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 Forum index » Off-Topic Area » Security
Does DHS really have a list of "trigger" words? [Solved]
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PaulBx1

Joined: 16 Jun 2006
Posts: 2308
Location: Wyoming, USA

PostPosted: Mon 05 Apr 2010, 23:12    Post subject:  

Quote:
I see this sort of thing from the Tin Foil Hat crowd over here in the US, who think Microsoft is in league with the NSA, and has left back doors in Windows so the NSA can snoop on their PCs. All I can say is "You wish you were important enough that anyone could be bothered to snoop on your computer!"


That hardly constitutes a rebuttal.

One OS gets used on 90% or so of the world's computers. Are you certain DHS et. al. have no interest in having a back door in it, even though a given random individual holds no interest for them? Some Windows users in the world are interesting to them.

I have no proof one way or another, but human nature being what it is, I'd bet a fair amount DHS does have a back door into Windows.
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DMcCunney

Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 897

PostPosted: Tue 06 Apr 2010, 10:15    Post subject:  

PaulBx1 wrote:
Quote:
I see this sort of thing from the Tin Foil Hat crowd over here in the US, who think Microsoft is in league with the NSA, and has left back doors in Windows so the NSA can snoop on their PCs. All I can say is "You wish you were important enough that anyone could be bothered to snoop on your computer!"

That hardly constitutes a rebuttal.

It is a rebuttal to the belief of the part of the Tin Foil Hat crowd that anyone in the US government has an interest in hacking their machines.

Quote:
One OS gets used on 90% or so of the world's computers. Are you certain DHS et. al. have no interest in having a back door in it, even though a given random individual holds no interest for them? Some Windows users in the world are interesting to them.

I can think of people in the world they might have that sort of interest in.

But let's assume I'm I'm an intelligence agent who wants to snoop on the computer of a Person of Interest to my Government. How, precisely, do I do it? First I have to find their computer. Then I have to access it. How do I go about doing the first? To get to it and use the back door, I need an IP address. How do I get that? And before I can use the back door, I need to climb the wall. (Unless you think anyone important enough for me to be interested in won't be running a firewall and have other defenses in place. If they're that important, they didn't get that way by being stupid.)

Quote:
I have no proof one way or another, but human nature being what it is, I'd bet a fair amount DHS does have a back door into Windows.

They might want one. Having one is another matter.

My desktop spends most time booted into Windows XP. There is a software firewall on the PC (two, actually, Windows Firewall and a third party product), and a hardware firewall on my router. And access permissions pretty well lock down anything I don't explicitly share on my local network.

Even if MS left a back door in Windows (which I frankly doubt), I can't stretch credulity enough to assume that such backdoors also exist in any third party firewall product or router.

Essentially, getting to anything sensitive on my machines would require physical access, and if someone has that, I've got far greater problems than a backdoor in Windows.
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Dennis
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Pizzasgood


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 6270
Location: Knoxville, TN, USA

PostPosted: Tue 06 Apr 2010, 23:15    Post subject:  

Quote:
(Unless you think anyone important enough for me to be interested in won't be running a firewall and have other defenses in place. If they're that important, they didn't get that way by being stupid.)
It depends on which kind of person you're talking about. Being smart enough to become important doesn't necessarily translate into knowing diddly squat about computers. Those types of people will have security teams to help keep them out of trouble, but they can only do so much (and probably have many headaches). It is the task of the attacker to find the places they missed. Their primary computer will likely be heavily protected. But the more peripheral things not as much. Especially in the case of the not extremely important people who still have access to sensitive data. People like the president would have a lot of very paranoid people running security. But smaller politicians would have much less of that. Same goes for people who work at a large company.

(Not that I think MS includes a backdoor intentionally. I have trouble believing they would be that stupid. A lot of very BIG ROLLERS rely on Windows (for whatever absurd reason), and must be able to trust that their systems are secure. Of course, they likely have multiple layers of security to avoid things like vendor-induced backdoors on their core systems, as DMcCunney mentioned.)


To the people who don't even mind Big Brother: It's not about whether they are after you now. It's about the future. Let's suppose you like the current government. Let's even go so far as to say you trust them to be your big brother and keep you safe without mishandling your private information. So they watch your every move? Big deal, you don't do anything wrong anyway. Fine.

But what about in ten years? Will the same trustworthy people still be in office in ten or twenty years? What if they or their successors or their successors become corrupt? What if they start creating new laws that you don't agree with, that you in fact think are morally wrong? (Think along the lines of the anti-semitic nonsense going on in Germany prior to WWII.) Perhaps you would want to form a resistance. Or maybe you are one of (or associated with) the people being persecuted.


The point is, even if you trust the current government, you should not give them any power they don't absolutely need, because in the future they may not be the same government you once trusted. And it is much harder to take power away than it is to withhold it in the first place.

That is why we have things like the second amendment and cryptography and (in some respects) open source. It isn't about the government of today, but about the government of tomorrow.

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Flash
Official Dog Handler


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 11156
Location: Arizona USA

PostPosted: Tue 06 Apr 2010, 23:59    Post subject:  

What are those words that trigger Echelon?

Carnivore / Echelon Trigger Words

What I want to know is, who in the government is reading all the stuff those monitoring programs must flag? There must be a billion e-mails a day that contain at least one trigger word. What's the point of looking for trigger words if there's not enough people to read all the crap that turns up?
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Pizzasgood


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 6270
Location: Knoxville, TN, USA

PostPosted: Wed 07 Apr 2010, 02:02    Post subject:  

I don't know how they really do it, but were I to design such a system, trigger words would just be the initial filter - a fast simple way to skip over the vast bulk of the uninteresting fluff. You would still have far more false positives than true positives, but nowhere near as many as if you considered every single message.

After that initial round, you would feed what is left into a more thorough (and thus slower) filter. This one wouldn't be able to handle the full influx of messages, but it can handle the volume that the initial filter returns. It would remove another large number of the false positives.

Successive filters could be chained until it gets down to a manageable level. Humans would only need to check the really suspicious stuff. And the only relatively suspicious stuff could all be archived and indexed for later, so that when they decide they need to locate all messages about "bombs in Tokyo" from the last two week, for example, they could do a search. And, at an indeterminate point int he future where AI finally achieves the "I" part, computers could process all the archived stuff that humans didn't read to search for more patterns and such (and then, upon catching up, read a larger percentage of the real-time communications).

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DMcCunney

Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 897

PostPosted: Wed 07 Apr 2010, 16:18    Post subject:  

Flash wrote:
What I want to know is, who in the government is reading all the stuff those monitoring programs must flag? There must be a billion e-mails a day that contain at least one trigger word. What's the point of looking for trigger words if there's not enough people to read all the crap that turns up?

Don't assume any human being is.

I concur with Pizzasgood. I'd have automated filters with progressively finer levels of discrimination. And I wouldn't even attempt to sniff all mail. I'm not certain that would be technically possible, nor worth it if it was.

I'd start sniffing particular email streams if something else gave me an idea there might be traffic worth looking at. And my filters would be designed to flag only stuff likely to be important enough to pay attention to.

The mere presence of the trigger word is meaningless. It's the context in which the words are used that is key, and analyzing context is a more difficult matter. (And it's that analysis of context to determine if something is a threat that would employ human readers.)
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Dennis
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Ibidem

Joined: 25 May 2010
Posts: 522
Location: State of Jefferson

PostPosted: Tue 06 Jul 2010, 20:11    Post subject:  

Pizzasgood wrote:


(Not that I think MS includes a backdoor intentionally. I have trouble believing they would be that stupid. A lot of very BIG ROLLERS rely on Windows (for whatever absurd reason), and must be able to trust that their systems are secure. Of course, they likely have multiple layers of security to avoid things like vendor-induced backdoors on their core systems, as DMcCunney mentioned.)


Well, I can't tell if it's true of Windows 2000 or later, but here's something to chew on, from 1999: http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/5/5263/1.html

It sounds like it was Win 4.x (later 95, 98, & NT4); NT4 was the base code of 2000 (NT 5) & xp (NT 5.1); large portions of code, especially legacy (Win 3.x) were re-written for Vista & 7 (NT 6.0, 6.1). So it may have been removed (or may not).
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Nican Tlaca


Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 8
Location: Los Angeles, CA

PostPosted: Thu 15 Jul 2010, 19:21    Post subject:  

Let me just put it this way:

What would YOU do if you ran the world's most powerful empire?
Seriously.


The boundaries of our thinking have already been pre-selected for us (just turn on the TV, radio, CNN.com, etc). And trust me, being grouchy over your government's corruption is not enough to get you "traced". Join the club.

Nobody needs to hack your PC. All your life's info is already collected at the grocery store. You think someone's gonna waste expensive satellite time on YOU?

What's the basis of my claims? More than you would think. Less than your imagination would think. But bottom line, not nice.

All the worst stuff you imagine is true (and worse). It's just not directed at you, because you believe in this "Faith-based" system. You're not that important as a Grouchy Believer.

The greatest "surveillance" is done pre-emptively, by pre-selecting the range of thoughts you can have (e.g. Conservative vs. Liberal, Fox vs CNN, Coke vs. Pepsi).
Again, what would YOU do if you were in charge of an Empire?

Kind of like that movie "Total Recall". The main stuff is done before you have "your" thought, not after.
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PaulBx1

Joined: 16 Jun 2006
Posts: 2308
Location: Wyoming, USA

PostPosted: Sat 31 Jul 2010, 15:50    Post subject:  

I agree. None of us will be very interesting to the ruling class, until we start to threaten them. I do think there are programs out there like Echelon though. The ruling class collects information reflexively; that is the way they are. Think of Stasi, filling paper files with reams of uninteresting reports about everyone.

Also it is interesting to have a little bit of dirt about everyone, so they can apply blackmail later if they need to.

Claire Wolfe used to advise everyone to put a trigger word into every email just to fill up the snoops computers with useless garbage.

I don't really see how they can automate the filtering of this stuff. What would be the basis of a decision, in a program, for throwing out one email that has the word "nuke", and keeping another.

Of course it is all pretty silly. Anyone serious about terrorism is going to use encryption and/or use code words for what the trigger words would be. But then governments are not interested in stopping terrorism; they are interested in propagating it. So it doesn't matter that terrorists use encryption. It's all part of a game.
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2byte

Joined: 09 Oct 2006
Posts: 357

PostPosted: Mon 02 Aug 2010, 16:37    Post subject:  

Some very astute comments have been made in this thread. Surveillance is done in large part to control the populace, what they think and believe. Keeping tabs on what people are discussing gives an early warning when unapproved thoughts begin to propagate throughout the country/world, and who the instigators are. For starters, research the USS Liberty, see if you can find the show that the BBC did a few years back. Look for similar scenarios for WW1 and WWII. Look up an interview with Aaron Russo, Zeitgeist and Bob Boyce. Research where related links take you. You will have to spend some time and use your common sense to filter out the wackos and blatant disinformation, but truth is there.

Are we under surveillance? Heck, even alienjeff 's web site seems to be attracting the DHS and DOJ.

There should be enough key phrases in this post to ring alarms all over the place. I'll let you know if I start seeing black SUVs with dark windows. If I don't disappear or suddenly pass away that is. Laughing
.

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Pizzasgood


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 6270
Location: Knoxville, TN, USA

PostPosted: Fri 06 Aug 2010, 18:40    Post subject:  

Quote:
Of course it is all pretty silly. Anyone serious about terrorism is going to use encryption and/or use code words for what the trigger words would be.
Sure, but then, idiots can sometimes be more dangerous than the competent people.

2byte makes a good point. A large motivation (perhaps the primary motivation) in running something like Echelon would be to help them keep a good feel on the current state of the populace. It could help them realize when people are becoming riled up about something and likely to cause problems. If they detect an abnormally large volume of people talking about how they want to bomb X company/location/activity, it can help to indicate where they should increase their security. Even if most of the people are just venting, the more people who threaten it, the more likely it is that some idiot will actually do it. It could even become a positive feedback situation, where all the empty threats actually encourage people to act out those threats when they wouldn't have otherwise done so.

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