30 years, copies of most international telegrams originating or forwarded through the United States were turned over to the National Security Agency," announced Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), who spearheaded the investigations that exposed Shamrock.

The program, he said,

"certainly appears to violate section 605 of the Communications Act of 1934 as well as the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution."

L. Britt Snider was the then-30-year-old Congressional investigator who uncovered Shamrock.


In September 1975, after what he described as a series of fruitless and "sometimes comical" efforts to penetrate the goliath NSA, he won a breakthrough interview with Louis Tordella, who had just retired as NSA's deputy director.


Tordella unveiled the essence of Operation Shamrock: NSA had a secret room in New York City, obtained with the help of the CIA, where each day it would copy international telegrams sent through the three major communication providers:

  •  ITT World Communications

  • Western Union International

  • RCA Global

"We thought initially it was only New York," Snider explained, "But it turns out to be San Francisco, San Antonio, Washington, New York - all...  their offices that sent international telegrams."

When FRONTLINE asked how the NSA got the companies to hand over telegrams during Shamrock, Snider replied, "They asked."


The companies agreed to hand over communications without warrants.

The revelation of Shamrock and other abuses by the Church Committee investigations led Congress to enact the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978.


FISA set up a special secret court and set of procedures to oversee intelligence agencies' domestic surveillance.

"What Congress said is, 'Phone company, don't hand this stuff over to the government unless you have a warrant or other proper authority,'" explains Cindy Cohn, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which in January 2006 filed suit against AT&T for allegedly illegally handing over its clients' communications to the NSA.



In order to convert a decentralized internet into a massive centralized surveillance and tracking system, the government will have to sell us on the largely bogus threat of cyber attacks and the over-hyped prospect of “dirty numbers” shutting down power grids and the computer networks that run America’s infrastructure.

We have covered this mythical threat in detail, revealing that in fact critical infrastructure is not connected to the internet and the threat posed by hackers (who may or may not be government operatives) is largely an issue for under-protected government and corporate networks.

Alexander peddled his scripted propaganda line in February when he told the Wall Street Journal that the hacktavist collective Anonymous may soon have the capability to take down the power grid in the United States through a cyberattack.


Techies up to speed on the technology, however, dismissed Alexander’s propaganda as absurd.

Jerry Brito, senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, told SecurityNewsDaily that while Anonymous is capable of defacing websites and engaging in disruptive denial of service attacks, it would take the resources of government to knock out networks. As an example, consider the United States and Israel taking down Iran’s nuclear infrastructure with finely honed malware.

The government and its super-secret intelligence agencies will not rest until they convert the internet - in fact, the entire telecommunications system - into a real-time surveillance and tracking tool.

Unfortunately, we are but one manufactured false flag event away from that possibility becoming a reality.